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Kaira Sturdivant Rouda: Real You Incorporated

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Photo by Simon Yao

Kaira Sturdivant Rouda: Real You Incorporated

Panel Discussion with Bev Bethge, Jeni Britton, Kim Holzer, and Elizabeth Lessner

Tue, Sep 16, 2008 6 PM

Kaira Sturdivant Rouda, president of Real Living and a founding donor of the Wexner Center, leads a lively discussion based on her new book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. She'll be joined by four other notable women from the central Ohio business community for this event, which begins with a reception and concludes with a book signing.

Based on her more than 20 years of experience in marketing, brand building, and entrepreneurship, Rouda has set out to offer a new point of view on what it means to be a successful woman in business. The result is Real You Incorporated—one of the "Top 25 Books Corporate America is Reading," according to 800-CEO-READ, a direct supplier of book-based resources.

This evening, Rouda discusses some of her own creative ideas about women and business, addressing such concepts as whether women have a unique ability to make philanthropy a part of their business strategy and how you can leverage the causes you're already passionate about as part of your overall brand presence. Rouda and the panelists share experiences, innovations, insights, and answers to your questions.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Real You Incorporated (available online from the Wexner Center Store and at the event) and have it signed by the author. Come early at 5 PM for the opportunity to explore the exhibition Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms free of charge. The reception begins at 6 PM in the café and the panel discussion itself starts at 6:30 PM, with the book signing to follow.

Admission is free, but we ask that you RSVP by clicking here. If you have questions, please contact Amy Wharton at (614) 292-0444 or e-mail

Keep reading for more information on Rouda and all the panelists.

More about the panelists

Beverly Bethge founded Ologie in 1987 and has helped the company grow into an award-winning branding firm that has served national and regional clients including Nationwide Insurance, Limited Brands, Limited Too, Monsanto, Cleveland Clinic, Lowe's, Big Lots, Exel, DHL, and Legg Mason. Ologie has over 60 talented associates, and the firm’s work has been recognized with over 400 awards from numerous associations and national publications including the One Show, D&AD, Print, How, Communication Arts, the Advertising Federation, Radio Mercury, and Art Directors Club. As chief executive officer for Ologie, Bethge oversees creative services for the firm.

In addition to her work with Ologie, Bethge has dedicated her time and talent over the past twenty years to organizations such as the Jazz Arts Group, Ballet Met, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Columbus Symphony, and many others. She has served on the Creative Columbus policy Steering Committee, as well as the 2012 Commission for the City of Columbus. She also serves on the executive committee of both the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and the Wellington School and is a board trustee of Columbus College of Art and Design.

Jeni Britton is the president and founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Known for its use of local, fresh ingredients, Jeni's now has three bustling locations in the Columbus area serving up such unusual flavors as Queen City Cayenne and Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet, along with Salty Caramel, Black Coffee, and many others. Britton has been featured on the Food Network and in Food & Wine magazine. Jeni's received a Tastemaker Award from Food & Wine in 2005 and won the gold medal for its cherry lambic sorbet in the Gallo Family Vineyards’ artisan food contest in 2008, after being first runner-up in 2007. Jeni's is also now featured in the Dean and DeLuca catalogue.

Britton is a founder of the Central Ohio Local Matters Project, which is associated with The Chefs Collaborative and serves to connect chefs with local food growers/producers. Britton is inspired by the Slow Foods Movement, community gardening, and various other local projects that she supports regularly.

Kim Holzer, CPA, is a financial advisor with Smith Barney who specializes in working with and empowering individuals going through divorce and major life transitions. She is a member of the Financial Planning Association of Ohio, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts.

Holzer started her career as a CPA with Coopers and Lybrand, NYC, in both the audit and corporate tax areas. She gained additional experience with in Chase's emerging markets division, CIBC Wood Gundy, and was a manager with JP Morgan. Holzer believes in working closely with her clients to create a comprehensive strategy that maximizes the possibility of achieving each individual’s most important aspirations.

Elizabeth Lessner is the owner and operator of three successful Columbus dining institutions: Betty's Fine Food and Spirits, Surly Girl Saloon, and Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails. After opening Betty's in 2001 and Surly Girl in 2006 in the Short North neighborhood, Lessner has directed her efforts downtown, where she opened Tip Top in 2007. Her next venture, Dirty Frank's Hot Dogs, is also downtown and scheduled to open in the coming months. In addition, she is developing plans for a series of urban markets to meet the needs of the growing population of downtown residents.

Lessner believes in "leaving communities better than she found them" and demonstrates this through her civic activism and social entrepreneurship. She promotes citizens' and small business owners' initiatives through her work as a member of the Mayor's Young Professionals Committee and the Downtown Special Improvement District's Recycling Committee and is also an active player in transit issues facing local workers. Lessner is the current President of the Central Ohio Restaurant Association.

Kaira Sturdivant Rouda is the president of Real Living, the first women-focused brand in real estate, and author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. She is passionate about entrepreneurialism, marketing, and the power of women in the workforce and beyond. A published author, nationally recognized speaker, award-winning marketing executive and business owner, she built her career by working in marketing for national brands, large regional advertising agencies, and national and regional publications. She continues to write a regularly published business advice column and has also written fiction books.

Active in her community, Rouda founded Central Ohio's first homeless shelter for families and served two terms on the board of the Mid-Ohio FoodBank. She currently serves on the boards of the YWCA and the Donor Circles Council of the Wexner Center for the Arts and is an underwriter of The Women’s Fund. Real Living was ranked on Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of the Top 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Led Companies, and Rouda herself has been recognized as one of the top real estate newsmakers by the Swanepoel TRENDS Report.

PARKING UPDATE: Construction at 15th and High. For more information click here.

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