The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
The Toledo Lucas County Public Library is proud to share that its External and Governmental Affairs Manager Rhonda Sewell was recently named among the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio's 2018 Women of Distinction. Sewell was recognized for her extensive and impactful community work and was honored during a ceremony held at the Toledo Museum of Art's Glass Pavilion on Oct. 25, 2018.
About Women of Distinction
Each year, the Girl Scouts honor exceptional women who are paving the way for future leaders and giving hope and inspiration to girls through their achievements and passion for their community. Honorees are women who have made significant contributions in one or more of the key focus areas for success: Community Responsibility, Financial Empowerment, Healthy Living, Leadership and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). The 2018 honorees were: Rhonda Sewell for Community Responsibility, Renee Smith for Financial Empowerment, Diana Patton for Healthy Living, Barbara Petee for Leadership and Adrienne Taylor for STEAM.
About Rhonda Sewell
Rhonda Sewell joined the Toledo Library staff in 2006, first serving as media coordinator, then promoted to governmental affairs and media strategist, and her latest promotion as the current manager of external and governmental affairs. Sewell formerly worked as a journalist for 18 years with The Blade, Toledo’s daily newspaper, where during her early years she represented the company as an international correspondent, including stints to England, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. She also worked as a fashion editor for the newspaper, and a features writer. Sewell has also served as an adjunct instructor for Bowling Green State University’s Ethnic Studies Department, and its Department of Journalism and Public Relations. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Michigan State University, and attended the City University of London, where she completed graduate course work in international journalism. Sewell has dedicated much of her personal and professional life to being a servant leader and is/has been active with numerous community organizations and activities, including:
- Chair, ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital Foundation Board of Directors
- Mayoral-appointed Board of Directors member, The Arts Commission
- Joint Council member and Immediate past co-chair, African American Leadership Council (AALC) of United Way
- Past president, The Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Inc.
- Arts committee chair, The Toledo Chapter of The Links, Inc. (member since 1991)
- Co-chair, Community Steering Committee, I Dream, Toledo Opera
- Chair, Momentum Community Engagement and Outreach Committee/Momentum Planning Committee member, The Arts Commission
- Associate member/Immediate past Lead Teen Advisor, Toledo Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. (2004-2018, general member)
Additionally, Sewell was named a YWCA Northwest Ohio Milestones: A Tribute to Women honoree in 2017 in the category of Volunteerism, and she was a finalist for the Jefferson Awards in 2016 for being the brainchild behind Real Men READ-y, a mentoring literacy program operated via Read for Literacy, AALC of United Way, TPS and the Library.
She has formerly served on the Board of Directors of the YWCA of Greater Toledo; The Toledo Ballet; The Media Foundation Board of the Independent Collegian Newspaper at the University of Toledo; The Art Tatum African American Resource Center at Kent Branch Library; The American Heart Association of Greater Toledo; and MADD Poets Society.
Sewell is currently at work on several projects, including a children’s book with local celebrated portrait artist Leslie Adams, about the story of Willa B. Brown, America’s first Black female licensed pilot and Sewell's maternal cousin. She is also at work on a website to promote her paternal cousin, the late journalist Ethel L. Payne, one of the first black women to cover the White House press corp and the first black woman employed by a major TV network (CBS) to host a program.