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Interview with Award Winning Journalist, Marsha Bonhart

From l to r: Mark, Allen, Marsha Bonhart & Brian Davis. Marsha celebrates last day at WDTN, Photo via

Award-winning journalist Marsha Bonhart worked for the local network in Dayton, Ohio - WDTN, an NBC affiliate. For over thirty years, the television health reporter covered news in Los Angeles and Ohio. In spite of her previous landings, Dayton has been home to the talented journalist.

Bonhart's close ties to the community has led to a recent philanthropic endeavor- she pledged to help YWCA Dayton raise 1 million dollars for a renovation project totalling $14.9 million. Plus she contributes a weekly column to the Dayton City Paper, writing on health, wellness and fitness.

In our interview with Bonhart, she talks about her commitment to motherhood and community, an impetus to her success in Dayton.

Lean In Dayton: In Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, she mentions children often turn out just as well with moms who have careers outside the home versus moms who stay at home. While fulfilling your role as a news anchor, health reporter and mom ( You raised two sons. Both appear to be very accomplished- One has a law degree and is working for Colorado’s Centura Health System, the other studied at Oxford University in England.), was there ever a point in their upbringing when you felt you weren’t present enough for them? How did you eventually overcome these feelings?

Marsha Bonhart:  Ha! Let’s add I am a single parent in every sense of the phrase. The difference is, I always put them first, no matter what. I felt I could always get another job, but I couldn’t have another chance to be a quality mother. I took them everywhere I could, but never, ever let anything interfere with any of their activities/events. Once, it meant I left a very important work-related meeting because it was Senior Day at The College of Wooster. No brag, just fact. I also refused to accept other news jobs that would have taken me from Dayton because I had a great work schedule at Channel 2.  I would not have the same schedule or seniority at a new place.

Lean In Dayton: After reading an article on regarding your departure at WDTN, it appears that you have been a mentor to many. You are highly respected by those within your field and throughout the community. Plus you’ve helped other women journalists. There is this perception that women don’t help other women because there are so few at the top. The book Lean In briefly discusses this dilemma. Why do you think you took a different approach?

Marsha Bonhart:  I don’t know. It’s part of my personality and my spirituality. I believe with all my heart that God put us on earth to help each other. I mean that. If I have a talent or information that can re-route a person’s life, whether male, female, it doesn’t matter. I saw my mother do it. Interestingly, my sons (21 and 30) are the same.

Lean In Dayton: Throughout your career in health reporting, you've seen a lot of people suffer from all sorts of illnesses. Some could have been prevented. If you could provide general advice to women, what would say?

Marsha Bonhart:  There is so much help now. Programs that help the medically underserved are everywhere, people just need to know how to connect. That would be the ideal job for me - to be a part of a system that supplies knowledge and help for folks who just don’t know where to go or what to do. I would tell anyone to connect with local healthcare systems and ask questions to find those opportunities. Also, have a good friend who can support you emotionally when it’s time to see a doctor. That’s critically important because sometimes we are just afraid. I know I have been.

Interviewed by Julene Allen

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Julene Allen