Meet the Women of Cincy Team: Gina Regan
As a Women of Cincy resident, I got to choose and interview a team member about their life and work. As I sifted through profiles on our Meet the Team page, Gina immediately stood out with a history major at Xavier. I, too, am a history major at Xavier and am constantly seeking inspiration for what to do once I graduate in May. Gina is the sales director for Women of Cincy as well as a developer and fundraiser for the Corporation for Findlay Market. We met on a sunny day in Washington Park, and Gina’s bubbly, cheery, and hilarious personality made for lots of fun and laughter as the day waned and music and people built into the lively atmosphere.
Interview by Emerin Boomer. Photography by Nicole Mayes.
Tell me about yourself – how did you get involved with Women of Cincy and where are you from?
Yeah, so, gosh, I don't even know where to start. I'm originally from northern Ohio, just south of Toledo. I came down here to go to school at Xavier University for college. I briefly left after graduating to teach English in Spain for a year. It was one of the best experiences of my life – I loved being there, I loved the culture, I loved it all. But then I came back to Cincinnati and I've been here ever since! I work for the Corporation for Findlay Market. I do development for them, so fundraising, and then some events and promotions. I had been following Women of Cincy for quite some time on social media, and at one point, they put out a call for writers, and I was thinking to myself, "I would like to get back into writing a little bit." So, I reached out and met with Kiersten [Wones, co-founder, editor-in-chief and residency director] and just really liked everything that the organization stood for and decided to get involved. Then I think I went on one interview and just kept trying to get more and more involved–just saying yes to everything and saying, "Yeah, I can go sell T-shirts here," or "Sure, I'll be your sales director!" [Laughs].
So what is the role of sales director? What do you do?
I try to get money [laughs]. So, if anybody reading this wants to give Women of Cincy money, give me a call. Basically, I work with partners, find sponsored content with people that want to promote their business through our audience. I find businesses and organizations that resonate with our audience – that makes sense in this context. I look for people that have a connection and not just some random conglomerate. I work with a lot of local folks that we're trying to partner with in various ways. We've actually got a really exciting collaboration with Main Street Ventures coming out in the fall, which I'm really excited about. It's kind of a new format for sponsored content.
Tell me a little bit about your year in Spain; what was that like? Were you a Spanish minor?
I was, yes! In college, I was a history major and minored in Spanish and English. I studied in Santiago, Chile for a semester my senior year and that was kind of, uh, an intro to conversational Spanish. I was able to kind of immerse myself in that culture and definitely improve my Spanish skills. And then I came back, finished college and I started working at a law firm as a Spanish translator and legal assistant. I was in way over my head [laughs]. I would try to speak with these people, but it was a lot of legal jargon so I had to really study up on vocabulary. The first couple of weeks were very exhausting – I remember my first week we had to sit through a 5-hour deposition and I was translating the whole time for this Spanish-speaking client and I just couldn't function afterward. I went home and just went immediately to bed. It was so draining! I knew that I really liked the Spanish aspect of that, but I also realized during that year that I didn't want to be a lawyer. That's something I had been kind of toying with, but it was just really depressing work because it was a lot of immigration law cases and there just wasn't a ton we could do for most of the clients, unfortunately. So, it was a lot of me translating, telling people "you're gonna get deported, and oh, by the way, you owe us a lot of money." But I knew I wanted to continue with the Spanish aspect of things and so I found this job opportunity through the Spanish government. They were looking for native English speakers to come and teach English in some of the schools. And so I applied for that and I got placed in the very south of Spain in a little town called Cadiz. And it was just idyllic. It was so beautiful, a little beach town. Everyone was so friendly. I don't know if it's a southern thing in all countries, but everyone was just very open, very welcoming. I made a lot of friends – I think the weather definitely affects people's moods [laughs]. I felt by the end of that year I was finally nearly fluent – I don't think I would ever say I'm fluent, but I was getting pretty close. So that was really exciting for me to feel like I was accomplishing this goal I had for myself. It was kind of a test of independence, too, in a way – just going somewhere where I didn't know anybody. My mom thought I was crazy [laughs]. But it was really nice to know that I had that in me, that I could do that. And I made relationships and had all sorts of fun.
