December 08, 2015
Meet the 2016 Great Living Cincinnatians
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber announced the 2016 class of Great Living Cincinnatians. The honorees are: Shannon K. Carter, Lorrence T. Kellar., Mitchel D. Livingston, Ph.D., and James C. Votruba, Ph.D.
“The actions and passions of these honorees have truly made Cincinnati USA a unique and enticing place to be,” said Jill P. Meyer, President & CEO, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “Their contributions have enhanced our region and others, calling attention to the creativity and tenacity of our citizens – and telegraphing the fact that ours is a region where people make a difference. On behalf of our Board of Directors and 4,000 members, I’m humbled by their accomplishments and proud to express our gratitude by bestowing the designation of ‘Great Living Cincinnatian’ on these four leaders.”
Since 1967, the Great Living Cincinnatian Award has been presented annually by the Chamber. The 2016 honorees join 143 august awardees chosen by the Chamber’s Senior Council for service to the community; 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.
The 2016 honorees will be installed as Great Living Cincinnatians at the 2016 Chamber Annual Dinner, presented by PNC Bank, at the Duke Energy Center Grand Ballroom on Thursday, February 18, 2016. Former longtime TV news anchor, Clyde Gray, will return as emcee. Learn more about each leader below, and reserve early: a capacity audience of 1,200 community and business leaders attends this preeminent honor event annually. Table and individual reservations available now.
2016 GREAT LIVING CINCINNATIAN BIOGRAPHIES
Shannon K. Carter
Shannon Carter is a force of nature, filled with ideas, energy and the ability to make things happen. She is also a woman with a highly refined sense of decorum who loves antiques, cooking and entertaining. And, because she is married to Lee Ault Carter, also a Great Living Cincinnatian, Kathy Merchant, retired CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, points out that the two are “practically a packaged deal” who work together tirelessly to make Greater Cincinnati a better place.
As a member of Class 19 of Leadership Cincinnati in 1995-96, Ms. Carter convinced her project team to do something about reports that teachers in schools serving low-income children regularly spent $500 a year of their personal money to buy supplies for their classroom. Led by Shannon, the seven-member team developed the concept of a “Teacher’s Free Store.” Crayons to Computers (C2C) opened inside the Freestore in 1997.
Wickliffe Ach remembers that their project team made a commitment to each other to make their project, “something of great long-lasting value for our community.” They succeeded. Over the 16 years Shannon Carter led Crayons to Computers, the organization distributed $100 million in school supplies to local children and teachers. Not only does C2C serves 600 schools in 16 counties here in the Tristate today, it inspired the creation of similar organizations in 42 cities.
That ability to gather collaborators marked Shannon’s 16-year service as the volunteer Executive Director of C2C. She attracted volunteers to staff the store, cajoled manufacturers to provide products and created partners in the most unusual places – our prisons.
Working with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), Shannon created Crafts with Conviction where prisoners manufacture and assemble flash cards, book bags, notebooks, and other supplies for C2C. Not only is the program a major supplier for C2C, it has become the “largest community service program for the ODRC,” according to former Superintendent Reginald A. Wilkinson.
Shannon has also had a long career as a community leader and volunteer. She started sorting clothes as a high school student at the Children’s Hospital Thrift Shop, and then served as Co-Chair of that organization from 1982-92. She helped create the Sampler Weekend for the Fine Arts Fund, now ArtsWave, in 1982, and chaired the Cincinnati Antiques Festival in 1986. Shannon currently serves on the boards of the Taft Museum of Art, along with fellow inductee, James Votruba, and the U.C. College of Nursing.
As co-chair of the 2012 World Choir Games, Shannon developed a marketing program that took local choirs into every part of the community to develop awareness and support for the Games. And after the Games ended, she partnered with Louise Hughes to create the Welcomers Community Volunteer Network to identify a pool of volunteers for future events. Hundreds of these volunteers were called upon as ambassadors for our city as Cincinnati hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July of 2015.
