Last Week at Rotary

October 3, 2019

President & CEO

“Leaning in to Legacy”

Laura Brunner is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Port, a position she has held since 2012. She leads The Port’s county-wide redevelopment and revitalization activities and collaboration with regional economic development and community organizations, to bring real estate to its highest and best use – creating pathways to opportunity for residents and business owners in Hamilton County.

Through dynamic leadership that embraces cross-sector collaboration – Laura has directed The Port’s strategic acquisition of 75 acres of prime real estate positioned to bring 1,000 manufacturing jobs back to the region, and has brought significant neighborhood development to life in Evanston and Walnut Hills. Currently, Price Hill, Avondale and the West End are focus neighborhoods for The Port.

Laura has demonstrated a personal commitment to broadening inclusion within the real estate industry including facilitating opportunities for wealth creation.
Laura’s community involvement is extensive. Past and present board participation includes Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Queen City Club, The Christ College School of Nursing, Dan Beard Council Boy Scouts of America, Mercantile Library, and Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. Laura graduated from Indiana University and her career includes public accounting, consulting, and commercial real estate leadership. She loves to travel the world with her family, and enjoys hiking, kayaking, and cycling trips. Laura is enthusiastic about improving her dance skills and benefiting a Lincoln Heights Boy Scout Troup with a 772 High Adventure Scholarship Fund through the Dance with Heart fundraiser.

Doug Bolton introduced Laura Brunner to the club by saying he hopes that none of us has an experience with Laura like he and his son had. They had joined the Boy Scouts for a hike out west in Montana, when Laura’s terra firma gave way and she fell about 70 feet. All thought she was a goner. Fortunately, she was not.

Laura has been an accountant and a consultant. She has worked for a commercial real estate firm and an even more prominent commercial real estate firm. Since her tenure heading The Port, she has changed it twice making real estate include both commercial and residential for all to build wealth. She has one of the most difficult jobs in Cincinnati. Let us welcome Laura Brunner to Rotary.

Laura’s first words were, “If you are going to fall, do it with Eagle Scouts!”

The Board (on which one of our own Rotarians, Trish Smitson, serves) supposedly protects me from politics. I just come in every day, bury my head, and do my work. However, she said, “Judging by my emails, you would not be so sure that my work doesn’t fully embrace politics.” We want the Board to be part of the strategic plan. Together we are trying to relocate manufacturing to Hamilton County. Public finance has provided FCC Cincinnati. It overlaps both purposes. We are balancing racial; manufacturing that offers distribution, private vs. public where we as a public service behave like a private firm although we are bound by public. We also try to balance “getting things done” with finding the most productive use of land. That requires patience.

What If There Was No Port?
Let me present (by a series of pictures on the big screen) what it would look like without The Port. The Ohio Code gives us the expertise and the tools. We are taking on blighted neighborhoods such as Bond Hill where the business district posed as vacant real estate. Blight invites crime. The stores sell things, but if they are not healthy or legal, they are not working for the neighborhood. Another example is in Evanston where there was a condemned (but formerly beautiful Victorian) three-story home. Behind it there was a small apartment complex that had one of the highest concentrations of crime in the city. These two areas, Bond Hill and Evanston, were hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. Another site was in Walnut Hills at Gilbert and McMillan. The buildings were underutilized and it created a dangerous industrial area.

We are blessed with a high concentration of industrial zones. Industry had more dominance here in Cincinnati than in Chicago. Yet, times have changed. Many middle class jobs were lost. Gibson Greeting Card formerly offered 1,000 employees good middle class jobs. The company paid $1M in taxes, which supplied Amberley Village with revenue. The company closed in about 1985. When it did, it wiped Amberley Village out. When we got to it, a tenant was paying $1.17 in rent in the Gibson Greeting Card shell of a building for the distribution of shower curtains for Good Will. It clearly was not working for Amberley Village. The closure also negatively affected Roselawn as well. When they both went south, it became even harder to bring them back.

Cincinnati Gardens offers skating in an unsafe place. It, too, is an underutilized commercial real estate site that provides no benefit to its neighbors.

Hudepohl Brewing is in Queensgate. It has been partially demolished. We found kids scaling up the elevator shaft. The EPA has now declared it a “super fund” site.

In downtown Cincinnati, there is a lot of surface parking and underutilized space.

What the Port Has Done
In Bond Hill, the strip center has gotten a facelift. We kept the barbershop, but demolished approximately twenty other buildings for redevelopment. Besides the barbershop, we’ve signed the first tenant, David’s Cookies. We got a $5M loan from Kresge. We are looking for owners/entrepreneurs who reside in Bond Hill to make it work among members of the community.

In Evanston, the old three-story house has been renovated. We demolished the derelict apartment building behind it. On the nearby-vacated parcel of land, we want to redevelop new homes.

In Walnut Hills, no homes had been sold for upward of 9 years. We have begun buying homes one by one for approximately $85,000, fixing them up, and reselling them to first-time homeowners for about $200,000. One such new homeowner said, “This is the first time I’ll have a back yard!”

Small and minority-owned businesses grow through our consistency.

Gentrification is alive and well in Walnut Hills. We have already done ten homes in conjunction with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Council. They sold quickly. A beautiful old historic building was sold to Esoteric Brewery. It is the first black-owned brewery.

Other areas of focus include Colerain Township where there is an historic home and Northside where they are trying to incorporate tiny houses. There is a lot of cheap property available for Habitat for Humanity and Easter Seals.

Cincinnati Toolbank will be the new tenant at 1682 Seymour Ave. A large building is coming into Amberley.
We are in the process now of purchasing the former Dow Chemical site.

In addition, we own some of the property associated with the new Kroger building such as the parking lot. Our impact is huge in downtown.

1. County Land Bank?
These were created during the foreclosure crisis. It relates to the fact that property is held up from sale due to liens from unpaid taxes. The Port can expedite this. We redevelop or sell the properties. We have thousands of homes available on our website for a cost amounting to the outstanding tax liens.

2. Plans for westside of Cincinnati?
We have properties available in Price Hill that are being renovated for marketability and for affordability. It’s all about the funding. We also own many properties in Fairmont. We react to people like Madisonville’s CDC who are calling to ask for help.

3. Madisonville?
Early on, it was healthier than other locations. Some properties were forfeited and are now available for purchase for only the outstanding tax liability. Afterward they can be renovated and the prices then go up to market rates. Those that remain then go to the state and Dusty Rhodes offers them for $50. We bought many for our inventory. We want to be good stewards. We want people from the neighborhoods to have input on how they want it to be used. We require purchasers of our inventory to submit a plan stating what they will do with the property, when they will get it done, and with what money they plan to do it. If they accomplish what they said they would, we take the property back. There have been times when we have been accused of being too strict with this.

If you would like to take a tour of some of The Port’s works-in-progress, call Jamie Barron at The Port 513) 621-8000.


September 26, 2019


Dr. Ashish Vaidya has served as Northern Kentucky University’s sixth president since July 1, 2018, after being named on Nov. 9, 2017. As NKU’s president, Vaidya is responsible for championing the university’s mission and core values, charting an adventurous course and communicating the strategic priorities clearly with internal and external stakeholders. He works closely with the chair and members of the Board of Regents to achieve those priorities and to strengthen the university and the community. Vaidya fosters a collegial and collaborative culture that capitalizes on the richness of the NKU community and furthers its commitment to access and inclusive excellence.
Vaidya most recently served a two-year term as interim president of St. Cloud (Minnesota) State University, which is similar to NKU in size, scope, and complexity. As interim president, he served as the campus CEO and oversaw all operations and the university’s strategic direction. He also managed SCSU’s $210 million operating budget.

Prior to his tenure as interim president at St. Cloud, he served as the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Before SCSU, Vaidya served at two different campuses in the California State University system, where his last appointed role was special advisor to the president for regional economic development at Cal State Los Angeles. From 2010-2014, he served as Cal State L.A.’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Prior to his tenure there, he was Dean of Faculty at Cal State Channel Islands, where he helped to build a new institution from the ground up.
Vaidya has published numerous books and articles, including serving as an editor of “Operationalizing Stewards of Place: Implementing Regional Engagement and Economic Development Strategies,” a 2015 publication of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. His extensive community work includes service on the boards of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, the Initiative Foundation, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, and Partner for Student Success and the University Economic Development Association, among others. He is a member of the AASCU’s Committee on Workforce and Economic Development and from 2014-16, he served as chair of the AASCU Research Engagement and Research Council.
Vaidya is married to Nita Vaidya, a sociologist. They have two children: Jaanhvi, a management consultant with Accenture, and Avaneesh, a 2018 graduate of the University of Arizona and a technology development associate at Optum. They also live with Coco—the family’s pampered Chihuahua mix pet.

After a stealthy consult with Mrs. Vaidya, Doug Bolton introduced President Vaidya as her husband who has “no roots.” Mrs. Vaidya told Doug that President Vaidya’s father had been an engineer with the Indian government. His father’s work caused him to move from job to job within the government, uprooting his family every two years. When young Ashish finally became eligible to go to college, he moved once again, but this time to the US to pursue something “besides engineering or medicine.”

She said he pursued studies in the field of Education and obtained the highest degree attainable. After gaining much experience at various universities, Dr. Vaidya had a lucky break. At St. Cloud University in Minnesota, the President of the University, his boss, died unexpectedly leaving him as the Interim President of the University. The position suited Dr. Vaidya. When he learned of the position at Northern Kentucky University, he applied and was selected unanimously from a pool of 17 candidates.

Doug concluded by saying “Now that he has been ‘on the job’ as President of NKU for 15 months, perhaps he might consider the Cincinnati area to be his new `home.’”

Dr. Vaidya said, “I admire Rotary. I love your world service and appreciate your mission to community and to the world in these times when those values are being tested.”

I lived in California for thirty years in total. When I consider how many times I have moved, I think about what I learned from the changes. It caused me to appreciate diversity and I have learned to adapt. I was part of the California system with 23 campuses. It successfully provides access and the wherewithal for people to go to college.

I was surprised to learn that college was not the normal next step for many people. America is known for being the “Land of Opportunity” in the world and for its “intergenerational mobility” where each generation has a “better life” than its predecessors do. I see both in serious jeopardy. However, I also see that public education is how both are accomplished. State universities are the anchors.

NKU was born 51 years ago for creating opportunity within the region for those who are unable to go to college. For a region to thrive, one needs good education, good healthcare, and good community relationships. This is what challenged me and attracted me to NKU. The new President could shape the next 50-year vision. I accept the challenge!

NKU’s Strategic Vision
Rather than the usual long and drawn out “eye rolling” process, I want to enact something simple: we want to advance students toward success by aligning them with what is needed in their region. We want to provide them with “Access, Completion, and Career and Community Engagement.” The university community is ready and I see that it is nimble!

We will create “success by design” with the following aspects of a three-year plan.

We want to insure that “more are coming to learn with learning central to our mission.” We want to improve affordability. We want to be more welcoming. Everyone must immediately feel they belong.
In the incoming Class of 2024, there are 1,954 students. 47% of them are first-generation college students.
The traditional pathway from high school graduation at age 18 directly to college is dwindling. Today we have to think about how we seek and can support human need.

82% of graduates remain in this region. We see ourselves as an engine to fuel the region. Investing in NKU, invests in our region.

We must engage our students so they cannot leave without a completed agenda. Attaining certifications and degrees lead to engagement in the community upon completion. Many organizations have plans, but students-turned-graduates win with completion.

I met Anthony Munoz, a true gentleman and a real community asset. He came from USC in California to the Bengals. We quickly could see many mutual benefits so we partnered with his foundation. We would like to scholarship those whom he touches.

Since one-third of our students are “food insecure,” we have partnered with Kroger for the grand opening of a Food Pantry. About five years ago, we began sharing food on a few shelves in an office, which today has expanded into a destination we, call the Food Pantry to help students. Kroger is determined to meet its goal of “Zero hunger with zero waste” by 2025. The Food Pantry is now a 2,500 sq. ft. space.

The University Of Kentucky College Of Medicine has partnered with St. Elizabeth Hospital and NKU to locate a medical campus with medical rotations. In addition, the fields of Informatics and Health Innovation builds capacity and strength in the region. We have been awarded $1.8M in funding from the Dept. of Human Services, which is the highest grant, awarded to any university in Kentucky by far. The grant will fuel studies in the two areas.

Our next campaign “Further. Faster” will be for $75M.

1. As student loans climb to $1.6T, how does NKU help its students manage the debt they are incurring?
First, a student’s average individual debt nationwide is less than $25,000. We encourage everyone to invest in his or her education. Students need financial literacy to understand how to obtain prudent student loans. Most student debt has been incurred at either “For-Profit” or private universities. HOWEVER,… the real problem is going to college, assuming loans to pay for it, and not completing the degree. We have a “tuition structure” to draw students and to keep them until completion.

2. How can we at Rotary provide social capital?
We can build a more structured engagement; for example, connecting students with NKU alumni.
Secondly, come see a play, hear a talk, cheer us on in a basketball game, or just spend time on our campus.
We will be very “partnership oriented.” Another example, is partnering to attract international students. At St. Cloud University, 10% of the students were international. At NKU, there are only 3% foreign students. We need partners to help us attract more foreign students to NKU.

Rotary President Dave Carlin announced bad news regarding polio. There are two new cases in the Philippines.


September 19, 2019

The Navy the Nation Needs

Rear Adm. Gene Price received his commission as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer in 1986. As a junior officer, he served in a variety of assignments, including analyst during the war in Kosovo, member of United States European Command’s Crisis Action Team, and as political advisor for NATO’s Ambassador to Macedonia. Price was mobilized to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), N2, in 2003, where he supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as Chief of Iraqi Maritime Analysis. During this period, he led an analytical team located in southern Iraq and concluded his mobilization as NAVCENT’s Chief of Intelligence Operations. Price next commanded Navy Reserve Naval Forces Central Command 0267, nationally recognized as the Navy Reserve’s Intelligence Command Unit of the Year for 2006. He then commanded United States Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) Joint Detachment Minneapolis, recognized as USPACOM’s Reserve Detachment of the Year both years of his assignment.

Following this, he was then selected for Major Command at Navy Intelligence Reserve Region Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida. He was responsible for Reserve Intelligence “man, train, and equip” requirements across the southeast United States and Europe. Price again mobilized in 2011 to Afghanistan, where he served as senior U.S. Intelligence officer at Region North in Mazare Sharif. He also led its Multinational Fusion Center in conjunction with U.S. Coalition partners. After redeployment, he was assigned as the Deputy Senior Inspector, Information Dominance Corps Reserve Command. Price promoted to Flag Officer and was assigned as Reserve Deputy Commander at U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet (FCC/C10F) in 2014.

He was then recalled to active duty as FCC/C10F’s Deputy Commander in 2015. He was the first Navy Reserve Intelligence officer to serve on active duty as a deputy fleet commander. He assumed command of Naval Information Force Reserve in 2017, with additional duties as Reserve Deputy Commander, Naval Information Forces. Price was selected as the Navy’s senior representative for the 58th Presidential Inauguration in January 2017. He has received numerous awards and campaign medals, and is a partner in a nationally ranked law firm, specializing in employment, gaming, and maritime law. He was selected by his peers as a member of “Best Lawyers in America” for 2008-2015.

Steve Drefahl introduced Rear Admiral Price to the club. Steve told us that Price had been promoted to Rear Admiral in 2014. Today Price has served in the US Navy for 33 years. He also serves in the Louisville, KY office of Frost Brown Todd LLC and practices in the litigation department.

RDML Price said, “All hats off to Navy Officer Audrey Page who brought the Navy to Cincinnati!” My job in Cincinnati is to talk to our communities about what the Navy is doing for you. After seeing the movie Top Gun, 80% of Americans thought Top Gun was about the Air Force.

Why Does the US Need a Navy?
Above all else, the Navy provides US citizens with protection. After the Revolutionary War, the Navy was dismantled. In 1790, however, a new threat presented itself: the Barbary Pirates, living along the coast of Africa near Libya, began taking US men and selling them into slavery. Subsequently the Navy’s special role has been to “insure American commerce can get to where it’s supposed to go.” Fortunately, George Washington supported the Navy by saying, “The US can do no real good without a Navy.”

Today the Navy protects far more than the homeland. To preserve peace, we are doing business anywhere in the world. The Department of Commerce says, “Every job is somehow connected to international commerce.” Therefore, ever since WWII, the Navy’s job has evolved into keeping the choke points of commerce open to the entire world. The US does the job, but increasingly the US has tired of paying for other nations’ commerce. Today we want allies to build their own navies to share the responsibility. After all, we recognize 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, but what you may not realize is “90% of global commerce is conducted by sea.” Even the internet is conducted through the sea by underwater submarine cable. Because it can be damaged, the Navy keeps close watch and protects it internationally from such ports as Norfolk, VA, Los Angeles, CA, Shanghai, and Rome, to name a few.

How is this done? The Navy is largely at sea and yes, so is the Coast Guard. The Air Force often cannot get planes to hot spot locations because of air rights and fuel limitations. The Navy provides aircraft carriers to facilitate. We take refueling capabilities with us worldwide. We have an enormous obligation and it is not cheap. America’s Navy is not only hardware, but it is also worldwide networks. We need countless capabilities among our people. Connecting ships, planes, and satellites is very complex.

Questions from audience:
In the news, the Department of Defense has not assigned responsibility for the attack on the Saudi Arabian oil production facilities. It takes a developed nation state to have accomplished the scope of the attack. What are they waiting for?
On March 29, 2019, the Iranians announced, “If sanctions take hold, we will share the pain in the Middle East.” The US does know where the attack originated, but has not publicized it. We must insure the safety of Americans in the area. It was not an attack on the US directly.

Will terrorist activities be primarily drones?
Yes. Use of off-the-shelf drones from Amazon is enjoying increasing popularity, but the US has the capability of dealing with them.

Cyber Security?
In the recent Saudi Arabian attack, over 30,000 Aramco computers were fried. Remember the Sony attack? Also, think of the numbers of ransomware attacks. Cyber-attack is an insidious problem. It is the warfare of the future. Malware (in a cyber-bomb) can go so far as to kill people when life-giving devices quit working. I do not think that we are moving quickly enough, BUT it is very expensive.

What about the problems in the South China Sea?
China’s grab for the South China Sea affects Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, etc. and it is at cross-purposes with the US trying to preserve their freedom of commerce by sea. This is a work in progress.

I want to conclude by showing you the three-hull combat ship christened as the USS Cincinnati (LCS 20), in honor of your city. It is the fifth.
Jun 21, 2019 – The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) during a June 21 ceremony at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. The future USS Cincinnati is the 18th littoral combat ship (LCS) delivered to the Navy and the 10th of the Independence variant to join the fleet.
It has many technological capabilities. We are very proud of what it has to offer.

August 22, 2019


Chris Ostoich is Co-Founder and head of innovation at LISNR. He also leads the retail payment and 2FA efforts for the company. LISNR is the world’s leading data-over-audio platform, and is the new standard for micro-communications between devices using sound. LISNR’s proprietary technology is being used to connect the customer journey and power transactions around the globe. Rodney Williams, Chris Ostoich, and Josh Glick founded the company in 2012. LISNR has raised more than $20M in venture capital led by Intel and Synchrony Financial. It has grown into offices in three cities, and has a growing list of customers including Ticketmaster, Jaguar Land Rover, Visa, Lenovo, and many more.

Doug Bolton said of Chris Ostoich, “He is a human capital manager. He was expelled from high school. He has been ‘broke.’ He is a mobile payments guru. CNBC said, ‘His Company was a top disruptor, on the order of an AirBNB, a Robinhood, Uber, etc. for four years.’ Finally I would call him a raving fan of Cincinnati!’ “

Chris Ostroich said, “I would call myself a builder of things. I started six companies and I have advised over one hundred twelve companies. I take ideas and turn them into reality. I have had immediate success in 4,745 days.”

