Diane Cunningham Redden is the honorary chairwoman of the Hamilton County Republican Party. She also serves on the county party's SHELeads Steering Committee and is the group's programs committee co-chair.
Recently, WCPO.com published an article about Denise Driehaus’ “new” initiative to establish a Women and Girls Council, an effort that will apparently encourage women to pursue leadership opportunities and to run for public office.
Although I applaud Commissioner Driehaus’ sudden interest in encouraging women to become involved in the public sphere, I am confused by the portrayal of this council as a novel concept.
Republican women throughout Ohio have been working on the issue of the representation of women in government for quite some time now. The Jo Ann Davidson Leadership Institute, established in 2000, has provided learning opportunities and support to women for almost two decades. Named after the legendary former Speaker of the Ohio House, this institute has done more in the name of women’s empowerment in the political arena than any other organization of its kind.
The Hamilton County Republican Party has also been on the forefront of supporting female candidates for office. Long before the announcement of this new Women and Girls Council, our local party established “SHELeads,” an organization that is committed to providing resources, networking, and learning opportunities to Republican women in Hamilton County who are interested in pursuing an elected position. Led by Mary Anne Christie, the vice chair of the Ohio Republican Party, this group has been working hard to accomplish the exact goal Ms. Driehaus claims to be solving.
The Hamilton County Republican Party has done more than just encourage women to run for public office. We have a proven track record of actually electing women to public office.
Whether it’s Amy Murray, the only woman running for re-election to Cincinnati City Council this November, or Judge Jackie Ginocchio, a young mother looking to retain her seat on the Municipal Court, the Hamilton County Republican Party has an outstanding reputation of supporting strong women who have a desire to serve.
Even a quick stroll through the Hamilton County Courthouse will demonstrate just how many Republican women are represented at all levels of our judiciary. Strong women such as:
- Judge Beth Myers, First District Court of Appeals
- Judge Penelope Cunningham, First District Court of Appeals
- Judge Megan Shanahan, Court of Common Pleas
- Judge Leslie Ghiz, Court of Common Pleas
- Judge Ethna Cooper, Court of Common Pleas
- Judge Melba Marsh, Court of Common Pleas
- Judge Lisa Allen, Court of Common Pleas
- Judge Melissa Powers, Juvenile Court
- Judge Kim Burke, Drug Court
- Judge Amy Searcy, Domestic Relations Court
- Judge Susan Tolbert, Domestic Relations Court
- Judge Gwen Bender, Municipal Court
- Judge Jackie Ginocchio, Municipal Court
- Judge Heather Russell, Municipal Court
The entire Ohio Republican Party Executive Committee is composed of women. Surely this would be national headline news if it were not the fact that these are conservative women.
Beyond our state, county and judiciary, there are countless numbers of Republican women elected throughout the communities within Hamilton County. We have made tremendous strides toward our goal of ensuring that women are fairly represented in government and we have done so without the fanfare surrounding Ms. Driehaus’ new council.
When considering a model for increasing engagement in public leadership roles, one must look no further than what has been accomplished by Republican women in Hamilton County. SHELeads should be the blueprint to identify, mentor and engage women in public service for Hamilton County.