CHICAGO — Less than two weeks after its founding, Ohio Women in Public Finance has attracted more than 100 members.
Formed in early August, the group is holding a trio of kickoff events. Members will meet tonight in Cincinnati for the second event. More than 45 women showed up last week for the group's first meeting, held at a downtown Columbus restaurant. A final event will be held Sept. 21 in Cleveland, following the Ohio Government Finance Officers Association annual meeting.
"The response I've gotten so far has been tremendous," said Megan Kilgore, 29, the founder and board president who is the assistant city auditor for Columbus. "We have a membership of over 100 members that was reached after two weeks of being live online. That tells me there's a drought."
The Ohio group is a chapter of the national Women in Public Finance organization, based in Chicago and founded in 1997. The national group added two chapters this year — in Ohio and Minnesota — since formalizing the process last year.
Groups in the Northeast and Indiana remain informally tied to the group, and organizations from Boston and the South are considering becoming chapters, according to national board president Dana Sodikoff, associate director of the public finance health care group at Fitch Ratings.
"We're thrilled to expand the Women in Public Finance footprint with the addition of the Ohio chapter," Sodikoff said.
The national WPF group hosts a yearly conference that typically attracts around 400 participants from across the country. The 15th annual conference will be held Oct. 6 in downtown Chicago.
The popular national conference provided some of the impetus to form a state chapter, Kilgore said. "I really look forward to that event every year, and we wanted to bring that down to the statewide level," she said.
The Ohio WPF plans to host quarterly half-day seminars that will tackle various topics in public finance, invite local charities to events for fundraising efforts, and highlight issues important to Ohio communities.
"Speaking as an issuer, we can get very focused on our particular work and forget there's this whole other world of public finance out there — education, health care, libraries," Kilgore said. "This organization is going to bridge all of those industries."
Ohio WPF's 11-member founding board consists of Kilgore; Bethany Pugh, managing director at Public Financial Management Inc.; Jean Carter Ryan, director of the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority; Mary Duffey, partner at Peck, Shaffer, & Williams LLP; Michelle Kelly-Underwood, finance director of the city of Hilliard; Candi Moore, senior vice president at Huntington National Bank; Amber Burke of RBC Capital Markets; Darlene Short, senior accountant in the Columbus auditor's office; Vikki Amicon, chief accountant of the Columbus auditor's office; Megan Browning, senior vice president at George K. Baum & Co.; and Jennifer Demmerle, director of finance at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.