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Gallery of Recipients

2018 Woman of Promise – Katie Cautela

Two years ago Katie came to the Center feeling broken. She had just celebrated seven years of sobriety but felt something was missing in her life. After experiencing a job loss her sole means of support became a struggling small business that scarcely provided enough income to make ends meet each month. Katie heard about a program that could equip her with the skills she needed to make her dreams a reality. She joined the New Directions program and her transformation began. 

Katie felt empowered, safe and supported while at the Center. With encouragement and guidance from staff members Katie found the strength to create plans, tackle fears, go on to nursing school and accomplish steps toward her goal. 

Today, Katie is the sole ambulatory nurse within the detox unit of Maryhaven, helping other addicts on their road to recovery. She says, “Every day I get to ‘pay it forward’ and ‘give back’ what was so freely given to me. This is such a rewarding feeling, to love your work. I finally love myself for the first time in my life. I could not ever have gotten here without the help of [the Center].” 

Our 2018 Woman of Promise reflects resilience, tenacity and compassion. Like many women who receive a “hand up” in their lives, she now uses her newfound hope, strength and purpose to bring light to others facing challenges.

2017 Woman of Promise – Kelli Rudie

Years of chronic illness and setbacks in her career left Kelli feeling frustrated and financially strained. Feeling like she was out of options but determined to persevere, Kelli joined and completed the Center’s New Directions program for women in 2015.New Directions gave her the opportunity to meet other women who also struggled with career and financial security. “I found others like me in experience, in struggles, in desires for financial independence,” she says. “I found acceptance and hope in the words and ideas being presented.”

Appreciative of all who helped to build her skills and confidence, Kelli credits the New Directions program with assisting her to dig down deep and listen to her own voice. She envisioned the career woman she wanted to be — emerging with a renewed sense of acceptance, hope and confidence.Upon graduation, Kelli was quickly hired as a full-time office manager with benefits supporting a local hospital. Kelli works incredibly hard at her role, experiences increased confidence and career success, and serves as an inspiration to other women in the community.

Today, Kelli informs the Center of job opportunities through her employer and provides assistance to prospective applicants, bringing the help she received full circle.



2016 Woman of Promise – Darlene Wesley

Darlene came to the Center as a newly single parent, struggling to keep food on the table, and in a new city. Darlene says, “one momentous day, I went to the public library and was told about New Directions Career Center. I hoped New Directions would help me with job readiness skills and to find a job. What I actually received exceeded my expectations and changed my life. While at New Directions, I learned how to clarify my life’s vision, set goals to achieve my desires, and use my gifts, talents and skills to actively pursue and obtain employment.” After graduating from the Center, Darlene got a job at Sunrise Senior Living as a care manager.  After a year, she decided to go back to school full time and I earned my Masters’ degree in Social Work at The Ohio State University.

Darlene is now a licensed social worker employed as an adult outpatient counselor at Maryhaven. Most recently, she has been accepted in the MBA program at a local university and will start classes in the fall.  Her plan is to start a profitable online health and wellness business.

10 S. Cunningham 2015 Woman of Promise – Saundra Cunningham

New Directions Career Center is proud to recognize Saundra Cunningham as the 2015 Woman of Promise.  In 2001 Saundra’s career as the first female supervisor for the City of Columbus Park Maintenance Department ended unexpectedly.  At a crossroads in her life, unemployment led to self-doubt and insecurity as Saundra searched for her next career move.  She came across an article about New Directions Career Center and as she researched the programs and services offered by the Center, discovered her mother had received help through the New Directions program.  This provided comfort and guidance and Saundra decided the Center was the place she needed to be.

Through the New Directions program and Individual Career Counseling, Saundra began to explore her skills, strengths, and weaknesses.  The programs and assessments confirmed her entrepreneurial spirit and a drive to advocate for others. In her words, “I found my calling despite the fact that my journey seemed bleak and my choices appeared to be limited. The support granted to me by the staff during and after the program was exceptional. I recommend that any woman at a crossroads in her life attend this program. It is truly a blessing.”

After graduation from NDCC, Saundra chose to advocate for others by pursuing a legal career. She received a full scholarship for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program through Capital University Law School and completed the program in 2010. Yet another first in her career, Saundra became the first Franklin County Foreclosure Mediation Coordinator after serving on the Foreclosure Task Force for less than one year. In time, her entrepreneurial drive would lead her to start her own business – TSC Mediation Services.

Throughout her journey Saundra pursued her passion for helping others through acts of service and volunteerism within her community. She currently works as a Site Coordinator for the Ohio Benefit Bank through Lutheran Social Services, which brings her to volunteer in the New Directions classroom.

“I am forever grateful to the Center and the experiences I had in the classroom. I enjoy the new-found person I have become who is able to spread knowledge, compassion, joy of life, as well as provide inspiration to others.”

Bethia_Headshot (2) 2014 Woman of Promise – Bethia Woolf

New Directions Career Center is proud to recognize Bethia Woolf as the 2014 Woman of Promise honoree.  Bethia was unemployed and at a crossroads in her life when she came to the Center in 2009.  She did not want to go back to her previous career in the athletic arena as a rowing coach, but was not yet sure what her next calling might be.  

“When you’re in school, there’s plenty of career counseling, but, if you’re like me, you’re not ready for it then,” Bethia stated.  “It’s when you’re older and trying to figure out what’s next professionally when it’s far more difficult to get expert help.  I was lucky enough to find the Center via a Google search, and it was truly a stoke of good fortune.  I was unemployed.  I needed career advice, and, to be honest, I needed help with my self-esteem.”

