Northern Kentucky entrepreneurs, corporate leaders find value through Queen City Game Changers program

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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Queen City Game Changers, a leadership development program for women in business in the Greater Cincinnati region, has officially concluded after eight months.

Local business owners, entrepreneurs and emerging leaders from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky gathered at the Procter & Gamble headquarters in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday to participate in career coaching and networking, along with listening to panels and keynote speakers.

The Queen City name and branding is associated with the Kroger Queen City Championship, a Ladies Professional Golf Association tour event which was played at the Kenwood Country Club in September of last year. The program was developed by Kroger and Procter & Gamble, the two largest companies in the region.

Overall, there were 135 women taking part in the program. One of it’s core tenets is ensuring that Cincinnati is developing programs to attract and keep women involved in the area’s business community.

One of the participants was M.K. Hennigan who runs In the Curious Kitchen, a southern-style online shop and lifestyle blog out of Fort Thomas which sells bourbon themed gifts, mint juleps kits, and other food items. Hennigan told LINK nky that the program helped her connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

“I’ve learned that being an entrepreneur, you’re not in it by yourself,” Hennigan said. “There’s a whole community that I’ve been introduced to from corporate as well as other entrepreneurial women in the area, and that I have, I’m not alone in this journey.”

Hennigan founded her business in 2020 after previously working in corporate America. She described the differences between the two, saying entrepreneurship could sometimes be isolating.

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“Having been in the corporate world, I was around people all the time,” Hennigan said. “When you become an entrepreneur, you’re by yourself. One of the first things I did was get engaged.”

The program is divided into four “acts” which spanned over eight months. During each act, participants were paired with executive coaches who provided them with opportunities for hands-on learning and mentorship. Besides that, networking sessions were offered, as well as panels that featured local entrepreneurs and corporate employees.

“It’s really for them so we can elevate their personal development and their career aspirations,” said Patrick Cady, senior vice president of sales at P&G.

According to Cady, approximately 20% of the participants from the corporate world have earned promotions within their company. On the entrepreneurial side, participants have received new business accounts and access to various corporate partnerships.

“The University of Cincinnati is tracking all of these women and the women the future years to come to see what this program actually does to their career,” Cady said.

Arielle Goldberg was a panelist on the final day and, like Hennigan, has experience in both the corporate and entrepreneurial world. For her day job, she’s a communications manager at GE Aviation. Outside of her job, she founded trendprescient, an art and design studio based out of Covington. She, too, found great value in the program’s networking aspect.

“Understanding the importance of meeting other business owners across the area was important,” Goldberg said. “I started my business over the pandemic so it could be very isolating meeting people sometimes online. Being able to just see how many people are in my same position, and being able to learn from their experiences is pretty awesome.”

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Annie Brown, owner of Laughing Bees Honey, a honey-based confection maker in Covington, told LINK nky the program helped her meet other women in a similar position, but also gave her an avenue to seek out advice for growing her business and implementing new ideas.

“This program has helped open up my eyes to a lot of different things,” Brown said. ‘Actually, they’ve given me even bigger dreams than I had to begin with.”

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