Join us on Thursday, February 26, 2015 for the Chamber's Annual Dinner. It's the premier business event of the year. The event is highlighted by the induction of the newest class of Great Living Cincinnatians, as well as the changing-of-the-guard of the Chamber's key volunteer leaders. The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's 2015 class of Great Living Cincinnatians are Buddy LaRosa, L. Thomas “Tom” Wilburn, Jr., Vickie Buyniski Gluckman and Herb Brown. Click here to register
“The countless contributions being made by leaders like these are what make our community such a unique and desirable place to be,” said Brian Carley, President and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “They may come from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, but they all act in a selfless manner solely for the betterment of our region. To be honored as a Great Living Cincinnatian is among the highest awards our region offers; it speaks volumes to both the prestige of the award, but more importantly, to this groups’ level of contributions,” Carley added.
The Great Living Cincinnatian Award has been presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967 with 139 previous honorees. Recipients are chosen by the Chamber’s Senior Council based on the following criteria: community service, business and civic attainment on a local, state, national or international level; leadership; awareness of the needs of others; and distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization.
Donald S. “Buddy” LaRosa
Buddy LaRosa has been serving his entire adult life, and not just pizzas and ravioli. Buddy is a talented businessman in large part because of his sincere interest in people.
Buddy and his wife JoAnn (Jo-Jo) opened their first pizzeria, “a hole in the wall,” on Boudinot Avenue in Western Hills in 1954 with a pizza oven they bought with $400 from a cashed in insurance policy.
Only two other pizzerias existed in Cincinnati at the time, but Buddy knew it was growing in popularity on the East Coast and he also had an edge--his Aunt Dena’s recipe for tomato sauce. From that base, the company has grown to 65 family pizzerias, not just in greater Cincinnati, but in Dayton, Columbus and soon, Knoxville.
Today, LaRosa’s employs nearly 1,500 people. Behind that number are the stories of countless high school and college students who not only earned money, but learned what it means to be responsible. Over the years, Buddy has developed a special relationship with students. When a fire nearly destroyed his first restaurant in April 1973, young West Siders rallied. With the help of their coaches, they rebuilt the pizzeria in 40 days when the architects estimated it would take a minimum of six months.
With a seemingly boundless commitment to Cincinnati youth, Buddy usually travels with his pockets stuffed with coupons for free pizza, and in 1975 he founded Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame. He is also the founder of the Cincinnati Golden Gloves for Youth Boxing Program that provides inner city youth the opportunity to develop lifetime skills through hard work and discipline.
His restaurants are more than places to eat. Thousands of Cincinnati couples have incorporated stories into their family lore about going to a LaRosa’s on a first date. Dozens have stories of the personal kindnesses Buddy has shown them over the years. Susan Ulrich of Aurora, Indiana remembers when they took their four-year-old daughter to LaRosa’s soon after she had open heart surgery. When Buddy heard the story from the waitress, he came out to meet them. He “became our waiter for the remainder of the meal and waited on us hand and foot. We'll never forget his kindness."
For 60 years Buddy LaRosa has built a thriving business and a deep well of support by sticking to his favorite quote, “Good Better Best, Never Let It Rest, Until Your Good Is Better and Your Better Is Best”.
L. Thomas “Tom” Wilburn, Jr.
No area of American society has arguably changed faster over the last 50 years than healthcare. In greater Cincinnati, L. Thomas “Tom” Wilburn, Jr. worked at the center of that change and molded its direction.
When Wilburn joined Bethesda in 1971, Bethesda North had just opened as Cincinnati’s first suburban hospital. That was just the beginning of many changes, in part because Wilburn “never missed an opportunity to advocate for excellence or challenge the status quo,” according to John Prout, the current President and CEO of TriHealth. In 1980, Bethesda opened the first free-standing emergency department near Lebanon and then the first free-standing outpatient surgery facility in the region, all in an effort to move out beyond the walls of the traditional hospital to deliver services where people live.
In 1977, Bethesda assumed sole responsibility for Hospice of Cincinnati, one of the first of its kind in the nation. Through its care for those who are dying and their families, as well as through its Conversations of a Lifetime program, Hospice has grown into a national model for grief support services as well as outreach education.
In the early 1990s, at a time well-before collaboration came into vogue, Wilburn pursued a relentless quest to improve the region’s healthcare through it. In 1992, he helped create the Health Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati, one of the first health collaboratives in the United States. He chaired the Collaborative through 2006.
In 1995, Wilburn worked with Sr. Myra Bradley, SC, then President of Good Samaritan Hospital, to form TriHealth. Together, they worked to merge the cultures of the two venerable institutions and agreed to split surpluses of the two hospitals 50/50, no matter how well each hospital performed in any one year. The result was both a financially strong health system and one with common goals that could do more together than apart.
