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Circle provides three grants totaling $150,000 to support healthcare for women

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of Promise magazine.

Members of The Circle of Women’s Health Philanthropists range in age from 35 to 95 and have diverse backgrounds in business, medicine, philanthropy and much more. They are wives, mothers, daughters and grandmothers. And, they share a common goal: Helping other women.

That compassion motivates all members in supporting healthcare for women at Summa Health. 2019 was a turning point for the group. Instead of two grants, The Circle awarded three grants totaling $150,000 — tripling members’ impact from its early years. 2020 marks the second year Circle members awarded $150,000 bringing its total to $665,000 in grants distributed since the group formed in 2014.

In another first, members met virtually to celebrate and announce the grant winners in place of a traditional holiday gathering at the home of a Circle member. 

“Last year, when COVID-19 put many things on pause, there was no pause in the number of women in our community needing healthcare,” said Colleen O’Connor Wernig, chair of The Circle. “I am proud of our members for their continued strong support of the Circle’s mission at a time when it was needed most.”

Translational Research Center

“Two grants from The Circle have provided for a dedicated lab on the Akron Campus for us to engage in leading-edge research and collaborate with academic research partners on personalized cancer therapies.” — Jennifer Eaton, Ph.D. (far right), vice president, Research, Sponsored Programs & Innovation with (from the right) Cherie Hart-Spicer, M.D.; Mary Evancho-Chapman; Victoria Van Fossen, M.D.; Elizabeth Rich; and Andrew Pero. 

Family Medicine Center

“The Family Medicine Center has established a new medical-legal partnership with Community Legal Aid that addresses health-harming legal needs for families who struggle with poverty, housing and food insecurity, and more.” — Shannon Perkins, Ph.D., director of Behavioral Science and associate director, Summa Family Medicine Residency Program (pictured).

Women’s Health

“We are using the funds to purchase a neonatal simulator to train labor and delivery staff that will help us meet a goal of 1,000 babies delivered on the Barberton Campus.” — Derek Balas, D.O., director, Virtual Care Simulation Lab. Pictured are nurses conducting a class with a neonatal simulator.

For more information about The Circle, contact Ashley Manning at 330.375.7524 or


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