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Seven are honored as Women of Power

By Betty O’Neill-Roderick
Special to the Beacon Journal

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Seven Akron area women were honored at the third annual Women of Power Luncheon which drew 350 people to the Akron Urban League on Thursday. President and CEO Fred Wright welcomed everyone and introduced Dr. Flora Novella Randall Dees, who was mistress of ceremonies for the event.

Virginia Albanese was recognized for her outstanding leadership both at work and in the community. The president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, she is chairwoman of the Boys and Girls Club of the Western Reserve, immediate past chair of the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Kent State University Board of Trustees and serves on a number of other community boards. She thanked the Urban League for the honor and said she learned from her parents to get out and serve in the community.

Roxia Boykin, vice president of Community Benefit and Diversity at Summa Health System, was honored for more than 30 years of service in varied hospital and health system environments. She thanked her mentors, Tom Strauss and Steve Schmidt, who encouraged her along the road to success. Boykin has received numerous honors including the KSU Distinguished Alumnus Award. The only girl in a family with seven children, she learned giving from her parents as she recalled how her mother once had to bake Christmas cookies for each of her children’s classes.

Patricia Divoky, the director of the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services, was recognized for addressing and meeting the needs of Summit County residents. She said, “power comes from working together toward common goals,” as she recognized her mother, Evelyn Miller, and her mentor, County Executive Russ Pry, and all of the people she works with every day. “Work is important but family is more important,” she said in thanking her family for their support.

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge has served the people of Ohio for more than two decades — today representing the people of the 11th District, and as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Her work ethic, problem-solving approach and ability to build collaborative relationships were recognized as she has earned a reputation as an insightful leader and knowledgeable legislator. She thanked her staff and said she was proud to be part of such a distinguished group of women.

Iris E. Harvey is vice president for University Relations for Kent State University. She was honored for her leadership role both at Kent and in the community where she serves on a number of boards, and has been nationally recognized for her global marketing expertise. Harvey thanked her Kent State family, and said she has lived on three continents, but never felt as welcomed as she does in Northeast Ohio.

Growing up in Cuyahoga Falls, Carolyn Hofmann learned from her family that helping others is both a joy and a responsibility. She has been part of the mission of Akron Children’s Hospital for 40 years and is one of the founders of Family Promise, a group that works with faith congregations to assist homeless families. She encourages people to give of their time and their talents to charitable organizations and plans activities to encourage employees to become involved on a personal level.

The Rev. Diana L. Swoope, an ordained minister with the Church of God, was honored for founding a number of community programs and leading her church to establish the Arlington Christian Academy, a chartered elementary school that enrolls students from K–8, and whose students excel in honors and advanced-placement classes in high school, with 98 percent going on to college.


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