Program and Services > Advocacy > HeForShe
"We are struggling for a uniting word, but the good news is, we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe . I invite you to step forward, to be seen and to ask yourself, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” - Emma Watson's Speech on Gender Equality during the launch of the HeForShe UN Women's campaign in New York City, 2014
Greater Toledo Gender Equality Commitments
HeForShe is UN Women’s solidarity movement for gender equality. HeForShe invites men and boys to build on the work of the women’s movement as equal partners, crafting and implementing a shared vision of gender equality that will benefit all of humanity.
Since its launch on the 20th of September, 2014, at the United Nations by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, hundreds of thousands of men from around the world including Heads of State, CEOs, and global luminaries, from all walks of life have committed to gender equality. https://www.heforshe.org/en/impact
ACCELERATING WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: Men play a critical role in supporting and enabling women’s economic empowerment. Recent research highlights the significant gender gap in leadership and pay that persists across the business sector. HeForShe engages male CEOs and other leaders as champions for gender equality within their own organizations, encouraging them to question the status quo and commit to concrete action. On an individual level, HeForShe engages men to examine how their own personal and professional lives can better recognize, reduce, and redistribute care and responsibilities between the market and the state, between the household and the workplace, and between women and men.
We are proud that Women of Toledo continues to champion all UN Women's advocacy as part of our Founding Member, Nina Corder's recognition and certification as UN Women Empower Women Global Champion for Change in 2016/2017. The men of Toledo aren’t on the sidelines too. They know it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue. In Fall 2018 at our Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) Power Hour luncheon, we launched local HeForshe, WOT Men as Allies Initiatives, inviting men in Toledo to be our allies and stand in solidarity with Women of Toledo to create a bold, visible and united force for gender equality.
Toledo joins The Global Movement, and with men as our allies, we are committed to make our City a leader for gender equality. The goal for our campaign is to get 100 local men in Greater Toledo to pledge and commit for HeForShe movement where they’re working with women and with each other to build businesses, raise families, #breaktheglass and give back to their communities.
“I am one of 'One of Millions' HeForShe champion because I’m hopeful that we have reached a catalytic moment in our society where the groundswell demand for gender equity can finally close a chapter in our history that has been open far too long. I look forward to my first-grade son being inspired by the women in his life, and I know his twin sister will grow up to be the kind of woman I’ve looked to throughout in my life for guidance, inspiration, and help” – Kucsma HeforShe’s statement.
Jason Kucsma’s 12 years of leadership in libraries comes after nearly a decade leading a nonprofit independent media organization and publishing an internationally distributed politics and culture magazine. Kucsma is a born-and-raised Ohioan who earned his bachelor’s degree in Communication and master’s degree in American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University. He earned his master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Arizona before moving to New York City to work with public, academic, school, and special libraries at the Metropolitan New York Library Council.
Kucsma returned to Ohio in 2015 to assume the role of Deputy Director at Toledo Lucas County Public Library where took over as Executive Director in 2019 at the helm of a leadership team providing world-class library services to the diverse communities of Lucas County. His work in libraries is informed by his dedication to the role public libraries play in building strong communities through equitable access to information and technology — and the expertise librarians bring to help navigate both.
Dr. Brad Rieger
Brad Rieger is the Chief Operating Officer at Cooper-Smith, a full-service marketing and advertising agency that specializes in media strategy/planning, media buying, branding, and creative. Cooper-Smith is headquartered in the Cobblestone Woods business park in Sylvania Township. The agency’s East Coast office is located outside New York City in Stamford, CT. Prior to working in the private sector, Brad enjoyed a meaningful 31-year career in education. The last educational position he held was superintendent of Sylvania Schools (2003-2015). Through his involvement as a board member for Lourdes University, CASA, and Bethany House, he continues to be active in education, social justice, and community initiatives. Brad and his wife Laura have been married for 32 years and they have two adult daughters, Shelby and Allison.
“I am One of the Millions who strongly embrace the perspective, talents, and influence women bring to the table. Men in leadership positions play a vital role in fostering an inclusive/respectful environment and ensuring that female colleagues feel supported and valued. Mentoring and encouraging women to seek growth experiences and high-profile job opportunities is another way that we can promote empowerment. Through their actions and words, men can be staunch allies to women in an important quest for equality”.
David Topoleski is a reference librarian and manager at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. He has worked with public libraries in North Carolina, Michigan, and Ohio for over twenty years and he is passionate about helping people find success with/through: community resources; career and workforce development; non-profit and business creation and management; and building personal finance and investing knowledge.