That's something I'm looking into; that's why I'm so interested.
Yeah! Do it. If you ever have the opportunity to travel, I cannot stress it enough. That was actually one of the things one of my brothers talked about. He had studied abroad just for a summer in college, and he said, "I thought I would miss too much going for a whole semester or a whole year, but I really regret not going for longer." And so I was like okay! I will take your advice and I will go! With both studying and living abroad, it's kind of my initial inspiration for it, and I'm so grateful for him that he gave that advice.
So what made you choose Xavier in the first place?
Well, it's the best school in the world, so [laughs]... that's really why. It's funny, I'm one of four, and all three of my brothers and I went to Xavier, so in a way, I kind of followed my two older brothers down. They're a decent amount older than me, so we weren't in school at the same time, but I kind of grew up coming down to Xavier, visiting, going to Xavier games, and I just always really liked the school. And then when I was seriously looking at colleges I went down for a real visit, I loved the campus. I liked the small atmosphere. My high school was pretty small – I think our graduating class was 130 people, so I wasn't looking for something much bigger than that. Xavier felt like the right size. At the time, I was considering pre-med, and they seemed to have a pretty good program. That didn't last long [laughs]. I quickly realized I just like dissecting things, and I didn't actually wanna be a doctor. So yeah, I just liked the area, it was far enough away from home but not too far. It just fit.
We have a really great network of people that are interested in Women of Cincy, and I think that if they keep sharing that with their networks, we’ll keep growing.
And then as a history major, people always ask, "What are you going to do with that?" So, how have you used your history degree in real life despite not being in a field where you necessarily need a history degree?
Oh my gosh, I got the same question every single time, "Oh so do you want to be a lawyer? Or do you want to be a teacher?" Probably neither! [laughs]. But I do think it's so important, just a general liberal arts education is so powerful – just learning how to think critically about things. With history you're studying past conflicts from all these different angles. I've always said that I'm less of a dates and numbers history person and more of an overarching themes person. So, just connecting those themes across different historical contexts and being able to draw those conclusions helps you in any facet of your life, no matter what job you end up taking. I think those skills are really just invaluable. And then, of course, writing skills. We had to write so many papers [laughs]. All of the papers. So, I think that certainly, communication skills were definitely sharpened through being a communications major as well. I just loved being a history major. I am a big reader. I had taken one history course as an elective, and I found myself doing all of my history homework when I was trying to take a break from my other stuff. So I was like, "Oh, I think I should be a history major, this is what I'm enjoying doing." It was really cool. And I was able to cater it a little bit to focus on Latin American history, which was of particular interest to me. That kind of curated my curriculum as a Spanish minor, just being able to have that cohesive understanding of different Latin American countries.
What's your superpower or your favorite quality about yourself?
I'm gonna say my humor. I think I'm really funny; I don't know if everybody agrees with that [laughs]. I just – if you don't make me laugh, we're probably not gonna be friends. I just really appreciate humor in other people. I like to think that I can also draw that out in people, I can make light of tough situations or find the humor in whatever it is we're doing.
I always think, like, if you can't be funny, you should at least be able to think other people are funny.
Right? You don't have to be funny; just think I'm hilarious and we won't have any problems [laughs].
And so you already talked a little about how you got involved with Women of Cincy, but what's a goal you have for Women of Cincy in the next 5 to 10 years?
I would love to see Women of Cincy be a household name in Cincinnati. I think that we are definitely gaining a lot of ground, and the more stories we do and the more interviews we do and the more we're out in the city, I think that's definitely happening. But I think that what we do is really cool, and is powerful and important. I just want that message to get to as many people as possible. And I think that hopefully, we can by expanding and getting in front of more people. We can also accomplish other goals, like being more financially self-sustaining and getting into a permanent home someday. I think all of that will be more achievable the larger our audience is.
Q: So if you could talk to your 15-year-old self, what would you say?
A: Be more confident!
What do you think is one of the ways that Women of Cincy might be able to reach more people?
