Nancy Schellhous-Conner, the founder of Promark Company, passed away quietly in her sleep on April 14, 2023, in Kansas City, MO. She was cared for and surrounded by family and those whom she impacted at the Care Facility at which she spent her final years – exactly how she would have wanted it.
To simply say Nancy was the founder of Promark Company does an injustice to her impact on our company, the Cincinnati community, and the tens of thousands of people that her work affected. Even this attempt to outline her accolades will only scratch the surface. She would appreciate the attempt, encourage the effort, and then remind you it was not the accolades but the impact that drove her.
Yes, Nancy shaped Promark Company into her image and personality. She was quoted by the Cincinnati Enquirer as saying, “I love to take new ideas and move them forward.” It’s exactly what she did with the family business.
Having started at an Executive Search firm, Nancy and her parents forged a great reputation for finding the talent needed by companies. They achieved results, and the word spread. Never much for self-promotion or even big splash advertising, Nancy preferred word-of-mouth marketing – do good work, and the word will spread. It continues to this day.
As a lifelong Cincinnati native, she loved her community. From her days at Withrow High School to the University of Cincinnati to building a business to numerous community groups to her beloved Cincinnati Reds, Nancy loved everything Cincy.
Nancy didn’t just ‘talk the talk’, though, she lived out that love for her city in her actions. She was the model for community involvement, never just writing checks and claiming she supported an effort – she went all in. She would volunteer, step into leadership roles as needed, and encourage/cajole others to join her.
Yes, I’m convinced if given six months, she would aggressively turn around the fortune of her Reds and rally the fan base to demand and expect better! She knew how to get results and rally others regardless of the problem.
To list all of her accolades would be challenging at best. However, to not at least try would not reflect the values Nancy instilled in all whom she mentored: Give it a try!
- Listed among the “Notable Alumni” at Withrow High School along with John Ruthven (famous American artist), Ted McCarthy (Designer of the famous Les Paul guitar and later President of the Gibson Guitar Company), as well as no less than 15 local, state, and national political leaders.
- Founder and Chairman of the Board for Outplacement International, the first global partnership for independent Outplacement services providers.
- Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Cincinnati Technical College. During her tenure, it achieved State Community College status and is now known today as Cincinnati State.
- Chairman of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Red Cross – at that time, the first woman to achieve this position in the 90-year history of the organization.
- The first woman to Chair the Private Industry Council
- Selected YWCA Career Woman of the Year – 1989
- Elected Fellow of the Outplacement Institute, the national accreditation organization for the outplacement industry.
- Nominated by her peers and a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati – later served as Vice President of its Alumni Association.
- Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year – 2003
Numerous other industry and community accolades bear her name and impact, but it all stems from her desire to help others — a core value that continues to drive Promark Company to this day. Through her efforts and the scores of talented people she attracted to Promark, individuals and organizations facing reductions in force, layoffs, restructurings, right-sizing, etc., knew they could count on Nancy and her team to take care of them.
Our Company and the Career Transition industry lost one of its pioneers and visionary leaders. Her desire to help others to achieve success regardless of career setbacks will continue to drive us. You see, I was one of those lucky individuals she chose to mentor, push, encourage, and support. I knew when I contacted Promark our people would be taken care of by the best in the best way. When I transitioned, she was the first to contact me and offer to help. When I decided to launch my consulting entity (before it was cool to have a side gig), she not only encouraged me but connected me to leaders from Fortune 10 to community trusts to help me help others.
When I accepted a leadership role with a small software company in Pittsburgh – she helped me to process the risk/reward proposition — all the while, we were riverboat gambling to prove the point! Nancy loved “to take new ideas and move them forward.” Guess what still drives her company to this day!
Thanks to the Chairman of my personal career Board of Directors – Rest in Peace. We got this.
-Bill Harmon, CEO and Managing Partner, Promark
A Tribute to the Best – Long Live Her Legacy