Sylvania resident earns prestigious YWCA award

Mary Conlisk Werner

Sylvania resident and president of St. Ursula Academy, Mary Conlisk Werner, earned the 2022 YWCA Milestone Award in the Education category.  She was nominated by many and varied colleagues spanning her forty-year career. In each nomination, Conlisk was praised for her commitment to enhancing the lives of young women by enriching their opportunities for leadership skills, rigorous academics, and sisterhood.

Werner’s passion for providing young women with leadership tools has been a focus of her presidency at SUA, as well as a key component of her career in business and as an executive and career coach.  

After graduating from SUA in 1974, Werner attended the University of Cincinnati and interned in an accounting firm that at the time employed 50 professional men and two professional women, one of which was Werner. “Entering the then-male-dominated profession of certified public accounting required me to hone my self-confidence, communication skills, and interpersonal relationship skills,” she said.

She returned to the Toledo area to join a CPA firm, where she was the first woman to attain partnership status at any multi-partner CPA firm in Toledo, including both local and national firms.  In 2005, after nearly 30 years as a practicing CPA, she was drawn to leadership studies, where she could learn more about the theories underlying the concepts of leadership and change in people and organizations. She earned a master’s degree in Organization Development from Bowling Green State University and a certification as a professional coach through the Hudson Institute.

“My passion for helping others and making a difference led to my career as a coach and consultant to individuals and organizations looking to become better leaders or to manage and thrive during change. I was able to tap into my strengths of empathy, positivity, and interpersonal relationships to work with my clients to make a difference in their lives,” Werner said.

In 2012, Werner became the president of her high school alma mater, bringing her professional experience to St. Ursula Academy. During her tenure, she has spearheaded a major campus renovation and brought The Leadership Program to the school.  This program is the first in the nation to provide equitable, intentional, and evidence-based leadership development as part of the academic school day to close the confidence and leadership gap for girls.

Over the span of her career, Werner has been involved in numerous community initiatives, including chair of both St. Joseph Sylvania School Advisory Council and, prior to returning to SUA as president, St. Ursula Academy Board of Trustees.   

Werner and her husband, Marty, are parishioners of St. Joseph Sylvania and are parents to three St. Joseph and SUA alumnae:  Sarah, Lisa, and Emily Werner.  

Werner and the other award recipients will be honored in March at the YWCA Milestones: A Tribute to Women event. According to the organization’s website, the Milestone Award recipients have demonstrated outstanding achievement or distinction in career and community work, exhibited leadership qualities, made unique and exemplary achievements in their fields, served as role models for women in the community, and lived a life consistent with the YWCA mission.

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