Equality In Leadership: Women in Clark County
By: Peg S

     When I was young, in the mid-50s, equality for me meant that my brothers had to help with dishes, cleaning, and other “so-called” women’s work.   I didn’t realize that my mother was ahead of her time.  With three sons and one daughter, she determined we would be equally treated and ignored my brothers’ whining.   With a great amount of energy and humor, my mother demonstrated that equality belief to me her whole life.   The example she set, and the encouragement of both my parents, helped me become the first member of my extended family to graduate from college.  Today, I have three sons of my own and their wives and girlfriends benefit from the belief that women and men can be equally responsible and equally qualified, with plenty of effort, for whatever options they choose.  That is a notion that not everyone believes.  However, there are plenty of women who believe and act and succeed, with hard work and talent, in careers formerly reserved for men.  Clark County has good representation of women leaders, especially in law enforcement and mental health services, in jobs often dominated by men.


     CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF DEB BURCHETT was elected in 2016 and was the first woman sheriff for Clark County and only the third female sheriff in Ohio.   She was reelected in 2020.  She had also been the first woman at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to be promoted to Sergeant over the Detective Division.   Sheriff Burchett has over 40 years of service in law enforcement.


     SPRINGFIELD CHIEF OF POLICE ALLISON ELLIOTT was appointed to her position in December 2022.  She was chosen over 32 applicants from across the US. Chief Elliott is the first female police captain in the Division’s history.   As captain, she had overseen the Uniform Patrol Division.  She has also served the Springfield Police Department as a crisis negotiation team commander and as a lieutenant over the Professional Standards unit. Chief Elliott has worked in law enforcement for 16 years.


     JENNIFER SMITHHART, REGIONAL POLICE ACADEMY INSTRUCTOR AT CLARK STATE, started her new position in January 2023.   She has been a respected Adjunct Professor at Clark State for nearly 11 years.  She formerly worked as a police office at Miami University and for the city of Kettering.  Her Linkedin profile also lists her as an ordained minister, a notary public, and a self defense instructor.


     ERICA PICKLESIMON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NAMI CGM, oversees our local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which includes support services for Clark, Greene, and Madison Counties.  NAMI has over 600 local affiliates nationally who work to raise community awareness and provide support and education to those in need. Under Erica’s leadership, NAMI CGM offers transportation, daily activities, hot meals and support groups for persons living with mental illness.  These services are available at the Vernon Center on High Street in Springfield.  NAMI also provides family support groups and Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for area police cadets, officers, and others who work with mental health clients.  Erica previously served as Site Coordinator at Vernon Center and graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Social Work.


     GRETA MAYER, PHD, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF MHRB, CGM, has served in this position since 2016.  MHRB, CGM is the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene, and Madison Counties, a government entity.  Dr. Mayer, along with a 9 person staff and an 18 member Board of Directors, works to provide prevention services for mental health and addiction.  Millions of dollars are received via government funds and grants, and are provided to Mental Health Services, McKinley Hall, Behavior Health Rehabilitation, and others through MHRB.


Hats off to our burgeoning cadre of wonderful high-quality women public servants!