"I am one of millions of men who strongly support a woman's rights to have equal opportunities, to receive equal pay, and to have an equal voice. My daughter, my wife, my sister, my mother--they all deserve the same respect and rights that I do. The popular pledge says "liberty and justice for all", not just for some. I believe that I- and all men- need to advocate for progress and to speak out against discrimination." – David's HeforShe statement.
Ziad Abukaram is a first generation Egyptian, who was raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He later was recruited by Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia for Cross County and Rowing, he even had the opportunity to go to Nationals, while there he studied Chemistry. While selling Toyotas and Kias in Savannah, Georgia, Ziad met his wife and they later decided to move to Toledo, OH in 2005 with their five children.
In 2006, Ziad started working at Taylor Automotive, where he has been with the company going on 15 years. He started as a salesman at their Taylor Kia of Toledo location and climbed his way through the ranks to become the General Manager at Taylor Hyundai of Perrysburg. Taylor Automotive is dedicated to keeping their customers happy and well-informed during the car buying process.
Ziad serves as a Board Member for The Bounty Collegium located in Sylvania, Ohio. The Bounty Collegium is a non-traditional, Islamic alternative, middle and high school, that was built on the belief that young, passionate innovators can change the world for the better. By being on the board, he is able to help and encourage young women in STEM and Athletics by helping them find opportunities to showcase their skills and talents.
“I am one of the millions…who believes that women have the right to be free to chase their goals and dreams, women have the right to break ceilings we didn’t even know existed, they have the right to be treated as equals. I wonder what wonders the world would witness if humanity accepts women as equals…” – Ziad Abukaram, HeForShe statement.
Adam Smidi, an entrepreneur, activist, educator, and doctoral student at Bowling Green State University. He was appointed as the student representative to the Board of Trustees at Bowling Green in 2018. He is currently the CEO of Joe’s Autos, a family owned car dealership since 1990 in Toledo, OH, that prides itself on transparency and reliable, affordable vehicles, each carefully inspected and reconditioned. Learn more about Joe’s Autos at joesautostoledo.com
“I am one of millions who strongly reject any injustice perpetrated against women in the false name of faith. And, I wholeheartedly dedicate myself to the human rights and well-being of women as part of the highest ethical traditions of Islam” – Adam Smidi, HeForShe commitment.
Dr. David Kim
"I am one of the millions that take every opportunity to continue to empower women".- Dr. David Kim, Physician & General Surgeon for Merch Health.
Dr. Kim is a General Surgeon with the Bon Secour, Mercy Health system working primarily out of the Perrysburg area. He has been in Toledo for more than 8 years now and earned his doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed a rotating internship and general surgery residency at Mercy Health — St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.
Dr. Kim is happy to be providing excellent General Surgery services to NW Ohio with a special interest in surgical care for breast issues such as infections, lumps, and cancer. Whether it is medically, personally, or professionally, Dr. Kim is always looking forward to helping the women of Toledo in whatever way he can!
Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz became the 58th mayor of Toledo when he took the oath of office on January 2, 2018. Creating a regional water system, increasing the size and diversity of the police force, restoring discipline to the city’s budget, improving educational opportunities for Toledo's youngest residents, and improving city services are among the mayor’s top goals. To encourage greater transparency in city government, he launched a monthly "Wednesdays with Wade" public meetings series. Kapszukiewicz holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University and a master's degree in public policy from the University of Michigan. As an adjunct professor at Lourdes University, Mayor Kapszukiewicz teaches urban policy. A Toledo resident since 1973, Mayor Kapszukiewicz lives in the Old Orchard neighborhood with Sarah. They have two children, Emma and Will.
Mayor Kapszukiewicz spoke at Women of Toledo’s October Women Economic Empowerment Series program on HeforShe. According to the Mayor Kapszukiewicz, the topic of HeforShe and accelerating women's economic empowerment, is something his administration takes seriously.
“There is a significant gender gap in leadership and pay across the business and public sectors. I was proud to be among others who strive to reverse that trend and be champions for gender equality within their own organizations” – Mayor Kapszukiewicz.
“The work my administration has done to promote gender equity throughout the City of Toledo is well-documented. Not only does the mayor’s office have an all-female senior staff, including the Chief of Staff and both deputy Chiefs of Staff, but we have also made some big strides in improving the gender diversity of our safety forces. During my time as mayor, we have doubled the number of women of color in the fire department, and I’m proud to say we now have 17 women in command positions in Toledo Fire & Rescue. In the police department, we have added more female police officers in the past two years alone than had been added to the force in the previous decade. Our most recent police class was made up of 42.5 percent women — the highest percentage in the history of our city. We certainly have more work to do, but I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time”– he continues
Dr. Khaled ElSayed
Dr. ElSayed is a Cardio Vascular First Assistant (CVSA-C) at St. Luke's Hospital. He works on the open-heart team at St. Luke's Hospital, as well as teaching endoscopic vein harvesting for Terumo Europe. He has lived in Sylvania for more than 30 years, married, and father of a young man and two very bright daughters. Born in Cairo, Egypt, to highly educated parents, he was taught at a young age that women are strong, and could achieve anything they want.
