Born and raised in Akron, Savannah James is a successful businesswoman, pioneering philanthropist, devoted wife and loving mother. Striking a positive balance between family, career and community, she embodies Akron’s modern woman.
With a deep-rooted passion for giving back to her local community and empowering young women, she established the annual I PROMise Makeover event that uplifts underprivileged girls from Akron-area high schools by helping them prepare for prom with dresses, accessories, and more importantly, words of encouragement and self-confidence. Channeling that same commitment to inspire and support young women, Savannah has launched her “Women of Our Future” mentorship program for high school girls in Akron, starting at her alma mater, Buchtel High School.
Following James’ remarks, the event will culminate with the presentation of the second annual Judith A. Read Tribute Award for Service & Advocacy for Women. The award, which is named for one of Greater Akron’s most influential philanthropic leaders, was created in 2016 to honor Judy’s lifetime of service and extraordinary commitment to empowering women and girls in Summit County. It is presented annually to the individual or couple who best exemplifies Judy’s service, advocacy, leadership and passion in the community.
This year’s recipient of the Judith A. Read Tribute Award is Marie Covington. Covington, a highly regarded community leader and former BFGoodrich Company executive, co-founded the Women’s Endowment Fund in 1993. She has been a lifelong champion for women and girls in Greater Akron through her leadership in both the business and nonprofit communities.
Covington is a past chair of Leadership Akron and was founding president of the Leadership Akron Alumni Association, president of the Akron Roundtable and president of the Akron Chapter of the Association of Women in Communications. She has also served on the boards of Akron Community Foundation, Summit County Historical Society, the Akron Press Club and many other nonprofit organizations.
Covington currently lends her expertise to the ATHENA Akron planning committee and Akron Community Foundation’s Dombo-Fielder Communication Scholarship for Women selection committee. She is also the honorary chair of the Judith Resnik Scholarship campaign of Women’s Network.
Covington has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Lieberth Community Vision Award from Leadership Akron, the John S. Knight Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for exceptional service to the community through communications, the Woman of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Summit County, the first Akron Business Woman of the Year Award from Inside Business Magazine, and the Founders’ Award for Community Progress of Women from Women’s Network.
Covington was unanimously selected as the second Judith A. Read Tribute Award winner by a committee of Women’s Endowment Fund board members.
“Marie truly ‘lives’ the fund’s mission of uplifting women and girls – she is constantly and continuously giving and serving,” said Jackie McDermott, a member of the award selection committee. “In her own grace-filled way, she encourages and influences others to support the advancement of women and girls in our community.”
“Marie is one of those individuals who, over the course of her adult life, has always been a thought leader and, more importantly, found avenues to implement worthwhile ideas,” added selection committee member Diane Bray.
Covington will receive the award in front of more than 400 guests at the annual dinner. The event will be held at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn and begins with a 5:30 p.m. cocktail reception with the fund’s most recent grantees, followed by dinner and the program at 6:30 p.m. The annual event celebrates women’s philanthropy and benefits the Women’s Endowment Fund, which supports programs that improve the health, safety, and economic empowerment of women and girls in Summit County.
Thanks to generous sponsorship commitments, tickets to the event are sold out. For questions about the event or to be placed on the waiting list, please call Renee Scherick at (330) 436-5612. Community members can also recognize Savannah James, Marie Covington or their personal SHEro by making gifts in their names to the Women’s Endowment Fund at www.akroncf.org/give/WEF. Major sponsors of this year’s event include Signet Jewelers, FirstEnergy, the Maynard Family Foundation, Dianne Newman, The J.M. Smucker Company, State & Federal Communications Inc., and Summa Health System.
For more information about the event, visit www.akroncf.org/WEFAnnualDinner or call (330) 376-8522.