Lorrence T. Kellar
Lorrence T. Kellar had a 31-year career with The Kroger Co., but he’s equally, or perhaps, better known as a great patron of Cincinnati arts. Mr. Kellar and wife, Barbara, have supported the Cincinnati Ballet for over 40 years, playing an instrumental role in the Ballet’s 50th Anniversary endowment campaign. Their three-plus decades of support for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra have helped grow corporate sponsorship and they have supported Cincinnati public television for nearly 50 years.
In the early 1980s, Mr. Kellar helped bring the Cincinnati Ballet from near bankruptcy to financial stability through creative marketing and a unique collaboration with New Orleans. At the time, Mr. Kellar told Cincinnati Magazine, “We perform in Cincinnati about seven weeks in a season, and we tour about eight weeks. When you tour…the other cities are gaining quite a bargain because they’re buying tickets – but no one there has to contribute anything to keep the ballet going. So, it always occurred to me that there must be some way to make our company part of that other city – and raise contributed income there, too.” For several years, the company performed in Louisiana as the New Orleans Ballet and toured as the Cincinnati-New Orleans Ballet.
In 2014, the Kellars gave $500,000 to endow the Barbara & Larry Kellar Prima Ballerina Fund to support the Cincinnati ballet’s top female dancer. Their daughter, Ainsley, danced with Cincinnati Ballet and granddaughter, Ava, is an Otto M. Budig Academy student who danced the role of Clara in the 2013 production of "The Nutcracker."
Larry is the Director, Chairman of Finance Committee and Member of Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee for another longtime supporter of the Cincinnati Ballet, Frisch’s Restaurants. He was Vice President of Continental Properties Company, Inc., a retail and residential developer, from 2002 until his retirement in 2009. Prior to that, he was Vice President - Real Estate of Kmart Corporation from 1996 to 2002. He held various positions in finance, capital management, audit, accounting, and real estate at The Kroger Co. from 1965 until 1996, including Group Vice President – Finance and Real Estate. He also held positions in finance, accounting and tax at 3-M Co. from 1962-1965.
He is currently a director and a member of the Audit, Governance and Compensation Committees of Spar Group, Inc.: and a Trustee and member of the Audit and Compensation Committees of Acadia Realty Trust.
Larry served also as the Chairman and Trustee of Hamilton County Library Foundation; Chairman and member of the Urban Design Review Board; Chairman and Trustee of the City of Cincinnati Retirement System; Chairman and Trustee of the Central Community Health Board; and President of the Queen City Association. He’s left an indelible mark on many other civic and charitable organizations, including the Cincinnati Opera, Riverfront Advisory Council, Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati, Public Media Connect, and the United Way Social Planning Council.
The University of Cincinnati has benefitted from the Kellars’ support of various individual colleges, athletics, medical research, service as Foundation Trustees, Founders of the McMicken Tower Society, and members of the George Smith Society. The Kellars have also led multiple fundraising efforts on behalf of Cincinnati Country Day School (CCD) and were honored as CCD Philanthropists of the Year in 2014.
Mitchel D. Livingston, Ph.D.
For Dr. Mitch Livingston, the commitment has always been to building up community. Whether as a teacher or college administrator, a leader of not-for-profits, or as an individual citizen, he has worked to bring people together across social divides.
Dr. Livingston, retired University of Cincinnati Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Michigan State University. He served as Vice President for Student Affairs at the University at Albany (SUNY) and Dean of Students at Ohio State University before joining the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 1994. He began at UC as Vice President of Student Affairs and Services and in 2007 assumed the additional role as UC’s Chief Diversity Officer.
With 14 years’ experience in the classroom – and 40 years as an administrator at six different universities – being responsible for student affairs meant that he and his team could influence the way that the university impacted and instilled values in students, from the very moment that they stepped foot on the campus to the time that they graduated.
