2022 Women Who Inspire: Friends of the Firm

Published: March 1, 2022

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Steptoe & Johnson presents the second installment of our “Women Who Inspire” series, featuring female leaders who will share reflections on women empowerment, opportunities for professional women now and in the future, and the women they have looked up to throughout their careers.

2022 honorees include:

Women Who Inspire – Marchelle Moore

Marchelle E. Moore

Marchelle is the Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary for Encova Mutual Insurance Group. Moore leads strategic and tactical legal initiatives and provides the executive and senior leadership teams with legal advice on company strategies and their implementation. Moore also leads regulatory affairs and industry relations.

Prior to joining Encova, Moore served as Central Ohio Transit Authority’s (COTA) Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs and General Counsel. Before joining COTA, Moore worked at the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, and was responsible for conducting extensive research and pre-trial hearings for a wide range of civil and criminal cases. Prior to her work at the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Moore was an Assistant City Attorney for the Columbus City Attorney’s Office.

Moore has accomplished numerous professional achievements and highlights, including recognition in Savoy Magazine’s 2019 Most Influential Women in Corporate America; The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law’s 2018 Community Service Award; United Way’s 2016 Emerging Leader Award; and as a Game Changer in Who’s Who in Black Columbus. She is a fellow of the Young American Leaders Program at Harvard Business School and the African American Leadership Academy and former Co-Chair of the City of Columbus Charter Review Commission. Moore resides in Blacklick, Ohio and enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, outdoor activities and community service.

What do you consider your greatest career success?
While there are several career accomplishments over the years that I’m particularly proud of, the greatest success in my career is when I was named to my current role of Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary for Encova Insurance. This role affords me the greatest breadth of responsibility of my career and the opportunity to work on large scale, complex transactions which is very rewarding.

What advice would you give young women?
Be willing to ascend as high as your talent and ambition will take you. There are a lot of messages, both internal and external, that once you have a family, you can no longer fully pursue your career ambitions; and that simply is not true. I, along with countless other women, have built successful careers, while simultaneously being loving, present, and fully engaged mothers. For me, particularly as a single mother, it has taken extraordinary planning, but it can be done, and it is very gratifying to fully live out your professional dreams while also experiencing the unparalleled joys of being a mother.

What do you see as opportunities for women in the business world?
To take our seat at the big table and lead. It is well documented that diverse teams deliver greater results, and the time is now for more women to take our rightful place at the highest levels of leadership. It’s been disheartening to read that women are currently exiting the workforce at alarming rates due to the multifaceted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – a trend I hope will soon reverse. We need them!

Who were those women pioneers that you were inspired by?
There have been so many women who’ve inspired me. But no one has inspired me more than my mother – Gloria Wooten. She is smart, she is strong, and she is courageous. I have spent my entire life trying to emulate her character and fortitude. I am who I am because of her.


Women Who Inspire – Christi Lee

Christi Lee

Christi Lee is Chief Legal Officer at Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. (ARH), a not-for-profit health system operating 14 hospitals in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky and West Virginia. In addition to her legal duties, Lee serves on the ARH Strategic Plan Steering Committee and leads the Greater Good Goal Committee dedicated to improving health and wellness and expansion of mental health services in the communities served by ARH. Ms. Lee also oversees the pursuit of philanthropy funding sources for the ARH Foundation for Healthier Communities. Lee, a native of Whitesburg, Kentucky, is dedicated to diminishing the disparity in the health of Appalachians and the nation as a whole. Lee received a B.A. in psychology, summa cum laude, and J.D., cum laude, both from University of Kentucky.

What is the greatest success of your career?
Early in my career, my goal was to work as hard as possible and make as much money as possible during working hours, so that I could enjoy life outside of work. So, any kind of fun was based outside of work. At that time, I just spent a lot of time overwhelmed and unhappy. We spend too much of our lives at work to only focus on enjoyment outside of work, and if you do that, I am a firm believer you can’t be fully happy in life. That’s too much unhappy time if you’re always unhappy at work. I constantly struggled with time spent away from my children and my family, and even though I enjoyed what I was doing, I just couldn’t get there. Based on that, I would say the greatest success of my career is to be in a position where I’m excited to wake up in the morning and go to work. I know my work is important and that I’m good at my work.

What advice do you have for younger female professionals who are trying to navigate their own careers?
You have to set your own goals, and work diligently and patiently to reach those goals. Society is always telling women what we need to be, what we need to do, what we need to wear, when we need to have kids. You have to put all of that noise out of your mind. My advice is to throw all of that out the window and figure out what’s important to you.

What organizations do you support that empower women?
There’s so many out there that are worth the time, attention, and contribution, but the one I spend the most time with – and the one I’m most passionate about – is the one that I’m part of, Appalachian Regional Healthcare. In the U.S., women represent 47% of the workforce, but only 21% of senior leadership positions nationwide. Only 8.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and the article I read was bragging about that 8.2% because we had come so far. This year, for the first time in history, ARH has a female CEO, a female Chief Medical Officer, a female Chief Legal Officer, and a female Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, and women make up just over 50% of the executive leadership team at ARH. So, I think that that’s really a testament to the value that ARH places on the empowerment of women and the promotion of women in the workplace.

