In September Dayton was featured on a PBS Frontline special called “Left Behind America” which documented our struggle to recover in the post-recession economy. FRONTLINE and ProPublica reported on the economic and social forces shaping Dayton, Ohio, a once-booming city where nearly 35 percent of people now live in poverty. The economics at play are largely in the hands of Wall St, but the social side – our history of racism and segregation – are issues that go to the heart of a problem we do not like to talk about, let alone see broadcast on PBS.

The episode stirred up lots of feelings locally – from “that’s not the city I know” to “it’s about time we faced these issues.” There were statements made by the Mayor, Chamber of Commerce and local journalists defending Dayton. Here at Gem City Podcast, we wanted to dig deeper and listen to people who know a whole lot more about this issue. So our host Libby Ballengee invited Shannon Isom, President and CEO of YWCA Dayton, and Jason Harrison, local business owner, trainer and member of the YWCA Advocacy Committee, to be our special guests for a “post Frontline” community conversation. We specifically invited people affiliated with the YWCA as part of their mission is to “eliminate racism.” We also thought these two individuals are extremely intelligent, and from this conversation, we think you’ll agree!

More about Shannon Isom:

Shannon has been the President & CEO of Dayton’s YWCA since December 2013. Isom is responsible for the executive and administrative leadership of YWCA Dayton, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Before joining the staff, Isom served as a YWCA Dayton Board of Directors member for almost four years, the last year and half as chair of the Board.

Isom began her professional career working for YWCA Columbus as a manager of a trial program, in conjunction with the CDC and YWCA USA, to ensure marginalized women had access to breast and cervical screenings; it is now a staple in our communities. With more than 15 years in the health industry, she has worked for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals – Women’s Health Division, Miami Valley Hospital, Premier Health Partners and CareSource in sales, business development, systems integration and business and clinical Integration, respectively. 

Isom has extensive post-baccalaureate education through The Ohio State University and Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Spelman College and an MBA in healthcare administration from Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Awards include: Dayton Business Journal Forty under 40 and Forty Under 40 Alumni Hall of Fame, Dayton Business Journal 50 Most Powerful Women (2014-18), and Women in Business Networking Top 25 Women to Watch. She is a graduate of Leadership Dayton and currently serves as chair of the Ohio Council of YWCAs and as a Board member for YWCA USA. Isom is an active participant of her community, including numerous committees, boards and initiatives.

More about Jason Harrison:

Jason is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach who has trained clients in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Dayton over a decade-long career in fitness. He also is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified personal trainer and tactical strength and conditioning facilitator, as well as a Precision Nutrition level one nutrition coach. He is the owner of Present Tense Fitness downtown at 222 E 6th St. Jason is also a proud member of the  Advocacy Committee.

Learn more about the YWCA Dayton: 

Follow Shannon on Twitter @sisom615 or @ywcadayton

Follow Jason on Twitter @presenttensefit

Link to PBS Frontline special on Dayton:

Tino – “Black Friday”