Cincinnati Business and Professional Women seeks to add members, help women grow their careers

'Don't be afraid to be a powerful woman'
Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 05:00:13-04

CINCINNATI -- Not long ago, the Cincinnati chapter of Business and Professional Women/Ohio was a thriving association with more than 400 members that included some of the region’s best-known women in business and politics.

But as times changed and more organizations formed, the Cincinnati BPW began to fade. As recently as three years ago, the membership had dropped to about a dozen people.

Now chapter President Ursula Bess is on a mission to restore the 102-year-old organization to its former glory. Her next effort to grow the Cincinnati BPW’s membership is a seminar and social hour on Friday Oct. 26called “Mission I’m Possible: Making Yourself Count in a Diverse Work Culture.”

Ursula Bess

“My goals are to make women aware that they are valuable and just make them aware that they are a force to be reckoned with,” said Bess, who works as a business support specialist for Avon. “Don’t be afraid to be a powerful woman.”

The “Mission I’m Possible” event will feature a presentation by Monique Johnson, a local life coach and inclusion consultant, who will focus her remarks on helping women thrive in the workplace.

“I want to talk about it within the context of it being a mission in terms of challenging the women that are there to be more proactive and to be more empowered to seek leadership roles,” Johnson said.

Having strong networking groups for businesswomen is especially important these days, Johnson said. While more women than ever are working, there still are few who hold the highest positions of power in business, she said, and groups such as the Cincinnati BPW can help women gain the connections and confidence they need to get ahead.

Monique Johnson (Photo by Jerome Melson)

The #MeToo movement also has encouraged more women to speak out about inappropriate behavior and conduct at their companies, and having a place where women can talk with each other about their experiences is important, Johnson said.

Also at the Oct. 26 event, the local chapter will recognize Cincinnati Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman for his role in drafting and supporting a motion to strengthen the city of Cincinnati’s policy on sexual harassment.

Bess stressed that the Cincinnati BPW has more to offer than events and awards. The organization also gives scholarships for women who are seeking to further their education, and it awards grants to support senior housing facilities.

The chapter also has a program to help young adults sharpen their professional skills, a speaking competition to help build young women’s confidence and a development program for business professionals 35 and older, she said.

“This is what BPW is all about,” Bess said. “Use us as a platform to try to help you advance.”

More information about the Cincinnati BPW is available on the chapter’s Facebook page. Advance registration for the Oct. 26 event at the Taft Center in downtown Cincinnati is available online, or tickets can be purchased at the door.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. She has been writing about women- and minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati for more than 20 years. To read more stories by Lucy, go to To reach her, email Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.