Here we profile exceptional Xavier women who have gone above and beyond to better the lives of their peers.

Know somebody with an inspirational story? We'd love to hear from you. Contact us to tell us more.

Robin Arthur, PsyD

Chief of Psychology, Lindner Center of Hope
Master of Arts, Doctor of Psychology, 2001

With a background in specialized forms of psychotherapy and organizational psychology, the multidisciplinary concept of the Lindner Center of Hope was attractive to Robin Arthur. She sought out the opportunity to serve in the planning process for the new facility and was tapped as Chief of Psychology, which she admits is a "dream job." She is "committed to developing young women, executive women and all women to be their happiest and fulfilled."

Katy Baldwin

Xavier Student
Class of 2009

In addition to being president of the Jesuit honor society Alpha Sigma Nu and an intern for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Katy keeps an eye on the world. When she won a Brueggeman Gellowship, she elected to go to Nepal and study the country's political and social revolution as it becomes a democracy. "I wanted a greater awareness of the democratic process, how it develops and the interconnectedness of the global community," she says.

Jennifer Carr

MBA class of 2009

After growing up in Philadelphia, Jen decided to make a career leap when Columbus Life Insurance Company offered her a position in 2004. Since then, her career with the company has evolved from a technical analyst into her current position as project manager for all on-site producer trainings.

Jen earned a B.A. in mathematics from Acadia University. The career transition to Cincinnati is what brought Jen to Xavier, where she completed her MBA studies in 2009.

Outside of work, Jen keeps very busy. Some of her involvements include: LOMA Society of Ohio, Toastmasters International, Emerging Leaders Society of the United Way, Junior Achievement, Hoxworth Blood Donation Centers (3+gallon donor), CincinnatiUSA Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Xavier University's Women of Excellence Giving Circle.

In addition, Jen is a certified Jazzercise instructor and teaches 8 classes a week with Downtown Cincinnati Jazzercise.

Mary Chaney

Class of 1994

Mary Chaney is one woman who knows her field well—she has over 10 years of information security and legal experience. After she graduated from Xavier with her B.S.B.A in Information Systems, she then went on to receive her J.D. degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and is a licensed attorney in the state of Texas.

Mary spent several years practicing law in Washington, D.C., focusing primarily on anti-trust and intellectual property rights. She then transitioned to serve her country by becoming a Special Agent for the FBI. With the FBI in Los Angeles, she investigated all types of cyber related criminal activities and also served as the Information Systems Security Officer (ISSO).

In 2008, Mary obtained her Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification and opened MBS Information Security Consulting, LLC (MBS) shortly thereafter with the ambition of using all of her experience and knowledge to assist businesses with their information security needs. MBS is in the business of supplying information security services to small and midsized companies. Their charge is to bring affordable information security solutions to businesses that cannot afford a dedicated staff resource.

Danielle DiBenedetto

Designer and Owner, Proper Tea Wear
Bachelor of Arts, 2003

Danielle DiBenedetto always knew she wanted to work in fashion. In 2007 she launched Proper Tea Wear, a specialty line of T-shirts, cami sets and scarves packaged in oversized tea bags. So far, the line sells in about 150 boutiques across the country. "The best thing about running my own bueinss is the creative freedom. It is amazing to create a label and see it in stores the way you envision it."

Melissa Donovan

Class of 1994

Since graduating with honors from Xavier in 1994, Melissa has successfully progressed through positions of increasing responsibility during her 15-year career in the investment management field. In addition to a B.S. degree in psychology from Xavier University, Melissa also completed the Certified Financial Planner program at the College for Financial Planning in addition to other professional continuing education.

Melissa's career in the investment management field began in 1994 at JP Morgan Asset Management (formerly Pacholder Associates). Her work there focused on the high yield bond market. Subsequently, she obtained several years of private client experience at Johnson Investment Counsel. Melissa joined Meyer Capital Management (MCM) in 2001 where she successfully progressed through increasingly complex, broad-based roles. Presently, she is the Managing Director & Chief Compliance Officer at MCM.

