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Women in Government

Marlene Anielski 2016 HONOREE

State Representative, Ohio

Several years ago, Marlene Anielski was at a city council meeting in her town of Walton Hills, Ohio, when a council member, tired of Anielski’s questions, told her to go home to her kids. Instead, Anielski responded by running for a council seat. She won, and then went on to become mayor. Anielski was elected three times to the position,  which is notable for a Republican in a city that tends to vote Democratic. That’s fine by Anielski: “If I have both sides of the aisle upset with me,” she says, “I think I’m doing a pretty good job.”

In 2010, Anielski’s resolve was tested in a way no parent ever imagines. Just as she was kicking off her first campaign for state representative, her son Joe, a high school senior, committed suicide. Anielski has since devoted herself to suicide prevention legislation, including a measure that established suicide prevention training in all Ohio schools. She has also gotten boxes installed in schools where students can leave private notes for the school counselor about themselves or a friend. Her efforts earned her an award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She never imagined she’d become a leading advocate for suicide awareness, but “when you have something bad happen to you,” she says, “nothing else matters.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.