Working with then UC President Steger, Dr. Livingston led a student-centered process that resulted in the creation of MainStreet, the new axis that provides coherence to what was once a cramped and jumbled urban campus. Perhaps his most important contribution to UC was the introduction of its Just Community initiative, designed to inculcate core principles to students from very disparate backgrounds. Upon joining UC, he enriched a version of the program he’d developed at the University of Albany through conversations with international thought-leaders Colin Powell, Maya Angelou and Ellie Weissel. From these discussions, Livingston distilled eight core principles introduced to students during orientation: Accept Responsibility for building a learning community committed to these principles; Celebrate the Uniqueness of each person; Embrace Freedom and Openness; Practice Civility; Promote Justice by promoting a learning environment in which everyone can grow, flourish and contribute; Pursue Learning and Scholarship; Seek Integrity; and lastly, Strive for Excellence. The principles of Just Community have been adopted by 20 universities around the nation.
In addition to his work on campus, Dr. Livingston lent time and insight to both business and community organizations. He has served as a Director for Fifth Third Bancorp since 1997, and as a Trustee for both the Fine Arts Fund (now ArtsWave) and the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. He served also as Chairman of the Board for CET Connect, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Bridges for a Just Community.
His service and contributions comprise a lasting legacy for our region: In 2006, Dr. Livingston directed Bridges for a Just Community to launch the biennial community human relations indicators surveys, providing critical baseline information to lay the groundwork for the repeal of Article XII from the city’s charter. At the Freedom Center, he helped form a collaborative mentoring initiative called STEER between P&G, UC and the Freedom Center, which was designed to increase the retention rates of African American students at UC.
Upon retirement at the end of 2012, Dr. Livingston continues as a professor of education studies at the University of Cincinnati. It is impossible to imagine him not interacting with students and the community to promote justice and collaboration.
James C. Votruba, Ph.D.
Over the past 40 years, Northern Kentucky redefined its place in metropolitan Cincinnati and also in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It is not by accident that this growth accompanied the founding and maturation of Northern Kentucky University (NKU). The simple fact is that for any community to reach for greatness, it needs a strong university as an anchor institution.
When Dr. James Votruba assumed the presidency of NKU in 1997, he brought with him experience as Vice Provost for University Outreach and Professor of Higher Education at Michigan State University, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development and Professor of Educational Leadership at Binghamton University, and in various administrative and faculty positions at Drake University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
As the fourth president of NKU, Dr. Votruba accelerated and expanded the direction set by his predecessors. That could be measured in the raw growth of the student body—up 34 percent to over 15,000 students. In 2012, he observed that “NKU is becoming the first choice university for very well-prepared students.”
Dr. Votruba also led a major investment and expansion of the campus, including the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Science Center, the College of Business, the Bank of Kentucky Center and the Soccer Stadium.
One expansion was so aspirational that it put NKU on the map in a way that grabbed the attention of educators and IT leaders around the county. After bringing together the departments of communication, computer science and business informatics, the university designed a daring facility that makes it clear that the program is future focused. With its CAVE (computer-assisted virtual environment) and Digitorium, Griffin Hall is a daring home worthy of a program committed to the application of cutting-edge digital technologies across the disciplines.
With the growth of the student body, campus facilities and resources, Dr. Votruba also systematically guided the university’s athletic programs to move up to Division 1. When the University announced that it would join the Atlantic Sun Conference and Division 1, in December 2011, he characterized it as an opportunity to “position the university regionally and nationally in a way that otherwise would not be possible.”
Over the course of Dr. Votruba’s NKU presidency, he weaved public engagement into the fabric of the university and helped the community understand how to engage productively with the campus. He was involved in the formulation of Vision 2015 and Skyward, the regional visions for Northern Kentucky. His engagement can also be seen in the incorporation of the Center for Applied Informatics (CAI) into the new College. In addition to providing students with paid co-ops, students and faculty have offered their services to more than 200 companies and not-for-profits. That has ranged from the production of visual presentations to explain the Northern Kentucky agenda to legislators to the introduction of a mobile app to allow citizens to efficiently report the whereabouts of homeless men and women in distress.
Though retired from the presidency of NKU, Jim remains engaged on the campus and in the community. He serves as a Professor of Educational Leadership a new doctoral program focused on organizational leadership and alignment and public engagement. In the community, he is a trusted advisor to many.