Seven prominent women were designated Women of Power at a luncheon Tuesday afternoon at the Akron Urban League.
President and CEO Fred Wright welcomed 350 guests to the second annual presentation, and board chair Robert Harrigan thanked everyone for their support.
Dr. Daisy Alford-Smith introduced the honorees:
• Ophelia Averitt, vice president of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP, was honored for establishing college scholarships and for mentoring schoolchildren. She encouraged the audience to join the NAACP, an organization she has been involved with for more than 60 years.
• Tracy Carter, system director of government affairs and health policy for Summa Health Systems, was chosen for her service as president of the Women’s Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, and as vice president of Where Angels Land, a new nonprofit focused on helping women affected by substance abuse.
• A longtime advocate for the mental health needs of children and their families, Dr. Georgette Constantinou is administrative director of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology at Akron Children’s Hospital. She also serves on the faculty at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. She told the audience power is most affective when you give it away and empower others.
• Two sisters were honored at the presentation. Dr. Flora Novella Randall Dees, a professor, educator and motivational speaker, has mentored thousands of students over the years. Dees, the founding director of Project GRAD in Akron, told the audience, “Maybe we can’t help everyone, but we can help someone.”
• Her sister, Councilwoman Linda F.R. Omobien, was honored for her deep involvement in education in the community. Omobien, a mental health administrator at Community Support Services Inc., and longtime school board member, said their mother taught them what hard work is, and that education was the path to success. She thanked her husband, Eddie Omobien, and introduced younger sister Edith Golson.
• Community volunteer Mary Ann Jackson is known for her signature parties that raise millions of dollars for community organizations. She is also a dedicated board member for many organizations. The founder of First Night Akron and co-founder of the Akron Area Arts Alliance with Ann Brennan, she said enthusiasm is her secret to success. She enjoyed the event with her husband, Dr. Tom Jackson, and three young women she currently mentors, Andrea Wlaszyn, Laura Fink and Elizabeth Banasiak.
• Akron attorney Jacqueline A. Silas-Butler serves as executive director of Project GRAD Akron, providing services for students from kindergarten through college. Under her leadership, the Bridge to Kindergarten program was implemented, and more than $1,200,000 in scholarships were presented to Buchtel High School’s graduating seniors. She thanked her husband, Larry Butler, and their son, Christopher, “who taught me more about young people than any book ever taught me,” she said.