McCandless native recognized as one of the top women in Md.

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The third time was a real charm for Kyri Greenleaf Jacobs, executive vice president and shareholder of Bonnie Heneson Communications, in Columbia, Md.

The McCandless native has risen to the Circle of Excellence in The Daily Record newspaper's annual Maryland's Top 100 Women list. Only those who have been selected three times can enter the circle. Now, she is among the 19 new members in that sisterhood.

“The first time, I was blown away,” Jacobs said, of her first inclusion on the list in 2009 in the company of judges, heads of universities and other corporate professionals. “There were such incredible women on the list.”

It happened again in 2011 and then this year.

The recognition is for women “who make a difference in business, mentor young females and are active in the community,” Jacobs explained. “It's the triple threat.”

Since 1996, The Daily Record, a 125-year-old publication, has recognized more than 1,100 women.

This year, the publication received 500 nominations.

“The Circle of Excellence do the first round of judging to get the group down to 150,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, publisher. “An outside panel of business leaders select the final 100 winners.”

Giving back isn't unusual for Jacobs. She estimates spending 20 to 30 hours a month in addition to her responsibilities at the communications firm.

“I give back because I think it's important,” Jacobs, 42, now of Howard County, Md., said. “I have skill sets that benefit nonprofits, and I enjoy it.”

Being a marketing professional, she understands some organizations “are desperate for the public to know about them, to get the word out about the good work they're doing.”

Currently, among other causes, she is helping the Howard County Police Department organize its September race fundraiser. Last year, it raised money to purchase automated external defibrillators for police cars.

“Everybody should do it. Everybody should give back,” Jacobs said

Jacobs credits her parents, Ken and Cyndie Greenleaf of McCandless, for her strong work ethic. Her parents owned Woodcrafters' Supply on Perry Highway in McCandless for 24 years. Jacobs' first job was there. She was 14.

“‘Can't wasn't an option growing up,” she said.

One of her father's favorite sayings is “If you think you can, you will.”

That practiced attitude helped her through school, especially when she transferred to Sewickley Academy in Edgeworth after her freshman year at North Allegheny.

“Going from public to private was a jump,” she said.

It was the late Mario Melodia, the school's musical director, who persuaded her parents to make the switch.

Jacobs had been a part of local theater schools. While she could sing and act, she couldn't dance very well.

“(Melodia) was a dynamo,” she said. “I had two left feet, and he never gave up on me. He persevered and had an incredible impact on me and my life.”

Jim Cavalier, her German teacher and head of the senior school when she graduated, now is a Facebook friend.

In a class of 60, students got to know their teachers and administrators well.

“Sewickley (Academy) gave me the most incredible education. Sewickley (Academy) made me who I am today.”

It is that solid sense she brings to the six girls she has mentored over the years. She invites the young women to share dinners on Sundays with her husband and two children.

“It's the simple things you can give people,” Jacobs said, “to feel loved and a part of something.”

Her parents joined her on awards night and learned about the accomplishments of the top 100 women.

“There are strong women's programs here,” Jacobs said. “When you see the list, it makes me proud to be a woman in Maryland.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or

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