Under her leadership at MCM, the company was a finalist for the Small Business Excellence Award presented by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, won the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics sponsored by the Better Business Bureau and, in 2008 and again in 2009, was named a FIVE STAR—Best in Client Satisfaction—Wealth Manager. Melissa was named one of the Forty Under Forty by the Cincinnati Business Courier in 2009 for her outstanding business & community leadership.

In addition to her career accomplishments, Melissa is generous with her personal time and has made leadership-level contributions to several charities and non-profit groups in the greater Cincinnati area. These contributions helped focus organizational strategy, increase membership, strengthen financial controls, and raise much needed funding. She has held various board, committee and executive leadership positions in several organizations, including Building Blocks for Kids, Kindervelt of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce.

Beyond her professional and civic responsibilities, Melissa lives with her husband and two children in Kings Mills, Ohio.

Amy Gore

Class of 2009, Masters of Occupational Therapy class of 2010

Beyond the long nights of studying and research, Amy Gore, current graduate student in Xavier's Occupational Therapy program, splits her time with a special group of people. After her undergraduate graduation at Xavier, Amy held on to one extraordinary thing that would link her back to other Xavier students, a new club to Xavier's campus called Distance4Dreams. Distance4Dreams originated at the University of Dayton and was introduced to Amy and her friend Katie Schroeder at the end of their senior year. Using the knowledge she gained from her involvement in Student Alumni Association in her past years, she called both current students and alumni to join the club to raise money to send a special little girl named Jacklyn to Disney World. Through hard work and training, Amy and 14 others ran at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, to raise over $3,000 for Jacklyn and A Special Wish Foundation.

As graduate school winds down, Amy begins to look to her future Occupational Therapy internships in San Francisco and Dallas. But in her wake, Distance4Dreams stands strong as one of the newest clubs on campus dedicated to dreams, no matter the distance.

Tammy Solomon Gray

M.Ed class of 2000

This first generation college graduate received her Master's of Education in Elementary Education in 2000 and soon returned to earn her reading specialist endorsement in 2003. In 2005, she earned my second Master's in Education in Education Administration at the University of Cincinnati. In regards to her second Mater's degrees, Tammy wrote in her submission, "please don't hold it against me." Tammy believe that her XU education has taken her far, even though she has stayed close to home.

Tammy left the elementary classroom after nine successful years of teaching in local suburban and urban school districts to serve as an Assistant Principal at Pleasant Hill Academy in the Cincinnati Public School District, a neighborhood preschool through eighth grade school with over 760 students. In 2002, she was featured in Essence Magazine for the triumphs in her career, despite having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997 during her senior year in undergraduate school. Tammy said, "It behooves me to note that in my early years of my diagnosis I had moments of significant struggles, which were smoothed over by the supportive faculty of Xavier University."

In 2002, Tammy was also tapped by the YWCA Career Women of Achievement as a Rising Star. Four years later, she was selected to participate in the YWCA's Rising Stars Board Leadership Class. Tammy has recently been selected and voted onto two local non-profit boards: United Cerebral Palsy and 4C. She is touched and driven by the organizations' dedication to people living with disabilities developing abilities to gain meaningful occupations and lives, and providing quality early childhood education for lower income families.

Tammy currently resides in North Avondale just three minutes from XU with her supportive husband, Mason, and soon-to-be 17 year old son, Michael.

Jean Palmer Heck

Class of 1974

To this day, Jean has many lasting memories of Xavier; Manresa, her freshman roommate Mary Schwartz (with whom she's lost contact), doing a sports radio cal- in show (with the help of Tom Stevens and Joe Collins), and cooking tuna noodle casserole in a popcorn popper in my dorm room for Mike Cutler and Tom Cooney during summer school are just a few of her favorites. Aside from the fun times, Jean majored in communication arts and graduated summa cum laude in 1974.

