December 11, 2012
Meet the 2013 Great Living Cincinnatians
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is pleased to introduce the newest class of Great Living Cincinnatians. The 2013 honorees are Thomas G. Cody, Edwin J. Rigaud, Richard H. Rosenthal and Phyllis Weston.The Chamber will honor these distinguished leaders at its annual dinner, presented by PNC, at the Duke Energy Center Grand Ballroom on Feb. 21. A capacity audience of 1,200 community and business leaders is expected to attend.
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Thomas G. Cody
Tom Cody is a person who doesn’t worry about who gets the credit, but cares deeply about what gets done.
Cody joined Federated Department Stores as senior vice president for Law and Public Affairs in 1982. In 1988, the company was loaded with debt and was forced into bankruptcy.
Over the next two years, Tom Cody devoted 90 percent of his time guiding the company through Chapter 11. In the end, Federated wrapped up what many considered the most complex bankruptcy in United States history on a breakneck schedule.
Soon after, Federated made one of Wall Street's largest initial public offerings. The company then implemented an acquisition strategy that transformed it into one of the strongest department-store chains in America under the Macy’s nameplate. Tom Cody had his hand in every step along that path.
And increasingly, Cody and his wife Mary Ellen became embedded in a wide range of community organizations.
“It is really a privilege because people are letting you affect their lives,” said Tom Cody in a 2009 interview. “You’ve got to be very, very serious because when people open up that way, you’ve got to deliver.”
This combination of experience and passion made Tom Cody the perfect person to step into the midst of Cincinnati’s most difficult challenge in 40 years, the 2001 civil unrest.
Cody and Ross Love (named a Great Living Cincinnatian in 2009) went onto assume leadership of the Cincinnati Community Action Now Commission. Although tensions were high and the demands for immediate action were loud, the commission refused to focus on quick fixes or flashy announcements.
“We discovered that there is a cycle of need. We found out that absent some sort of intervention at an early age, people are caught in that cycle of failure,” said Cody.
Cody and Love pressed forward, methodically gathering hundreds of volunteers to lead and staff multiple committees dealing with health care, education, business, policing and the criminal justice system.
CAN made a lasting impact by promoting the adoption of Community Oriented Policing and the creation of the Minority Business Accelerator at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and Success By Six (funded by Macy’s in early years). Five years later, Tom Cody continued the work begun by CAN as the chair of the 2007 United Way Campaign.
In 2010, Tom Cody retired from Macy’s and went onto become the chairman of the board at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Although the stress of bankruptcies and responsibility to help a community heal may exhaust some people, fortunately Tom Cody believes “It makes you alive.”
Edwin J. Rigaud
Ed Rigaud is smart, but not in a way that makes others afraid to speak up. He’s driven, but not in a way that uses other people for his own ends. He’s serious, but with a huge smile that welcomes every new idea and new person. He’s innovative, but committed to getting things done.
Rigaud remembers the exact date he arrived in Cincinnati. It was the evening of Saturday, June 5, 1965. He and his bride Carole got married earlier that day in New Orleans and flew directly to Cincinnati for a “leisurely” 36 hour honeymoon before he was to start work at P&G on Monday morning.
Coming from fierce segregation in New Orleans, Rigaud hoped for greater openness, freedom and opportunity in the north. What he found was that P&G was “new at it,” and that Cincinnati had its own racial divisions.
The couple immediately confronted this local divide in their search for an apartment. After repeated rejections, Rigaud turned to the only other African American he saw at the Winton Hills Technical Center -- a man who worked in the mail room -- who helped them find a place in Silverton.
But Rigaud quickly rose through the ranks. In 1992, he had moved into general management and eventually rose to vice president of Food and Beverage Products.
Rigaud served on the boards of many local organizations, including the National Council of Christians and Jews (now Bridges for a Just Community).
In 1994, NCCJ Executive Director Robert “Chip” Harrod gathered a small group of people, including Ed Rigaud, to test the idea of creating an Underground Railroad Museum. The primary goal was to facilitate social change, the historical story of the underground railroad serving as a metaphor around which to organize programs. And because the primary mission was inclusion, leadership of the board and every committee was shared between an African American and a Caucasian.
A few years later, P&G named Rigaud an executive on loan to serve as the first full-time director of what had been named the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Over the next eight years, he led the effort to refine the concept, ground the effort in market research, build a staff, design the space, raise $110 million and construct the new facility.
When he left the day-to-day responsibilities at the Center, he formed EnovaPremier, LLC, to produce tire and wheel assemblies for automobile manufacturers. Enova is now the largest company of its kind in the U.S.
At about the same time, Bob Castellini was preparing to purchase the Cincinnati Reds and wanted one of the shares to be owned by minorities. He turned to Ed Rigaud, who assembled a minority group to buy one share of the club.
After 48 years in Cincinnati it’s clear that Ed Rigaud is smart, driven, serious and innovative.
Richard H. Rosenthal
Richard Rosenthal has spent his professional and philanthropic life helping others develop their potential.