How We Got Here
“Our world is 98% failure.”

I am a transplant from southern Louisiana. I come from a family of musicians and even became a classical pianist. I played tennis in high school and was invited by UC to play tennis. I studied jazz at CCM.

When I first moved to Cincinnati, everyone’s’ first response was lost on me, “Where did you go to high school?” After a while, I just made up high school names to get on with the conversation. The experience of being new is what formed me. Entrepreneurs are formed by pain first, education second. The pain of being new made me feel disconnected. I had no skills, since I became a college drop out. I definitely had no business experience.

I started as a bus boy right here at the Omni-Netherland Hilton. Later I bugged the management of Perkins and got on there waiting tables. One day I happened to run into Jeff Ruby and talked him into taking me on as his youngest server. From there I was hired into finance, yet knew nothing.

I began looking at the local ecosystem and began to think, “If I feel disconnected without a social base, who else might feel this way too?” Cincinnati had an issue with assimilation and integration into the city by outsiders like me. It is not like New York City, where you can walk down the street and have an incredible experience!

Employed in financial services, I began to market to the “culture shocked” to help clients find their way “into Cincinnati.” I drew up a database of questions, and then plugged people into it. Before long, I was fired because this took my focus away from the real job of financial services, not to mention that I was “marketing an exclusive service that didn’t exist.” I felt like a failure.

I re-spun myself back into a day job at a restaurant. All of a sudden one day I got a phone call from the head of Human Resources at Macy’s. He told me Macy’s is moving hundreds of families to Cincinnati. Could I help them assimilate into Cincinnati’s culture? The scale of what he was asking was overwhelming. Somehow, I scrambled and got things together enough that P&G and others began calling asking for help with assimilation into our fair city. I began building human capital.

Once I was told, I like shiny objects. At first, I was offended, but realized if that meant I am in constant pursuit of ideas, then the person was right. That label literally became a gift; I realized that I am always paying attention. I had started Black Book Human Resources, but because I was a student and determined, but had no money, it was running out of money and I had to pay payroll for three months. I decided to make investors out of the employees. I had them look at resumes and decide on whom they would invest their time. This changed mentorship, turning it upside down. I was thinking, “Let’s do the opposite of human resources.” We tried it on Rheingeist five years ago. Three hundred people came to the first event where individuals stood up for five minutes making impromptu speeches about talent in the community, in art, etc. One thing led to another and before I knew it, the idea of hiding things (secrets) in music and on line was born which led to LISNR.

I guess you could say that I have “Founder’s Syndrome.” I get so close to the business, that I do not know when to step aside and get out of the way. I kept thinking about the notion of hiding things in music.

We decided to put everybody on a bus called “Startup” for three days. The idea was during the time, a participant would form a business idea, and they would make the pitch along the way. We stopped in Nashville, New Orleans, and those with an idea presented before someone in each city and on ESPN. This set the stage:
Header — talking
Payload — listing
The idea of using ultrasound as a pilot enabled me to think through turning any speaker in a car, boat, phone, etc. into a communication protocol using the network that is already there. The idea was found and formed on the bus. I wanted to send messages through sound waves without using blue tooth. One idea developed into many and by the time I got off the bus, I knew we had something.

A slide show could be broadcast to phones at a concert to see while listening to the performance. At the Grammy’s, the message was delivered on my device. Then I began thinking, “Why not broadcast to massive stadiums or to television where there are hundreds of sports teams. You know how hard it is to get $100 from Mike Brown of the Bengals? His shrug off made me realize that we were going about this the wrong way. We were trying to raise money, but the revenue attraction did not match with awareness. I stepped back to rethink the innovation.

First, “corporate innovation” is nonsense. In a big company, big ideas die. The problem is not the people, it is instead the system. We have to re-develop the system. That is, “We had to eat our own dog food!” At the 19time, we were located on 4th Street on the 4th floor. It took four buzzers to get anybody up to our office. This was a problem to everyone. We decided to install a RF doorbell. Innovating a new doorbell on line led to Ticketmaster.

We are using ultrasound to transmit data in 150 devices around the world. The idea is to use and to invest, so we have attracted the following businesses who both use and invest in LISNR: including Amazon, Visa, Target, Ticketmaster, Synchrony, etc. We have had over ten offers to take our business out of Cincinnati, but we are vitally committed to remaining here. We have a new office in OTR with 40 employees who report daily. Today we are in 155 cities and 35 countries. We have over 50 athletes.

Being uncomfortable forces each one of us to think outside our zone. Innovation is a system. So, “keep your eyes on shiny objects!” A billion dollar company was formed because of it.

To reach the speaker, Chris Ostoich, use either
ChrisOstoich@chrisostoich or

August 15, 2019


Thursday we thanked the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department for their service to our community. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil was unable to attend, but sent Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover in his place to present awards to the following recipients:

Administrative Excellence Award
Fiscal Officer Kevin M. Horn

Superior Achievement Award
Corporal Donald E. Maher

Hero/Valor Award
Deputy James E. York

Career Enhancement Award
Sergeant Michelle Moore

Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover is a 30-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Office and has been Chief Deputy for the past seven years. Rotarian Michael Vilardo introduced him to the club. Michael told us that Chief Deputy Schoonover said his best memories in his career are when he was the Canine Handler. The Chief Deputy came from Hamilton, Ohio. He has degrees from Police Staff and Command at Northwestern (?) University and in Criminal Justice at UC. He is married with two children and four grandchildren.

Chief Deputy Schooner told us immediately “how happy we all are to be here and how much we look forward to coming to Rotary each year. It gives us the chance to reflect back over the year and to recognize the outstanding efforts among the people of the Sheriff’s Office as they do their respective jobs.”

Administrative Excellence Award
I want to recognize Fiscal Officer Kevin M. Horn who is so deserving of this award. He manages a $75M budget. He is a trainer, a mediator, and he manages to keep a cool head when he faces major budget cuts within our office comprising 23 corrections officers, and an accountant among others. Without Kevin, in all divisions essential duties would come to a halt.

As a fiscal manager, Kevin is responsible for contracting for police communication services while he runs the department. He is indispensable and his value cannot be described.

Fiscal Officer Kevin Horn said, “There is much hard work done among the members of the Sheriff’s Department. We have a terrific staff. Thank you for your help in making this department work so well. We enable the men in uniform to do their jobs. Thanks to my bosses who support my ideas. We are a team!”

Hero/Valor Award
Deputy James E. York on September 6 in 2018, in downtown Cincinnati responded to a 9:10AM dispatch describing an active shooter at the Fountain Square Fifth-Third Bank lobby. Several officers approached through different doors, but Deputy York immediately responded by engaging the shooter head on. This took enormous courage. He did exactly what he was trained to do when putting himself in harm’s way.

Deputy James York’s response, “Thank you Rotary. Today starts my 29th year. Everyone here trained me. We have a tremendous training program.”

Superior Achievement Award
Corporal Donald E. Maher is a 27-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. Over his career, he has received seventeen commendations for his performance over a sustained period. He is involved with only the most dangerous criminals.

Corporal Don Maher’s response, “I am humbled and honored by this. It is unexpected. I immediately think of my father who showed me a dependable work ethic all during his life. He always asked me to give my best. You may remember my father. He was Paul Maher who was with the Channel 9 News team.”

Career Enhancement Award
Sergeant Michelle Moore became a sergeant in 2004; she is the longest serving supervisor, for 15 years when the average is for 4 years. I have observed her dealing with intoxicated prisoners while at the same time, a judge has called and she takes the call. Her job is hectic most of the time, yet she not only manages this, but also created an Emergency Response team and has written up the policies. She was the first to be selected for the team.

Sergeant Michelle Moore is the first in all the years of jail service to graduate from the Ohio State University with a 4.0. At the OSU graduation, I met her fellow students and professors who spoke of her as a “natural leader, positive, and confident.” She will be hard to replace in our department.

Sergeant Michelle Moore’s response, “Thanks to every major, captain, and to the Sheriff for their parts in raising me in the department. There are all deserving of this success. They encouraged me all throughout my career.”

1. What if there is an immigrant without papers here in Cincinnati?
Our policy is to treat everyone the same. If there is a crime, we will arrest. ICE cannot act without a warrant in our department. We do not pull someone aside because they happen to be from somewhere else.

2. What happened in Silverton is working well. Silverton signs a new contract lately with the Sheriff’s Office and so did Lincoln Heights. Staffing a Police Department is expensive.
The Sheriff’s Office provides a depth of services that is the best.

3. What is the training given in an active shooter incident?
First, every incident is different. We train at churches and schools. Everyone is welcome to take the training. It is very important for us to be able to reach out to the public.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is known as the “County Guard.” It is highly trained to respond. You may remember the 1999 tornado. The Guard was key to the city’s response.

4. What is the size of the Sheriff’s Office relative to other departments? It is second in size only to the Cincinnati Police Department. Today we have 877 employed in the Sheriff’s Office. We need 900, but we are in a budget crisis. We are doing more with less.
The Sheriff’s Office is involved in about half of the task force regarding enforcement, prevention, education, UC Hospital, social workers, and pharmacy companies who have donated thousands of doses of Narcan. I started the program where if you use one Narcan, you leave one Narcan. Most have been used. Deaths have been reduced by 25%. Had we done nothing, the Coroner’s Office would have been a lot busier. It was enough that Homeland Security came to the Sheriff’s Office to learn about the program and wants to use us as a model going forward.

August 8, 2019

President and CEO
Reladyne, Inc.

As President and Chief Executive Officer of RelaDyne, Larry Stoddard is responsible for driving and executing RelaDyne’s transformational business strategy from independently-run distribution businesses to an integrated branch network of lubricant, fuel, and reliability services supply throughout the U.S. Beyond his extensive experience running distribution businesses, Larry brings to RelaDyne a strategic focus on the development and growth of value-added services. A high-energy, results-driven business leader, Larry has a proven track record of nearly three decades of management success along with a respected reputation for significantly improving operational productivity and customer service.

Larry received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Auburn University. He played tennis while at Auburn. Today he resides in Cincinnati, with his wife, three daughters, and dog, Marley. Larry admitted Cincinnati is a great place to live “outside the weather.”

Our Super-Involved Rotarian, SIR Doug Bolton!!, introduced Larry to the club. Doug told us Larry is the CEO of the second largest privately held company within the industry in terms of revenues. Stoddard took a plumbing distribution company to $34B and joined it with the largest roofing company to lead them until he sold the merged company to relocate to Cincinnati in 2014 with RelaDyne.

Larry told us he commuted from Virginia for the first three years to make sure the company was “a go.”

Actually, at the beginning, I was one among many. I got the job directly out of school and the company just grew.

RelaDyne distributes bulk lubricants and fuel to as far away as Iraq.

We sell to a specific industry in specific quantities. Our product is environmentally unfriendly. It is just plain dangerous. Therefore, we begin every business relationship with discussions of safety issues. The company has a coin that every employee has. On it says, “Safety starts with you.” We have a policy that any employee can stop any other employee from doing something dangerous.

I operate with other people’s money in both public and private work.
I have a great deal of respect for entrepreneurs who go to bed every night thinking about how they are going to pay their employees. All that can happen to me is that I would get fired and would have to get another job, while they face ruin and failure every day. I have it easy compared to having to meet payroll regularly.

The company began as a bulk lubricant company run by the Ahler (sp?) Brothers in Cincinnati that started during WWII. They distributed to automotive, commercial, industrial, fuels, and reliability services like servicing agricultural equipment. There was a diesel motor business as well.

RelaDyne became known as a petro-chemical and nuclear plastics company. Most petro chemical companies have their own energy source as a backup to the grid. RelaDyne uses turbines 24/7 that are as large as this room. When we produce more than we need, we sell it back to the grid. We do this to keep all parts working while we work on equipment. Safety is acute when driving onto and on our property.

We are one of the only nuclear plastics companies. We flush lubricants as a hospital flushes a human’s kidneys, since fluids get dirty, to maintain them and to keep them efficient.

In 2010, we became an oil distributor with locations in Chicago, Houston, and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Exxon-Mobil, Shell, and Conoco are our customers. They demand more and more oil from us. In 2010, the oil distribution industry consolidated shrinking from 18,000 distributors to 2,500 today. Seventeen states in the US distribute lubricants. We are continuing to buy only the highest quality of these businesses. We acquire the best, we provide the tools of efficiency for them to integrate, and then we watch them grow.

Since 2010, we have become the largest distributor of Phillips 66, Shell, and Chevron: 67M in oil and 356M in gas. Our growth is due to 75% in acquisitions and 25% in synergies. We also operate in Japan to service US Navy destroyers and nuclear subs. We are also in South America.

We think of ourselves as a three-legged stool. We buy companies for their people, i.e., for their local business relationships. Our process enables everyone to stay. We intend to grow the business together. We are looking for industry knowledge and integrity. We take the people in the private equity acquisition, and then provide the financial infrastructure.

I have experience consolidating plumbing and heating. We are now doing the same thing with lubricants so we are just copying the same model. The key to our success is to keep the same local relationships. This will be my fourth private equity acquisition. We are buying to build, not to destroy as is often depicted in the news or on Wall Street. We have grown many jobs in Cincinnati and outside it. We have yet to wipe out a company; while at the same time, we are looking for synergies. When we buy a company, we reassure the employees that we want to grow what they already have in place. There may be some adaptation, but largely I think that is a fair way of operating. We are people-centric and safety-centric. We recruit, hire, and train people to create synergies in growth.

I used to sell toilets. Now I sell oil. It is not very sexy.

1. Aerospace?
We do not sell aviation fuel because there are too many liabilities associated with it. We are the largest distributor of piston fluids. We do some over-water fueling for the Coast Guard and the Marines.
Plans for business in Europe?
We have an office in Spain, but it is not a distributor model. There is a chain of command in products that are heavily regulated. It is much more complex today. Outside the US, distributors blend fluids in large vats. We do not do this in the US because it requires a large capital commitment. I hope we will not get into this.

2. In California, you got to the finish line and then walked. What happened?
We never wanted to go to California. We sell Chevron, Shell, Phillips 66, and Quaker State. There are specific regulations to meet in California.

3. Mid-Cap (capitalization) is when a company grows from about $5M to $30-40M after five years. When we trade again, we will be a large-cap company.

4. Is Trump influencing regulation changes?
We have not had any fewer regulations yet. What governs us is DOT and worker hours. There have been no changes there. Shell and Chevron, on the other hand, each have experienced a relaxation of regulations.

5. What about a manufacturing firm buying a distribution network?
It may happen, but if they do, they will ruin it. It will not go well. Both Shell and Chevron have asked to buy into our business. We have held them off thus far, because it is more difficult to exit the business the more partners you have. Private equity knows it is successful as it is.

6. Disposal of used lubricants is not a core competency. We will provide the service, if and only if it helps the customer.

7. Plant-based from a petro-chemical lubricant to carbon based?
We are an assembler buying parts in Louisiana. We do some customer blends, but only to advertise for customers.
Plant-based lubricants are not a huge part of elevators yet. When the lubricant is failing, it has a terrible smell…. imagine being caught in a stalled elevator. We are collecting the lubricants from universities like University of Pennsylvania because many like it were trying to be mindful of the planet in their choice of lubricant, not realizing what happens when the lubricant breaks down.

8. What if you bring in a new business and the owner will not comply with your rules? We communicate thoroughly ahead of the consummation. We have them go see the processes ahead to lower their expectations. We then would have to say, “These are the consequences of your taking the money.” We need these people, yet if problems do occur, we may put them on a two-year schedule.

9. What is the impact on the business of the frequency of sale? How a company is financed is not as important as knowing the business operations. Private equity helps a lot in the process. They are good at it. It is mostly data driven and then there are many management presentations. The day-to-day operations are not affected.

10. When you buy a company, how does the culture change?
When we went to buy each company, they immediately gave up because we were so large. Now we are not so large. We talk a lot about integrity and core competencies. There are many opportunities for people to move up. There is not a lot of change today, nor do I expect it in the future.

11. What about the impact of alternative energies? What will happen to carbon-based businesses?
From a numbers-based standpoint, there will not be a big change. For example, in studies of the electric car, it has been shown that electric vehicles use just as much from the planet as carbon-based.
Our model of distribution will adapt. We can distribute a variety. We are adaptable since we do not actually make anything.

August 1, 2019

John Brannen
Head Coach
University of Cincinnati Men’s Basketball

In April 2019, John Brannen was named the 27th head coach in University of Cincinnati men’s basketball history. Brannen served as Northern Kentucky University’s head coach since the 2015-2016 season, taking the Norse to unprecedented success as the school’s athletics department underwent reclassification. Since earning active Division I status eligibility prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, the Norse men’s basketball program compiled a 72-30 overall record, making three consecutive postseason appearances (NCAA Tournament [2017, 2019], NIT [2018]), winning back-to-back Horizon League regular-season championships (2018, 2019) and claiming a pair of conference tournament titles (2017, 2019).

Brannen came to NKU after spending six seasons (2010-2015) at the University of Alabama coaching under Anthony Grant, four as an assistant coach, and two as the associate head coach. While in Tuscaloosa, Brannen helped sign Alabama’s 2011 recruiting class that ranked fifth in the nation according to

Prior to Alabama, Brannen served as an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University for three seasons (2007-09) under Anthony Grant, helping lead the Rams to three 20-win campaigns, two NCAA Tournament appearances (2007, 2009), and a showing in the NIT (2008).

A native of nearby Alexandria, KY, Brannen attended Newport Central Catholic High School. He began his collegiate playing career at Morehead State before transferring to Marshall University for his final two seasons, playing for head coaches Billy Donovan (1996) and Greg White (1997). He was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 1997, averaging 20.9 points. He scored 1,008 points in two seasons with the Thundering Herd. A Rhodes Scholar finalist, Brannen received scholarships from both the NCAA and the Southern Conference. He earned a degree in Business Management from Marshall U. in 1997 and played two seasons of professional basketball in Belgium’s First Division before beginning his coaching career.

Brannen and his wife, Lisa, live in northern Kentucky and are the proud parents of twin daughters, Jaylee and Katelyn.

Coach Brannen began by saying he was experiencing a flashback to 1991 when his Junior Prom was held right here in the Hall of Mirrors. He admitted that he was not much of a dancer back then and that it had been a lonely time since he had not yet met his wife.

He told us that he has not been Head Coach at UC long. He is just getting to know his current players. He feels fine as he navigates key landmarks in Cincinnati because of growing up in the area, but he readily admits he gets lost on UC’s campus.

Transfer from Cronin. I have recruited seven new players. They have to understand what “I” am selling. Not only do they need to recognize UC’s reputation, where the expectations of the program are extraordinary, but also about the region and what the community has to offer. I convey our priorities: first, you are here to get a degree, and second, whatever it takes to get into and meet the competition.

Non-Conference Play. UC fans are used to easy opponents in non-conference play. There will be no blowouts in the non-conference period. We are scheduling Top 25 Teams to be more aggressive right from the outset.

Biggest Challenge. The change in play. Mick Cronin’s style of play is different. It is hard to change, but we have six weeks of practicing to learn the new approach to “zone to man,” etc.

1. Difference between an Assistant Coach and an Associate Coach.
When the Head Coach is kicked out of the game, you as the Associate Coach become the head coach.

2. Transfers under the new portal rule commanded by NCAA.
I am all for the rights of players, but the activities under the new system where players can almost transfer at will, is very challenging.

3. Style of Offense.
Fast-paced. The best shots are the “3-pointers” because they are most valuable. Second best is the “lay up shot.”
On offense, my mantra is, “Sprint. Space. Share.”

4. Extension of the 3-point line.
I was against it because if four guys are on the floor and they can’t shoot, there is a problem. It really impacts the spacing.

5. Head Coach job at UC.
I had several other coaching job offers this past April, but none offered what UC offered. It was an easy decision. I kept the same house (which pleased my wife!) and I got a great school! This was by far best of all! I grew up in St. Bernard. I want this to be my last job.