After Xavier, she started working for WLQA FM radio in Cincinnati and moved to Indianapolis in 1975 to an all-news radio station, WNTS. She eventually moved into television, the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, and became a consumer reporter and anchor. When the television station wanted Jean to sign a three-year contract, she felt a disconnect with the ethics of the industry and her Xavier education and personal belief system. She was offered a position in corporate public relations at the same time. Jean said that moving from the "quick and dirty" coverage of news to a pharmaceutical company with a mission to save lives was the smartest thing she did in her career. Jean worked for Eli Lilly & Company as a spokesperson on controversial issues and women's health concerns. Eventually she was promoted to head their global communications department.

Next, in 1985 Jean moved with her husband and two young children to Kobe, Japan, where she did consulting work with a Japanese company. Upon returning to Indianapolis in 1990, she began doing consulting work in media relations, employee communications and executive presentations. Her business, Real-Impact, has worked with world-wide business leaders. She feels privileged to have met brilliant people, who want to communicate more effectively with their audiences.

Jean then began writing books and producing learning resources at the request of her clients. The result is numerous materials on public speaking, presentation skills, media relations and visual communications. Currently, Jean is the author of several books, audios and videos, including the recently released book Tough Talks in Tough Times: What Bosses Need to Know to Deliver Bad News, Motivate Employees and Stay Sane. Her latest book is the result of a year-long research effort into understanding the best way to have a difficult conversation. In addition to speaking and consulting on this topic, Jean is an international communications advisor and has worked with clients from 32 countries.

In her free time, Jean enjoys traveling the world and experimenting with videography. Her favorite trip was an African safari where she got magnificent shots of lions eating their prey and the Great Migration in Kenya. In addition, she was involved with missions in the slums of Nairobi.

Suzanne Kathman

Executive Director, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, Cincinnati
Bachelor of Arts, 1990

After volunteering with Sisters of Mercy H.O.M.E., Kathman came up with the idea to train homeless or low-income women as healthcare aides to break th ecycle of poverty. Kathman founded Healing Connections Associates in 1993, and recently led its merger with Sisters of Mercy H.O.M.E. and Mercy Connections into Mercy Neighborhood Ministries. "We've strengthened our ability to serve the needs of the community. It's been a great experience."

Kristie Kolb

MBA class of 2004

Kristie began her career as a Sales Representative for Kraft Foods. After a short two years in the position, she was promoted to a Sales Analyst position in Cincinnati. Naturally, the move is what brought her to Xavier. Kristie balanced obtaining her MBA at Xavier with working a full time job for two years. Kraft promoted her again after she graduated from Xavier with her MBA. Kristie worked with Kraft for a total of seven years in various positions.

After an extensive career in the midwest, she began to explore around the country a little. First, she explored New Jersey at Reckitt Benckiser as a Trade Marketing Manager for their Lysol brand. She attributes her success at this position as a direct result of the knowledge she gained during her time at Xavier. After a short time in New Jersey, Kristie was promoted. For the last 18 months, Kristie has been working in Arkansas as a national account manager calling on Walmart.

Kristie spends her free time planning her upcoming wedding. She also loves to sew, travel, read, golf and watch sports. As for the future, Kristie hopes to continue to climb the corporate ladder.

Cleaster Mims

Founder, Cleaster Mims Preparatory School
Bachelor of Arts in Communications, 1971
Master of Education, 1976

Mims made a career of teaching high school English in the Cincinnati Public Schools. She also taught a speech communications course every Wednesday night at Xavier for a number of years. Mims retired from the public school system in 1991 to found the Marva Collins Preparatory School, recently renamed Cleaster Mims College Prep, a private school for childrem from pre-K through 8th grade. "People ask me, 'How can you do this for so long?' It's because I wake up in the morning excited about what I'm going to face during the day.

Amy Pennekamp

Class of 2003

This Cincinnati native is a graduate of the Williams College of Business and a University Scholar. Not only did she graduate cum laude, she also earned a B.S.B.A. in finance and minored in English and mathematics. After Xavier, she attended law school at Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University, where she earned her J.D. in 2006. She is currently an associate attorney at William E. Hesch Law Firm, LLC.

