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Allison Wagner & Shelley Bird

Alison Wagner

Swimming | USA


Allison Wagner is an Olympic Swimmer who represented Team USA at the 1996 Atlanta Games. As the child of a US Army lawyer, Allison grew up in Texas, Virginia, Germany, Maryland and Florida. During the 1992 Olympic qualifiers, she jumped from being tied for 71st place in the country to placing 5th in the final race of the competition. Allison credits this as a turning point in her swimming career, and she began devoting as much time as possible to training, hoping to realize her Olympic dreams. In the swimming world, she was known for her love of racing, strong finishes to races, for winning by "touching people out," a fierce work ethic, setting a world-record that stood unbroken for 14 years, and for pioneering the use of a new back-to-breast transition medley turn. After competing in the Atlanta Games, she pursued studies of Buddhist Psychology at Naropa University in Colorado. Upon graduation, Allison traveled the Pacific Rim by herself for almost a year. After returning stateside, she worked in a residential treatment center for kids and adults with developmental disabilities. She returned to swimming from 2005-2008 and after retiring again, felt compelled to begin a coaching business to share her learnings. Over the years, Allison has found and created many opportunities to advocate for causes that she believes in by using her Olympic experiences as a platform to open the door to being able to contribute to positive change.

Shelley Bird

Founder, Advisor and Angel Investor | Entrepreneurial Bricolage

MENTOR | IWF Ohio and Fellows Alumnae

Dr. Shell Bird is a senior executive operating at the intersection of strategy, marketing, policy and technology. With 30 years of experience at leading companies such as Cardinal Health, Motorola, NCR, and Royal Philips Electronics, she has led large-scale, complex change initiatives, launched new ventures and retooled existing models. Before relocating to the U.S. from her native Canada, she spent more than a decade in Asia and Europe guiding organizations through acquisitions and divestitures, leadership transitions and geographic expansion, including Asia’s first regional satellite entertainment network and McDonald’s first restaurant in China. Bird is the former Executive Vice President, Office of the CEO, at Cardinal Health, where she led a diverse portfolio of corporate functions. Bird was also a key member of the team that spun off the company’s medical device businesses as a separate publicly traded company under the name CareFusion, creating a new industry leader. She is the founder of the Bindu Project, a social enterprise supporting charitable startups. Bird is an active angel investor and advises many CEOs at early-stage companies. She is also scratching her own entrepreneurial itch for the third time in three different countries. Bird is a longstanding board member of the Wexner Center for the Arts. She has served on the boards of many nonprofits and is a former Board Chair and Chair of the Finance Committee of the International Association of Business Communicators. She has won numerous business and civic awards and is a frequent lecturer on leadership, organizational transformation and crisis management. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Columbus College of Art & Design, a nationally recognized nonprofit college founded in 1879, where she teaches a course on leadership and complexity developed for the Master of Design in Integrative Design program. Bird has a Doctorate in Communication and a Master of Arts degree in Communication Management from the University of South Australia, but she still doesn’t sound like an Aussie.

Alison Wagner Nancy Garbett
Allison Wagner & Shelley Bird
International Women's Forum