With Jill Meyer at the helm of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, businesses have an optimistic and stubborn advocate.
Walk us through the career journey that got you to where you are today.
I began my professional life as a young litigator, practicing law at Frost & Jacobs (a.k.a. Frost Brown Todd). I loved practicing at the firm and thought I would end my career there. I had a great practice. Colleagues and clients were like family, and I became the Member-in-Charge of the Cincinnati office. Then the opportunity to lead the Chamber came knocking and I realized that the only thing I was more passionate about than the First Amendment (my legal practice area) was Cincinnati—its strength, potential, [and its] need for bold leadership. Six and a half years later, here I am.
Why do you think it’s important to have women in leadership roles like yours?
Just given the demographics of our country and workforces, the answer is obvious. Despite [that], we still don’t have the commensurate amount of representation at the highest levels in so many professions. Data now consistently shows women earning more college degrees, women have increasing financial power and wealth, women making the majority of consumer purchase decisions, and corporations with women on their boards performing better. That women are increasingly ascending into the highest levels of the business world is overdue but is happening.
Why are you the right person to lead the Chamber?
Any opportunity has to come during the right season. This one came when the business community was poised and ready for strategic, collaborative, passionate leadership and the broader community was hungry for growth. I am fortunate that my skill set, coupled with my experience and my passions, align perfectly. I firmly believe that this community’s best days are ahead and that we’ll get there when everyone takes ownership and learns to look at our future city a little bit differently. I like to think that I’m able to help people do that. I’m also unapologetically optimistic and stubborn, both of which I fully appreciate can be a blessing and a curse.
Who have been your mentors along the way?
There are many. I have not been shy about leaning in wherever someone has given me a window and I’ve been fortunate to have the benefit of great mentors at so many different points in my professional journey. Some of the key mentors I’ve had the good fortune to learn from are Dick Goehler, who passed away too soon in 2011—he taught me how to practice law, keep my eye on the ball, and keep people as the center of all that you do. Judge Beth Myers taught me how to enter the room and stand tall regardless of who else was in it. Delores Hargrove-Young taught me to not shy away from the impact you can have when you stand for something and say it out loud. John P. Williams Jr., a predecessor who created the gold standard in this role and who also passed away too soon in 2019, taught me literally everything I know about how to be the president and CEO of the Cincinnati Chamber.
What does a typical day look like in the life of Jill? Where do you find time to take a breath?
A “typical” day is one that is wholly unique, filled with a wide variety of people, difficult challenges, strategic opportunities, laughter, and—happily again—lots of meetings. I recharge regularly by coaching my 8-year-old son’s soccer team and otherwise goofing around with and learning from him; hiking our local parks or walking Cincinnati’s steps; and riding sidecar for the whims of my wine-loving, music-making, world-traveling, always-joking, chef husband.