In addition, she is active in the Cincinnati Bar Association as co-chair of the membership committee of the Young Lawyers Section. She also provides pro bono services through the Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation providing representation to clients who otherwise would not have been able to afford legal representation.

Amy still has Xavier spirit and shows it by attending almost every men's home basketball game. In addition, she has traveled to various NCAA tournament games. During her free time, Amy has been training for the Flying Pig Half Marathon that she completed May 2, 2010.

Hillary Marie Ran

Class of 2002, MBA class of 2006

While pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in English from Xavier, Hillary (pictured right) found her true passion: working with children with autism. She saw a posting on a billboard at XU left by a mother to provide behavioral intervention for her young son named Alex who had autism. Hillary later started working with the Cincinnati Center for Autism, as the applied behavior analysis coordinator and later as the executive director. As a private behavioral consultant in Cincinnati, she also held a yearly fundraiser to raise scholarship funds for different organizations dedicated to servicing children with autism in Ohio.

Thereafter, Hillary established her own business, Exceptional Learners Behavioral Services, LLC, after completing her Master's in Education from XU in 2006 and acquiring her board certification as a behavior analyst. Two years ago Hillary moved to Denver where she has grown her business. Hillary is a firm believer that ALL children can learn and deserve the opportunity to do so, through exploration, laughter, and nurturing of their strengths. She feels forever indebted to the children with autism who she's had the privilege of laughing and growing with.

Hillary's friend Melaina Neyer (pictured left) nominated her in saying that "God has given her a tremendous gift which she gracefully uses with these children, offering them compassion, patience, love, and hope."

Tasha Ring

M.Ed. class of 2008

Tasha is currently an educator and small business owner living in Indianapolis. In previous positions working in various corporate marketing positions within the education field, Tasha found herself wanting to be more directly involved with students, specifically in a teaching capacity. Seeking a career with greater fulfillment and a life with increased purpose, she decided to return to school and enrolled in the M.Ed./Montessori program at Xavier.

Tasha's desire is to create more positive, less bottom-line driven educational experiences for young people; this led to her current role as the owner/director and lead instructor of a Montessori-based learning company, which offers individualized small group and one-on-one instruction. Tasha finds that each day is filled with joy and learning in working with youth in a variety of capacities. In her submission, she said, "Working with youth in a variety of capacities, each day is filled with joy and learning."

In her free time, Tasha enjoys writing, traveling and teaching dance classes.

Mary Beth Ryan

Class of 1992

Mary Beth (Lally) Ryan graduated from Xavier with a B.A. in communications. She began her career at the world headquarters of Subway in her home state of Connecticut, working in advertising. Next, she moved to Atlanta in 1994 and began a 10-year career with Lend Lease Corporation working in marketing communications—transferring to New York and eventually Sydney, Australia. During her two year Australian stint, Mary Beth led the company's communications and media relations efforts globally. She also met her husband down under before returning to Connecticut in 2003.

Back in the U.S., she managed marketing efforts for GMAC Commercial Mortgage (Capmark) for two years. In 2006, Mary Beth started Miller Ryan, LLC, with a colleague, offering strategic marketing communications counsel to the financial services and real estate industries. Despite the economic downturn, the firm has grown enormously and is constantly adding new clients to its roster.

In addition to her career, Mary Beth keeps quite busy raising two sons (Patrick, age 3 and Peter, age 2) with her husband, Phil. This happy family lives in Mary Beth's hometown of Trumbull, CT. This November, she is heading back to Australia for a month-long visit with her in-laws and extended family—but is dreading the 24 hour fight with two toddlers! Finally, Mary Beth makes sure to keep in regular contact with her old XU buddies and is currently planning a trip back to Cincinnati in 2011.

Julianne Smith

Director and Senior Fellow, Europe Program
Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.
Bachelor of Arts in French and Communications, 1991

After graduating in 1991, Smith earned a degree in German from the University of Munich and a master's in international relations at American University. She now heads the Europe division of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. As she travels around the globe, she often runs into some old-fashioned attitudes. "We've got a long way to go. People still ask me for coffee or more sugar."

