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‘Taking the Lead’ set to resume Wednesday morning at YWCA

WRAPPED UP THE YEAR — Tina Thompson of Proforma Innovative Services, left, wrapped up the 2019 session of Taking the Lead with her December presentation at the women’s economic empowerment networking breakfast held at the YWCA of Steubenville. With her is Sophie Spencer, YWCA executive director. The 2020 installment begins Wednesday at 8 a.m. with a presentation by Hopedale resident Lisa Zaucha of XPress Payment. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — The YWCA of Steubenville’s “Taking the Lead” series gets back on track Wednesday, continuing its informal women’s economic empowerment monthly breakfast sessions.

Held at the YWCA located at 320 N. Fourth St., the series provides a forum in which women who own businesses, women in senior management or women who want to start a business can network with each other and learn about each other’s businesses and professions, according to Sophie Spencer, YWCA executive director.

It begins at 8 a.m. and lasts approximately one hour. The cost is $15 and includes breakfast. For information or to register, contact Spencer at (740) 282-1261 or visit the Facebook page. The e-mail is Steubenvilleywca@comcast.net.

Wednesday’s presenter will be Hopedale resident Lisa Zaucha, a sales executive with XPress Payment.

The 2019 series wrapped up with Tina Thompson of Proforma Innovative Services as the guest presenter, explaining how she got into marketing and became a promotional product specialist.

“My job is to help other people build their companies, and that’s how I look at it,” she told the group of women. “I am not sales. I am marketing, trying to help you guys do a better job of what you’re doing and get the word out.”

Thompson, who has been with Proforma since October 2016, walked the audience through chapters of her life using bookbags and backpacks as time markers, beginning as a student, progressing to her present job and envisioning a future undertaking that’s in the works.

She noted how her employment history differs from that of her father, for example, who spent his entire working life in one profession, as a truck driver.

“That doesn’t happen anymore, so my goal is maybe you can see you have a passion for something and you can go out and do that,” Thompson offered, explaining she has been blessed to have had passion in everything she’s done so far.

Her initial bookbag she used to identify herself as a student who went to college after high school, initially at Kent State.

“I was spending more time sun tanning than I did in class,” she joked.

Thompson left school, temporarily worked as a bank teller and then began teaching in a daycare setting, working with emotionally disturbed children, and enjoying it. It inspired her to return to college for her teaching degree.

“I taught for about 12 years in Cleveland and then I got married,” Thompson said. They moved to Chicago where she did some substitute teaching.

“We ended up moving to Steubenville,” she said, explaining her husband was an architect working with a development corporation renovating homes in town.

Her next bag was a diaper bag, starting a family that included adopting six boys. “We still have two girls at home,” she said. “We did foster care and a lot of the kids we got for foster care were kids this close to going to a residential for the rest of their years and so that’s who we ended up adopting,” she said.

“After I stopped doing foster care — and this is typical — you tend to go to advocate,” she said of her next move as a volunteer, working as a secretary for A Child’s Place CASA, an organization of volunteers trained to advocate for abused and neglected youth in Hancock, Brooke and Jefferson counties.

She served in that capacity for more than a year until a phone call of interest came from a great aunt of one of her adopted children, wondering if she’d be interested in owning her own business.

It ultimately put her on track to the promotional work she is doing.

Her next job in a year or so, she anticipates, is dedicating a house to kids who age out of foster care. “We have a program written out, and we’ve started paperwork for the company and we’re going to walk them through how to fix those holes in their education,” she said. The assistance will involve teaching life skills, networking with other local programs and services in place and helping them discover their passions and career desires.

Thompson’s bottom-line advice to the group?

“Seek out your passions, figure out what’s important for you and do those things,” Thompson offered the suggestion. “You never know where it’s going to take you.”

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