Style Q&A: Jane Scott, CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Club

Sherry Beck Paprocki
Columbus Monthly
“It's not about the kind of clothing people wear, it's how they wear it,” says Jane Scott, president and CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Club. “Our speakers are secure in their skin, they exude intelligence and professionalism. The clothing each chooses reflects his or her self-confidence.”

More than 15 years ago, Jane Scott became president and CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Club, which hosts a lunch-and-learn forum each week involving more than 200 people at The Boat House.

Founded in 1976 by 13 active Central Ohio women, CMC was created to discuss and debate prominent issues of the day. These robust events under Scott's watch have continued, regularly featuring guests who range from Gov. John Kasich and representatives of U.S. Congress to scholars, authors and various city leaders.

What's the most challenging part of putting on such an event every week? My biggest challenges come before CMC presents any forum. The challenges and the fun come in helping our vice president of programming, Andy Campbell, and our 30-member program committee, identify the most pressing issues and newsworthy topics to provide meaningful community conversations. Once we've committed to a forum topic, Andy identifies the best speakers and Lanie Cuthbert (who is vice president of member and sponsor relations) and I recruit sponsors to support the programming. It's a huge Rubik's Cube matching topics, dates, speakers and sponsors.

You grew up on a 190-acre beef and grain farm in Logan County. Does your upbringing affect the way you manage your job? Certainly. CMC needs constant care and feeding just like my dad's cattle did. The strong work ethic I learned from my farmer parents has always served me well. You have to finish the chores before you can go out to play or meet up with your friends. At CMC, our chores may not be as demanding as feeding livestock daily, but the idea of finishing the chores still applies.

It seems you're the epitome of grace under fire. What is your secret to staying so calm as you oversee a staff and create this swirl of people, events and activity every week? Our motto at CMC is, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Seriously, my public relations education included extensive training in crisis management and crisis communication. When I worked in the agricultural industries, my PR role occasionally required me to face true emergencies where employees' lives were at risk. When you've dealt with a life-threatening situation, anything that might seem like a crisis at CMC is just an inconvenience.

Some say that we are living in one of the most divisive eras in U.S. history. Does this make your job more difficult at CMC? We at CMC are committed to providing the community with balanced discussions that present many perspectives of any given issue. During this time of divisiveness, CMC has an even more important role, a responsibility to present an environment where civility is expected and civil discussions take place.

Let's talk about your personal, professional style. How would you describe it?Nuovo thrift? True confession time. I grew up with hand-me-downs and clothes my mother sewed. I love nice clothes but have never been able to afford my taste. Over the years, I've discovered how much fun it is to rummage around in thrift stores and consignment shops. It's not only relaxing, it's like treasure hunting to find a beautiful designer jacket or dress for just a few dollars. I get such a kick out of wearing these finds with a piece of jewelry I've purchased on a trip to London or Mexico or during some other vacation. It's all about balancing my taste with my budget and my priority for saving money for travel.