Catherine Soldano

Class of 1997, MBA class of 2004

Catherine Soldano is a 1997 graduate of Xavier with a B.S. in biology. Since her graduation, Catherine has held various roles in the pharmaceutical industry, including sales, marketing, research and development. In 2004, Catherine completed her MBA at Xavier and was later appointed Executive Director, Sales and Marketing at Medpace, Inc. Catherine volunteers for in a variety of mentoring roles and serves as a co-chair of community relations in Xavier Women's MBA Network.

Catherine is 34 and the mother of two sons, Sean (15) who is a freshman at St. Xavier High School and Aidan (6) who is in first grade. Although her boys keep her busy, Catherine is an avid runner and enjoys cooking, reading and traveling.

Sarah Stegman

Class of 2006

Sarah came to Messer Construction Co. in 1999 with no real idea of what she was signing up for, as she never imagined my career would be in construction. But she said there was something powerful about being a part of building the community around you and after just a few months, she was hooked.

As a young single mother, college seemed like just a pipe dream, but when Messer Construction offered their support in 2001, Sarah took it and never looked back.

As the granddaughter of a Professor Emeritus at Xavier University (Paul Rieselman Sr.), Sarah never even considered another university or college. The Xavier Weekend Degree Program (WDP) fit her needs perfectly. The staff in the WDP helped Sarah navigate her four-and-a-half years at Xavier, even after transitioning her focus to accounting. Sarah graduated in 2006 with a B.S. in accounting. Now, she is a proud graduate amidst a family of Muskies.

Since beginning at Messer in 1999, Sarah has held five different positions in the Finance and Administration department in both the field and the office. Most recently, she has accepted a new role in corporate accounting as an Accountant-Technical Analyst, focused on identifying and implementing best practices both with project accounting and the enterprise-wide software system.

Christina Swift

Class of 2006, MEd class of 2009

Though Xavier consistently boasts high four-year graduation rates, Christina Swift earned her B.A. in just three years. After an internship with Xavier's graduate program in health services administration, she was hooked. Christina became the Recruitment and Promotions Coordinator for the program. Next, she continued her Xavier education and received her Master's Degree in Human Resource Development in May 2009. In her career, Christina gets to help others join the Xavier family.

She believes Xavier has gotten her where she is today. She enjoys the higher education world so much that she hopes to move up the ranks in graduate admission.

When she's not working, Christina likes to read, run and stay involved with her professional organization - the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP). She traveled to San Francisco as part of NAGAP's annual conference committee.

Eileen Turner

Class of 2004

Eileen graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in Public Relations from Xavier, where she was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honors Fraternity. Upon graduation, Eileen served as a prestigious Coca-Cola Apprentice and later a Public Relations Manager at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati. While at the Freedom Center, Eileen shared the stories of freedom's heroes both past and present, challenging and inspiring individuals to take courageous steps for freedom today. In addition, Eileen chaired the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition of Greater Cincinnati's Publicity Committee in 2006 and 2007.

Most recently, Eileen has served as a Public Information Officer for the Ohio Department of Development, and is now an Account Executive for the Department's Workforce and Talent Division. In those capacities, Eileen promotes the Department's programs and services to heighten awareness of Ohio's economic strength and quality of life.

Eileen, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is currently pursuing a master's degree in public administration with a concentration in international public management from the DePaul University School of Public Service.

During the summer of 2009, Eileen had the opportunity to travel to South Africa and get a firsthand glimpse into the lives of ordinary South Africans living in Soweto and other parts of the country, where much of the struggle against Apartheid played out. It was this experience that inspired Eileen to begin conceptualizing development plans for a foundation that will have both a local and global impact, which she hopes to establish in the near future.

Eileen's favorite quote to live by is "If not now, then when? If not you, then who?"