6. Biggest Challenge at UC.
Transparency. The players walk into the room thinking they are great already.

7. Where are you on staffing?
We have one more position to hire for our current staff.

8. What are your methods of recruitment?
There is SO MUCH competition in this region. Coaches are given specific dates on which they can make their case. My date is August 6th. In the meantime, my wife has begun taking pictures of the empty seat in front of us when we go out to restaurants, then she puts it up on Twitter.

9. What do you say is specifically UC?
The culture. I am more exhausted than ever after practice here.
Besides Graeter’s and Skyline? We will get there. It will just take time.

10. Games at NKU and at UC?
The newly revitalized 5/3rd arena will be only the place for UC to play home games this year. However, as the NKU Coach, I outsmarted myself by scheduling the UC team for a home game at NKU. Now I have to take the UC team there as a road game.

11. Summer league basketball.
500 teams come to the city or to two locations and we fly in. It helps us financially.
351 college coaches are making the right decisions. It is on us.

12. Local recruiting by the NBA.
It is well known that the NBA scout just keeps a local hotel room rented during the college basketball season. There are so many teams in this region. The teams he follows are UC, Indiana U., OSU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Kentucky, etc. All are recruiting against one another. There is so much competition!

There is a wide range of great high school coaching within a small radius of downtown Cincinnati.

We try to connect recruits to a support system at UC that says, “We love you.” We offer benefits, diversity, and lots of competition.

13. Ideal Athlete.
I am looking for someone with high character who is also a self-starter. Everything else takes care of its self. Of course, the talent piece has to be there.

When you take over a team, you have no relationship. It is like “speed dating.”

14. Public speaking and social media.
Both fall on the shoulders of the Head Coach. Players do not care how much you know until they see how much you care.

“Chance favors the aggressor.”

July 18, 2019

Founding President & CEO
Lindner Center of HOPE

Dr. Paul Keck is the founding president and CEO of Lindner Center of HOPE, one of America’s leading comprehensive centers for mental health, addiction treatment, and research. A Dartmouth graduate, Dr. Paul Keck has been among the top 10 most cited scientists in the world in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. He has conducted extensive research in bipolar disorder and is the author of more than 500 scientific papers in leading medical journals. Dr. Keck has authored over 200 reviews and chapters to major psychiatric textbooks. He serves on the editorial boards of seven leading journals and on the board of the American Psychiatric Association Institute for Research and Education.

I grew up in Ligonier, PA just south of Pittsburgh. I received a scholarship from Rotary long ago that launched my career. Thank you again for that opportunity. I am so pleased to speak with you today.

Make Waves
One in five Americans suffers from a mental health condition. Of these, more than half do not get treatment. 16M Americans suffer from depression and in Cincinnati, it amounts to 150,000. That is four times the seating capacity of the Great American Ball Park!

Mental health disease is our number one disease, more than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined. Suicide resulting from mental illness is the third leading cause of death among adolescents.

While at Dartmouth College, I made a friend who lived in Bangor Maine. Every night after dinner, he disappeared. As it turned out, he had to work to put himself through school, but he kept it to himself. He struggled to get into medical school, but he did finally attend and graduated as an orthopedic surgeon. He worked with a university’s team. When he called me after many years, it sounded as if he had finally achieved his dream. As it turned out when I learned that not long after he called, he committed suicide. I realized that he must have been calling to say good-bye, but I was not skillful enough to detect it. I went to the funeral and while there nearly everyone came to talk with me to better understand, “Why?” I began calling his wife once a month to ask about what might have happened in his life. She said he was afraid of financial changes that might be coming; He was concerned about his employees who were experiencing depression. In short, he waited too long to seek help for his own depressed state.

A colleague once told me that he had been a psychiatrist for 35 year. He said he had experienced having cancer and depression. He said emphatically, “I’ll take cancer any day!”

Many people are suffering from intense mental anguish with no hope of seeing it through successfully. Our goal is to get people into treatment. Instead, we bravely suffer in silence. People can heal from mental health disease. Like all health issues, the sooner we come in for treatment, the better the outcome. We must learn to understand that mental health conditions are neural conditions. The usual onset is from age 16 to 24 years. If a brain continues to develop without treatment, it can become a chronic disability.

Mental illness is a silent epidemic. It is our leading health problem. It needs everyone’s voice. Mental illness costs the American economy billions of dollars per year. It is the leading cause of reduced productivity, disability, and absenteeism. It affects families and friends. For every $1 invested, $4 is returned in renewed health and productivity. Think of the ROI (Return on Investment) of your investments. The ROI on our investment in solving the mental health problem facing us for society (counting prison costs and homelessness) is 37 to 1. Why would we not do this? It is worth it!

History of Lindner Center of HOPE (LCH)
It began in 2008 as the dream of Francis and Craig Lindner. When they called and asked to meet with me, I was very apprehensive. They immediately assuaged my fears when they said, “We never realized the problem until our own family experienced a mental illness and we had to go out of town for treatment.” They have invested more in LCH than in any other philanthropic organization.

LCH is a non-profit organization. Its focus is to provide treatment for mental illnesses that most insurance companies will not cover. To give you some idea of the severity, Medicaid pays $17/hour. It is hard to stay afloat on this. I believe that “it is flat out discrimination.”

We also share in collaborative research with Harvard, Mayo Clinic, and others.

The Case for Leadership
Linda and Harry Fath one day approached Craig and Francis Lindner and said they wanted to give $15M over time. The Lindner’s were so overwhelmed with the Fath gift that they matched it with another $25M over time. They said they knew that we really needed to start an endowment of $75M so that it would be sizable enough to self-sustain the LCH into the future by the interest it earns annually.

Leaders in research are finding new medications to treat mental illnesses. The Lindner’s want to support mental health research on the causes and treatments of mental disease. We have collaborated with Tier-One Performance a research firm in Northern Kentucky. The company provides a package to companies to survey and educate the employees of each company. Early results indicate that 94% of the employees surveyed either are suffering or know someone in their family who is suffering from a mental illness. Our goal with these packages is to help employees share their need for help and then to get them the help they need.

Diagnosis today is as good as ever! The two programs available are private-pay while others have insurance. I treat many poor people who pay a $20 co-pay.

We have launched the program MAKE WAVES to break the silence. We encourage everyone to talk about his or her issues. We assure them that it is not a character weakness. It takes courage.

In 2008, when we opened you may remember the economy tanked and the stock market went down along with it. I had many men in their fifties in money management coming to talk with me. Some people have a genetic disposition for feeling vulnerable. Then it is exacerbated by some extreme stress. Over time, the brain can be changed by these conditions if the person does not get help. They complain that they cannot eat or sleep which happens when one’s cortisol levels are elevated. In time, each man improved. This experience has convinced me that the workplace is the perfect place to begin to help people with asking for help.

I suggest making mental illness a workplace priority. Of course, you recognize the numbers of hospitals and health centers that are competing for your business for physical problems. Sadly, there is no such competition for treating mental health issues. The LCH has treated over 40,000 people in the eleven years since we were founded.

I suggest you look carefully at your mental healthcare benefits. Unfortunately, the biggest carriers offer the least mental health benefits. I also suggest that you ask for help from your primary care physician.

It is empowering to hear when others are treated and improve.
You can look us up at

A friend told me about his sister in Florida. Her manic behavior was causing her family and friends to shun her. He said, “If she had a physical condition like MS, people would be starting countless ‘Go Fund Me’ pages, but instead she is on her own.”

We MUST get educated and be agents of change!

1. How is LCH different from other mental health facilities?
In psychiatry, there is a public sector where all facilities are supported by taxes. Financially, the government, Medicare, and Medicaid pays much better to public facilities.

LCH treats bi-polar disorder, addictions, ADHD, and it treats every level of mental healthcare condition. For children, we collaborate with Children’s Hospital. We provide for patients with addictions, offering methadone. We have a huge outpatient business. We try to cover every aspect of mental healthcare in people with issues from 2 to 102 years of age.

2. Are new drugs coming out to treat bi-polar disorder? Yes, since 1994, there have been 13 new medications. Most work differently, which is good. There is one you have likely seen on TV that is providing more hope for getting well than ever.

Our true goal is helping all mental health patients get well.


July 11, 2019

President & CEO
AAA Club Alliance

Tom Wiedemann began his career with AAA in 1989 and has served in many capacities throughout his 28 years. He was named President of AAA Southern West Virginia in 1998, President, and COO of AAA Allied Group in 2012 of which the downtown Cincinnati AAA auto club is an affiliate. Tom is Chairman of Midwest Auto Clubs, LLC, Member of AAA’s Membership Business Committee, and AAA’s Digital Survey Task Force. Tom is also a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO). Tom is a member of the NKU Foundation Board, serves on the Alumni Governance Committee of Northern Kentucky University, and is a past President of the NKU Alumni Board of Directors. Mr. Wiedemann received his BS in Management from Northern Kentucky University. Tom and his wife, Mary Jo, have two children.

“I am so happy to speak to you in my hometown. I spoke at a Virginia Rotary about 20 years ago and am so pleased to be here again. AAA and Rotary people spend their time contributing by serving others.”

AAA Through the Years

Yesterday when AAA was founded, horses out-numbered cars. Nine auto clubs joined 1,500 members. The first dues was $10, which in today’s value is $250. At $57, dues have not increased in many years. We want dues to be affordable to all. AAA was on the cutting edge in 1902. It created the Triptik trip planner. Recently we tried to kill it, but our customers reacted by saying, “No!” Kids in the back seat today have just as much fun learning to navigate thanks to our Triptik. Back in 1902, the AAA building was located on Central Parkway exactly where it stands today! In 1907, AAA established the Bureau of Touring Information. In 1909, it was the first sanctioning body of auto racing. In 1915, it established roadside assistance. In 1955, there were many terrible accidents in auto racing. In 1956, AAA was responsible for the Federal Highway Act, which led to better road conditions. It established a gas watchers guide.

There are 60M members. AAA is organized as a not-for-profit. Therefore, it has no owners expecting a profit and there is no stock. It feels like a mutual organization with a collection of 35 clubs (after a voluntary merging from 200 clubs) across America. We do have tax benefits and whatever profit we do make, we plow it right back into the improvement of our services. There are 40,000 employees and we have 148 retail locations, so you do not HAVE to come downtown. Many clubs have combined into one club, like what is offered in Shelby County, Ohio.

Car Care
AAA has partnered with Bob Sumerel Tire Center. We tow approximately 120,000 cars per year. We realized that we were towing to various external businesses that we never really knew what the outcome of the service was. We now own Bob Surmerel, but we kept the Sumerel name for the sake of maintaining quality.

AAA will tow, insure, and now will even wash your car. We are the first to have to have a carwash in the AAA system. In Cincinnati, you can go to Old Rainbow Carwash on Madison Rd. or to Parkway Auto Wash. We realized that communications with our customers were so infrequent because our members usually breakdown only once on average every other year, whereas they get their cars washed once a week. This enables us to stay closer to the needs of our customers.

Travel Service
We bought the Travel Agency Network that includes Provident Travel and Magellan Travel to help our members with planning their trips.

Roadside Service
AAA has approximately 65% of the roadside market. On average, we save our members more than $100 per year. Even if you call your car’s service number, we will be activated and we will show up to respond, oftentimes even sooner at 38 minutes on average per call.

Sprint has partnered with AAA to pay members’ fees. If you are with Verizon, change to Sprint!

AAA is North America’s largest brick and mortar travel assistance. We are noticing that people are coming back from their experiences online for travel services. We do not charge extra fees for our help.

B2B Business Units
AAA is mostly a Business to Consumer organization, but we are picking up steam with a few businesses as we service Macy’s, Western-Southern, Paycor, and Children’s Hospital.

Insurance Services
Established in 1982, AAA is specializing in providing Corporate and Personal Insurance.

We want roads to be safe for all motorists. As a result, we have begun researching distracted-driving habits due to drinking, drugs, and now mobile phone usage. We have recently launched this campaign. We are finding that people do not value phone usage as seriously as drinking or drug-use as distractions while driving. Yet, “phone usage while driving kills an average of nine people and injures over 1,000 more every single day.”
Thus, we have started the idea, “Don’t Drive InTEXTicated!”

AAA in the Community
We have been working for decades in our communities. We have supported school safety programs since 1920, or for nearly 100 years! In fact, if you were on the school safety patrol when you were growing up, you can tell your stories at

We have provided for a children’s outing annually for 112 years. In the past few years, we have partnered with King’s Island to give over 2,000 children who could never afford entry the chance to spend the day at King’s Island.

AAA is collecting dollar donations to help those who still have to cope with the loss of their home, car, or loved ones in the Dayton Tornado Recovery Effort. We are collecting donations at

As cars change, so will we. The biggest changes to car use are the self-driving, automated car and ride sharing. Insurance coverage will have to change from personal insurance to corporate insurance. We still have to deal with infrastructure, but it is coming that an automated car will be driving right alongside you on the highway. AAA is partnering with universities to research these transformations in mobility.

1. How will autonomous vehicles affect car ownership? There will be various levels like from one (fully human) to five (where five is a fully automated vehicle); eg, the automated service of parking your car, even though you are responsible for driving the vehicle.

2. What about car sharing? Big cities will share cars more and more to avoid the high costs of parking, insurance, and traffic times. Ford has discontinued manufacturing cars and has changed its focus to the manufacture of the Ford F-150 Truck. In Washington, D.C. drivers with an app can “get in and use, then park and go” cars much like our RedBike Program.

Our right to own a car and to drive it is changing. Many wonder what this will mean. AAA research studies are testing the safety of human vs automated driving. At present, there is not enough information to make a clear judgement. It is like with airline travel. We have come to see that it is far safer than auto travel. A 100-person airline jet would have to go down every single day to be equivalent to the cost of human losses from car accidents. The real issue, I believe, is “control.”

AAA is in business to make money. Yet, we want to please you only. We plow profits back into the business as quickly as we earn them. For example, an innovation is requiring background checks on all our employees, particularly roadside responders.

When you call in, we will ask you if you are in a safe place. If you are not able to get to one, we will prioritize our response to get to you faster. When you break down and call in, we send the nearest vehicle.

3. What is AAA doing to support public transportation? We are pushing UBER and LYFT. We are more about safety coalitions, infrastructure improvement, and getting a fair share of the gas tax.

4. What about charging stations as cars go electric? Charging stations are more challenging than gassing up. We have charging stations at all stores along with free air. Locally the stations are in Newport and on Red Bank.

5. What is AAA doing with BIRD and LYME electric scooter services? Nothing at present.

June 27, 2019


This week we celebrate 2018-2019 President Rick Flynn for his rich year of service and officially welcome 2019-2020 President Dave Carlin as he begins the new Rotary year ahead. We also recognize those who have served on the Board, those who served as Committee Chairs this past year, those with 5 (or multiples thereof) year anniversaries, and those members who sponsored one or more members during the past year.

Our celebration began with a couple of rousing renditions enthusiastically sung by the Rotary Chorus in tribute to our two leaders. The catchy words were individually tailored for the occasion and were lovingly created by our own Rotarian, Janet Metzelaar. Just hum along as you imagine the performance.

For Outgoing President Rick Flynn, You Kept Us Smiling
Rick Flynn, you kept us smiling….. leading Rot-a-ry Se-ven-teen
You have been an in-spir-a-tion…. and asked us to be the same.
When Ro-tar-i-ans come together…. all the world seemed bright and gay
And with ser-vice as our motto… we made each day a Rotary Day!

We honored our friends in service …. sheriff, teachers, police, and fire
And had speakers every Thursday …. entertained, informed, in-spired.
Our “beloved bowlers” defeated Dayton…. our March Madness a great success
And our Lip Synch acts fundraiser…..featured talents we’d never have guessed!

Raised funds to serve our children…. with challenges of their own
We served Ghana, Uganda, Madagascar…. and countless children close to home.
Clean water, healthcare, and solar… all are needed to thrive and grow
Helped the world be green and peaceful….and freed our planet from polio!

Camp Allyn is our treasure…. serving families all year long
Stepping Stones, autism, and Condon…. oh we want to keep them strong.
Our Believe to Achieve fundraiser….. helps with budgets just in part
And our Condon Christmas party….brings such joy, touching every heart.

The new FC Cincinnati…. the Cincinnati Reds….
The W-CET Action Auction…. oh how good does it get?
Balloon rides at Camp Allyn …. awards at the Flying Pig
We served meals at the Ronald McDonald House…
makes us grateful we’ve had the time to give.

Your kind and generous spirit…. your great year has come to an end
So we’ll stand and then applaud you… we are proud to call you, “Friend.”
Recruit, engage, serve others… the record shows its done
Now you’ll spend more time with Linda… play and laugh with your first grandson!

Our Rotary Club is smiling…. thanks Rick Flynn for everything!
YOU have been an inspiration…. All that’s left to do is sing.
Now pass it on to Dave Carlin…. He’s ready to carry on.
So we’ll put our hands to together…and then sing Dave Carlin’s song!

For Incoming President Dave Carlin, Our Next Grand Slam
Our NEW year is right around the corner….time for changing the guard.
Rick Flynn gave a WINK to Carlin on the sly….”Being President’s not that hard!
“I got this!” said Carlin…. I’m a family man!
It’s time for Carlin, Rotary’s NEXT grand slam!

Dave and Karen raised three children, Brett, Blair, and Cam.
A Purdue grad and an athlete himself…. he’s an avid Boiler fan!
Bring on the football, basketball too…. Get out the golf clubs.
Saddle up the road bike too!

So thanks for leading us Dave Carlin… May thirty-first you boarded the plane
Off to Germany to meet the world…and now you’re home again.
We put our hands together…. We know you’ll do your best.
You set the vision,….. we’ll do all the rest!

We’re ready to tell Cincinnati… to share what we’re all about
Serving neighbors here and abroad….we’re proud to shout out loud
We’re for service … we’re for life-long friends.
We’re for connecting the world…our mission never ends!

Next: Rounds of APPLAUSE for the Rotary Chorus and Janet Metzelaar!

Outgoing President Rick Flynn thanked and named the following Rotarians for their outstanding service this past year:
Susan Wilkinson for her outstanding service as she organized (and we enjoyed!) Believe 2 Achieve so successfully this year. President Rick said, “Everything you touch is done with excellence. We are fortunate to have your service.”
Doug Bolton, Super-Involved Rotarian. President Rick said, “Doug insured excellence among our weekly speakers even when they had to cancel or change their plans at the last minute. Doug managed to keep the show going on!”
Toni and Baffour Otchere, Certificate of Merit. President Rick recognized each for his/her passionate effort toward making the Ghana project such a success this year.
Linda Muth, “has been my friend and the best Rotary Director I could ask for to help make things happen this year.”
Al Koncius for “his inerrant advice this year. Thank you, Al.”

Last of all, President Rick recognized (and likely embarrassed) his wife, Linda Flynn, with the Paul Harris Medal for her “33 years of support for me in every way during our marriage.”

Passing President Rick’s Outgoing Remarks
Cincinnati Rotary, Club 17, is one of the premier Rotary clubs with its many “out of the box” thinkers, for the numbers of hardworking members, for its forward-thinking planning, and for how inspiring it is. Serving you this year has been one of the highest honors I have ever had. As Rotarians, we pay our dues both monetarily as well as with our service. We must keep this going! Just look in the mirror as you think about the kind of person who would make a good candidate for membership: they are likely your friends already. We are strong with a great staff, but recruitment is our life. Once our Rotary Club was very selective with only a few candidates allowed within each business classification. Rotary was a great business opportunity. It still is, but times have changed of course! We are working harder in our businesses. As a result candidates say “it is hard to attend all the meetings.” More than ever, however, we embrace, “Service Above Self.” We must continue to attract that kind of person to become our friend in Rotary to work alongside us.

