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SUA is a Proud Recipient of CLIMB Award from Cincinnati Business Courier

Climb Award

Saint Ursula Academy is a proud recipient of the CLIMB (Cincinnati Lifts Inclusion and Minority Business) Award from the Cincinnati Business Courier.
The CLIMB Awards celebrate companies, entrepreneurs, and organizations in Greater Cincinnati who have helped our region achieve greater heights of success through building a diverse workforce, scaling minority-owned businesses, championing equitable human resources practices, and developing inclusive cultures.
Saint Ursula Academy, a Catholic high school for girls in grades 9-12, put more intentional focus on its equity and inclusion work during its strategic planning process that began in 2018, making EI one of its top four institutional goals for the 5-year plan. Plans included creating an inclusive/equitable environment, incorporating EI within school policies, practices, hiring, and student programming, enhancing student recruitment policies, messaging, accountability, effectiveness, collaboration, and exploring funding opportunities.
During those five years, SUA has seen measurable movement, a positive indication that the school is making progress in its work to ensure its culture is inclusive, framed by Catholic teaching to love each other and appreciate the unique gifts of others. 
Results include: 
  • The school leadership at SUA is 88% women including President Lelia Keefe Kramer, Principal Dr. Mari Thomas, Ph.D., Alicia Tidwell, VP of Community Advancement, Equity and Inclusion, Jodi Clever, VP of Operations, and Jill Cahill, VP of Communications. 
  • Endowment has increased in 10 years from $5 million to $20 million to ensure SUA has the funds to enroll students who might have financial needs. 
  • Diversity enrollment has increased from 7 % to 16 % over five years.
  • The Saint Ursula Board of Trustees has increased minority representation by 25 % since 2018 and the faculty and staff has increased by 6% in the last three years.
  • Every faculty and staff member at Saint Ursula Academy is involved in Equity and Inclusion work. 
  • Saint Ursula Academy hired its first African American Vice President in the history of the school, Alicia Tidwell. Alicia is the Vice President of Community Advancement, Equity & Inclusion. 
  • Dr. Josie Evans-Phillips comes from higher education and moves from serving her university in a diversity role to assume the role of Saint Ursula Senior Director of Equity and Inclusion in Student Life. 
“Saint Ursula approaches Equity and Inclusion through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching,” said Saint Ursula President Lelia Keefe Kramer. “We believe every person is made in the image of God. Our responsibility is to model and teach our students to honor the uniqueness of each individual and to “Love thy Neighbor,” despite our differences. That’s what our founding Sisters and our foundress, Saint Angela Merici called us to do.”
“Diversity work is a must, not a plus,” said Alicia Tidwell, Saint Ursula VP of Community Advancement, Equity, and Inclusion. “Saint Ursula is committed to ensuring EVERY student, faculty, and staff member is valued. The only way to get this done is to embed Equity and Inclusion in every aspect of the community right down to the curriculum, performance, professional development, hiring practices, sponsorship and donors. We can get minority students to come to SUA but if the culture is not welcoming and of value to every student, their humanity, love and respect, we have missed the mark. It is our intent every day to ensure we are making a difference and modeling the way. SUA is a local school making a global impact. We are SUA, We are community!!” 
The CLIMB Awards ceremony was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Cincinnati on November 17. Saint Ursula leadership members accepting the award on behalf of the school included Lelia Keefe Kramer, Dr. Mari Thomas, Alicia Tidwell, Jodi Clever, Jill Cahill, Kelly Powers, and Andrea Brunsman.  The event was hosted by the Business Courier Publisher Jamie Smith. The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Executive Director Jill Meyer co-hosted by presenting awards as part of their nationally recognized Minority Business Accelerator.

Saint Ursula also congratulates this year’s additional CLIMB honorees who are also making a difference through their work.
  • Shining Brighter Lights on New Stages - Artswave
  • Turning Financial Barriers into Batons - Back2Back
  • Seizing Every Angle to Do Better - Empower
  • Centering DEI as a Business Imperative - Ohio National
  • Fostering Generational Wealth Through Homeownership - The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority
  • Expanding Perspectives & Opportunities - St. Ursula Academy
  • Empowering Economics Through Shared Ownership - Sustainergy
  • Supporting Colleagues for Individual Growth - Total Quality Logistics
Read more about Saint Ursula Academy’s CLIMB Award in the Cincinnati Business Courier.