Sunday, September 10, 2000

United Way

Big goal, big chance for women

        Touchdown. Homerun. Two points. We're in the homestretch.

        Let's use some sort of sports metaphor. Because women are finally getting a chance to play.

        Both presidential candidates are shamelessly courting the “women's vote.” Not so shamelessly as to have named a female running mate, but nonetheless they have noticed that we might be useful to them.

        We are now permitted to eat at the Queen City Club as full members. This is particularly good news because the Queen City Club's food is finally worth eating.

        We can often get the tee times we want. (Unless we want to play on the Ken Dale on Saturday mornings at the curiously unenlightened Kenwood Country Club.)

        We have conquered the workplace, more or less. Procter & Gamble has a woman installed on the executive floor. Hewlett-Packard, E-Bay, Avon and Kraft are run by women.

        Gloria Steinem is a bride. “Though I've worked many years to make marriage more equal,” she said, “I never expected to take advantage of it myself.”

        And some of us are confident enough in our femininity to stay at home with our babies. If we can afford it.

        It has been a very good century.

Fragile gains
        Our gains are new, therefore fragile. So, it is worth noting and protecting the most recent advance, a rather quiet local benchmark.

        A woman has been entrusted with a great big chunk of important money. More to the point, she has been entrusted with getting the great big chunk. Barbara J. Stonebraker, senior vice president at Cincinnati Bell, is in charge of this year's Greater Cincinnati United Way campaign.

        The first woman.

        “Barbara Stonebraker has been entrusted with the biggest volunteer job in this community. Bar none.” This according to Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce president John P. Williams. “She's a great choice. Capable. Bright. Tough.”


        He means this as a compliment. We have come a long way. That word, applied to women, used to signal disapproval. As it happens, Barbara Stonebraker also is described by an employee as “aggressive.” Also with admiration.

No women's tee
        She rides horses and has two nice kids. She's a good listener and laughs out loud when she thinks something is funny. She was identified 20 years ago as a woman to watch, according to United Way exec Carol Aquino.

        And, boy, are we watching now.

        She is expected to raise $59.6 million by Oct. 26. There is no women's tee for this. No handicap. No quarter given. And none asked.

        Barbara Stonebraker has met so far with more than 60 CEOs of area companies. With enthusiasm, very specific in her requests. She's playing for big stakes. If United Way for some terrible reason collapsed, every citizen in this community would feel the pain. In large and small ways.

        This is a very big deal.

        And everybody will be keeping score.

        I hope Barbara Stonebraker blows the doors off this goal. She could do it if every woman who already gives money to United Way would toss in a couple extra bucks or five. Or a hundred.

        Now that we're getting in the game, let's play to win.

       E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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