4C Announces Champions for Children

August 12, 2016

2017 Champions For Children

4C for Children has chosen Stephanie Byrd and Steve Shifman as this year's Champions for Children. Both will be honored at the 11th annual Champions for Children Gala to be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel.
Stephanie Byrd is executive director of United Way's Success By 6® and is co-leading efforts to implement the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. In the aftermath of the 2001 civil unrest in Cincinnati, United Way Success By 6® was established under the leadership of Jim Zimmerman, now retired chairman and CEO of Macy's. Byrd left a 20-year-career in the health care industry to join Success By 6® and since then has been a passionate advocate for improving access to high quality early learning programs and effective parent engagement strategies. She actively works with partners locally and across the state to strengthen the early childhood system and increase awareness of the importance of kindergarten readiness. A member of several community boards, she has received numerous awards for her contributions to the community. She has three children and resides in Glendale.
Steve Shifman, president and CEO of Michelman, is a member of the Cincinnati Preschool Promise Steering Committee, is the Southwest Ohio board chair of Teach for America, chairs United Way Major Gifts with his wife Julie, and serves on the United Way Executive Committee. He is a progressive business driver who has been key in helping bring the business community on board with the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. Among his many awards, he was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2013 in recognition of his demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in the manufacturing sector. While he is career-focused, he is also very active in the community and currently serves in leadership positions on multiple boards. He and his family reside in Amberley Village.

"Both Stephanie and Steve personify what it means to serve as advocates for children and early childhood education in the Cincinnati community," says Vanessa Freytag, president/CEO of 4C for Children.

Freytag calls Stephanie Byrd a "pioneer in Greater Cincinnati's early childhood community for over a decade. Her leadership of United Way's Success by 6® has been instrumental in educating all corners of our community on the importance of the earliest years. For the past three years, she has also been a tireless and vital behind-the-scenes leader of the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. There is no one who brings a stronger combination of knowledge and passion to early childhood issues on behalf of children, families and child care providers."

Steve Shifman, who has served as co-chair of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC) Education Subcommittee for years, "is one of the most critical business leaders working on the Cincinnati Preschool Promise," Freytag says. "As one of the early proponents of the initiative he has helped open doors with corporate leaders, which has resulted in the formation of one of the strongest business/community partnerships in the country to further early childhood education."

This year's event, celebrating the theme "For the Love of Children," will also include the presentation of the sixth annual Champions for Children: The Next Generation Award to a project involving local high school students taking action on behalf of the children of our community or abroad. This award, explains Freytag, "reinforces in the leaders of tomorrow the importance of investing in the young children of today." The deadline for application is Oct. 14.

Co-chairs Tiffiny Dawson and Zamaris Geleszinski are leading the 4C Champions for Children Gala Committee, which also includes Tori Ames, Katie Hayden, Veronica Sebald, Megan Stacey, Christy Stockton, Ann Williams and Nan Witten.

More information about the event, this year's Champions and much more can be found at