Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice and Director of Workforce Development Marvene Mitchell Cook were honored today as YWCA Women of Influence by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The YWCA recognized a total of six exceptional women at a luncheon at the Dayton Convention Center.
“Montgomery County is a better place to live because of the efforts of these two remarkable women,” said Montgomery County Commission President Debbie Lieberman. “Carolyn and Marvene both care so much about our community and helping our families and neighborhoods thrive. I am honored to work alongside them both.”
One of Rice’s biggest impacts has come through the Land Bank that she helped establish in 2011 when she was Montgomery County Treasurer. The Land Bank has brought more than $35 million in state and federal funding, which helped demolish 2,500 blighted structures throughout the county. These efforts have cleared the way for redevelopment projects, including the Omega Hope Center, OneFifteen recovery campus, and the Dayton Arcade. The Land Bank also purchases residences that are partially repaired and re-sells them to further renovation.
As Commissioner, Rice has focused on birth-to-age-3 child development, homeless solutions, youth internships and work-based learning, addiction prevention, international economic development, sustainability and mental health. She is also a champion of Montgomery County’s participation in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, that mails free books to children from birth to age 5. The County has had more than 17,000 children enrolled in this program.
As Director of Workforce Development, Cook established the County’s first Mobile Workforce Unit, which provides employment assistance at public events. Under her leadership, Montgomery County also established its Male and Female Leadership Academies, which are mentoring programs for area youth.
Cook’s guidance helped established the Westown Employment Opportunity Center, bringing west Dayton the same employment and public benefits services offered at The Job Center. Westown EOC also offers training for IT careers through a partnership with Sinclair College. Additionally, she led the Office of CARES Act, which helped to provide access to $92 million in federal funding for local farmers, child care providers, schools, healthcare providers, households and businesses. CARES funding also provided Chrome Books and WiFi access to 1,000 Montgomery County residents.
“Marvene and Carolyn are both extremely active in community organizations to support literacy, education, community development and equity,” said Commissioner Judy Dodge. “They are certainly worthy of this honor, and we wish to congratulate all of this year’s winners who are committed to making a difference in our community."
For 25 years now, the YWCA Women of Influence has honored individuals who have shown a strong commitment to our region. Over 180 women have been recognized over the years for their dedication to supporting the YWCA’s mission of empowering women, eliminating racism, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
Other 2023 Women of Influence honorees include Melodie Bennett, Executive Director of House of Bread; Michelle Kaye, Vice President and Client and Community Relations Director for PNC Bank; and Carol Prewitt, President of Prewitt Consulting LLC. Joanne Granzow, a community volunteer, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.