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Our Leadership

Julene Allen is Chair of the Lean In Ohio Chapter and Founder of the global program, Lean In Women of Color. She is also the Executive Director of  Women For Action, editor-in-chief of Women For Action Times and a military veteran.

Through the 501(c)(3) organization, Women For Action, Julene Allen, a Chicago native tells stories about the under-recognized contributions of women innovators. As an interviewer, Julene has interviewed prominent women subjects such as Lori Lyons, the first black woman to shoot the cover of Fortune Magazine; Bonnie-Jill Laflin, the first and only woman NBA Scout; Champion woman boxer Marianne Marston, prodigy of the late legendary Heavyweight Champion of the World, Smokin' Joe Frazier; Peggy Llewellyn, the first woman of color in the world to win a professional motor-sports event; and Kamala Lopez,the producer of Equal Means Equal . Additionally, Julene has volunteered to bring resources to her communities while working with key organizations such as the United States National Committee for UN Women and LeanIn.Org.

Julene Allen is also a LeanIn.Org regional leader and has pledged to interview 100 women leaders throughout the state of Ohio, a collaborative project of Women For Action. Other projects she has founded are the petition to Elevate August 26th, Women’s Equality Day to a Federal Holiday on Change.org and the new global program, Lean In Women of Color. [ Full bio ]

Major Bhakti Mary is Co-founder of the Wright Women Lean in Circle,  Vice Chair of the Lean In Ohio Chapter, an Air Force Academy Grad and Combat Veteran.

Also, Mary is a Flight Commander, 14th Intelligence Squadron, 655 Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Major Mary was born in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In 2004, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management and received her commission from the United States Air Force Academy. She began her career as a watch officer, flight commander, mission director and deputy chief of mission operations at the 301st Intelligence Squadron at Misawa Air Force Base, Japan.  In 2007, she achieved her Master's degree in Business Administration.  Following that assignment, she served at Wright-Patterson AFB as the program manager of the Panoramic Night Vision Goggle Program.  In October 2009, she deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Quality Program Manager and Lead Quality Assurance Representative for Theater Wide Contracts valued at $4B for Defense Contract Management Agency.  She has served as a program manager on many programs in the Fighter/Bomber Directorate.  Prior to her current assignment, she served as a weapon systems intelligence analyst for Fighter/Bomber Programs in the Aeronautical Intelligence Division and the assistant director of operations in the 14th Intelligence Squadron.

Marissa Buckles is Secretary of the Lean In Ohio Chapter and Director, Development and Corporate Giving at the YWCA Dayton.

Marissa Buckles is an Ohio native, who after years of living on the West Coast and Chicago is excited to be back home and looking to have a positive impact on her community. Marissa currently works for YWCA Dayton as their Director of Development and Corporate Giving. She is energized and inspired by the amazing women in leadership throughout Dayton and its surrounding areas. In addition to Lean In Ohio, Marissa volunteers for Planned Parenthood.

Additionally, She enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as gardening and biking. Marissa is excited to Lean into the empowerment of women

Kanesha Hall is Chair of the Springfield Circle and STEM Programming Manager at Clark State Community College.

Kanesha facilitates youth STEM programming and manages a partnership between Johns Hopkins University-Whiting School of Engineering and Clark State Community College. Collaboration between colleges, communities and K-12 schools are essential to Kanesha's work. She is a young professional who specializes in science, language arts and reading education.

At Wright State University, Kanesha participated in the African American Teachers Association, Kappa Delta Phi International Honors Society, 2014 OMLE conference and presented graduate research on reflective writing at the 2014 Wright State University Middle Childhood Education Symposium.

Currently, Kanesha is a Springfield Promise Neighborhood board member and volunteers for the United Way of Clark, Madison and Champaign counties.

Heidi Debenedictis is Moderator of the Lean In Columbus Circles and works as an engineer in the utility industry.

Though native to the state of Ohio, she has resided and worked in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Louisiana. She loves traveling and being free spirited, but is happy to call central Ohio her home again.

As an engineer, she has seen first hand the positive benefits of having a strong network of women especially for women in the STEM fields. She is committed to empowering more women to follow their dreams- not only in the STEM fields but in all areas. She is also involved with Women in Engineering through Women in Engineering through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Outside of traveling and working, she also occupies her time with marathon running, yoga, reading a good book, and cuddling up with her dogs and cat.

Brittney Ranea Paxton is Lean In Ohio's Circles Spokesperson and the Program Coordinator for The Center for Higher Education Enterprise at The Ohio State University.
The Center for Higher Education Enterprise actively works to solve national higher education issues through fostering college access, examining college affordability, in addition to addressing holistic student engagement and excellence. Brittney designs innovative programs and curriculum creating pathways to higher education, ultimately forging a brighter future for students seeking to further their knowledge.

Brittney has an abiding commitment to increasing access and retention for students in education. Originally, from Milton, Florida- Brittney has since served several colleges across the southern region of the United States. She has over 7 years of experience in higher education, most recently serving as the Assistant Director for International Programs and Services at Millsaps College. She has additionally served Florida State University, The University of Georgia, and the University of West Florida.

Brittney’s involvement with Lean In Ohio has provided opportunities to share issues facing women in the workplace, in addition to resonating the importance of prioritizing intersectional feminism within our society.

Julene Allen Julene Allen Author

Our Mission

The Lean In Ohio Chapter provides education and powerful tools for women who are aiming for the next level. Whether you are a college graduate or on top, we provide a network of support.


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“As a participant in Lean In’s Circle program, Lean In Ohio is using Lean In’s name, program logos and other branded materials under a license from LeanIn.Org. Lean In Ohio is an independent group, and LeanIn.Org does not control its activities. Visit leanin.org to learn more about Lean In and its programs.”