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Toilynn O’Neal: The Magic of Art, Science, Education, and Community

Toilynn O’Neal is fully invested in the city of Cincinnati. She’s worked at St. Ursula Academy in Walnut Hills for the past 20 years and currently serves as their director of diversity. She works for the Cincinnati Visitors Bureau, helping to develop multicultural entertainment for Fountain Square in the summer. She’s the interim executive director of the Queen City Foundation, an organization devoted to helping young people succeed. Toilynn herself benefited from QCF, and she says it’s one of the reasons she is who she is today, doing what she’s doing to elevate young women in Cincinnati and inspire them to become leaders and community change agents.

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Dora Anim: Giving Reimagined

We huddled around a table at Fountain Square amid the usual noise to find out what has driven Dora, chief operating officer at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, to all that she has accomplished. As a vibrant guitarist played and groups of friends chatted nearby, we carried on a lively conversation surrounding our communities and the strategies for addressing those that need more attention. Dora is oftentimes at the center of the community both in her professional role and personal growth experiences, but that doesn’t stop her from taking a step back to the behind the scenes action of it all.

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8 Female Filmmakers: Hannah Blair on Making Your Work

On a sunny spring evening, I walked through aisles of brightly colored international candies, hundreds of varieties of wine, and an array of flower-shaped cheeses to find Hannah Blair sitting at a table near the coffee shop inside Jungle Jim’s International Market. After swapping stories of the peculiar displays we’d each passed on the way in, we grabbed a seat and chatted about small town life, filmmaking, and what it means to “make your work.”  

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KellyAnn Nelson: Music Is a Superpower

KellyAnn Nelson believes in empowering people and helping them to access their superpowers through music. She is the founder and artistic director of Young Professionals’ Choral Collective of Cincinnati (YPCC), an open access nonprofit choir. YPCC has a roster of 1,100 young professionals (YPs) who sign up to sing in any or all of the organization’s three arms: 1. Non-auditioned cycles which run 6-8 weeks each; 2. Community singing, which takes place around town upon request, whether at breweries or on the steps of Music Hall; and 3. The auditioned chamber choir. KellyAnn is also the managing artistic director of the Cincinnati Boychoir. Through these dual roles, she is helping to create a community of inclusion in Cincinnati.

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8 Female Filmmakers: Stumbling onto Set with Jen Day

With glasses, long dark hair with bangs, and a red lip, filmmaker Jen Day was serving up some serious “New Girl” vibes when we met her at Nation Kitchen & Bar earlier this summer. We found a corner near the front windows, and with our photographer Heather’s encouragement, I tried a whiskey Moscow Mule for the first time – it was love at first sip. We nestled in with our drinks, took in Nation’s inviting atmosphere, and got right down to the nitty-gritty of being a woman in the city and what it means to tell unique stories through film.

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8 Female Filmmakers: Allyson West on Creating the Cindependent Film Festival

“So the who, what, where, when, why is it’s a three-day film festival at the Woodward Theater, August 23, 24, 25. It’s being designed to attract filmmakers, as well as community members. It’s really important to connect storytellers in and outside of the industry. It’s no different than sitting next to somebody watching a movie and then turning to them and being like, ‘Oh my god. Did you just see that, too?’ You get to talk to storytellers, and that’s all connected through the human experience and the human perspective.”

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8 Female Filmmakers: Meet Allyson West

On an oddly warm day in March, we ventured out to a little corner pub in Madisonville to meet Allyson West. Little did I know that she’d immediately become one of my favorite people: an unapologetic, authentic, instant friend who makes you feel like you could walk up to her on the street and pour out your heart and soul. We met the fiery filmmaker, actress, and founder of the brand new Cindependent Film Festival at her favorite neighborhood haunt, The Bramble Patch.

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Stories Behind the Booze: Commonwealth Bistro’s Tess Burns

Commonwealth Bistro, tucked away in a gorgeous historical building, is bringing that feeling back. Built on the community of Covington and the rich history of Kentucky, Commonwealth Bistro encourages you to pull up a seat, dig into some Kentucky Fried Rabbit, and make new connections. We met up with co-owner Tess Burns to hear about the origins of Commonwealth Bistro, how to make new girlfriends, and reconnecting with nature.


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Amy Vann: Give Like a Mother

It was a very cold April morning when we sat down with Amy Vann, founder of Give Like a Mother. The air was crisp, the sun was bright, and the scenery at the Cincinnati Nature Center was absolutely gorgeous. With an inviting energy and a smile that could light up any room, Amy opened up about her childhood, the important role faith plays in her life, and her aspirations for her nonprofit organization. Here is a glimpse of her inspiring story.


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Lily Turner & Anh Tran: Shaking Cincy up Together

We meet at Liberty’s Bar & Bottle, home to many of Lily and Anh’s best ideas. It’s an innocent enough starting point for a simple after-work get-together. But with Lily and Anh, a simple get-together can just as often turn into an unplanned meeting of top-tier movers and shakers planning out the next great idea for the city. I’ve been there, and it happens.

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bombASSbabes Session 1

BombASSbabes is a mini-series celebrating the tenacious broads of Cincinnati. The short films explore a sundry of hobbies, skills, and enthusiasms women choose to pour their creative energy into. Session 1 features Brooklynn Hansley, a singer with a voice that makes people stop in their tracks.

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Raised By Women, Chapter 3: Emily Boyd and Lindsay Combs

Lindsay and Emily walk in a few minutes later. I haven’t seen Emily since she’s been pregnant with Macie, a baby girl due in June. With a family like this one, full of powerhouse women, Macie is sure to grow up to be one fierce lady. We sit down and reminisce for a few minutes, and the conversation turns to another fierce lady: Lindsay and Emily’s mom, Dr. Sandra Combs.

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Raised By Women, Chapter 2: Patricia Patterson

The Patterson family is a tribe of women unlike any I’ve ever met. The bond between the six fierce sisters makes it clear to any outsider that to these women, family always has and always will come first. It’s a loud family full of big feelings, big opinions, and big love, and at the head of it all is Patricia Patterson, a matriarch in the truest sense of the word. I met Dr. Sandra Combs at Roebling Point Books & Coffee on a rainy Sunday, laughing at times, tearing up at others, as she talked about the mother that made her family what it is today.


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Raised By Women, Chapter 1: Dr. Sandra Combs

I’m overjoyed to see Dr. Sandra Combs walk through the door of Roebling Point Books & Coffee on a rainy Sunday morning in February. I’m good friends with her whole vivacious family, and while she stands in line for a large coffee, we gush about her daughter Emily, who just found out she’ll be having a baby girl this June. We make our way to the comfy armchairs in the next room, and as she begins to tell me about her journey – sharing her gift as a speech pathologist, finding a home in Covington, and more – her bracelets jingle like a soundtrack to her words.

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Rachel Hodesh: Stories on Life and Aging

Rachel began her career in geriatric care at Glen Manor Home for the Aged in Bond Hill. She has a master’s degree in health and human services and is a licensed nursing home administrator, but she will tell you that her best experience – where she learned the most about aging – was working in Israel and the Chicago Housing Authority. Today, Rachel works for Queen City Home Care as a geriatric care manager and marketing coordinator, crediting her long career to the many seniors who have touched her life over 25 years. She’s a huge piece of the stories of innumerable seniors throughout Cincinnati.

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