Incoming President Dave Carlin’s Remarks
I am celebrating ten years as a Rotary member. Today I will introduce what I hope will be “thoughtful procedures” to lead Club 17 into a successful year so I, too, can leave it next June 2020 “in good hands.” President Rick, you have set the bar high.

On July 19, 2012, Rick Flynn joined our Rotary Club. He has been omni-present ever since!
Rick Flynn has given over 1,000 hours of service.
He had brought in 29 new members.
He organized and led the Leadership Seminar. I was in his first class. “President Rick, we will see how well I implement what I learned by next July!”
He has sponsored many Club 17 events; e.g., New Member, Fund Raising, the Ghana Project, etc.
He is a member of the Legacy Circle.
He is a nine time Paul Harris Medal winner.

Rick Flynn has accomplished more than anyone in our club history has!

Rick, because you are an accountant and as President and CEO of your own firm, I have just the gift to help you grow your business. A 10-key Calculator! I will also give you a “Rick Flynn” hat, which is a white baseball hat to wear to Rotary events this next year. I wanted to find you a gift that represents the kind of leader you are. I think of an eagle soaring above others, while at the same time, that brings others with you. Here is a bottle of bourbon. Now I will present you with the Past-President pin.

I am honored and humbled to be President of this Rotary Club. Jay Schuermann invited me to join. As I look out across the Hall at the numbers of tables with Rotarians seated around them, I see one big table. I am but a small part of this wonderful organization. I have asked myself, “How do you follow the presidency of Rick Flynn?” where we raised more than $1M dollars at Believe to Achieve, where the Rotary Foundation has accrued more than $2.4M since 2009, and where we have funded four international projects. Next year our theme of M.O.R.E. (the Magic of the Rotary Experience) will guide our work and our contributions while we also have even “more” fun!

I have asked Rotarians two questions regarding their view of our Rotary Club at present.
First, what is Rotary doing right that we should continue doing?
Second, what weaknesses do we need to shore up?

I would like to initiate that we accept at least ten new members this next year by launching a digital marketing campaign to promote ourselves “more” effectively. In addition, I would like to engage our members in such a way that each will feel “more” Rotary pride individually.

A strategy that we will undertake right away is to survey our members’ satisfaction.
Colin Wilson once said, “Imagination should be used not to escape reality, but to create it.”
I say, let us create “more,” another great year together in Club 17!


June 13, 2019


Mike DeWine’s story is a true Ohio story. Reared in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Mike DeWine and Fran (Struewing) met in the first grade and were married while students at Miami University. They have been blessed with 8 children and 24 grandchildren. Family is at the heart of everything Mike DeWine does, and that is why he has devoted his life to fighting for Ohio’s families. He knows when families are strong, Ohio communities are stronger, and our future is bright.

Mike DeWine loves Ohio and cares passionately about our state’s future. He will fight for an Ohio that works for everyone – every person and every family in every corner of our state. From world-class cities to some of the best small towns in America, Mike DeWine knows that to build our state into an economic powerhouse, we must have strong schools, a great quality of life, and compassion for those who need our help.

Mike DeWine’s family started a seed company in Yellow Springs. Working alongside his parents and grandparents, Mike learned early the value of hard work, strong leadership, and fiscal responsibility. Growing up, he loaded seed bags onto trucks and boxcars, shoveled wheat out of trucks during harvest, worked in wheat fields to help ensure the purity of the seed, and did whatever it took to get the job done for their customers. Inseparable to the end, his parents were married for 65 years and died within four days of each other. The values he learned from them still live within him today.

On November 6, 2018, Mike DeWine was elected to serve as the 70th Governor of the State of Ohio. The Governor has had a long and distinguished career in public service, focusing on protecting Ohio children and families. Prior to his election to Governor, he was the 50th Attorney General of Ohio. Before that was elected to serve as Greene County Prosecutor, Ohio State Senator, U.S. Congressman, Ohio Lt. Governor, and U.S. Senator.

President Rick Flynn introduced Governor DeWine to our club. The first thing the Governor said was, “I have just violated one of my cardinal rules: never judge a contest!” as he chose the winning Rotary lottery ticket for the day. He went on to say this hotel is where my parents at ages 18 (Mother) and 20 (Father) spent the first night of their honeymoon. Together they started a great family filled with tradition.

The unemployment rate among youth in Ohio is high. We have a lot of work to do.

I go to Washington about three to four times per year. While there, I meet with a select group of US businesses that want to come to Ohio either to invest or to build commercial relationships. Why Ohio? Life is good in Ohio! The cost of living is manageable. There is an increasing number of business start-ups and they are growing. It is a good place to raise a family and it is possible to live near a university if you choose. There are more state universities than in most states and many private colleges and universities too.

I travel around the state to meet with fellow Ohioans. I find that they are asking the same question: “Do you have working talent?” The increasingly difficult challenge regarding the ability to find good people to work is their primary concern. Too many workers have drug problems that affect their ability to work. This is affecting many employers; for example, hiring truck drivers. We are working toward more programs that connect the business community with local community colleges. It is not just about graduating from college; it is more about having a talent that can sustain them “on the job.” Connecting the two, along with the local high school, is the focus. Internships can be a solution where students can try all sorts of things to learn what they like and do not like. We are focusing on the future because we want young people to find their passion at work. This way they will be happy as they go to work.

Right now in Columbus, we are putting our budget together. Our process is for each branch of government to deliver a budget for their needs. We then try to decide among the various and whittle down to one budget for the state. I am asking the state to spend money that is focused on the future like for Education in general and in Early Childhood Development specifically. Children’s Hospital identifies early on in a child’s life the importance of medical care after birth and proper nutrition in the early years of life. We have learned so much more about what is healthy brain development in early childhood.

Think of the challenges teachers face as we expect them to teach reading when some kids in kindergarten have half the vocabulary of the other students. We are developing programs that are getting the message out about “prevention education” that is age-appropriate beginning with kindergarten. I am not talking about addiction to cocaine, but instead educating at an early age about any kind of unhealthy addictions.

My wife, Fran, has looked into the “Imagination Library” that Dolly Parton started in Tennessee. Dolly’s program mails age-appropriate books to children from birth to five years of age. The books generally cost $12, but the organization has made them available at $2 per book. Fran is trying to bring the program to Ohio by going to every community and asking for 50-50 matches. Tennessee has reached 75% of its young population. Our grandkids and local librarians are helping with the program.

We must continue our focus on Education. “It is the one thing we can control.”

1. Jury in Pike County? On November 14, this is no longer my job! They will manage to come up with a fair jury. These are allegations until they are proven guilty. It will be solved by work, work, work! Detectives and police officers are working to pull things together. They have put in tens of thousands of hours of work. We will see.

2. Funding has been increased by your Cabinet for drug problems. Yes, I do have a great Cabinet. After all, I picked them! Seriously, though, we recognize that along with the drug problem, many also have mental health issues. The suicide rate has doubled what it was eight years ago. Mental health is our primary focus.

3. In my school district, educational funding is diminishing, but at the same time enrollment is increasing. Citizens do not want to see an increase in the tax levy. What can we do?
This is an age-old battle. We cannot satisfy everyone. We have set aside approximately a half billion dollars for two years. We are trying to answer the problem of interference from external factors on each child. In this way, we are budgeting for “wrap-around services.” Mental health problems must be addressed first or teachers cannot teach. We will be able to achieve this with our budget.

Some districts have no tax base. Legislators are looking at growing populations in individual school districts. We want to administer on a local basis, district by district. Yet the Ohio Constitution says, “It is the state’s responsibility.” They are all our kids. Statistically speaking, “Poor kids take more money.”

4. You are the perfect Governor to ban private ownership of semi- and fully- automatic weapons.
Thank you. I can propose something. Today, however, there is no chance it will pass. I deal with the world as it is.

The real problem is when mental health and/or drug problems are associated with gun ownership. Families tell police, “We need help with this!” We would like to take action to remove weapons, but we are not there yet. I am working behind the scenes to put a bill together. We just are not there.

5. Pike County Case? A tremendous amount of state and tax money has been spent. Sherrod Brown made the right decision when he called us to come in. We have spent A LOT of time on this. We cannot walk away from it now. I know we will solve this case. The legislature has given an extension. “There has never been a case like this regarding the effort put in on a premeditated murder.” It is expensive to take to trial. The state of Ohio will have to assist financially. The jury selection is a slow process. Capital crime cases are very expensive to do.

6. Infrastructure: Brent-Spence Bridge? YES!!
ODOT and the Kentucky equivalent are working together.
“I am confident this will happen!”

June 6, 2019


This Thursday we recognized members of the Cincinnati Public School system for their service to our community. Laura Mitchell, Superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, will present the awards.

Administrator of the Year – Lisa Votaw (Aiken High School)
Community Service/Humanitarian of the Year – Brynn Thomas (School for Creative and Performing Arts)
Innovator of the Year – Deidre Simpson (Evanston Academy)
Teacher/Leader of the Year – Carrie McCarthy (Woodward Career Technical High School)

Michael Vilardo introduced Laura Mitchell today. He made us think about something important, “Teachers shape our lives. All are impacted by a teacher.” He also named how many of his family members are teachers. (I lost count!)

The Cincinnati Public School System (CPS) has 35,000 students and 5,000 teachers. CPS is the first and only district in Ohio to earn the recognition of “Distinction” for its success in turning its schools around academically. Dartmouth College focused an educational learning experience through the case method on Laura Mitchell at CPS for her ability to turn schools around consistently.

Laura Mitchell is a graduate of the School for Performing Arts. She obtained her Bachelors at Bennett College and her Masters at the University of Cincinnati.

There are four award winners whom we will recognize today.

The first, Deidre Simpson of Evanston Academy, was recognized for Innovator of the Year. Deidre is a true scientist who enriches her curriculum with a wide variety of science topics of interest such as aviation and incorporating the actual Smithsonian Institution into her classroom allowing her students a level of inquiry unequalled by “very few other schools in the nation.” Deidre also runs a Robotic Club. Her teams have won 25 trophies in the past 8 years. She collaborates regularly with social workers who are involved with her students to get her students the “best education” she can provide. She is a true agent of change.

Second, Carrie McCarthy of Woodward Career Technical High School was awarded Teacher/Leader of the Year. Carrie works with a team of educators across the district to insure a path to the “three E’s” for each of her students. The “three E’s” represents one of following the opportunities for each student who graduates from CPS: each will choose to be going on to college, going to work, or joining the military.

Third, Brynn Thomas of the School for Creative and Performing Arts, receives an award for Community Service/ Humanitarian of the Year. Brynn engaged her students in creative, educational projects that enabled them to start their own “black-owned” business in her African-American Studies class. Others became involved in the community. All competed in a statewide competition.

Finally, Lisa Votaw of Aiken High School, is named Administrator of the Year. Lisa is the Principal at Aiken High School. She has identified many student who do not feel safe in high school. Knowing this she encouraged the students to initiate a Coffee Shop at school. She engaged students from the English as a Second Language class to work in the Coffee Shop. So many enjoyed the experience, that they talk openly about “how much they love” their Principal! The idea has created an atmosphere of commerce, communication, and high achievement. Her students “want to be there” and “want to learn.”

1. Tell us about the CPS New Strategic plan. It began last summer. One of you Rotarians is one of the key designers of the plan, Doug Adams. Thirty communities and/or business communities participated in a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of academic or corporate curriculum. Many organizations indicated what they thought the priorities regarding decision-making, health, and safety, growth of the CPS footprint, community engagement, and efficient and effective citizenry should be. You may not realize that formerly we lost students, but today we have gained as many as 4,000 new ones. We purchased Mercy High School when the merger occurred. It is undergoing a renovation, but is scheduled to open in August as a Montessori school. Communities want an Elementary School on the west side and another in Clifton. All schools will prepare students for the “three E’s.”

2. What about the numbers of students who have become homeless or are living in their cars? Many are “couch surfing” or living in the car, like you said. We do not want their school days to be interrupted. It is common, however, for students to move from school to school to pick up the classes they need. We will take them back to their point of origin each day. We do have a program for the homeless. Approximately 25% of our kids are homeless. We also have 24 school-based health centers. Each is very professional. We recognize that these centers may be the only healthcare any of these families get. The health centers are open to students and to their families. We have a very generous community. The District does not pay for this healthcare. Generous community partners provide instead.

3. What about getting meals to students during the summer? Students get breakfast and lunch during Summer School. We also give them food to take home during the weekend. We offer DARE during the school year. If there is a weather incident and the schools must close, we have to think about food distribution in spite of it.

4. Charter School students? Approximately 6,000 students attend Charter schools within the District. Many are returning to us because it is difficult to provide all the services that are often needed. For example, CPS provides services for gifted/talented, disabled, Montessori, foreign languages, and career tech to name but a few. There are many choices. We talk with parents and the community to decide the local focus that is best for each school. Western Hills Elementary Montessori has 7,800 kids. It is like a high school. We want another.

5. What can be done about the teen suicide problem? First, we need to listen to young people. We must make sure they each relate positively to at least one significant adult. One of our best “early warning signs” is if they do not have one. The stress on kids is enormous. As early as third grade, students feel the pressures of testing. It got so bad, that Mason Schools dropped the titles of Valedictorian and Salutatorian at graduation due to the coinciding emotional pressure. Another problem we face with kids is they dare one another, and go too far. There are many TV shows about kids committing suicide. We need to talk with them and listen to what they are really saying. Look for a kid that is unnecessarily spending an inordinate amount of time in his/her bedroom. In addition, if a kid cannot sleep, he/she needs to talk.

6. From age 12 to graduation, kids are dyeing due to the impact of social media. Bullying goes on from age 6 to 18. It used to be that kids felt safe at home. This is not the case any longer because “the bully’ can follow them home on their computer. Admittedly, girls are prone to drama. Therefore, we decided when it occurs, to bring the parents in and make a court to find the underlying cause of the issue. We also require all parties to get counseling. Today you can monitor your child’s use of his/her cell phone to tell you about the number of incoming calls and texts in tally form. It is an app available known as SMART FAMILY.

7. Next week the Ohio Governor will speak at Rotary on the opioid problem. He promises to attend CPS. It may surprise you that opioids are not the drug of choice among inner-city kids.

8. What about security in CPS schools? First, two knowledgeable security officers roam buildings. Metal detectors at the high school level will be for EVERYONE. We have random searches and surprise checks now and again. We already buzz people in so no one can enter without our knowing it. We have lobby guards who are instructed to check driver’s licenses or state identification. They run a background check, but these are not always “fool proof.” They also run audits. Someone is assigned to watch exit doors to insure they lock. A security person patrols throughout the day. We also have a state-of-the-art camera system.

We have a safety task force composed of Homeland Security and the Police Department.

In six years, we have not had a weapon incident.

9. Tell us about the talents of skilled-labor students. Students can get a good technical education at CPS. We do not send them out. We have many programs from which to choose. For example, at Woodward one can take construction or health, at Riverview nursing, culinary skills at Dater, EMT at West High, and arts at SCPA.

10. Educational Testing Services recently had a convention in downtown Cincinnati. Was CPS involved? Yes, I am enrolled to become a “growing functional leader.” Therefore, yes, we are involved, but I cannot tell you the specifics.

May 30, 2019

Cuban Travel & Tour Expert

Henry ‘Enrique’ Yanis came to the US from Cuba in 1960 at the age of four. His grandfather Enrique was the Editor, and minority owner of Cuba’s largest daily newspaper; Prensa Libre.
His father, also Enrique, was a successful travel agent in Cuba with agencies in four of the most important hotels in Havana. At the Riviera Hotel he was sure to pay his rent on time as “The Mob Boss,” Meyer Lansky was his landlord.

Enrique III, caught the travel bug from his father and has led major travel businesses and cruise lines in the US and Mexico. Returning to his roots, Enrique is an integral part of reintroducing Cuba to US visitors through his Si Cuba Tours and Programs.

He holds a BBA with Honors in International Business from The George Washington University and earned a Masters degree in Economics from University of Miami. He resides in Miami, Florida with his wife and four children.

Rand Oliver introduced Henry Yanis. Rand said Henry had hosted the tour Rand and his wife, Penny, had taken last year to Cuba. He also told us the Rotary Club in Cuba was first formed in 1919 AND both Henry and his father had been members! Henry, reared in Cuba until early childhood, fled to the US. Henry told us that Cuba did not return to his travel radar until 2016 when Former President Obama lifted travel restrictions. Henry feared being “left behind” so he jumped into travel to Cuba “before tourism could flourish, as he knew it soon would.” Henry told us “Cuba is like Europe in the Caribbean.” Cuba had once been the destination for 280,000 tourists and two years later in 1959, tourism was down by 100,000. Following the travel ban, lifted in 2016, tourism has once again gained steam by welcoming over 5M tourists this year. Cuba has recognized tourism as the source by which they can sustain themselves since there is no industry. Cuba is reinventing itself now that they are no longer under 100% government control. Today an emerging entrepreneurial and middle class had not previously existed. To give an example, Henry said when he was last visiting in Cuba that he had stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in an entrepreneur’s home. Henry stayed upstairs on the second floor in six large, air-conditioned rooms of a typical emerging middle-class home. Henry said, “I support these people who are working hard and taking risks to build their desired life style. On our tour, we visited many private restaurants. I am so fond of these people who want to improve themselves.”

Today there is a “hair-pulling” contest between Venezuela and Cuba. Cuba does not need to be in the middle. Venezuela’s leader, Maduro, is threatening to relocate to Cuba. This would crush the new wave of tourism. After former-President Obama lifted travel restrictions, President Trump talked tough about rescinding the freedom, but he made no changes. He has allowed cruise lines and airlines to continue tours and flights into Cuba. Such discussion has caused Americans to come largely by cruise ships where they explore by day and return to the ship by night.

When Rand and Penny toured, we spent time with entrepreneurs. Once when Prince Charles came and spoke, he promoted an “alley way for travel” where gift shops and restaurants have opened in the newly developed areas. Havana is rich in culture with government-supported arts, sports, and both world-class Opera and Ballet. It is celebrating its 500th anniversary later this year. The Cuban people are engaging and love Americans. They say, “One American tourist is worth five others!” The trip was immersive while cruise ships give travelers “instant impressions.”

The architecture in Havana will get you as will the numbers of old “classic cars.” They are original and authentic. We rode around on the tour in a magnificent 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe!

In contrast to Havana, western Cuba is where tobacco is grown. It is like entering a time warp where you go back more than sixty years. There is no industry. Oxen and horses are still used to plow the land. On the Hemingway tour, we saw everywhere Hemingway was “drinking something.”

The cigar culture is a highly shared experience. As it stands, the law prohibits Cuba from selling Cuban cigars or rum in the US, BUT if you visit, you can return to the US with as much as you want for “personal consumption.”

When I first returned to Cuba, I had a hard time finding where I had grown up. When I finally did, I discovered the house had been cut into two with an upstairs apartment separate from the rooms below. I saw the same furnishings that my parents had left behind. I am grateful to my parents for what they had to do to start all over again in the US. I am not bitter for what we lost. I have moved on. I do love visiting Cuba now though.

Cuba is one of “the safest countries in the world.” The Government “lives on tourism.” I think there would be grave consequences if anyone were to impact that negatively.

If you would like to learn more, check out my website:

My email is: and my phone number is: (786) 218-2782.

1. What is the poverty rate? There is a big difference between the tourist centers in the north and east. First, if you work for the Government, the average salary is approximately $25 per month. Remember that the Government provides food, education, healthcare, etc. However, do not be surprised if a doctor or an engineer is your next taxi driver. A $10 tip provides a huge incentive!
You do not see malnourished people. Cuba is a poor country, but you do not see people living in misery. They are happy and you nearly always hear great music everywhere.

2. Hotel reservations reliability? Yes, they were terribly unreliable at first in 2016 when US tourism burgeoned. Since then, they have raised the rates that has made the people mad. In December 2018, Cuba embraced the internet. By July 29, 2019, Cuba will allow private wifi, if you bring a router. Communication is improving. Demand definitely exceeds the supply. AirBnB’s are Cuba’s greatest market.

