Home News Thomas More hosts conference for Women’s History Month; awards Alice Sparks scholarship

Thomas More hosts conference for Women’s History Month; awards Alice Sparks scholarship


Thomas More University kicked off Women’s History Month with an inaugural Women’s Conference in which women were invited to campus to inspire, encourage, and explore their passions. The event comes on the heels of the celebration of the University’s 100th anniversary, commemorating when the Benedictine Sisters of Covington founded Villa Madonna College in 1921 to train Catholic schoolteachers and provide a college education to women.

Guest speakers led empowering sessions, including Cincinnati news anchor, reporter, and social media host Kathrine Nero, who provided the opening address. Nero’s keynote proved impactful and set the tone for the event.

Additional sessions were led by: Becca Gardner, founder and CEO of ALT Distilling, Angela Rivers-Harper, Ph.D., program director of Dress for Success, Thomas More’s own Latorria Myles, assistant dean of students, Heather Ackels ‘07, executive director of INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati, and Jenni Crowley ‘03, Ph.D., senior manager of Deloitte.

Alice Sparks Scholarship winner Sophia Victoria Hermosilla Torres

The first ever Alice S. Sparks Women’s Leadership Scholarship, to benefit a student at Thomas More, was awarded to sophomore Sophia Victoria Hermosilla Torres, an international student from Panama City, Panama, majoring in international studies, took home the honor. The Panama City native recognized her mother as an important female role model in her life, saying “she is the living example that having a successful life does not come with name recognition, but with love, happiness, and the work you do for those you care about.”

Torres sees the importance of helping her community, working with the non-profit Parlamericas in Panama, and she aspires to one day be an ambassador or work for a non-governmental organization (NGO).

The afternoon session of the conference featured “Boss Lady: A Panel of High-Power Leaders,” hosted by Laura Koehl ‘80, Ed.D., executive director of Sisters of Notre Dame USA National Sponsorship and Network Office. The panel featured women in business, including Moira Weir ‘00, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Rachael Sampson ‘20, senior vice president at KeyBank and national director of Key4Women, Priya Dhingra Klocek, president and CEO of Consultant on the Go, and Amy Spiller, president of Duke Energy in Ohio and Kentucky. Panelists explored how they realized they were a “leader.”

“Identify your aspirations; go after your aspirations,” Spiller encouraged the crowd. “Leaders aren’t only at the top of the org chart.”

Attendees gained valuable insights from these prominent women in the community, while learning how to celebrate their accomplishments and set goals for their future.

“I walked away motivated with new ways to find inner peace and new ways to help me reach the goals I have in both my personal and professional life,” said Debby Shipp, director of partnership development at Thomas More.

The conference was presented by DBL Law. The date for the 2023 Thomas More Women’s Conference will be announced.

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