CH celebrates nine 'amazing' women

CH City Council members and five Women's Day Celebration honorees: Jim Petras, Anthony Mattox Jr., Davida Russell, Astrid Burkle, Blanche Valancy, Sarah Wolf, Jayla Scruggs, Bridget Thibeault, Craig Cobb, Gail Larson, Tony Cuda. [photo: Jack Valancy]

On March 21, during Women’s History Month, Cleveland Heights City Council held its third annual Women’s Day Celebration, recognizing nine “inspirational and amazing” women who call the city home.

The celebration began with opening remarks by CH City Council President Tony Cuda, followed by a joyous performance by the Cleveland Heights High School Women’s Barbershoppers. 

The event honored the nine women in three categories: Inspirational Young Women, Women in Business, and Amazing Women of Cleveland Heights.

The honorees were selected from nominations submitted to council by friends, colleagues, teachers, families and other residents, declaring the ways in which the honorees are exceptional in the CH community.

A city council member introduced each honoree to the audience, presenting her with a certificate signed by council and Mayor Seren, and a rose.

The three Inspirational Young Women honorees are:

Astrid Burkle, honored for her advocacy for marginalized communities. This courageous 10 year old has spoken out against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation here and in Columbus. 

Jayla Scruggs, who exhibits many of the qualifications of a future leader. She is a valued member of Heights Tiger Nation, honored for her outstanding academic achievement and continuous volunteer work, which inspires her peers.

Ivey Williams, an organizer for the Northeast Ohio Youth Climate Summit who has secured funds, coordinated with peers, and demonstrated exceptional commitment to addressing climate issues.

The two inspiring Women in Business honorees are:

Bridget Thibeault, owner of Luna Bakery & Cafe, a community treasure and gathering place in the Cedar Fairmount district. Luna is a proud member of Cleveland Independents, 80 local restaurants that share a commitment to their community and a passion and excellence in food and service.

Laura D’Alessandro, founder of Cleveland Photo Fest, which seeks to promote worldwide “Unity Through Photography,” and hosts exhibits that challenge racial and gender issues. A cancer survivor, D’Alessandro advocates for other women going through cancer.

The four Amazing Women of Cleveland Heights honors went to:

Blanche Valancy, a retired pediatric social worker, who continues to serve as a leader. She is a forum organizer and city council meeting observer for the League of Women Voters CH-UH Chapter. She spent 10 years as house manager at Dobama Theatre, and helped raise funds for the original Coventry playground.

Sarah Wolf, who wears several hats at FutureHeights as its community-building programs manager. Her programs include the nonprofit’s Neighborhood Leadership Workshops and Crowdsourced Conversations. She is a leader and a teacher, helping build environmental awareness and working for gender equality.

Linda Striefsky, the current president of the Cleveland Heights Democrats. She is constantly, enthusiastically, recruiting new people and makes sure all voices are heard at club meetings. As chair of the city’s Charter Review Commission, she is spearheading the effort to review the CH City Charter and recommend changes.

Rhonda Davis-Lovejoy, who, as co-chair of the Cleveland Heights Racial Justice Task Force, courageously led the charge, bringing everyone to the table. She has served on countless committees. Through her presence and commitment, she raises the profile of the community and inspires everybody to use their own talents to improve the city. [Davis-Lovejoy also is co-chair of the FutureHeights board of directors.]

Council extends is congratulations to all the honorees. It plans to hold its fourth annual celebration of Amazing Cleveland Heights Women in March 2025.

Gail Larson

Gail Larson currently serves as an elected member of Cleveland Heights City Council. She lives in the Noble Elementary neighborhood.

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Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 4:33 PM, 04.05.2024