Annual Dinner

 glc 2014

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Annual Dinner presented by PNC is 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. This year's honorees are Otto M. Budig, Jr., Alvin H. Crawford, MD, FACS, Francie Garber. Pepper and George A. Schaefer, Jr.  Click here to register

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Cocktail Reception presented by:


Otto M. Budig, Jr

Otto M. Budig, Jr., leader of one of Cincinnati's largest privately-owned businesses is able to use his business savvy to give back to our community, as one of the region's primary benefactors. 

He is a firm believer that what makes a city stand out from others is the arts community celebrated in it, once stating that without it, Cincinnati would be "second-rate".  For decades he has invested heavily in that view with both his time and treasure, so much that his name and philanthropy have now become synonymous with Cincinnati's thriving arts scene.

That advocacy has been illustrated further by his service on numerous boards, including the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Arts Association, University of Cincinnati Foundation, Cincinnati Museum Center, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

But it was in 1994 that Budig's biggest impact to date was made to the city he loves.  He founded the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation, which is named for his father. Supporting many different not-for-profit organizations, it primarily focuses on his love of the arts.  To date, more than $25M have been donated by the foundation to organizations including Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company just to name a few.  

He also is deeply involved with his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati. In 2009, he returned to UC to receive their highest award, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.  He first arrived on campus in the 1950's after graduating from high school in his birthplace of Newport.   A 1956 accounting graduate at UC, he then went on to serve our country as an Air Force Pilot for the next seven years, ultimately returning to Cincinnati at the end of his service.  

An entrepreneur at heart, he serves as President as Budco Group, Incorporated, a privately held business specializing in transportation, equipment and real estate. The company last year generated nearly $200M in revenues and has more than 30 locations in both the U.S. and Canada. 

Budig's indelible mark on our area will be with us for decades to come. 

Alvin H. Crawford, MD, FACS

Dr. Alvin Crawford is one of the country's leading spine specialists who has gone on to spread his extensive knowledge across the globe for more than 30 years.

Growing up in Memphis, Crawford graduated from Tennessee State in 1960 with degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry. He then furthered his education at the University of Tennessee's College of Medicine, breaking barriers while doing so. There, he became the college's first African-American graduate.

Upon obtaining his degree, he went on to residency in Boston, and had several fellowships. Then in 1977, his medical career began in earnest when he joined the staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital as the Director of Orthopedic Surgery, remaining Chief there for an impressive 29 years.

A teacher, ambassador and humanitarian, the world became his classroom. Crawford completed professorships, lectures and performing surgeries in 38 countries. Along the way, he published more than 200 articles, 63 chapters and six books.

More than 50 fellows were fortunate enough to learn from one of the country's finest.  Eventually specializing in treating scoliosis, Dr. Crawford became one of the foremost authorities on video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, pioneering a procedure which uses rods to straighten the spine. Knowing that countless patients' lives could be improved because of the knowledge he has gained, he authored a teaching module still widely used across the U.S. and 33 additional countries.

The list of accolades Crawford has received is astonishing. He is the only surgeon to be named as a Top 10 Educator in the first 100 years at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and he has made the list of the country's best doctors yearly since 2005. He is a 2008 inductee into the Hall of Fame of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

He currently serves as Co-Director of the Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. He also is Professor Emeritus in Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine and serves on the Board of several different Cincinnati organizations.

Married to Alva Jean for 50 years, he is a father to two, and grandfather to three.

After nearly four decades, our city and countless patients are far better for Crawford choosing Cincinnati to live and work. 

 Francie Garber Pepper

Francie Pepper, a well-respected advocate and volunteer, is best known for leading an impressive fundraising effort for a cause close to her heart.

Pepper is best known for devoting herself fully into all of her pursuits. When asked once by a reporter what her occupation was, Pepper replied "WMV"-wife, mother, and volunteer.  She has excelled in all three.

Pepper grew up in Mount Auburn in the 1950's. It was there that she says she first recognized people in need, an observation that would guide her life for decades to come.  As a child, she was in awe of the accomplishments of her mother. A leader and philanthropist herself, her mother served as President of the YWCA in 1968. Additionally, Pepper's aunt would found several YWCA Asian chapters.

Upon graduating from Cincinnati's Hillsdale School in 1958, it was then on to Smith College in Massachusetts. Eventually marrying husband John, a 2006 Great Living Cincinnatian, they found themselves following his career with Procter & Gamble and living in cities across the globe.  Not one to sit idle, she volunteered by helping fellow P&G wives settle in to their new homes, serving as an unofficial welcome wagon.

Upon returning to Cincinnati, she dedicated herself to our city, volunteered with organizations like Youth Collaborative, Junior League, and Cincinnati Country Day. Soon her skills at fundraising became apparent. She learned early on to value both small and large-scale donors, because both create awareness and community ownership. A colleague once remarked that Pepper was as comfortable volunteering in a woman's shelter as she was in a board room.  She was also pleasantly tenacious in her activism. One community partner recalled Pepper "trapping" business leaders in her van until they made a significant pledge.

One of the largest beneficiaries of her commitment would be the YWCA. Asked to lead their capital campaign in 1995, she led them to raise a staggering $7.5M. With the money raised, the group renovated an old mansion and transformed it into a battered women's shelter, eliminated the waiting list in the process. 

A self-proclaimed feminist, Pepper would become a national voice in support of domestic violence awareness. With a message that when women suffer, so too do their children, her words tried to end that cycle before it started. 

To this day, many in our area continue to benefit from Pepper's efforts.

George A. Schaefer Jr.

George A. Schaefer Jr. guided Fifth Third to its current position of banking power over the course of three decades, and to this day, continues to lead in his hometown.  

His story begins in 1946, born into a blue-collar family made up of five brothers and sisters. Like many a boy on the city’s West Side, his first love was high school football. It was on the gridiron at Elder that his life would change: his coach encouraged him to apply to the United States Military Academy at West Point. It was there, on the banks of the Hudson River that a patriot was born and a leader was formed, with Schaefer flourishing underneath West Point’s strict discipline.

He graduated from the academy in 1967 with a degree in nuclear engineering. From there, he served two years in Germany with a demolition team specializing in nuclear weapons. He then would serve our country for two years in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star in the process.

In 1971, with his military commitment behind him, he became a management trainee at Fifth Third for $8,500 a year. His first success for Fifth Third came in the mid-1970’s with the bank entering the still-new credit card business.  Schaefer used both his engineering background and his love of numbers to overhaul the company’s data-processing and build it into a strength for the company.

Over the next several years, he rose through the ranks of Fifth Third, becoming a Senior VP of commercial loans, then eventually being promoted to Executive Vice President.  Then in 1989, he was appointed Fifth Third’s President and COO . A year later he would become CEO.  While trying to grow Fifth Third’s bottom-line, Schaefer also developed a reputation for his thriftiness.

He once compared banking to “guerilla warfare”, and put those words into action. Through a combination of cost-controls and acquisition, his vision would lead Fifth Third’s assets to hit more than $91B. He retired from the bank as President in 2006, stepped down as CEO in 2007 and left his role as Chairman in 2008—leaving the bank 13th in the U.S. in asset size.


In his retirement, he has served several local boards including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. He is married to Betty Ann, and is the father to three children. 

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