Cincinnati USA Regional ChamberGrowing the vibrancy and
economic prosperity of our region

In This Issue:

    March 05, 2013

    Leader lands ‘Spirit of Cincinnati’ award

    van der Horst, Ellen 60x90The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber will celebrate its 175th anniversary in style next year by bringing thousands of fellow American Chamber of Commerce Executives from across the USA and Canada to Cincinnati for the ACCE 2014 Convention - and sporting the highly coveted Spirit of Cincinnati USA award.

    CVBEach year, the Cincinnati USA CVB honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the convention and tourism industry with the Spirit of Cincinnati USA Awards. Dozens of nominations from all over the world were submitted for the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau's (CVB) 12th Annual Spirit of Cincinnati USA Awards, and a selection committee of regional hospitality executives awarded nine groups and individuals exemplifying the innovation, redevelopment and warm hospitality that have become trademarks of Cincinnati USA.

     "Our Spirit Award winners' commitment and passion for this region are critical to the growth of Cincinnati USA," said Dan Lincoln, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It's this kind of dedication that allowed Cincinnati to have such a breakthrough year in 2012. Honoring these ambassadors reminds us how we all have the ability to play a part in the development of this region as a thriving place to live, work, play and learn."

    The following award recipients will be recognized at the CVB's 2013 Annual Meeting at 12 p.m. on March 6, 2013 at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

    Congratulations to the following recipients:

    Erich Kunzel Queen City Advocate Award
    This award is given to an individual(s) or organization(s) whose actions have attracted positive national media coverage of Cincinnati USA.

    Over-The-Rhine (Greg Hardman, Christian Moerlein Brewing Company; Candace Klein, Bad Girl Ventures & SoMoLend; 3CDC and the Cincinnati Park Board)

    From refurbished green space, to brewing revival, to a flourishing entrepreneurial scene, the redevelopment of Over-The-Rhine brought high levels of media attention to Cincinnati in 2012. Greg Hardman successfully reignited Cincinnati's historic brewing traditions with Christian Moerlein Brewing Company developments and partnerships. Through her vast global network and savvy business expertise, Candace Klein continually promotes Cincinnati and Over-The-Rhine as a hot-bed for entrepreneurial activity. And the Cincinnati Park Board and 3CDC renovated and reinvigorated the centerpiece of Over-The-Rhine - Washington Park - praised nationally for its design and the key role it plays in the resurgence happening throughout the neighborhood.

    Eric Avner, Vice President, The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr. / U.S. Bank Foundation

    Eric personally and professionally focuses on supporting initiatives throughout the region that strengthen Cincinnati's distinct urban neighborhoods while encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. Eric was the driving force behind the award-winning Purple People Bridge and the weekly online magazine, Soapbox Media. Eric's 2012 projects included Venture for America, CoSign and the CEOs for Cities National Meeting, earning Cincinnati national recognition from publications like TIME, Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal.

    Wendell P. Dabney Award for Diversity
    This award is named for the son of a Virginia slave who attended college in Cincinnati and was an author, publisher, musician and political activist early in the 20th century.  It goes to an individual or organization for the practice of diversity and inclusion.

    Tracey Artis, President & CEO, I Hear Music, Inc.

    Tracey drives high-profile artists and visitors of all backgrounds to Cincinnati through gospel music. Her business, I Hear Music, Inc., is an independently-owned national promotion and marketing company for the gospel music industry, which organizes the annual I Hear Music in the Air Conference in Cincinnati. Tracey is also the driving force behind dozens of additional music programs throughout the region.

    Pinnacle Award for Outstanding Service.
    The Pinnacle Award honors individuals on the front line of the hospitality industry; those who set an example for others by their excellent customer service.  These individuals go beyond the call of duty.

    Kathryne Gardette, Logistics Specialist, Prestige AV & Creative Services
    A long-time, passionate advocate for the hospitality and tourism industries in Cincinnati, Kathryne was nominated by a choir director from Michigan for the over-the-top customer service she provided them this summer during the 2012 World Choir Games. When the choir arrived late to their scheduled competition, they were at risk of losing their opportunity to compete. Kathryne went out of her way to work with 2012 World Choir Games officials to help reschedule and ensure a competition spot for the group.

    Richard Fumi, Driver & Dispatcher, First Student
    Richard served as bus operator and dispatcher for the 2012 World Choir Games participant shuttles. At the end of the event, an Indonesian choir arrived late and Richard volunteered his weekend to chauffeur the group, ensuring they received the full Cincinnati USA experience. In addition, Richard continually donates his time and skills for other First Student philanthropic programs.

    Gabe Tenbosch, Guest Services Manager, DoubleTree Cincinnati Blue Ash
    Gabe's commitment to outstanding customer service has earned his hotel top DoubleTree rankings for "Speed and Efficiency of Check-ins" and "Helpfulness of Front Desk." Numerous TripAdvisor comments praise Gabe for his efforts as a key ambassador for Cincinnati.

    Partnership Award. The Partnership Award recognizes an individual or organization who has partnered with the Cincinnati USA CVB and made significant contributions to the local meetings and tourism industry. 

    Ronda Androski, Owner, Arnold's Bar & Grill
    A steadfast Cincinnati advocate, Ronda is a true partner to dozens of organizations throughout downtown. Arnold's was one of the first Cincinnati businesses to take a leadership role in a region-wide special offer program (Go.Show.Save) for 2012 World Choir Games participants. Their participation sparked involvement from additional restaurants, retailers and service organizations, creating a welcoming atmosphere for our visitors.

    Champion Award for Convention & Meeting Sales
    This award is presented to one or more individuals who have worked with the CVB to bring important meetings to Cincinnati USA.

    Ellen van der Horst, President & CEO, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
    Ellen played an integral role in supporting the CVB to bid on and win the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) 2014 Annual Meeting. ACCE held their inaugural convention in Cincinnati in 1914 and will celebrate their 100th anniversary in Cincinnati in 2014.

    Kristin Ropp, General Manager, U.S. Bank Arena & Cincinnati Cyclones, Keanah Smith, Associate Director for Game & Internal Operations, Miami University
    Kristin and Keanah played critical roles in supporting the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corp. to bid on and win the 2014 NCAA Division I Hockey Regionals. As high-profile women in the sports world (Kristin was the first female East Coast Hockey League Executive of the Year and Keanah serves on the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators), the two work to elevate the region's unique athletic assets.

    Members of the 2012 Spirit of Cincinnati USA Award Selection Committee:

    • Karen Totaro, Duke Energy Convention Center
    • Wally Bucher, Embassy Suites Cincinnati Blue Ash
    • Pete Coleman, Perfect Exposure Photography
    • Elizabeth Pierce, Cincinnati Museum Center
    • Heather Kessler, Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network

    About the Spirit of Cincinnati USA Awards
    Since the Awards were introduced in 2002, a who's who of community leaders have been honored for their commitment to the region's hospitality industry, including Erich Kunzel of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer Bootsy Collins and Carl Lindner, Jr. among others. Honored organizations have included the Cincy Cinco Festival, Fountain Square Visitor Center and the Cincinnati May Festival. Winners are chosen by a selection committee representing local hotels, restaurants, attractions, service and transportation businesses. For more information visit

    About the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
    The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is an aggressive sales, marketing and service organization whose primary responsibility is to positively impact Hamilton County's and the City of Cincinnati's economy through convention, trade show and visitor expenditures. The travel and tourism industry traditionally has been a $4.1 billion industry in Cincinnati USA, employing 94,000 people in a variety of fields and, bringing 22.7 million visitors to the region in 2011. For more information, visit

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