Through the career counseling Bethia received at the Center, she began to explore her skills, strengths, and weaknesses and received much needed support and perspective. She also obtained assistance from the Center’s Employment Specialist to navigate the job market and apply for open positions.  

Throughout the process of self-discovery and taking action, pieces started to fall into place and Bethia found herself feeling more confident.  “The confidence I received from my time at New Directions helped me to take the plunge and start my own business.  In 2010 I founded Columbus Food Adventures with support from my now-husband Andy.”  

Over the past four years, Bethia’s business has grown substantially.  She currently employs six guides and has spun off a quickly growing sister business – Columbus Brew Adventures.  Bethia is highly respected in the community and contributes to several Columbus food blogs, writes for Crave Magazine, and is a co-host of WCBE’s weekly Foodcast program.  She is a passionate ambassador for the Columbus food scene and serves as a board member for Slow Food Columbus and Dine Originals Columbus.

“I am very grateful to the Center for nurturing me when I needed someone to listen, provoke and advise, and I’m happy to help give back to others making a similar journey.”

Kathy Bickel 2013 Woman of Promise – Kathy Bickel

Kathy Bickel, a member of New Directions Career Center’s Board of Trustees and co-chair of this year’s “Women of Promise” event, is being honored as a 2013 “Woman of Promise.”

In 1980 Bickel sought services from NDCC in the aftermath of a divorce. She was a young woman suddenly responsible for three small children – including an infant daughter. Although she had previously attended college, she had no degree and no child support immediately forthcoming. The Center’s licensed professionals supported Bickel as she tackled her fears, regained her confidence, and developed a career plan.

“I felt as if an angel from heaven had come down to tell me that I was worthy, that I hadn’t done anything wrong,” stated Bickel. “The staff saw the world-weary woman before them, the one who cried silently in the bath tub every night, and recognized her potential. They helped me figure out ‘next steps’ – even though I had a newborn baby in my arms.”

“Next steps” included linking Bickel with the Continuing Education Program at The Ohio State University (OSU). With hard work, time, and energy, Bickel earned her undergraduate degree from OSU’s prestigious Fisher College of Business in 1987 and a Master’s degree in Labor and Human Resource Management in 1994.

Today, Bickel, happily married, is a Vice-President for The Ohio State University Alumni Association, Inc. Her responsibilities include leading the activities and budget of seven functional areas within the Association, and supervising a staff of 21 professionals. Bickel has earned the respect of her staff, colleagues, and the people she serves in her leadership roles at both OSU and NDCC, as well as the three children who shared her journey. Kathy says, “I often tell my children – and this is also the advice I give other women in crisis – you are much stronger than you think and things are never as good – or as bad – as you think they are. You can do anything you set your mind to – just do it.”

TOSKA WEBSITE PIC 2013 Woman of Promise – Toska Broadway

Toska Broadway, a graduate of the Center’s New Directions program, is being honored as a 2013 “Woman of Promise.”  Broadway contacted the Center in 2008 when she was at a crossroads in her life. At the time a single mother of a teenage son, she was working part-time as a sign language interpreter. Broadway stated, “I was at a point in life where I knew I wanted to develop more skills; however, I didn’t know which direction I wanted to move in…I thought the program would at least help me know which career path to take, but I received so much more!” With guidance from the Center’s licensed career counselors, Broadway was encouraged to dream and to identify her internal and external resources. She faced her barriers and fears, and found her potential. “I was able to get past all my ‘junk’ and finally see the real me.” 

Broadway decided to pursue a degree in American Sign Language, enrolling at Columbus State Community College with a goal of transferring to Gallaudet University (GU) in Washington, DC. In 2008, she was recognized as the Center’s Bostwick Scholarship winner, jump-starting her educational journey.

After relocating to DC and participating in a Gallaudet-sponsored trip to Costa Rica, she witnessed severe poverty first-hand and decided to major in International Relations. She continues to learn about cultures and politics of other countries, and possible strategies to end poverty. Broadway completed an internship in Argentina in 2012, and will be traveling to Guatemala this summer to help set up a camp for deaf children. She has also been accepted into a graduate program at GU in International Development.

Broadway says, “When I look back over the last three years, I am in awe at how my life has changed…I still, to this day, refer to my NDCC handbook and have my poster at school so I don’t forget who I was and where I am heading.” 

SBarry 2012 Woman of Promise – Stephanie Barry

Stephanie Barry, a 2007 graduate of the New Directions program, is the 2012 Woman of Promise honoree. Stephanie had reached a deep personal and professional low-point in her life before coming to the Center. She referred to that period as one filled with “dead-end jobs, a painful marriage, and no self-esteem.” After her initial hesitation, she entered the New Directions program, where she was able to shed light on her deeply-rooted fears and find a safe place where she could hope, dream, and make a plan.

With the support of the professional career counselors and the employment specialist, Stephanie continued to develop her skills, grow her resources, and complete a Digital Media Certificate. She dreamed up a life in Hawaii, and then realized both her educational goals and followed her dream by completing her Master’s degree at the University of Hawaii and working there for several years. 

Today, Stephanie is in high demand and works as an instructional designer for Altius Education in San Francisco, CA where she develops online classes. She attributes her success and new-found confidence to the knowledge and skills she gained at New Directions Career Center: “At New Directions I learned how to dream again. I was so broken when I went in, but I came out of the program with more potential than I ever, EVER could have imagined for myself. I started with small steps, but the biggest thing I adopted was a belief in myself.”

WOP Winners History