Extending even beyond his 27-year career at Bethesda and TriHealth, Wilburn served on many national and community boards. In 1993 he was elected Chairman of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Board of Trustees, the first ever from healthcare.
The real legacy of Tom Wilburn according to Prout is that Cincinnati in 2014 enjoys a national reputation for leading the transformation of modern healthcare because of “Tom’s ceaseless advocacy for new ideas that have become benchmarks for quality, value and service.”
Vickie Buyniski Gluckman
Vickie Buyniski Gluckman’s legacy to the Cincinnati region is one of a business trailblazer and community leader. During her long and storied career, she not only achieved great professional success, but also had a significant impact on our community through tireless service. In doing so, she also became a model for women everywhere, especially those who either led or aspired to lead their own business.
At the age of 25, Gluckman created Southwest Indiana Medical Review Organization, a non-profit located in Evansville, Indiana. She then was recruited to come to Cincinnati to guide Medco Peer Review as CEO, another non-profit organization. Her time leading both medical organizations would lay the groundwork to her founding United Medical Resources, Inc. in 1983. At the time, she was one of just a few female business owners in the region.
She served as Founder, Chairman, and CEO from the company’s inception until 2005 when UMR was sold to United Health Group, the single largest health carrier in the nation. Gluckman remained as CEO until 2008, marking 25 years of leading the company.
While at UMR she exceled in designing and managing utilization review programs. Her prowess in data analytics allowed her to author programs used to monitor the cost-effectiveness of services, a role especially vital to medical organizations.
Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, she moved to Cincinnati in 1979, and quickly fell in love with the region. That would be further demonstrated through her involvement in more than a dozen community boards, including many that foster the same entrepreneurial spirit she possesses. They included time as Chair of Junior Achievement, as well as serving on the boards of: ArtsWave, The Health Alliance, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, and as a Trustee at Xavier University. In her retirement, she currently serves on the boards of U.S. Bancorp, Ohio National Financial Services, The Christ Hospital, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Additionally, she was a founding Board Member and Chair of the Board for Success By 6, and served on the Executive Committee and as a Board Member for STRIVE.
Gluckman’s accolades are many. She gained national recognition after being named among the “Top 25 Women who are Changing the Game” by Fast Company Magazine. She won the NKU Entrepreneurship Institute’s Master Entrepreneur Award, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, was selected as a member of the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Business Hall of Fame, and was chosen as the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Small Business of the Year. Last year, she was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Chamber’s Women Excel Pinnacle Award.
Gluckman is married to Jack Gluckman, MD, retired Chair of University of Cincinnati’s ENT/Head & Neck Cancer Department. She has two children and four stepchildren.
Herbert R. Brown
When asked once about his multiple contributions to Cincinnati, Herb Brown responded “there is no greater thing in life than to answer a call…and to have as a true testament that your own needs are secondary.” Brown has lived by those words since coming to Cincinnati more than five decades ago.
He graduated from Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, Ohio, and served our country as a U.S. Army Paratrooper until 1961. He then began his career in Cincinnati as a computer trainee with the Western & Southern Financial Group in 1963. He rose through the ranks at Western & Southern, excelling as the public relations voice of the company. In 2001 he was promoted to Senior Vice President, eventually retiring in 2007, while still being retained as a consultant to the President. In 2008, Brown was elected to the Board of Directors of Western & Southern, a position he continues to serve in today.
While his professional accomplishments are significant, Brown’s legacy in the community will be what he is most remembered for. During a nine-year term on the Cincinnati Board of Education where he served as President, he masterfully guided the Board to a levy passage after voters had turned down ten other levies before it. He achieved their support by gaining more involvement from the community in the school planning process. Additionally, Brown was integral in seeing a desegregation lawsuit that had been filed eventually settled out of court.
Brown is a member of the Urban League Board and has served on the Board of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. He was also appointed to serve as a Director of the Cincinnati Office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland where he served for 6 years. The United Way named their African American Leadership Initiative, “The Herbert R. Brown Society” in his honor. He also received the Theodore M. Berry Award from the NAACP and the Paul M. Lund Public Service Award from the National Public Relations Society of America.
Brown is also on the Board of the Boy Scouts of America, where he has received the Scouts highest honor, the Silver Beaver Award. Additionally, he is a former Board Member of United Way Foundation, and serves as president of the Community Police Partnering Center. He is also on the board of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services and serves as co-chair of the Strategy and Implementation Team for Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV).
Brown is married to wife Marcia and he has three adult children.