I think all of our wonderful volunteers should continue sharing. We have a really great network of people that are interested in Women of Cincy, and I think that if they keep sharing that with their networks, we’ll keep growing. And then I think as the sales director, I'm always thinking about sponsorships, sponsorships, sponsorships. More fundraising. So figuring out how we can leverage different events or other sponsorship opportunities to also expand our voice or amplify our voice.
Kiersten mentioned to me that you love fashion and clothes. And you're dressed really cute! Would you say you use fashion as a form of self-expression?
That's super funny because growing up I was a huge tomboy. Maybe that's from being in a family with three brothers, but I actually remember I was probably 10 and my little brother was a toddler, and a woman mistaking me for a boy. She said, "Do you like being a big brother?"
And I just looked at her like, "I'm a girl!" [laughs]. Looking back though, I had a little pixie cut, and a baggy T-shirt and soccer shorts, so I was definitely a tomboy. And honestly, I don't think it was until moving to Spain that I really started to take more note of fashion. Everybody in Europe is so chic like I had to start paying attention just to keep up [laughs]. Now I would say it's a form of self-expression. I just really enjoy finding things that I think are unique or a little bit different than maybe the mainstream. I also really like finding a deal–the thrill of the hunt. I always love it when someone's like, "Oh, I love your shirt," and I'm like, "Thanks! It's $2!" [Laughs]. I'm always that person that's like, “Oh you'll never guess what I didn't pay for this.” I do definitely like fashion but I was not always well-dressed, and I wouldn't say that I always am now. It just depends on the day.
So if you could talk to your 15-year-old self, what would you say?
Be more confident! I feel like as a 15-year-old I was just so in my head about everything. I looked for other people's approval and wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I think that's true of a lot of teenagers, but I would've loved for my younger self to just be like, “Yeah this is who I am, and who cares?” So I think it would've been nice to see her not care so much what other people thought. But I think I'm honestly probably still living in that a little bit. I think most people probably are, but other than that she was pretty cool!
Why did you choose Washington Park as our meeting space?
This is one of the most diverse places in the city, this place and Findlay Market, I would say are two of the most diverse places. And I love Findlay Market, I work there, and we could've gone there except it's the end of the workday and I didn't wanna stay there [laughs]. But I do love Findlay Market. I think it's also a really diverse spot in the city. But you can come here and look out and see people playing in the fountains, in the water, and it's kids of all colors, it's people from the neighborhood, people coming in from a little farther out, and just everybody enjoying this beautiful park in the city.
To wrap up, tell me about an influential woman in your life.
Hmm. I knew this was coming, I should've prepared better. I'd probably have two different answers. One would definitely be my grandma, we call her “Mom-Mom”. She is 93-years-old and still lives alone – she’s independent, super sassy, and very stubborn. She just doesn't take anybody's crap. She's like, I am fine, I am living on my own, I am capable, I don't need anybody to help me. Growing up, she had 4 kids, my mom being one of them, and she worked full time. Which, you know, back in the ’50s/’60s was not necessarily as common. She would work nights as a nurse. My grandpa worked during the day and my grandma would watch the kids and do everything you do as a parent, then she'd go to work all night, and then come back home and do it all again.
When did she sleep?
I don't think she did! And yet here she is, 93 and still movin' and groovin'. So yeah, she's always been an inspiration, I just came back from visiting her She lives in New Jersey, so we try to get out there at least once a year to visit her for about a week. And I had to basically hip check her away from the dishwasher to get the dishes done because she would just want to be in there doing everything. She's not slowing down. She's definitely been an influence in my life just to know that I can do whatever I put my mind to. Even if it's hard and tiring, people do it. She's one of them! And then I think I'd also say my female friendships over the years. I've had the same best friend for 30 years. We were next-door neighbors growing up. And just to be able to grow and change and evolve with her over the years has been really influential. I'm still really really close with several of my college roommates. They're all just badasses. High-power jobs or kicking ass as great mothers. It's just really inspiring when we get together. We live all over the country, so it's hard but to catch up and share on whatever we've been up to is just great. People can keep in touch! It's harder as you get older, but if it's truly something you value, you'll find a way.