“My Mother, God bless her soul, was a college graduate who held a high position at a big company in Egypt. I learned from her and observed how she was a strong leader, great wife, and a perfect mother. I teach my daughters, with the help of my wife, those great values that I learned from my parents. It is a privilege to be able to help with HeforShe campaign” said Dr. ElSayed.
“I am one of the Millions that believe that we are all equal. Believing and saying that is not enough, it has to be followed by everyday actions. This is the only way that we will be able to achieve equality for all” – Dr Khaled ElSayed HeforShe statement.
A Business owner, Advocate for women and children, Visionary Leader and Master Collaborator. He is currently serves as President and CEO of JAYRAMON LLC, a consultancy focused on collaborating with corporate, civic, social sector and non-profit organizations, providing strategic solutions to help build leadership effectiveness, scale impact, grow local and national partnerships and advance philanthropic effectiveness. Learn more about Toledo's (husband & wife) Powerhouse team, Jason & Kelli here:
“I am one of millions of men who serve as a champion for diverse representation in executive roles by partnering with allies - individuals and companies who value diversity, inclusion, and equity” – Jason Daniels, HeForShe commitment.
Matt the Cat is the owner and founder of Pizza Cat, one of Northwest Ohio’s best rated and most creative pizza restaurants. He’s crafted 74 creative specialty pies which are permanently on the Pizza Cat menu yet is constantly looking for ways to change things up through seasonal menus & local collaboration with other businesses and organizations.
“I am one of millions of men who believe everyone deserves access to their own version of success, happiness, growth & opportunity. For the human race to succeed we must all play our part in the service of others. Only then can we learn from each other on a grand scale and eradicate the inequalities of the past” – Matt’s HeForShe statement.
Dr. Ashwin Raghavan
Dr. Ashwin Raghavan born in Bronx, New York to immigrant parents from Kerala, India. And at 28-year-old, he is striving to realize his full potential as both a man and a human-being. As a physician and a urologic surgeon-in-training, Ashwin plan to pair his future professional career in men’s health with his budding vision to cultivate authentic masculinity. However, “I am a loving and devoted husband and friend, and hope to continue to be an advocate and ally of all women – especially by creating and sustaining spaces in which men are able to potentiate and express the highest expression of their being”, said Dr. Ashwin Raghavan.
“I am one of the Millions of men on a journey of self-identity in a world where what it currently means to be a “man” is socially constructed as rigid, archaic, and oftentimes dangerous both to ourselves and the women in our lives.” – Dr Ashwin Raghavan HeforShe statement.
Toledo born and bred; Blair Johnson is a true champion of the city he calls home. He is a property investor and entrepreneur as well as a City Carrier for the United States Postal Service. He has also taken the time to invest in Toledo’s youth, and can be regarded as an advocate for those with no voice. Being raised by a single mother, he has become an activist for Women’s Rights, understanding the plight and adversity women face being understated amongst their male counterparts. A young man still, Blair’s future in activism and promoting success for all in Toledo seems mighty bright.
“I am one of millions who believes that it's my duty to protect women's rights! In my community it's important for me to help women entrepreneurs achieve their goals”. -Blair Johnson, HeforShe commitment
He has a deep love for the people, and the City of Toledo. He was born and raised here, a proud graduate of the University of Toledo and is currently serving the local community as a Branch Manager, AVP with KeyBank. John is very passionate about his work at KeyBank where he helps support our local businesses, including women owned businesses, he loves to teach economic empowerment, and is always helping clients build and maintain their financial wellness. Beyond work, John is a community-minded person who loves to volunteer and serve others through his membership with the Rotaract Club of Maumee, and he is also a Co-Founder and Vice President of the Greater Toledo Inline Hockey League which is entering its 7th year of operation at the Ottawa Park Ice Rink in cooperation with the City of Toledo Parks and Recreation Department.
“I AM ONE OF MILLIONS who were intimidated and afraid of the word Feminism. To me this meant that I had to be a lesser man. It meant that I had to give up my goals, resources, opportunities, influence, power, or control to accommodate someone else’s agenda and that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Now, I realize that this is not an emasculating term or movement. It’s empowering, as we all need to work together to fix gender inequality. I believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, and I promise to be a better partner by speaking up to fight misinformation and biases, while also helping to empower, encourage, and lift up those around me to keep working toward the goal of equality” – John