3. Health Care? “Cuba manufactures doctors and practices medical diplomacy. They trade doctors for oil.” If you have a planned medical procedure, it can be good; but, it may not be good consistently across the country. World leaders do come to the hospital in Cuba. It is definitely not handicap-friendly. You must be ambulatory to get around effectively.

4. Population of Cuba and Havana?
As of 2017, the population of Cuba was approximately 11.5M and of Havana, 2.13M.

5. What will Cuba be like in the next five to ten years? I do not envision a change in power. Tourism will continue to sustain the Government and the private economy. A recent consulting study forecasts 20M US tourists will come to Cuba by 2030. I hope it can extricate itself from the Maduro problem. If I ask my Cuban friends, they unanimously say, “Maduro absolutely cannot come to Cuba!”

If you are interested in joining Rand Oliver and his wife, Penny, on a trip to Havana in June, call or text him at (937)271-7282.

May 23, 2019


This week we honored one of our very own Rotary Club members with the Walter Emmerling Award. This award recognizes a member of the Club who exemplifies the highest qualities a Rotarian can achieve, one who demonstrates Service Above Self, and lives as a model to others. In keeping with our tradition, this recipient was not made public until the day the award was presented.

Mike Levally and Steve Haber served as Masters of Ceremonies (MCs) for today’s event. Mike began with an overview of the “Wally Emmerling” Award winners since the award’s inception in the early 1950’s. (Past award winners are listed on pages 14-15 of the Rotary Membership Directory.) Today 14 of those winners are still with us. Last year when Don Keller was awarded, he was the first who did not know Wally himself since Wally died at age 99 in 2004.

For many years, Jim Powers and Greg Moratschek served as MCs until the year that Jim Powers himself won the award. Greg and Jim went right on planning the program with Jim having no idea of its true recipient, because Greg had a “ghost program” in place. The exact same thing happened again a few years later when Greg won the award. (Rotarians can keep secrets, when they have to!)

Wally Emmerling, reared in Norwood, lost his father at the early age of five. He began a paper route that eventually led him to the Boy Scouts. Upon graduating from high school, he became a “Buckeye.” Majoring in business, he was amply prepared for his 40-year career with Proctor and Gamble. Because of his integrity and dedication, he decided to join the Rotary Club in 1949. A few years later he was honored by his fellow Rotary Club members at Clovernook Country Club at a golf outing. Soon after the award was named for him. Wally was a member of Cincinnati Rotary for 55 years.

25 years have passed since Wally Emmerling was first recognized and set the standard. Ever since, the Wally Emmerling Award has recognized tremendously active Rotarians, each continuing until the present day. Their leadership has been exemplary in making Club 17 what it is today.

Today we recognize the 26th Wally Emmerling Award winner: Jane Birckhead!

Jane’s Background
Like Wally, Jane lost her father early. He had been a navigator during World War II, but died at age 30 of polio that attacked his heart. As she grew up, she enjoyed swimming that has continued until today where she gets up early each morning to swim before she starts her day. She has a sister and the two were pictured in matching outfits complete with matching purses (some things never change!).

Jane graduated from high school in Kentucky and went on to Pepperdine University to major in journalism.

Jane’s Business Career
She started as a Claims Supervisor for an insurance company in California. Upon moving to Cincinnati in 1993, Jane joined Hukill Hazlett Harrington (HHH) Agency. She soon became a Vice President of the firm.

Today Jane works with Assured Partners NL.

Jane’s Rotary Career
Jane joined Rotary in 2002 under the classification “Insurance.” In 2008 to 2010, she served on the Board of Directors and was elected the Vice President of Club 17 during that time.

Jane once said on her Rotary application that she “would be a good worker, but please don’t ask her to lead anything.” Now that we know her, she has headed many successful fundraising events including the “Day at the Diamond,” or dinner out on the Reds Infield to support the Miracle League for disabled kids to be able to play baseball. She raised $300,000.

Jane’s Personal Life
Jane met Ollie on the porch of the tennis club and the rest was history. She ultimately replaced him as the Vice President of the Board of Directors at the tennis club.

Jane has always loved outdoor sports in Montana. She finds her way into a lap pool or into a lake to get her “daily dozen.”

Jane presently resides in Morrow, Ohio with Rod MacEachen. He tells it that Jane rebuffed him many times before she would eventually enjoy a friendship with him. Today they enjoy life together.

Jane’s Various Eye-Witness Best Friends
Francis Stravopolous who lives in Oregon came to our meeting via video. She said she has been friends with Jane for over 39 years. They were in Kappa Alpha sorority at Indiana U. and travelled all over the US and Europe together. On one of those trips, they were at Amelia Island having a wonderful time dining and drinking on the night before they had to leave for home. Wouldn’t you know, Jane had lost her bathing suit! Francis said they looked everywhere. To this day, they have never solved the mystery!

Jeff Bertke was an early business associate from the HHH agency days. Jeff had partnered with Jane to sell a policy to another firm. They had arranged a meeting at deShae’s Restaurant to meet the customer. Of course, Jane was well prepared for the meeting! She was very anxious to make the sale. She made an excellent presentation, and then went to close the deal with the customer. He said, “He would have to think about it.” Once back in the car, Jane just broke into sobs because she was so disappointed. I said to her, “Reach into my glove compartment for a kleenex.” When she did, all she could find was a “sanitary napkin!” We both broke out into hilarious laughter over it. A few days later, the customer decided to give Jane his business and he has since become one of our best customers.
One word describes Jane: “SPUNKY!”

Owen Wrassman, Past President of our Rotary Club, said Kathy McQuaid invited Jane to join Rotary in 2002. He also said, “Jane has never been a bowler” so we can’t give her an affectionate label.

Jane has always “lit up the room.” In 2007, she put a little dinner together that raised $300,000 for the Miracle League to build a baseball diamond for disabled kids to play baseball. No matter what Jane is doing, she makes it work! We love you, Jane! You may not like to lead, but you have successfully led others in so many ways as you put “Service Above Self.”

Jane’s Reaction
One word: “SHOCKED!!” describes her as she responded, “Thank you! I sure hope this won’t be like this year’s Kentucky Derby winner!”

At the very end, we learned that when Jane’s sister was rooting through the pictures to give to Rotary for the event, she found her father’s flag given for his meritorious service in the war. Rotary has framed the flag for Jane to have into posterity as two special mementos.


May 16, 2019

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Jonathan Martin has served as President of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Cincinnati Pops, and May Festival since September, 2017. With the Orchestra’s return to Music Hall one month into Mr. Martin’s tenure following an extensive and historic renovation, the CSO received international acclaim and experienced increases in average concert attendance during his first season as President.
With the announcement of the CSO’s 125th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 comes a commitment to propelling the art form forward and advancing the Orchestra’s vision to more fully engage broader audiences and the wider community in the 21st century under Mr. Martin’s leadership.
The 125th Anniversary Season introduces an entirely new concert format with the goal of reaching new audiences, the commissioning of new works, as well as experimentation with alternative performance elements and collaborations with acclaimed artists from around the world.
Prior to Cincinnati, Mr. Martin served as President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 2012 to 2017, a period which saw increased artistic achievements, financial stabilization, robust fundraising, creation of innovative concert formats, genre-crossing programs, and expanded community impact in Dallas.
Prior to leading the Dallas Symphony, Mr. Martin served for nine years as the General Manager of the Cleveland Orchestra. There he successfully managed 22 domestic and international tours and residencies, oversaw the operation of the famed Severance Hall and Blossom Music Center, and helped develop and launch that orchestra’s groundbreaking, ten-year residency program in Miami, Florida. In addition to his positions in Dallas and Cleveland, Mr. Martin also led the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2012.
A native of Atlanta, Mr. Martin holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Georgia State University and began his career at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, where he served in five different positions over 14 years.

Doug Bolton introduced Jonathan to the Club. Doug said Jonathan Martin is the “Voice of the Symphony” because of his vast experience with the Atlanta, Spokane, Charlotte, Cleveland, and most recently Dallas Symphony Orchestras. In Cincinnati, Jonathan is President of the Symphony, the Pops, the May Festival, and Music and Event Management (MEM).

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is coming up on its 125th birthday in two months. It is the sixth oldest orchestra in America. With that kind of legacy, Jonathan says we want to maximize its future momentum. The CSO and Pops are financially sound. Touring has generated over $10M in sales of recordings. In addition, it owns Riverbend, the Taft Theater, and Rose Music Center in Huber Heights, OH. We are now in the process of building a new facility at The Banks.

Music was born in Cincinnati during the 1800s. It is a prime music city. The May Festival Chorus hails 1873 and the Music Hall 1878. The CSO was founded in 1895 by an all-woman Board of Directors, one of whom was Helen Taft, the wife of President William Howard Taft. The CSO disbanded for a few years during the turn of the century, but was brought back by Ann Sinton Taft. The Emery Theater opened in 1911. Ankowsky (sp?) began the “Popular Concert” series, now affectionately known as the “Pops Concerts.”

Jonathan told us he “discovered” Cincinnati himself when he flew into Cincinnati from Spokane to look at the Cincinnati Ballet Company. He said that he has been on over 50 tours around the world and has seen concerts in 150 concert halls. You should be proud to know that the “Music Hall is one of the very best in America.”

The CSO performs for the Cincinnati Opera every year. That is another legacy for Cincinnati. This is very unusual. He said, “Few cities have that partnership.”

Fritz Reiner was in Cincinnati, but in 1953 went on to become the Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

During the mid-1930s the Music Hall was nearly destined for the wrecking ball.

In 1958, Max Rudolph came from the Metropolitan Opera. He led a world tour.

In 1967 the Pops began performing in the parks initiated by Erich Kunzel. He came to Cincinnati in the mid-1960s. Few led with such will, purpose, and creativity. Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra became a world-wide phenomenon as they grossed over $9.9M in sales. You may remember performances where he invited Ella Fitzgerald and Neil Armstrong who narrated Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It was a great loss to Cincinnati when Erich died in 2009.

Jesus Lopez and the orchestra played world-wide. He hired 42 of the 88 musicians who play today.

Pavo Jarve came from Estonia in May, 2011.

John Morris Russell came in 2011.

Louis Längre, known and respected world wide, is directing the 17th season of “Mostly Mozart” in New York City.

The orchestra toured Europe and Asia during the year in which the Music Hall was renovated. They also performed in Carnegie Hall and in Lincoln Center, which has positioned them to win another Grammy.

Coming attractions include a performance by Renee Fleming. On August 3 a performance entitled “Look Around” will be the first time the community will help make music all afternoon and evening.

The CSO’s goal is to reach younger audiences. We need to better reflect our changing world. Several new organizations have been formed to meet this goal. One is a “new crucible of young chamber orchestra musicians.”

Our promise to Cincinnati is: “We will inspire, innovate with boldness, and include artists from the broadest community. Music lives within us all to unite us and our passions.”

1. New Banks venues: Newport and Cincinnati? Is there room to absorb both?
Yes! We have planned for more competition in the future. Cincinnati is a music town. Artists today make money from touring, rather than from selling albums to propel the pop charts. The size of our venue, 4,500 seats, reflects the greatest growth potential for this market. We have battle-tested this business plan for many years.

2. May Festival?
Older than the Cincinnati Orchestra, the May Festival began last night and will be slammed for the next two weeks. It was the impetus for the building of Music Hall. For more information, see

3. Inclusion?
We’re in the forefront, but still partner with CCM for talented people of color. They are under represented. We want to place them on stage with seasoned performers. We also do this with the Chamber Players and new organizations such as the American Orchestra, the High School, SCPA, and with community arts. We are working to build a pipeline to nurture diverse talent-hosting in Cincinnati. We will be in the news. We are determined to fix this!

4. While ballet has broadened its outreach, what is classical music doing? We are inviting small ensembles and orchestras who have never performed with large orchestras to join us.

5. New listeners don’t think genre, they listen to what they like.

6. How is the CSO doing financially? During 2008 – 2009, the financial stability of the organization suffered, but in 2019 Louise Nippert’s gift of $85M gave us the necessary capital to create a fund that is now valued over $100M. It enabled us to get the unfunded pension paid off. It was the leadership of Trey Devy who for nine years since 2009, provided the financial stewardship that got us on the path of fiscal discipline. He ought to have a statue in Washington Park, in my opinion! Thanks to those three influences, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is one of the soundest orchestras in the nation. (What a pun, Jonathan,…..completely unintended at that!) Finally, with our diversified revenue stream, like the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood, we generate additional revenue from Riverbend and the PNC Pavillion during the summer.

May 2, 2019

Nancy Grayson
Horizon Community Funds

Horizon Community Funds was founded in 2017 by four lifelong Northern Kentucky residents, business, and professional executives: Bill Butler, Chuck Scheper, Bob Zapp, and Will Ziegler. United in their shared commitment to increase philanthropy for Northern Kentucky, they believe that Northern Kentucky leaders are best positioned to understand and address the interests, needs, and opportunities within Northern Kentucky. Horizon Community Funds’ primary service area is Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties of Northern Kentucky.

Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky brings people together to donate and contribute in ways that have never been available before, to combine their resources to help break the cycle of poverty, support the arts, spark development and innovation, enrich children’s education, and improve the health and wellness of the community. This is a community foundation designed to manage funds exclusively for the benefit of Northern Kentucky.

Doug Bolton introduced Nancy to the club.
Nancy Grayson is President of the Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky, where Northern Kentuckians make a lasting difference in their own local community. As President, Nancy is responsible for implementing the vision and strategic direction of Horizon Community Funds as set by the Council of Trustees, working collaboratively with other community leaders to serve the community’s needs.

A recognized leader, Nancy has served on numerous boards of organizations dedicated to improving education, promoting healthy family relationships, and preserving the natural resources and history of Kentucky. She currently serves on the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Board of Governors, Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative Governing Board, Metropolitan Club Board of Governors, Duke Energy Ohio & Kentucky Advisory Council, United Way Northern Kentucky Action Council, and Trinity Episcopal Church Vestry.

Nancy was named a “Northern Kentucky Tribune Newsmaker” for 2018 and she received the “Northern Kentucky Champion for Education Award” in 2011. Nancy is an alumna of Leadership Northern Kentucky. She graduated summa cum laude in Political Science from the University of Kentucky and received her Juris Doctor from the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law.

Nancy is a sixth generation Kentuckian. She currently resides in Boone County with her husband, Trey, and their two daughters, Alex and Kate. Her top weekend activities include exploring the many new restaurants in Northern Kentucky, listening to Bluegrass music in Rabbit Hash, and experimenting with a new recipe using one of her many kitchen gadgets. Her favorite way to cook an egg? Sous vide 62 degrees Celsius.
(Egg cooked in water at approximately 143-144 degrees F for about an hour.)
Nancy told us there are only about 800 of these types of community funds in the US and approximately 1,600 worldwide. The number has doubled in the past 20 years and is managing more than $50B in assets. Horizon offers two types of investment funds.

Donor-Advised Funds targets opportunities that no one knows as we do, then who gives back after receiving. This type is most efficient. Someone can begin with small amounts, recommending where the money goes
Designated Funds provides a way to give to specific institutions such as to churches, St. Elizabeth Cancer Center, etc. By partnering with a fiduciary, the donor can enjoy economies of scale to deliver more with gifts now and into the future.

The types of gifts that Horizon works with are land such as farmland, cash, and publicly traded securities so the donor can avoid paying capital gains tax. Since its inception two years ago, Horizon has amassed $20M that is going toward education and health. It has obtained more than $2M in grants.

Horizon is fostering a robust culture of philanthropy among the next generation and young professionals. In the next 30 years, Nancy told us, “Boomers will be transferring over $30T.” What if we captured just 5% of that? We offer some of the following crowd-funding programs for young giving.

Giving Circle offers the opportunity for individuals to put in the same amount and then to decide where it goes.
410 Fund for individuals to join for one hour for one year, Each contributes $100. They place the names of potential recipients into a hat and draw. We had 60 YP members who collectively gave $60,000. Once the gift is given they come together to discuss the outcomes.
Student Philanthropy where a sponsor gives $1,000 to $2,000 so the students can learn to analyze and decide where it should go. They have chosen to help with homelessness among topics such as regional identity, volunteerism, and inclusion.
Horizon Community Accelerator provides a “pitch” competition where $50,000 was given to ten not-for-profit organizations. We have attracted new partners so that now we will bestow $110,000.

It is so important to enable everyone to understand what philanthropy is and to provide ways to participate in it.

1. How can someone partner with a private foundation? We invite them to join, collaborate, invest together, and to partner with donors regardless of their backgrounds.

2. If you would like to contact Nancy, her information is as follows.

April 25, 2019

Paula Brehm-Heeger
Cincinnati Public Library

Paula Brehm-Heeger is the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County. With a focus on expanding access, community and civic engagement, and innovation, Paula is a strong and passionate advocate for public libraries. She oversees our community’s 41-location system that includes 40 branches and a Main Library serving more than 800,000 people. She is responsible for the oversight of the facilities improvement plan made possible by voter support of a successful 1-mil levy approved in May 2018.

Prior to her current appointment, Paula has worked in public libraries for more than twenty-five years. She worked for the Indianapolis Public Library, Anderson (IN) Public Library, and the Kansas City (MO) Public Library. Upon her return to Cincinnati, she has worked in a number of leadership positions with the Library, most recently serving as the Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, and the Chief Library Experience Officer. Paula is a member of United Way’s Women Investing in the Next Generation of Leadership group, the Downtown Cincinnati Inc.’s Safe, Clean and Beautiful Committee, Association for Public Administrators, and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Alumni Network.

Paula received her BA from the University of Cincinnati, Her MLS from Indiana University, and her MPA from Northern Kentucky University where she was named the Distinguished MPA graduate for the 2016 program at NKU and the Outstanding MPA student by the Association for Public Administrators – Greater Cincinnati Area Chapter. In 2014, Paula received the Urban Library Council’s Joey Rodger Leadership Award and graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Emerging Leaders Executive Education program. In 2018, she graduated from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Leadership Action program.

Paula has contributed writings to PLA’s Public Libraries, VOYA, School Library Journal, and YALSA’S (Young Adult Library Services) Journal, is the author of Serving Urban Teens (Libraries Unlimited, 2008), and co-authored “Remaking One of the Nation’s Busiest Main Libraries” which was named the “Feature Article of the Year by Public Libraries in 2010.”

Richard La Jeunesse introduced Paula with two quotes about the importance of the public library. They follow:
“The only thing you must know is where to find the library.”
And “Of 100,000 right answers, the library brings the right one.”
Richard told us Paula manages 40 branch libraries and 1 main library with their 430 employees. Their circulation amounts to 21M that is not all books.

Paula said she grew up on the Westside of Cincinnati in Delhi. Her Dad was a member of the Fire Department for his career and her mother worked at the Federal Building in downtown Cincinnati. Both were civic-minded, public servants who passed it down to her. She told us that many of the buildings we knew back then have either been renovated or relocated now.

When I began working in the library, I focused on the Children’s section. When I saw how many children we lost after they grew out of Storytelling Time, I decided to focus on Teens.

My husband, Ned, is an Evanston, Indiana boy, but he happily calls Cincinnati home now.

Cincinnati Public Library is a five star library for six years. This award has only gone to five other of our nation’s libraries. Some of the statistics of which we are most proud:
We have over 5.5M visits among our patrons.
Patrons have logged onto the computer for 3.1M sessions.
Program attendance is 438,558.
The Library has been around for 150 years. All of these statistics are due to our commitment to services that are created in response to the public’s need. Story Time used to be the primary service with which you are all familiar, but today there are many new public services.

New Public Services
Among the new services is the Memory Cafe. The Library has built a relationship with its patrons all during their lives. For older patrons experiencing dementia, the Library is a safe space for them to come. Because it is a familiar place, they experience it as a calming influence well known to them in contrast to dreaded visits to other locations that may seem strange or foreign. They want to come because we offer them basic exercise and reading among other things.