Who are women who have inspired you?
Certainly, my grandmothers and my mother. Both of my grandmothers were working women. My grandmother Grace was about as strong as they come. She was postmaster and valued her career at a time that it wasn’t looked upon as a good thing for a woman to have a career. She worked hard at work and at home. My mother was a kindergarten teacher for 30 years, and she valued her career in a time where society sent the message that it’s okay for women to work, but your duty is to your family. My 9-year-old daughter also inspires me. Right now, she’s completely undeterred by expectations and hopefully that never changes. I’ve promised her that I won’t stop until that she has the same advantages and opportunities that her brother has. I think we’ve moved the bar, but I don’t think we’re there, and I don’t have any intention of stopping.

In your experience with Steptoe & Johnson, what have you seen that embodies our dedication to the empowerment of women?
In a leadership position, I see all kinds of companies that offer products and services, and I will say that I place great importance on a diverse leadership team. The team I work with at Steptoe is diverse, and it’s full of women, and the thing that I notice about Steptoe is that it’s not just women at the associate level, which is frankly what you still see in a lot of law firms. Maybe that’s improved some since I was in private practice, but you would see a large concentration of women at the associate level but not at the leadership level in firms. And by leadership level, I mean Partners and Of Counsel and people in positions able to influence change. At Steptoe, I see women and men in leadership, and I enjoy working with a diverse group. I think that both genders bring something to the table, and I like that Steptoe has a diverse group, and I like that there’s female leadership.


Women Who Inspire - Amanda Wilson

Amanda Wilson

Amanda Wilson is the owner of A+X Puzzles and is a Raleigh-Durham based businesswoman who has taken the toy/game industry by force. Amanda founded A+X Puzzles in February 2019 and is the mother of twins, Adric and Xola (the inspiration for the name of the company). Amanda was inspired to create her own puzzle company because she noticed a glaring absence of diversity in puzzles or games. Amanda has grown her company over the last two years into the best-selling diverse children’s puzzle company, selling in over 1,700 Target stores nationwide.

Amanda coined the phrase “puzzles with you in mind” because one of the core values of her brand is representation and the company’s products provide opportunities for children to see characters that look like them, while developing key fine motor skills, such as hand eye coordination, shape recognition, and concentration. Amanda also founded a Facebook group called Black Moms of Twins which has over 3,500 members. This group provides resources and advice for twin mothers.

What do you consider the greatest success in your career so far?
As the owner of A+X Puzzles, I would say obviously expanding into retail stores as quickly as we did. We just celebrated our third anniversary and we have expanded into many retail spaces, even Target!

What advice do you have for younger female professionals who are navigating through their career?
My biggest advice for all women professionals is to go after everything with reckless abandon, and I always say that you have to be like a dog with a bone when it comes to digging holes because you’re going to hear a lot of the word “no” and you’re not going to see a lot of female representation in a lot of the career fields that you may be interested in. As a young black woman, it can also be intimidating when you know there is a man telling you “no” or closing a door and then you have to take off your woman hat and put on your business woman hat and get the job done; you have to get the job done.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for females in the business world?
I think the biggest opportunity is to really decide what you want to do in your life, and when I say that it doesn’t always mean career wise, but it also means do you want to get married? Do you want to have children? If so, you need to prioritize what’s more important to you. You can have everything you want in life; it just might not be all at the same time. I don’t think a lot of women realize that you do have to be almost a little bit calculated when it comes to things like this in your life. It’s unfortunate, but you do have to be little calculated.

Who are some of the women who have inspired you?
Well, of course, Michelle Obama. She’s my girl crush and an example of having your career, having your family, and still reaching great success.

In your experience with Steptoe & Johnson, what have you seen that embodies our dedication to the empowerment of women?
I will say I have never received an email from a man at Steptoe & Johnson. I’m like “is it all women that work there?” I think in my mind, I’m thinking, maybe this is a woman ran firm and awesome if it is, but if it isn’t, thank you for putting the women in the forefront.


Women Who Inspire - Amanda Stevens

Amanda M. Stevens, MBA, FAHP, CFRE

Amanda M. Stevens is the Chief Strategy Officer for Hill Country Memorial (HCM) and Executive Director for the Foundation for HCM. After taking a position at the Foundation, she quickly found a love for philanthropy and helping community members meet their philanthropic objectives through support of local health care. Prior to her work at HCM, she worked for an international non-profit in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.

Amanda is a Fellow in the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy and has been recognized by the organization as one of its 40 under 40 leaders in healthcare development. In 2020, she was named Outstanding Woman of the Year by the local Chamber of Commerce. An avid volunteer, Amanda spends much of her free time volunteering for local nonprofits and community organizations.