Lizzie Volmar

Class of 2000

Lizzie is currently an attorney currently practicing in Akron, Ohio. In her submission, Lizzie said, "I like to think what makes me fabulous is that I strive to leave every place I go a little better than I found it, and every heart I have the opportunity to touch a little more loving and open." She currently volunteers through the Junior League of Cleveland because she believes in their mission to empower women to change their communities. In the past, Lizzie has also worked for the Women's Crisis Center and the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati.

Even though Lizzie was only at Xavier for four short (but fun!) years, Xavier has shaped the person she is today professionally, intellectually and spiritually. In her professional life, she does her job to the best of her ability while maintaining compassion and respect for others in the profession and the people she serves. Xavier stimulated Lizzie's intellect and prepared her for a lifetime of learning and curiosity. Lastly, Xavier provided her with a foundation of faith that allows her to tackle whatever spiritual challenges arise in life. To this say, Lizzie is so thankful for her time at Xavier.

Pamela Zipperer-Davis

Pamela E. Zipperer-Davis is Chief Ambulatory Officer for the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) and University Physicians, a 750 physician, multi-specialty medical group in Jackson, Mississippi.  Ms. Zipperer-Davis oversees all outpatient clinics and operations.  UMC is the only level 1 Trauma Center in the state of Mississippi and provides care to the states neediest patients.

Pamela is also the President of ZD Management, Inc., a healthcare consulting and management company serving clients throughout the nation.  ZD Management provides human resources, temporary staffing and financial, accounting, payroll, billing, negotiation, interim management, advisory, and consulting services to medical groups, health systems, law firms, diagnostic centers, and other healthcare clients.

Pamela also serves as Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Radiology, Inc. (MRI), a comprehensive diagnostic and interventional radiology company serving the Greater Cincinnati area.  Pamela is responsible for the strategic direction and financial performance of the company as well as overseeing all day-to-day operations.  MRI provides professional radiology services to one hospital, an urgent care center, a freestanding Emergency Department and numerous medical groups.

In addition to executive leadership roles, Pamela has consulted with many health care organizations over the years.  Hospital and Medical Group Joint Ventures (JVs) are an area of specialization for Pamela.  Over the last twenty-five (25) years, Pamela has formed more than three (3) dozen JVs involving Hospitals and Medical Groups.  These JVs included Ambulatory Surgery Centers, MSOs, ACOs and Diagnostic Centers to name a few. 

She received a B.S.B.A. and M.H.A. degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati.  Pamela has preceptored thirteen (13) residents from Xavier University and the University of Florida Graduate Healthcare Programs.  She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and The American College of Medical Practice Executives (FACMPE).  Pamela serves on the President’s Advisory Council at Xavier University in Cincinnati and Chairs the Xavier University Women of Excellence (WOX).

Pamela is married to Steven C. Davis and resides in Blue Ash with her three sons; Benjamin, age 19, Gabriel, age 17 and Noah, age 16.  All her other children have four legs and are too numerous to name.  She enjoys reading, cooking, golf and enjoying time with her family.

We asked Pamela to share her thoughts on Women of Excellence and this is what she had to share:

"As a member of the President's Advisory Council, I was asked to sit on the WOX Committee when it was first formed. Prior to that time, I was a member of the Social Sciences Committee, a subcommittee of PAC. I was delighted to join WOX, as engaging students, faculty, alumni and friends of Xavier through the Women of Excellence is very important to me.

"Xavier now graduates more females every year than it does males. Obviously, this is very different than prior to the early 1970s when Xavier was an all-male school. In addition, faculty and friends of Xavier include many females. Engaging women through WOX is one of our top priorities. The Women of Excellence has three committees, which include Development, Mentoring and Events. We try to engage women and men through all of these committees.

"Women of Excellence is a passion of mine, and I have been excited to watch it grow over the last several years. I am honored to chair Women of Excellence and hope to see it grow through participation in our events, donations to the Giving Circle, donations to our endowed scholarship fund, and assisting Career Services in connecting with mentees by identifying mentors."