Another service is free faxing at all locations. I was surprised when the Board clapped when we announced this service.

We offer after-school snacks during the school year and afterward as we partner with the Hunger Alliance.

If you call ahead, we offer you curb-side delivery. This is most popular at the Symmes Township Branch.

There are Laptop Kiosks at the Main Library and at five other branches. All you have to do is sign one out with your library card and you can have it for up to four hours anywhere in the building.

You can obtain a Passport at the Mail Library. We will even take your picture. We work with you as you begin the process and cover you all the way to the end so you can walk out with your newly issued Passport.

Our newest service is what we call Maker Space. This is where the Public Document and Newspaper sections used to be. We provide the setting and research necessary for making podcasts, doing circuitboard work, and we even have a high-end sewing machine. One young man used the sewing machine to make what he needed to make the pitch for financing his new business idea.

In another area, we provide Work Force Development. The Library became an Information 911 during the recession. Fortunately, there is no negative connotation associated with coming to the Library for help. People came in droves to seek help with outplacement. We make one-on-one appointments for consultation regarding resumes and business research. We offer online services such as training in software and programming. Two of our most popular job training and computer programming websites are and, respectively. Both are very expensive to own, but very worthwhile for sharing among interested patrons. Patrons can learn Python or any other language in 6 – 8 weekly sessions. This gives employed patrons the chance to add to or improve their skills so they can look for better jobs.

The Library is the glue that holds the community together. It is open for all to enjoy. We collaborate with many organizations (e.g., Cincinnati State, Cincinnati Works, to name a few) to make our services ever- more responsive to the needs of our consumers.

Along with the age of the Library, more than six buildings are at least 100 years old. It is commendable that they are still usable. We are intently planning to update civic and public space.

The Board of Trustees has approved our Guiding Principles. Our focus for improvement over the next 12 – 18 months includes maximizing access for our handicapped patrons, becoming more operationally sustainable with industry-leading excellence, and more transparency.
Access: Currently, handicapped individuals have no access into three of our branches: Madisonville, Price Hill, and Walnut Hills. A ceiling collapsed at our Price Hill branch so it is currently closed. The Walnut Hills branch has one of our oldest Carnegie buildings. There is a push for much-needed expansion into nearby space.
Transparency: We have been discussing the problems with many of the buildings that are at least 40 years old. We want patrons to know that we see the issues and know our intentions within a tight budget of meeting the needs. An example of this is our large atrium at the Main Library. It once was built for specifically for the card catalogue, but is no longer needed for that since we are computerized throughout. Our buildings are designed for public purpose. We do not know at present just how to use the area best. We have tried pop-up services and social service pop-ups in the area. During the 30 days we tried the services in this way, we had 180 contacts and 98 intakes where we directed patrons to possibilities for handling their issues.

Because we want to serve everyone, we also want to reflect diversity among our employees. We have expanded staff at the Avondale, Northside, and Corryville branches. We have extended the hours in smaller neighborhood branch libraries. We have added more students for shelving books. These have resulted in good experiences. We want community engagement so everyone feels that we are bigger than our buildings.

Our main partners are:
CRC (Cincinnati Recreation Commission),
YMCA We had a pop-up pre-school project to get children ready for kindergarten at the Deer Park and St. Bernard branches staffed by the YMCA.
Children’s Hunger Alliance helps us give children snacks even during the summer. We recognize that children are coming to the branches anyway.
Housing and Urban Development in a project to make books available beyond library hours, we gave out 15,000 books to children.

Because I have lived in several other cities like Kansas City and Indianapolis, I am stunned by Cincinnati. I know that it is poised to become a Top-Tier City.

1. How do you get the word out when you offer a pop-up preschool project? We have a Customer Relations person. We also use software to email all patrons. If they attend anywhere in the Library system, they will see signs informing of up-coming projects. If you would like to follow up with me, I can be contacted at:

Libraries are at the top of the “Most Trusted Organizations” list for their competence and for how much they care.

2. When people are unsure about their transportation, they are embarrassed to participate in our programs. We say, “Just come on in. It doesn’t matter if you are late.”

3. Are there any Maker Spaces in the branches? Yes, there is a good one in Reading with a convenient, large parking lot outside the branch building.
We have small meeting spaces for 1 – 3 people that are reservable. Individuals can work in the space quietly or they can talk without disturbing others.
Right now Madisonville and Price Hill meeting spaces are at the top of the public’s “Wish List.”

April 18, 2019


Thursday we recognized members of the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) for their service to our community. The Cincinnati Chief of Police, Colonel Chief Eliot K. Isaac, will present the following awards to these outstanding officers.

Ms. Marcella “Marcy” Lamb (District 4)

Sergeant Michael Bell, Sergeant Daniel Cavanaugh, Officer Alex Hasse, and Officer Steve Peponis (Cincinnati Police Academy)

Officers Nicholas Casch, Rasheen Jennings, Scott Brians, William Kinney, Kenneth Dotson, Brandon Dean and Brian Follrod (District 4 Violent Crime Squad)

Officer Adarryl Birch and Police Specialist Ken Byrne (District 5)

Rotarian Trish Smitson introduced Chief Isaac by saying that he is a 30-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD). Over his thirty years he has had experience in nearly every department at the CPD such as in administration, criminal investigation, and control command just to name a few. A fact he is likely the most proud of is that his he and his daughter work simultaneously as members of the CPD.

Chief Isaac told us that he is very pleased to be here to honor the Cincinnati Police Department’s finest.

His first award, the Administrative Award, goes to a member of the civilian staff who is held most dear among her associates. Marcella Lamb, or “Marcy” to us, is a beloved employee who is being recognized today for her administrative excellence as she gives her utmost service to District 4. Marcy is responsible for the payroll of the 150 employees of District 4. She is being recognized for her years of timekeeping and for her community engagement. She has planned events for the community with special emphasis on events that interest youth and senior citizens. Her events are second to none! She has been assigned to District 4 for 24 years. During this time, the community never worries because they know she loves working with them. Afterward Marcy thanked the Chief for his support and encouragement that has made her want to give her best every day. (There is a lesson in leadership for us all!)

This award goes to the Police Academy’s Sergeants Michael Bell and Daniel Cavanaugh, and Officers Alex Hasse and Steve Peponis. During 2018 – 2019, Sergeant Michael Bell advanced the department by an enhanced training program for active-shooter incidents. With the rise of these events in our country, he implemented tools for the Academy to teach its participants to react effectively. The value of this enhanced preparation was evidenced during the Fifth-Third Bank shooting event on Fountain Square. The officers said they used “said tactics” that were critical to how they responded.

Since the time of that training, the four officers are being recognized for their work at schools, churches, and workplaces for training over 1,000 others to go out and serve.

In response, Sgt. Michael Bell said, “We are grateful to the CPD for granting our odd requests. We represent the entire Police Academy whose love for our country and the department enables them to be their best.”

Officers Nicholas Casch, Rasheen Jennings, Scott Brians, William Kinney, Kenneth Dotson, Brandon Dean and Brian Follrod are members of the District 4 Violent Crime Squad. They were involved in a mutual shooting event over heroin in Carthage. They employed surveillance through advanced cellular technology. They were able to apprehend a person who had a history of violent crime along with heroin activities. They worked with many departments to conduct search warrants. Overall they uncovered $46,000 in cash and 200 g of fentanyl (a “synthetic opioid so potent and that even a microgram amount can kill – up to 50 times more powerful than heroin” from the Guardian) among other things. They demonstrate the value of working together. Thanks to their efforts, crime has decreased in District 4.

One of the men responded saying, “The team is so dedicated. We take great pride and are happy to serve Cincinnati.”

Officer Adarryl Birch and Police Specialist Ken Byrne of District 5 on May 3, 2018 exchanged gunfire at 1202 E. Wade Avenue over an individual’s welfare check. The call for help came that said several residents were shot. When the officers burst into the complex, they thought they, too, were being fired upon. Eventually they apprehended a drive-by shooter. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but there was plenty of risk.

Chief Isaac said, “It is easy to be proud of officers who do their job without expectation of recognition. 2018 was a great year for many reasons. First, the Fifth-Third incident will be marked in history. Outside of that, we have had great success. Crime is lower than it has been in ten years. Also, shootings are down by 30%.”

1. What new improvements in technology are employed by CPD? The Shot Spotter. During the fall of 2017, in Avondale, a historically violent neighborhood, the Shot Spotter audible detector was used to discern gunshots from fireworks and car exhaust. A surprising finding is that when the public calls to report an incident that is actually a gunshot, they reported gunshots only 15% of the time. Yet, the CPD responds 100% of the time. Because of using the Shot Spotter technology, Avondale’s level of crime is the lowest in decades. Because of this success, we are launching the use of Shot Spotter in Price Hill. The trouble is it is VERY expensive.

2. What is better: technology or feet on the street? Actually, we are earning dividends on a three-fold approach with partnerships, technology, and people in the right place. We are facing shrinking resources. We must increase our focus on being at the right place with fewer officers.

3. I see more speeding on Hamilton Avenue, but fewer officers. Could more use of technology address this?
In 2018, we focused more on pedestrian safety utilizing technology. We have learned that writing more tickets does not decrease incidents of speeding. Instead, what does work is a multi-prong approach using speed cameras. You may be surprised to hear driver inattention (due to cell phone use) is our primary focus.

4. I attend many concerts and performances of the opera and the symphony in the evenings and want you to know the officers in those areas are very friendly.


April 11, 2019

Vice President

Dean Gregory is the son of the late “Rib King” Ted Gregory and is Vice-President of Montgomery Inn. His mother Matula created the secret barbecue sauce in the mid 50’s. His parents purchased McCabe’s Inn in Montgomery in November 1951 and renamed it Montgomery Inn. Dean is one of four siblings and a brother-in-law who run the business. They meet every two weeks to review the financials and discuss major decisions. Dean’s family ended up in the restaurant business because both sets of his grandparents were Greek immigrants who came to this country in the early 1900’s. They did not have formal education and could not speak English, but they worked hard and got jobs in restaurants. His parents more or less followed into the business.

Tim Hershner introduced Dean Gregory. Tim said he is happy to be a neighbor directly across from the Montgomery Inn Boat House.

Dean Gregory reminded us that he had spoken at Rotary three years earlier. When he mentioned to his family members that he was coming, they wondered why Rotary asked HIM to speak. Dean told us the Montgomery Inn was founded back in 1951 when his parents, Ted and Tasha, purchased McCabe’s Inn. A “Mom and Pop” business served over 500 lbs. of ribs per year from 1952 – 1959. The diner sat 40 people and was located at the end of Kennedy at Montgomery Rd. Back then my father would take an order for 2 eggs and bacon, run out the back door to the butcher shop, buy the bacon on credit, run back and serve it to the customer who paid, then in turn he’d hurry back to repay the butcher. Early on, my father did not want anything to do with the food so he had my mother do the cooking at the restaurant. The food was terrible and the kitchen got dirtier and dirtier. My father tried ribs somewhere that he really liked. He asked my mother if she could make some for the restaurant. She said she would try. The rest is history!

I started work at 12. To eat, we worked 5 nights per week. This meant I could not play ball with my friends. I spent a lot of time with my parents, for which I am grateful today, but not back then. My father loved the horses. I did not understand that we were different from other families back then. My parents had always bought me “boy scout” shoes with very thick soles that were meant to last. I happened to see some good-looking shoes that I liked better that had buckles, but they were more expensive. I bet $2 on the horses and happened to win the daily double. That gave me enough to buy myself a pair of those special shoes. When I told about my new shoes and how I got them at school, my teacher called my parents that night to see if our finances were ok.

We just celebrated our 30th year at the Boat House. I would say that today we have too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. In 1987 when we looked at the area where the Boat House is now, it was very depressed. It had a railroad yard on site. Our family voted 6 to 1 not to take the land, but Dad said he had already signed the lease.

Back then, my father was friends with many celebrities, including Bob Hope. When they learned that they both like boxing and the same brand of cigar, they became fast friends that lasted the rest of their lives. My grandfather’s restaurant was located in the vaudeville area of Detroit. He had been a mid-weight champion boxer. Bob Hope liked the ribs and Matula’s sauce so much that he began ordering it for his parties in Palm Springs. Bob Hope’s parties became a “Who’s Who” of world-class people. They also became our lifeline. Bob Hope performed for our troops during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and even Desert Storm to name a few. The Army’s birthday is June 14. We served ribs to over 700 soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. I did not serve in Vietnam. I feel guilty now. We started a blood drive at Hoxworth five years ago.

My father was a religious man, but he did not attend church. He had poker games on Sunday mornings. The priest, Father Bill, stopped in to see Dad who was sitting at the bar. My father asked Father Bill what he wanted to drink. Father Bill said I will have what you are having, a single malt scotch. When my father asked Father Bill if he would like a cigar, once again Father Bill said, “I’ll have what you have,” the same brand of cigar. My father said, “Father Bill, you are my kind of priest!”

Next, we learned that Dean Gregory was planning to provide a five- course meal at the Boat House for Rotary’s Believe to Achieve event in June. Dean said, “You tell us what you want and we’ll make it. Many groups do this.” As the competition proceeded, bidding up the value, it narrowed down to two well-heeled Rotary members who began a back and forth soaring upward to $2,600. At that point, Dean broke into the bidding by announcing, “OK, we’ll have two tables for Believe to Achieve this year!” The well-heeled Rotarians are none other than the generous Fred Fisher and our esteemed President Rick Flynn.

At the conclusion, Ron Ott shared a memory. He told us the original Montgomery Inn was a bar with a barbershop behind it. Ted Gregory often brought in celebrities for haircuts. When the Montgomery Inn expanded, they had to buy Ike’s Barber Shop. Ron said, “Your dad made room in the rear of the Boat House so we could continue getting our haircuts.” One day a stranger came in to sweep up the hair. I asked, “Who was that?” Ike told me it was your Dad (Ted Gregory)! Dean quickly responded, “Oh yea, Ike was Dad’s good friend!”

Dean Gregory is a credit to our community.


April 4, 2019

Regional President, Metro Midwest

Mr. Eddie Tyner has worked in the media industry for over 25 years in various leadership roles. He is currently the Regional President for Gannett, where he oversees business units in the midwest including; the Detroit Free Press, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Indianapolis Star, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Louisville Journal Courier, and The Des Moines Register.
Prior to joining Gannett and the Enquirer in 2017, Mr. Tyner served as Senior Vice President of Sales at Cox Automotive. In this role, he led a large, national sales team focused on Cox’s largest dealer group clients. The team represented Cox solutions across multiple business units including Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim Auctions and Dealer Track Software Solutions. This included leading teams that sold digital media solutions to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMS), dealer groups and local auto dealers.

Before joining Cox, Mr. Tyner served as Senior Vice President of Advertising at the Tribune Company in Chicago, and as General Manager of In these roles, he led large sales, product, marketing, business development, and support teams across the country. His focus was primarily on digital strategy and revenue growth. He worked closely with the executive leadership at joint venture partners (, and to develop long-term digital strategies to increase revenue and grow audiences. He was also responsible for cultivating talent internally, and for seeking strategic partnerships externally to achieve business goals. Prior to the 10 years at Tribune Publishing, he spent five years in leadership roles at the Washington Post.

Mr. Tyner has an MBA from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, a Master of Science in Management from Troy University and a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. He serves on several Boards including; Artswave, Fund for the Arts, Greater Louisville, Inc., Neediest Kids of All, Ohio News Media Association, REDI Cincinnati, and United Way.

Doug Bolton introduced Eddie Tyner saying, “In addition to his long career, he is known by his colleagues for wearing some fine suits!
Eddie has become a captain in turbulent times in the newspaper business for turning around the Enquirer.”

Eddie Tyner began his speech by saying, he thought he had learned to ask some good questions, but he clearly hadn’t asked enough when he got to our Rotary meeting. He thought he’d have an audience of perhaps 20 – 25 members. Oh what a shock when he saw all of us in Club 17! He said, “I loved the note I received from Bob Croskery a few days before I was scheduled to speak that said, ‘I will be praying for you!’ ”

The Business Journal and the Enquirer are linked, but are in separate businesses: the editorial company is Gannett. It owns the Cincinnati Enquirer, and 109 other newspapers around the country. Because of such a network and the business association, the Enquirer gets the benefit of innovations and technology of the larger company. There is no change in the focus on the importance of events at the local level.

After a career spanning some 28 years, you might ask why I’d stay in a dying industry. No, it isn’t dying, it is merely changing. It is still just as dynamic as ever. It allows me the opportunity to put my three kids through school and college over the next 22 years. I am 49 years of age. This business is perfect for me as I raise my family. Because of this line of work, my kids will grow up in good school systems and there will be a check on bad influences.

Who is our audience? I feel proud of how many still get the daily newspaper out on their driveways as I run by early in the mornings. I moved to Hyde Park slightly less than 2.5 years ago.
We also have a digital audience at In December 2018, 2.93B people visited the site despite the population of Cincinnati. Many people who have lived here in the past still want to keep up with our local news. In our best years, we may have reached 1M readers via print. Today our digital audience continues to grow. We are the dominant newspaper in this region.
Local TV station #1 has 1.8M viewers and local TV station #2 has 1.6M.

In the past, we have been product oriented. Today we are audience oriented: both real and digital. Back then, we counted the number of subscribers and the number of pages. Today we count the number of page views, that has increased 8% to 278M, and article views that has increased by 23% to 90.5M. Our loyalty has increased by 43% such that the number of times people are engaging is more than three times per week. Our job is to be compelling and to get them to return more often per week. How often they return is the barometer of the job we’re doing. Desktop is the new print. 81% of our viewers are reading the paper using their mobile phones. In the early 2,000’s this was a major disruption from the past. Back then, when we worked at our desk, consumers usually read 5 stories each day and spent approximately 15 minutes at lunchtime. Now mobile devices enable consumption of news in micro-minutes.

What hasn’t changed? The in-depth enterprise reporting. We are still watch-dog oriented holding characters accountable.

I lived in Washington, DC for five years, in Chicago for ten years, and in Atlanta for several more. When I learned that I would be moving to Cincinnati, I thought I wouldn’t like it as much as I would like my job. As it has turned out, I was wrong. I love the arts scene in Cincinnati, the sports teams, and best of all, the nice people. (Funny he didn’t mention Skyline and Graeter’s.)

The Editorial Side
Among the issues such as addiction, inequality, racial division, efficiency in government, civility in leadership, and poverty, we chose addiction as the first project that we would focus on and poverty as our second. You can go back online to read our first in the series entitled, “Seven Days of Heroine.” The articles cover every person in the courthouse, the jail, and in the drug houses. We produced a chronology of what they saw during the week. It won a Pulitzer Prize. This past Monday, April 1, 2019, the next series began. It is entitled, “The Long, Hard Way.” It covers 80 miles of road and how deaths, serious illness, and plant closings have impacted the people. The series will last a year, just like the heroine series. It gives attention to the people and to the organizations helping them. The solution is not more money.

Cincinnati is incredibly philanthropic. Cincinnati is the fifth largest United Way Fund in the US. Yet, on the other hand, Cincinnati still has higher than expected poverty.

Another topic that is even trickier to cover is one happening in Portsmouth, Ohio. It is entitled “Raped and Trafficked.” It is about a prostitution operation with ties to the Portsmouth government.

The Business Side
One of the major benefits of having a track record of 175 years in the business is that many are willing to partner with us. It is tough to talk with business owners because of being digital. Yet, being digital helps them to connect with their customers in an increasingly more innovative way.


March 28, 2019

~ Rotary Roadshow ~
Heithaus Studios -2600 Spring Grove Ave- 45214
This Thursday we traveled to a 125-year-old firehouse on Spring Grove Avenue for a breakfast meeting. We heard some great Cincinnati Reds stories from Reds Hall of Fame Historian, Greg Rhodes.