What do you see is the biggest opportunity for women in the business world?
I think our biggest opportunity in the business world stems from the fact that we, as women, see things so differently. Our perspective is different and unique, and I think we have a great opportunity in the business world to welcome in those new and unique perspectives. And we as women are also very fierce, and if we see something that needs to go a certain direction or that needs to change, most of the time we go after it. I think partly because we want the world to be better than we found it. We want it to be better for our daughters and for our younger colleagues that are coming up in our footsteps.

What are some of the organizations that you’re involved with that either as part of their mission or just part of their practice, really empower women?
I serve as the board chair for the Gillespie County Economic Development Commission. We are a strong economic development commission and as the chair, I have the opportunity to help promote a strong business culture in our community and strong female-owned businesses. I do believe that, as women, we need to support local women-owned businesses and I make it a point to shop at those businesses. The kids’ clothing store that is owned by a mom and her mother is a staple for me. The local caterer that’s owned by a woman is such a great inspiration for her young daughter. Wineries that are women owned or women led are critical to the fabric of our community. It may seem like a small thing, but it makes a tremendous difference in the lives of those female business owners that we support them and support their work.

Who are some women who have inspired you?
I have two daughters, Meredith and Margaret, who inspire me to leave them a world better than I found it. I watch the way these girls treat other people with kindness and give a perspective that I don’t think we take the time to appreciate as much. I want for them to look back at my career – because I am away from home quite a lot – and the work that I did, and for them to feel like it was worth it. So, they inspire me to come to work every day and leave the world a little bit better for them and their future. And particularly when it comes to rural health care – It’s critical. So many of the people in our country live in rural areas, and if we don’t have incredible health care there, that’s a huge swath of our population that’s missing out on life sustaining care. And so, I want my girls to feel proud that the work I did mattered and that they can, if they choose to live in rural America, feel confident that there will be great health care for them, in part, because of my work.

In your experience with Steptoe & Johnson, what have you seen that embodies our dedication to the empowerment of women?
I was so impressed that Steptoe & Johnson chose to do take this brave step and highlight women who make a difference. Not every organization is courageous enough to celebrate the people who make our world better. The other thing that I was impressed by is that nine members of the Steptoe & Johnson leadership team are female. That is a huge number compared to other businesses of similar work in a male dominated industry.


Women Who Inspire - Susan Hasseler

Dr. Susan S. Hasseler

President Susan Hasseler began her tenure at Muskingum University in 2016 and has a deep commitment to the transformative power of an engaging and high-impact liberal arts education. Dr. Hasseler holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, an M.A. in Special Education from the University of South Dakota, and a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Calvin College. An active participant in the community, Dr. Hasseler serves as a member of the NCAA Division III Presidents Council, the Council of Independent Colleges NetVUE Advisory Council, the Park National Bank (EAS), Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, and Ohio Campus Compact Boards and the Wilds Advisory Committee. She also belongs to the Zanesville Noon International Rotary Club.

What do you consider the greatest success in your career?
My career has been shaped by a strong calling to create educational spaces and places that effectively serve all students, but particularly those who are historically marginalized in society and schools. I began working directly in K-12 schools, moved on to educating new and experienced teachers at the college level, and now carry out this passion as the leader of a university. My greatest success is student thriving i.e., creating better educational programming and a positive culture for all students. When I see students succeed, I know I am fulfilling my calling.

What advice do you have for younger female professionals who are navigating through their career?
Be fearless! Never underestimate your experiences and expertise and do not hesitate to take on leadership positions. Keep your eyes open for opportunities and take them. Identify your strengths and offer to share them. Listen to positive feedback and build on it. The world needs you. Take it on!

Be purposeful! When you focus on significance, success follows. Focusing on a specific purpose, with a clear idea of how to accomplish your goals will help you avoid getting derailed with details. Know the connections between your deep passion and the world’s deep hunger (Frederick Buechner) and look for the opportunities that allow you to have a meaningful impact.

Stay connected! You will meet many people along the way who can help you learn, grow and stay the course. Take the time to nurture those connections, both personal and professional. They will give you strength when you need it-and allow you to encourage and support others when they need it.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for females in the business world?
Women have an exceptional opportunity to build on their gifts and bring their unique perspectives to the world of work, whether that is in business, industry, public service, education, health care, or any number of leadership areas. The unique ability to collaborate, balance competing demands, create solutions and lead inclusively make women a formidable force in the workplace. Being who we are and shaping the workplace, accordingly, is a great opportunity for women to have an impact on organizational culture and societal well-being.

Who are women who have inspired you?
My grandmothers, mother, and daughter all inspire me.

My grandmothers both pursued an education beyond their generational expectations, and were educators and lovers of poetry and music, instilling all three of these loves in me.

My mom, who is 97, fully embraces life, continuing to lead with compassion and conviction in her current living space. She inspires me with her persistence and energy every day.

My daughter, who also fully embraces life, inspires me to constantly evaluate purpose, meaning, and values. Her emphasis on balance, relationships, sustainability, and joy are a constant inspiration to me.

I have also had many female mentors who continue to inspire me to live into my full potential and to embrace the new challenges and opportunities that come my way.

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