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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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TV Smart Talk - MAKERS: Women of Excellence

Written by Nell McCormack Abom | Feb 14, 2013 8:57 AM

Who is a woman of excellence? We’ll get a peek at a few of them from Central Pennsylvania tonight at 8 on Smart Talk on witf TV. We profile several of the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg’s 2013 Women of Excellence as witf gears up for a new initiative, “Makers: Women Who Make America.” It’s a companion, multimedia campaign to a new PBS documentary on how women have transformed American life over the last half-century.

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Tina Nixon, executive director of the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg, Victoria “Vicci” Madden, an attorney and chief hearing officer of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, Marilyn Bowers, office manager of Performance Construction Services, and Cate Barron, vice president of content for PA Media Group, will discuss the challenges and triumphs of women in our area.  Vicci, Marilyn and Cate are among this year's Women of Excellence honorees.

Fresh out of college and working as a social worker in Delaware, Vicci Madden knew she wanted to find ways to help troubled young people stay out of prison. Rehabilitation was the key to turning their lives around. She also came to realize that she could accomplish much more in the criminal justice field if she earned a law degree. So, that’s exactly what she did at the Widener University School of Law. After earning her J.D., Vicci served in various legal capacities in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office, the PA Attorney General’s Office and the state Department of Corrections. Now that she has specialized in the field of corrections, Vicci says she’s often "the only female in the room" at professional events and sometimes feels that she has “to do twice the homework” of her male counterparts.

But, she says, it’s worth it to help transform convicted offenders into productive members of society. Colleagues and friends describe her as the “go-to” person for a variety of work and community projects. She gives of her time and talents to teach Sunday school at her church, while also volunteering for the Girl Scouts, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.

Marilyn Bowers was a divorced single mother of two children who knew she wanted a better life for her family. She worked two jobs, sometimes three, to save money for her own education and to ensure that her kids would be able to go to college. Marilyn fulfilled her dream last May by graduating in four years from Elizabethtown College. She’s now enrolled in a master’s degree program at Penn State Harrisburg. Marilyn is an office manager for Performance Construction Services, a subsidiary of Quandel Enterprises.  You'll also find her in the spa at The Hotel Hershey on the weekends where she is a nail technician. “Education is freedom. It’s expression. Your future is very limited if you do not have the education to move forward,” Marilyn notes with pride.

Cate Barron is a familiar name, if not face, to readers of The Patriot-News of Harrisburg.  As the paper's then-executive editor, Barron was instrumental in the Patriot earning the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and other notable journalism awards for coverage of the Jerry Sandusky/PSU child sex-abuse case.  Cate began her journalism career as news director at a radio station in her hometown, Lewistown, PA, and then moved on to become a reporter and editor at the Lewistown Sentinel.  Her career at the Patriot began in 1985 and included stints as the Sunday editor, managing editor and editor.  In January, she became vice president of content for PA Media Group, the new digitally-focused news and information company that includes the Patriot-News, and other print and digital projects.  Cate's bio states that "she believes she has a mission to provide our community with the best in news and information.  She works to make sure that those who have a voice are held accountable and that those without a voice are given one."

By different paths, but with the same conviction to achieve and to serve others, these women bring excellence to our communities. Join us on Valentine’s Day as we celebrate these ladies and others who have blazed a trail before us.  Join the conversation live at 8 p.m. at 1-800-729-7532, email us at, post a comment to this article, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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