Greg Rhodes, introduced by Owen Wrassman, told us the Reds Hall of Fame is the largest outside Cooperstown, NY and has just reopened after a multi-million dollar renovation. He shared an historic team chant occurring at the beginning of a Red Stockings game. It went….. “Hoorah for the Noble Game Hoorah! Red Stockings all toss the ball and shout Hoorah!”

What a great day for Opening Day and a win for the Reds! Opening Day goes back to the 1800’s. In 1876, the Reds joined the National League. Since we were the southern-most city, they let us open at home every year until 1887, when for some reason the Reds had to open in Kansas City. The game lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. What a long way to go for that! After much discussion, Opening Day was confirmed to be in Cincinnati thereafter.

Frank Bancroft, the Father of Opening Day in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was asked why make such a big deal out of Opening Day? He said he really did not know. He said he thought it was the fact that Cincinnati was the southern-most team in the league and perhaps it was the warmth. In 1890, the celebrations began. At that time, revenue was based on ticket sales. The Reds were always a sell out on Opening Day. It became a civic celebration. If you had a ticket to the game, it was a holiday from work. Even if you did not, many figured out how to be part of the hullabaloo. Every year the celebrations got bigger and bigger.

What is the tradition that led to throwing out the first pitch? It is likely linked to William Howard Taft, the first President who threw out the first pitch in Washington, DC. Dignitaries came to the game and always sat on the first row. The umpire handed the first ball to them. It actually came in a box. He gave them the entire box. In 1913, the first time the ball was thrown from the mound, the Mayor of Cincinnati threw it. Many dignitaries followed such as Bowie Kuhn, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, and Happy Chandler, a US Senator and a Governor of Kentucky. He had an office in Carew Tower where he could look out over his beloved “blue grass.” The year Mayor Mallory threw out the first pitch “Eric Davis was nearly wounded.” Several US Presidents were invited to throw out the first pitch. The year President Reagan was invited, he was shot in an assassination attempt the week before so he was unable to attend. In the early 2000’s President George Bush was invited. He was unable to attend so his father substituted for him. Dick Cheney came for the opening day of the Reds Hall of Fame. We were scrambling to get artifacts together such as the Opening Day ball for him to sign. It never occurred to me that he would want to keep the Opening Day ball, but he did. The next year President George Bush was able to attend the Opening Day festivities. We set a record for the longest security lines.

Here is how the Opening Day parade evolved. This is the 100th year of Findlay Market’s involvement in the parade. It marched down Findlay Street to the ballpark and around Crosley Field. The merchants brought flower and fruit baskets to present to the team. In 1970, RiverFront opened. Beginning in 1971, the parade route changed somewhat. It went down Race Street to 5th Street and then down to the stadium. Now it has changed again such that it stops at 5th Street. It was always at noon. Mrs. Schott was always a huge fan of the parade. She brought in the Budweiser Clydesdales and in some years the elephants from the Zoo. Lennie Harris said, “I’ve been to a lot of Opening Days, but you can’t beat the elephants in Cincinnati!” No one remembers whether we win or lose. It’s usually the weather that seems to make the lasting memory. There was some pushback in the 1880’s from Major League Baseball to take Opening Day away. They talked about it, but finally decided that it was “too much a part of the game.”

The 150th Anniversary. Ballmaking became a cottage industry early on. They were largely homemade and always a regulation standard size and weight. There were no rules on the stitching so that is where they varied. During 1869, prior to a game, fifteen men discussed which ball to use. The choice was important because the chosen ball was used throughout the entire game; that is, just one ball from start to finish. In one game in upstate New York in 1869 or 1870, the ball bounced out of the park and into a nearby house. One of the players went over to retrieve it. The ball had broken out a window and had too many shards of glass from the window to use it, so it was retired that day. By 1959, after 57 wins in 57 games, we do not have even one of those balls. During this period, players did not use a glove when they caught a fly ball. It is possible that an auction in about 1870 or 1872 occurred that collected trophy bats, balls, and a fire later destroyed the balls.

Technically, the Reds are not the first professional team. Other teams were paid under the table or from game receipts. However, the Reds did have the first contract for pay-for-play from March to November. The contract had a temperance clause in it. The salary was between $800 and $900. This was worth twice what a working salary produced; yet was less than that of the mayor of Cincinnati.

In 1869, the Red Stockings team began working out at the direction of Harry Wright. He made them become more disciplined by working out which resulted in more team athleticism. Many other teams were slackers. Soon the Reds’ discipline enabled them to “take baseball.” They got the attention of all in baseball by winning every game.

The 150th Anniversary is not of the club itself. Major League Baseball tracks franchises. In 1869, there were no franchises so the date is not official, but it is our legacy team affectionately called the Red Stockings. Major League Baseball is doing a 150-year patch.

The first Red Stockings field was in the front yard of Union Terminal. The Terminal was not there then. It was a flood plain. The games were played at the present-day Dalton St. level. When Union Terminal was built, the land was raised up so it would not be subject to the hazards of flood damage. The games continued there until they were moved to Crosley Field in 1884.

Amateur baseball began in the early 1800’s to the 1840’s when the first rules were drawn up in New York. All were amateurs then. In the 1950’s or so the money started creeping in.

John Thorne wrote a book entitled Baseball in the Garden of Eden. It is noteworthy for telling the origin stories of baseball.

1. Do you think the Reds will win 57 games this year? Last year they won 67. I am hoping for a 15% improvement. They are in a tough league.

2. When did the Reds go by train to the games? Powell Crosley bought the Reds in 1954. He was a flying aficionado. The Reds were the first team to fly to a game in Chicago. Half the team went by train though!

3. Why do baseball players like Joey Votto wear pants showing more of their socks? The Red Stockings debuted short pants, knicker style, and red socks. The Press had a field day with the look. They thought it was so novel of the team. The team members could have picked any color socks. Frank Robinson was the first on the team to wear longer pants. This year for every home game series, the Reds will wear different uniforms to indicate an earlier era.

4. What was the level of attendance back in 1869 – 1870? We have estimates of the crowds only. It was a few hundred. There was an enclosed field with a cover over the top. The fence went around the field to keep the non-paying spectators out. Many stood in foul ground sometimes 8 – 10 deep. Cincinnati had as many as 8,000 – 10,000 and New York had 15,000. The only other crowd-gathering event as large was when Lincoln’s funeral train came through Cincinnati or at the end of the war. In 1912, at Crosley Field the Opening Day crowd was 22,000.

5. On May 4, 1869, the Reds played their first game at the site of Union Terminal. Therefore, on May 4, 2019, we will dedicate the new building outside the Reds Hall of Fame. The new Hall of Fame opens tomorrow (March 29, 2019).

6. What is new at the new Reds Hall of Fame? The first floor will have some new exhibits. The theater space will remain the same.
Bob Purkey was invited by Jim O’Toole to see the Reds Hall of Fame. When Bob saw all of Pete Rose’s ball lined up along the river side of the Hall, he said, “These are all the balls you gave up to Willie Mays!”

6. Tell us about the demographics of baseball. African-American players numbered 15% at their peak in the mid-1980’s and have declined to 8%. They have declined because Latino players have increased and it is harder to get into youth baseball. The Urban Baseball Academy in Roselawn is a great program to get youth involved.


March 21, 2019


Roger David is president and CEO of Gold Star Chili, Inc., an iconic Cincinnati business with two well-known brands in its portfolio of companies – Gold Star and Tom & Chee.
Roger leads a team of dedicated professionals working to continue to build the brand his father and uncles started more than 50 years ago. Since being named president and CEO, Roger has grown Gold Star Chili, Inc. to include Tom & Chee, the famous grilled cheese and soup restaurant chain that rocketed to stardom thanks to an appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

Under his leadership, Gold Star has completed strategic updates to all areas of its business in order to drive success and growth for the next 50 years and beyond. A $25 million investment translated into a new restaurant look, menu, and guest experience for its 80+ locations throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Roger believes restaurant brands are built tableside and has advanced the company’s training and development efforts. The company also made a deliberate investment into facility efficiencies in order to build environmentally-friendly restaurants, which pays off for its franchise owners who are realizing improvements in labor costs, energy usage, and employee productivity. Gold Star is in the process of bringing those same strategies to the Tom & Chee brand in order to position it for success for years to come.

Earlier in his career, Roger served as CEO of national sports restaurant franchise Buffalo Wings & Rings; director of brand strategy at Brand Image, a brand design and consultancy serving Fortune 500 clients; and vice president of marketing at Gold Star. He has served as a member of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation board, ArtWorks, Big Pitch as a mentor and judge, President of the Music Resource Center, and Vice President of the Council on Child Abuse.

Roger holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Xavier University.
Roger is married. He and his wife, Ceci, and have three children: Liza, Alex, and Margo.

Doug Bolton introduced Roger to the club. Doug described Roger David as the second generation CEO of Gold Star, which was first known as Hamburger Heaven in Mt. Washington. Since they sold more chili than hamburgers, they changed the name to Gold Star.

Roger began by saying, “Rotary has “four-way something” going on! I will be contributing to the upcoming Believe to Achieve. We share public service.

My grandfather came from Jordan. He was a Christian in a country that is 97% Muslim. He represented Christian villages. He had eight boys and two girls. He settled marital disputes and was paid in olive oil. He had a constant stream of people at the dinner table. He delivered to Parliament. His brother was in Parliament as well. Grandfather visited the US.

My father moved to the US after that. He came with no English or money. He made his living by going to laundromats to pick up unclaimed clothing, then selling the items door to door. Another of his brothers got a job working at Spring Grove Cemetery.

Empress Chili started the original chili recipe. In Jordan, the number one cigarette brand was Gold Star. My father took the name and with what he had earned, he opened the first Gold Star Chili franchise in Cincinnati in Mt. Healthy. He gave cigarette companies space in his store for advertising and dispensing to help with startup revenue.

In 1965, McDonald’s began franchising. This was an important event for Gold Star Chili. We had immigrants working for us who were our brothers all the way to our second cousins. Our Grandmother who learned from other Parliament members that their sons were coming from Jordan to America, said, “Find my son when you get there.” As a result, we had many workers so we grew to having more franchises than McDonald’s in Cincinnati.

Our next challenge was how to get the people into the restaurants. We decided to invite Pete Rose so we could build brand awareness. The rest is history! For the next 25 years (1965 – 1990), we were family run. We ran off the first two outside CEO’s, but by the third CEO, John Sullivan, we had some consistency. Then I came along. I had some challenges. Transactions were down. We had outdated restaurants. There was no meaningful differentiation between our chili and the rest. Our franchisees were aging. We had to change from a family business to a business of families.

We had to align all of us back to the values of my Grandfather: integrity, respect, passion, and courage. We decided to offer remarkable hospitality to make our customers happier people who would then go out our doors to make the world a better place. If we could do THAT, we knew they would come back. This vision of living more happily serves to promote feeling like family.

We began focusing on three things: the competition, the consumers, and the brand. For the next 50 years, we will have facilities, a menu, and service that promote our brand. At present, we are 40% complete in remodeling our facilities. We need to focus on attracting consumers to our stores. Our menu consists of the traditional items, but we have also brought the hamburger back in singles and doubles at some locations. It is the best hamburger in town. Our salads can compete with Panera. We also have milk shakes. It is the entire experience, yet it is all about the chili. The chili is fresh and is never frozen. Gold Star is a small batch chili.

We are advertising “ChiliLove” which means outstanding service with a smile. We recognize it is “how you make someone feel,” yet that is the hardest part.

1. What is the largest number of menu items anyone has ever eaten?
27 conies! I just made that up! Ha!

2. How did you acquire Tom and Chees? Their story began on Fountain Square. They grew so fast, they could not handle it all. They wound up in a pinch. They came to me for help to save them from losing their homes. I saved them. Now we are reengineering Tom and Chees.

3. Where do you stand in the Cincinnati market? We are at 40% market share in Cincinnati. We are also in Columbus.

4. What do you sell most? Chili is about 60% of our sales.

5. Will Gold Star be going national? We think it is best to explore our 200-mile radius first. We are going head to head with Steak and Shake.

5. How extensive is Tom and Chees? They have 11 stores in eight states: six are in Ohio and of them 4 are in Cincinnati.

6. Do you serve beer? We used to when we were open late. I like the idea.

7. How do you assess the success of “ChiliLove?” We have a criterion. It is a tough labor market. We are working to build the brand table by table.


March 14, 2019

Chair, President & CEO

John F. Barrett is the chair, president, and chief executive officer of Western & Southern Financial Group. Barrett has served as CEO since 1994 and as president since 1989. Under Barrett’s leadership, Western & Southern has grown from a small Midwestern life insurance company founded in 1888 into a national financial services enterprise and has doubled in size every five years for the past 15 years. Western & Southern has assets owned, managed, and under care in excess of $60 billion as of March, 2013, and is one of the eight highest-rated life insurance groups in the world, based on its Standard & Poor’s rating.

During the Great Recession, Western & Southern maintained strong economic health with Barrett at the helm. The company was able to develop, through its subsidiary Eagle Realty Group the largest office building in southern Ohio, the Great American Tower at Queen City Square. Barrett’s leadership in securing a tenant for the Tower helped to ensure its success. The Great American Tower, opened in January 2011, is part of the Queen City Square complex that totals more than one million square feet.

In addition, the Western-Southern Tennis Open is held annually at Kings Island. This past year Western-Southern celebrated a Grand Opening of a large expansion of facilities on the south end of the complex.

Al Koncius introduced John Barrett, a friend for over 30 years. John reminded us that he had spoken to us at Rotary three times beginning in 2007. He said, “Cincinnati is a wonderful city in which to live. It keeps improving upon itself now with major league soccer, a thriving Over the Rhine (OTR), and a growing center city. Downtown living is gaining speed. Our city is changing!”

I joined Western-Southern 32 years ago. Directly afterward, we hired Mario San Marco. He has made such a difference that we “won’t let him retire.” We worked together in New York City on Wall Street. Between Mario and Tom Stapleton, Bracken (?) Village was built. This will change OTR. It turned out to be the seeds that changed OTR into what we now experience. We bought many of the old buildings like the Case and Mercer and then resold them to 3CDC at cost. Then we built Queen City Square. It was christened on 1/11/11 at 1:11pm. It is now completely leased. We were thinking that if a big company wanted to move to Cincinnati, there was no place for them to occupy. The new tax laws may behoove businesses in more expensive cities to rethink their costs and seek cities like Charlotte and Austin, and now Cincinnati where living is more affordable.

I think our city commissioners need to be more like a board of directors who have already made their fortunes and just want to serve our city. We could cut staff from three to one. We would see a more seasoned board who have no need to “jump into the headlines.”

Where companies like Duke and Chiquita have moved out of Cincinnati, others like First Financial have moved in. Joining them in the central city are such notables as World Pay out of Fifth-Third and 84.51 from England plus many technology companies who are spilling into OTR as well. Downtown employment has more than doubled. Back when Amazon was seeking a new headquarters, we thought they would bring too many employees to assimilate here. We talked with them about taking down the Purple People Bridge and building over the river with land on either side for their use. We are still making the pitch in the large metropolitan areas to companies wanting to leave the costs behind and come to Cincinnati. Just to give you an example, I talk often with a CEO in White Plains, NY who commutes 1 hour and 40 minutes each way to work each day.

We have more people living downtown than ever. We have over 10,000 seats at downtown restaurants. So much has happened. I am sorry that we have taken down the skywalk system. Ft. Washington Way acts as a bridge between The Banks and Downtown. I think that I would give The Banks a C grade. After all that has been spent, The Banks should rank A for excellent. Remember the book Good to Great? The author said, “Good is the enemy of great.” Everyone thought we were crazy when we proposed Queen City Square. There are still some great opportunities available like between Liberty Way and Calhoun. The land is still inexpensive and it offers great views of the city. I predict that it will be the next growth area.

Our best move was closing the Anna Louise Inn. It moved out to Reading Road directly across from United Way. Their building will become the best hotel downtown. Lytle Park will get more trees and a running track with a fountain at its center. I think the east end of Downtown “should jump!” We will finish this first and then we will start on the west end. Dunnhumby seized a building, remodeled it, and has remained. People have to want to build to make an area acceptable. An area is “either growing or it is declining.”

Western-Southern as a company has had its “best two months ever. It is in wonderful financial shape.” Our fear is there will be more government regulation. We have 2,200 people working downtown. We are out of room to grow. If politics gets worse, we could suffer consequences.

All of us need to vote for candidates who are “pro the future.” The state of our city is good, but let us make it great.

1. Cincinnati’s Convention Center expanded 15 years ago. I raised private financing. It has one block to the south available for its next growth. US Bank Arena is a challenge. Cleveland got it because of the importance of Ohio. I do not see a tenant. Concerts are changing. Most all the groups are my age. John Fogarty looks old, yet he continues to jump around on the stage. These groups attract an old audience.

2. Disappointed by the move to change the Anna Louise Inn. “It would have taken five times the money to make it inhabitable once again. We helped them far more. We put $4M in cash into them.”

3. Is there a possibility of lighting up the bonnet on the Great American building since the Suspension Bridge is lit? “It will get done, but not anytime soon. The weather is so harsh it makes it very expensive to do.”

4. Major League Soccer Stadium vs. Music Hall? Both make great entertainment in OTR. We support them both. It is good for growth in the city.


March 7, 2019


The Rotary Club of Cincinnati is again teaming up with the American Institute of Public Service (AIPS) as a local sponsor of the Jefferson Award, to help find and honor individuals in our community that go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to their volunteer efforts in the Greater Cincinnati area. In partnership with the Enquirer Media and Local 12, The Rotary Club of Cincinnati will be looking to recognize ordinary people who do extraordinary things without the expectation of recognition or reward. These are individuals that are changing and improving our community, while addressing an important issue facing our area.

The Jefferson Award, which is recognized as the Nobel Prize for public service, was created in 1972 by Cincinnati’s own U.S. Senator Robert Taft and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and is presented annually to recipients in more than 90 cities in the United States. The AIPS’s mission is to encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service.

The 2019 Jefferson Award Finalists are:
Tim Arnold – Lawn Life
Megan Fischer – Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank
Garen Wisner – Social Venture Partners

Bill Shula recognized Nancy Miller who was the Jefferson Award winner last year. She told us she was humbled as she joined the 75 other winners at the National Award forum. While there, she was introduced to someone from the NFL and to another from the military. Both have become more aware of mental health issues. A third area of great mental health challenge is the rise in the number of kids committing suicide. She said we are looking for solutions. It just means our work is not yet done.

Bob Herzog, the anchor of Good Morning Cincinnati on Local 12 television, served as MC for the award for the 8th year. He said he comes each year to be inspired by this community. Today we recognize people in the community for doing extraordinary things. Oftentimes we think bad things dominate the news, but it is just because bad things are unusual. I assure you that plenty of good things are happening in our city, but today these finalists are the “extra”ordinary among us.

Each of the finalists demonstrated their program in a video.

The first finalist, Megan Fischer of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank said she realized that when parents do not have enough money, they are forced to choose between feeding their children and changing their children’s diapers. She said she looked into this issue and found that 16,000 children do not have clean diapers every day in our city. “I made it our mission to eliminate the need for diapers one child at a time. No one should have to choose between food vs. diapers.” This past August we distributed the “One Millionth Diaper” with no government assistance.

Second, Tim Arnold of Lawn Life believes in second chances. He said, “Hard work. It really works.” Rather than giving a handout of cash, Tim offers work for $15 per hour. He said by offering work experience, many kids can build their self-confidence by working for the very first time. Over time, Tim has hired 839 kids at $15 per hour. We do not tell them our mission; we just offer them a job. Tim gives them a start. Lawn Life has now expanded into other cities in five states. He is pleased to report that only 4% have fallen back into their previous way of life. He gives skills to achieve.