The Rosenthal family started in the printing business in 1868. But the greatest period of expansion and success came when Richard Rosenthal took charge of F&W Publishing in the 1970s.
The new era began in 1975 with the introduction of Artist's Market. Other publications soon followed, and in 1989 F&W bought the famous Story Magazine.
Lois Rosenthal, who had always worked alongside Dick as an editor and author, assumed the role of editor, re-launching the journal with an excerpt from Norman Mailer’s upcoming novel, Harlot’s Ghost.
Despite growing annual revenues from $4 million in the early 1970s to $65 million in 1998, Rosenthal opted to sell F&W in 1999 to devote more time to the expansive philanthropic commitments.
Over the years the range and variety of commitments had been great -- as has their impact.
In 1988, the Rosenthals established the New Play Prize at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park to allow the Playhouse to “take risks with new works” and new playwrights. It paid off, producing such challenging and acclaimed works as Carson Kreitzer's “The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer.”
In 2002, just as the Cincinnati Wing of the Art Museum was about to open, the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation made $2.15 million gift to allow free admission for everyone, every day, to the museum.
In the aftermath of the 2001 civil unrest, the Rosenthals helped establish The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project to promote positive social change. And in 2007 they donated $1 million to the Freestore-Foodbank to help renovate its facilities, including the new headquarters on Central Parkway.
The best known involvement was their gift of $5 million to build a new home for the Contemporary Arts Center. In the spirit of the CAC and the Rosenthal’s commitment to emerging talent, the Center selected Iranian-born Zaha Hadid to design the new Center at the corner of Sixth and Walnut.
With its urban carpet and dramatic components, the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art immediately garnered international attention when it opened in 2003.
Herbert Muschamp, the architecture critic for the New York Times, called it “the most important American building to be completed since the Cold War.” The compelling building catapulted Zaha Hadid to international attention capped by the coveted Pritzker Prize in 2007.
Less obvious, but no less an expression of the Rosenthal’s commitment to cultivate new talent, is Uptown Arts Foundation in Over-the-Rhine. Founded in 1999, Uptown Arts helps 5 to 11 year-old children develop their “natural and artistic talent… in ways that realize their full potential.”
In business and philathrophy, Richard Rosenthal has committed his life to helping others embrace their natural talent. He has been a gift to Cincinnati and the nation.
“I have a great passion for art.”
Most Cincinnatians know Phyllis Weston as the person they turn to for advice about building their own collections. This was the case first as the director of Closson’s Art Gallery and then as the proprietor of her own gallery in O’Bryonville.
Weston attended classes at the Yale drama school. A talent scout offered to help her land an auditions in New York and Hollywood.
She turned down the opportunity and returned home to her husband and family. Although she believes in her choice, she mused in a recent interview that, “I should have made one movie.”
After returning home, she made friends in the New York arts scene with Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky.
Shortly after arriving in Cincinnati in 1963, Weston was drawn into gallery work for the first time. A year later, Burton Closson, Jr. hired her to work in his gallery.
For her first show, Phyllis drew on her acquaintances and invited Vera Stravinsky, the famed composer’s wife, to exhibit her paintings. When Igor and Vera Stravinsky came to the opening in Cincinnati, 2,000 people flocked to the gallery. The Cincinnati Enquirer titled its review, “The Great Flood.”
Over the next four decades she honed and embraced what she considers her “great talent,” an ability to recognize great art.
In addition to bringing known artists from New York and Paris to Cincinnati for the first time, Phyllis also helped local artists who worked in many different styles and techniques. She takes pride in her role in recognizing the potential not only of wildlife artist John Ruthven, but also Michael Scott and Jimmy Baker, whose styles tend towards abstract expressionism.
Because of her openness to all styles and periods, Weston was the ideal person to assist Procter and Gamble in assembling a corporate collection focused on artists who were connected to Cincinnati.
For more than a decade, Phyllis searched at auctions and through private collections. In the process, she rediscovered paintings of well-established nineteenth-century painters like Robert Duncanson, William Sontag and Elizabeth Nourse, and brought them together with works of twentieth-century artists including E.T. Hurley, James Hopkins and Jens Jensen.
What made this great labor doubly valuable was the decision by P&G in 2003 to donate 78 paintings by 46 different artists to the Cincinnati Wing of the Art Museum. It was the second-largest gift of paintings to the museum in its 121-year history and the backbone of the Cincinnati Wing.
Weston, “the Grande Dame,” as many know her, has served on the boards of the Contemporary Arts Center, the Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Opera. With Irma Lazarus and Patricia Corbett, she also helped found the Post-Corbett Awards and the Young Friends of the Arts, which has grown into Enjoy the Arts.
Though drawn to the bright lights of Hollywood and Broadway in her early life, over the last 50 years it is impossible to imagine Phyllis Weston apart from Cincinnati.
+The Great Living Cincinnatian Award has been presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967. 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.
More about the Great Living Cincinnatians