Third, Garen Wisner of Social Venture Partners, is expanding giving to others. He asks for financial contributions and challenges others to give of their talents. He turns philanthropy inside out. Non-profit institutions become better entities as individuals with such experience as information technology, human resources, and law; and so on throw themselves into the entity’s service. They are enabling good to be done better. We inspire dedication, determination, and drive by doing things differently. It is not just money, it is our talent.

The 2019 Jefferson Award Winner is Tim Arnold of Lawn Life. As President Rick bestowed the honor to Tim, Tim responded by saying how humbled he was. He said he did not know what to say, but managed to make the most profoundly challenging remark. He said, “I think of myself as a butterfly that changes from an ugly caterpillar in metamorphosis. We all go through three stages of life: from the initial cell division on toward death and into the afterlife. I was selfish and was transformed into being selfless. The moment I changed, my life changed.”

Tim will now fly to Washington, DC to compete with others who represent their city’s best.


February 28, 2019


Students from four local high schools (School for Creative & Performing Arts, Clark High School, Walnut Hills High School, and Wyoming High School) competed, and an esteemed panel of judges was on hand to select the winner. The winner will then represent our Club at the district-wide Rotary speech contest at Wright State University in April, competing against students from more than 30 high schools in southwest Ohio!

The topic for the students’ speeches is the ethical standard used by Rotarians worldwide, and how it can be applied to a personal or community issue. Each of these four Cincinnati high schools is partnering with our Rotary Club in this effort, and will have faculty and family members in attendance.

The panel of judges included:
Melanie Bates (Cincinnati Board of Education)
Ozie Davis (Cincinnati Board of Education)
D. Lynn Meyers (Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati)
Polly Giblin (Cincinnati Toastmasters)

The students competing included:
Rikki Joiner, Walnut Hills H.S.
Kennedy Liggins, School for the Creative and Performing Arts
Liam O’Shaughnessy, Wyoming H.S.
Karrington Rainey, Clark Montessori H.S.

The competition began with hearty challenge to each one of the judges to demonstrate their own abilities in a one-minute speech on any topic. The speeches included: Tips on Decluttering, Admonitions to Never Give Up, How Steve Jobs Made a Presentation, and Loving More: the Answer to Most Issues.

The students’ speeches were delivered in random order. They included such ideas as…

1. Rikki Joiner: Teen action is needed to enact local change. Although adults think teens are unfit and are too quick to act sometimes, teens’ who work together and use social media have redefined their leadership.

2. Karrington Rainey: Mental health issues are real to Kennedy who sees her mother holding her sister inside the car as they travel down I-75 or when Kennedy wakes up with her sister choking her. Her sister has schizophrenia. Unlike when you have a broken leg and everyone gathers around to sign the cast, her sister is either pushed away or mocked for taking her medications and gaining weight. Kennedy concludes by challenging onlookers to be aware of people with mental illnesses and to accept their limitations.

3.: Kennedy Liggins “I am stressed over grades and worried about college.” Adults say, “Teens don’t have any real worries.” I had a mental breakdown in 10th grade. I just could not cope. It is not right when kids cry when we make a mistake or that I cannot eat breakfast and later gorge on dinner with worry over a grade. The 2019 Gen Z student worries about school, grades, friends, but more recently we worry even more about mass shootings and sexual assault. We cheat, cut, and die over a grade. It is fair to take a mental health day. It is better to think less about failing and more about succeeding together.

4. Liam O’Shaughnessy: The official language of the US is English, yet we are a nation of immigrants who often spoke multiple languages before coming to the US. The Atlantic says only 1% of us are proficient in classroom language learning. We lack bilingual students and worse, bilingual teachers. Since the world is becoming more and more global, the need for greater fluency in multiple languages is paramount to communication without language barriers and to flexibility in an upwardly mobile career path.


The winner was Karrington Rainey, from Clark Montessori H.S. with a $150 prize. She will go on to compete at the district competition at Wright State University in Dayton on March 31, where the winner there gets a prize of $400.

1st runner up was Rikki Joiner from Walnut Hills, HS. She won $125.

2nd runner up was Kennedy Liggins of School for the Creative & Performing Arts, SCPA. She won $100.

3rd runner up was Liam O’Shaughnessy of Wyoming High. He won $75.


February 21, 2019

President & CEO

The Christ Hospital Health Network is pleased to announce that Arturo Polizzi has been appointed as the new President and CEO by its Board of Directors. Polizzi joined The Christ Hospital Health Network effective Monday, October 8, 2018, from ProMedica, a Toledo-based healthcare system, where he held the role of President, Metro Region Acute Care, which encompasses five hospitals in metropolitan Toledo, including its flagship medical center. In his role as President, Mr. Polizzi oversaw all aspects of operations, representing over $1.1 billion in total revenue. Prior to this role, Mr. Polizzi held a wide range of positions across the ProMedica organization. He served as President of ProMedica Toledo Hospital and Toledo Children’s Hospital overseeing surgical services, patient care services, ProMedica Wildwood Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital, Center for Health Services and other support services. Prior to moving into operations, he served as ProMedica’s chief human resources officer. He joined ProMedica in 1998 as associate legal counsel. Mr. Polizzi holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Miami University, a Juris Doctorate from The University of Toledo College of Law, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. Throughout his career, Mr. Polizzi has been active in the American Heart Association, as well as Ronald McDonald House Charities. Arturo will be relocating to Cincinnati with his wife, Kristen, and their three children.

Doug Bolton introduced Arturo Polizzi as follows. Arturo is the son of immigrant parents who migrated to Cleveland when he was young. He studied hard and became the first in his family to graduate from college. Afterward he obtained his law degree from University of Toledo. As he approached the end of his legal training, he called the General Counsel of ProMedica to inquire about a job. He was told to call back after he had passed the bar. Thinking that was reasonable, he studied and passed the bar, and immediately called again. This time the General Counsel did not return his phone calls. After three months of regular calling, he decided to go to ProMedica to ask them directly for employment. As it turned out his persistence was rewarded: he was hired on the spot! He worked his way up to becoming President of Toledo Hospital, which ultimately prepared him for his new position in Cincinnati where he has assumed the role of CEO of Christ Hospital Health Network on October 8, 2018.

Arturo said he feels very welcomed by the Cincinnati business community. Upon coming to Cincinnati, he said he quickly had to learn two things. First, the Ohio River is very wide so why bother to cross it. Secondly, where a person went to high school is very important. He said he has been married twenty years and has two teenage daughters and a younger son.

What is going well at Christ Hospital?
There is a healthy competition among hospitals in the area that makes each and every one of us keep on our toes to serve better. At first, I worried about how much competition there is, but decided that it makes for better outcomes, engagement, and patient experience. 60% of hospitals today are non-profit. They act as charitable trusts serving the community by providing more and more support daily. Please hold the for-profit hospitals and us accountable. Toledo Hospital went into Toledo’s downtown, but could not get the business community to follow. It is so unlike what has happened in Cincinnati in the past 15 years.

It is good to be sick in America. We may pay double for healthcare, but it is because we fund research among drug companies. They are incredibly creative and innovative. We do not want to curb research and development.

Convenient urgent care is the trend where you can register online and email your doctor. New patient electronics, Epic, connect each patient along the trail of their healthcare providers. Providers are becoming more consumer driven.

What are the challenges?
All politicians agree that our healthcare system costs too much. Social determinism accounts for only 20% of the cost. Beyond good nutritional habits, safe neighborhoods, and parents’ genetics, it comes down to the community and its ability to improve collectively. Cincinnati is doing a good job.

Secondly, recruiting and retaining talent is tough. Hiring nurses for a never-ending 24-7 job that leads often to insurmountable stress, is really difficult. Most want a predictable 8AM to 5PM job in a doctor’s office. Even harder is filling the on-call jobs in the hospital.

The population is aging which leads to more chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Instead of our former treatment of diabetes, today we can constantly monitor blood sugar with a wearable app on the phone and then share the data with the doctor.

The not-for-profit vs. for-profits corporate battle rages on among insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals. Not-for-profit institutions are trying to eke out a 1-2% profit margin, but must resort to buying for-profit organizations that must please their shareholders. In addition, costs are shifting to the individual with high deductibles. Hospitals need to better explain your care and our costs. We are not good at that yet.

How can this be fixed?
Collaboration. Take the CVS – Aetna merger where pharma meets insurance and the impact is more cost- effectiveness for all involved. Amazon is trying to make insurance more efficient by “incenting” better health. For example, it costs approximately $1,000/year to take care of one’s self while it costs $45,000 for three days in the hospital.

It is hard to standardize healthcare, but my approach is to standardize some things. For example, does a surgeon need 8 choices of surgical gloves? Wouldn’t a choice of two do the job?

We could provide care remotely. This would significantly cut costs.

Vertical Integration
Even UBER and LYFT are getting into healthcare by helping patients get to their doctor.

Mergers and Acquisitions
I am not sure how some of these will work, since healthcare is local. Think of it this way, when you are sick where would you like to be? Mercy Health of Ohio is merging with Bon Secours Health System of Baltimore. (The merger adds Mercy Health’s 23 hospitals in Ohio and Kentucky to the 20 hospitals in Maryland, Florida, Kentucky, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia.) I am not sure how this will change healthcare for consumers. I am not at all sure how and if mergers and acquisitions will work. Time will tell.

The Future of Healthcare
It is becoming more and more consumer oriented. One day in the near future, we will be able to buy personalized insurance products in contrast to how we do it today with employer-provided insurance. There will be many little changes. Artificial intelligence will be integral to care solutions. Telehealth or a variation of each will be common.

Restructuring Care
The big question is where will services be provided? At one time knee replacements were only done in the hospital; whereas today they are done in outpatient centers and the patient is sent to rehab the same day. This is better healthcare. I think ultimately the place will be in our homes through technology. Hospitals like Christ Hospital will be focused on providing care to the “really, really sick” in intensive care.

Today many rural hospitals are closing. They cannot attract the necessary physicians and nursing staff.

I feel good about Christ Hospital. When? Is the magic question. We have to get Medicare and Medicaid to approve new payment models. They are very slow to change. We have over 150 contracts with employers. With volume, we will be able to negotiate a reduced price for knee and hip replacements. Today we do 80 knees and hips per week.

Yet, the bottom line is to “incent” proactive lifestyles: better nutrition, no smoking, ample rest (that means YOU, Type A’s!), and exercise.

1. Satellite offices? We need to know how many people go to primary care doctors regularly. After that, our outcomes and engagement can be measured. We are in the top 10% in the US for that.

2. Why are hospitals continuing to build all over the country? They are trying to get closer to “home.” No one wants to pay for big hospitals. Yet they are trying to consolidate services to one location.

3. What is Christ Hospital doing about mental health and substance abuse? We need to push Medicare and Medicaid about this. It is hard to even break-even for these services. We are collaborating, to be announced by July 2019. It is challenging to find psychiatrists and nurses. We must “incent” health systems and services.

4. There are anti-trust issues when competitors collaborate, but we should be talking if we want to benefit the community. We are big enough so we should not have to ship out.
5. What is the payer mix? Many patients are not covered by the government. Today about 50% are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. The rest is commercially covered. This has changed how and what services are provided since the population has begun aging. It used to be 30% coverage by Medicare or Medicaid.

6. Public relations? TriHealth is moving cardiac services out of Good Sam. This is good for us with the volume of patients. Convenience is a huge factor. Change is hard, but I think this was a good move.


February 14, 2019


Since he was 15, Richard Ross has been involved in the candy industry, first as a buyer for his mother’s gift and candy store in Dayton, Ohio, then as a distributor and retail entrepreneur and finally as owner and CEO of Galerie Candy & Gifts.

“I love making people happy,” he explains. “Also, my father was a dentist. I wanted to ensure his job security,” he jokes.

Born in Columbus, Ohio on May 26, 1961, to Helen and Allen, Rick grew up with brothers Dave and Marc. He graduated from Fairview High School in Dayton in 1979 and enrolled in the University of Cincinnati, majoring in business. At 19, he took a leave of absence from school to become distributor for Jelly Belly Candy Company in Alhambra, California.

Ricked opened his first Jelly Bean Factory store in the mall in Salem, Ohio in 1978. Two years later he launched his first permanent store in Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, followed by a larger-format outlet in Cincinnati’s Westin Hotel, Galerie Au Chocolat, featuring premium chocolates and an automated bean-dispensing wall fixture offering shoppers a choice of 72 flavors.

Eleven major stores in major cities followed in short succession. By 1981, Rick was featured as a “mogul” on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (by age 20). Orders from other retailers for the company’s novelty offerings eventually drew Rick from retail to wholesale and ultimately to the founding of Galerie, which designs and fabricates more than 1,500 gift and novelty items annually, including premium private-label confectionery items.
Under his leadership, Galerie has been ranked among the Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100 Best Places to Work five times and earned the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce International Trade Award of Excellence in 2008 and it is Economic Vitality Award in 2001.
Further, he has actively supported the United Way, the Alzheimer’s Association, AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati, and is a founding member of the national and local chapters of the Human Rights Campaign.

Rick was the National Confectioners Association (NCA) State of the Industry Conference Committee Chairman for four years, and a member of the association’s Executive Board. He has also served three terms on its board of trustees.

In addition, he is involved in the NCA Young Professionals Network, as an ongoing mentor to the industry. Locally, Rick has served on the HRC and Cincinnati Women’s Health Board.
Recently, to diversify the business portfolio, Rick has invested in Snooze, an all-natural sleep drink sold locally at Jungle Jim’s.

Doug Bolton introduced Rick by saying, “We just HAD to hear from the recent inductee to the Candy Hall of Fame!” (Yes, especially on Valentine’s Day!) Rick began his career by opening a jelly bean store as a very young man (age 17) that he parlayed from one store with many varieties of jelly beans to stores with every kind of jelly bean (and then some) in 32 department stores throughout the country. He mentors aspiring candy entrepreneurs in Cincinnati. He regrets the changes to retailing that eventually drive them out of their retailing dream. For example, after he began his company in Union terminal, 33 other candy competitors challenged him. Before long, the industry folded down to just three candy companies.

Rick told us. “I never thought jelly beans would get me to where I am.” His innovations include developing new candy colors as well as packaging candies in new and different ways. In the beginning, I financed my business with an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan with a 23.5% interest rate. Although I was in school, my deliveries went from just 3 weeks to 83 weeks to retail stores throughout the country. I was overwhelmed and not well focused on my studies at UC. Repaying that loan took all of my attention.

In June 1993, I got a call from Target. It was the best call of my life! At first, though I must admit I had to ask, who are they? They replied that they are a lot like WalMart. We forged a partnership and the rest is history: sales grew 100% for the next five years and by 5% each year for 5 more.

By this time, I decided to drop out of school. I began renting space to house my products. I went from a room in Oakley to Red Bank at McAlpin’s distribution center. Unemployment in Cincinnati was about 3% so finding workers was challenging to say the least.

I am pleased to say that I have grown without losing ownership of the company. I was told that it was impossible. I was very fortunate to forge a mentorship/friendship with an attorney. I met with him every single month until he died.

Today we are in Hebron, Kentucky in a 270,000 sq. ft. facility. We offer 1,400 SKUs every year. We learned to do what no one else was doing. We contract with the major candy companies to package their same candy in our many colors. We do not change their candies, just the look of their candies.

Early on, we sold to retailers who required us to buy the candy back if it did not sell. We began to package our products so the retailers could see our products and sell them by putting orange color on the corners of the package. We also took advantage of local sourcing.

We have a business in Toluca Mexico. Early on, it began by outsourcing from Cincinnati to Mexico. We decided to bring jobs back to the local community. Outsourcing has created many opportunities. We also outsource from China and then package it here in the US.

Our business model involves innovative design, custom gift packaging, diversity for every occasion, and trusted partnerships. We are committed to quality. We have integrated our manufacturing process. Food safety is certified. We have an expansive distribution process. We offer team packaging and we digitally customize many products like the Easter eggs that are found in our gift sacks. It took about 2.5 years to develop our digital capacity to customize. At first, we were only able to customize about 1,000 eggs per hour. This was too slow. After some tweaking, today we customize about 12,000 per hour. Personalizing is done in Cincinnati.

Today Macy’s, Kroger, Hersey’s, and Walmart among others sell our products. We have a new brand called Kinderex (could not hear so may be incorrect). Since no non-food item is allowed in food products as mandated by the FDA, we decided to put the item outside and directly next to the food product.

We have entered into a joint venture with Topps. We have been licensed by Star Wars for 19 years and with Pixar. We have 96 items on the shelf at Target. Jungle Jim’s offers our new sleep drink called Snooze.

Our purpose is just to make people happy. I took a 12-month course on leadership for five hours a week so I could study how to get us to the next level with new generations. We have to practice changing our brand. There are 14 new leaders being trained similarly. Unfortunately, only 10% of the people do 90% of the work. We are trying to restore and jump-start dead weight. This has energized us. My challenge is to mentor these leaders at least one hour per month — no more, lest they become needy.

If you would like to get in touch with me, write me at We are located at 3380 Langley Dr. in Hebron, KY.

1. How has NAFTA duties impacted your business? We did not have any duties to bring back. It is meant to help American companies to get the help they need.

2. Cash Flow Cash Flow Cash Flow!!!!! Cash Flow is King!!


February 7, 2019


After retiring from a 30-year corporate career from AT&T, Jo Martin started volunteering at the Kenton County Detention Center, tutoring GED subjects.
That tutoring experience led her to start a non-profit, called Tattoo Removal Ink or TRI.
TRI provides free tattoo removal for the formerly-incarcerated, the formerly gang-involved, and for human trafficking victims who want to redirect their lives. Removing offensive visible tattoos from hands, neck, and face removes a significant barrier to good employment.

Because of her work with Tattoo Removal Ink, Jo was named one of’s “Women of the year in 2017.” She is also the mother of five grown children and 12 grandchildren.
Doug Bolton introduced Jo Martin to the club.

It all started, according to Jo Martin, with an invitation to tutor GED candidates at the Kenton County Jail. She told us she did not really even want to go into the jail, but because they needed her, she relented. Before too long, she learned that students with tattoos faced even greater barriers than just passing the GED.

Her mother had always taught her the words from Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” She was three years into tutoring when her best friend called and asked if she could temporarily move into Jo’s home until she could regain her employment. She and her best friend had many conversations about their experiences each day. Jo told her friend about all the various tattoos she was seeing on her students. The best friend happened to mention that she had seen on television a priest named Fr. Greg Boyle who lived in California who spent his time educating in the area of mental health and helping by removing tattoos. Jo called him to learn about his program and he said, “Come to California.” Jo told him, “I live in Kentucky.” He again said, “You need to come to California.” Jo listened and invited her best friend to come with her. They decided to visit for two days. They toured his facility. On the way home Jo became convinced that tattoo removal was what she should do for the students with whom she was working. Tattoo removal is very expensive. Jo told us even a tattoo the size of a postage stamp costs upwards of $50 per treatment and the person could expect 5 – 10 treatments depending upon how healthy the individual was. (Fewer treatments were needed the healthier a person was.)

Upon her return from learning about the facility Fr. Greg Boyles had created, Jo immediately applied for and got non-profit status. Then with the life insurance money her husband had provided when he died eight years earlier, she decided to buy a $55,000 laser. Suddenly she realized that she was committed to removing tattoos.
She proceeded to hire two doctors and her daughter who managed the social media component. She also hired a nurse and a financial director. All were “hired,” but actually were volunteers. The maintenance cost of operating the laser machine was expensive.

The treatments themselves last a few seconds. They are done every six weeks so the entire process with the usual 10 – 12 treatments may take as long as several years.

The benefits to the student without tattoos: they face much better job prospects. They can be accepted into the military. Actual military policy states that tattoos are not allowed upon entering the services, but once a person is in the military there is no restriction on obtaining tattoos. There is greater community acceptance and as a result increased personal self-image.

The only places to get tattoos removed for free or for a nominal cost is in NY and in CA. When she decided to go into the tattoo removal service, she told us she had trouble getting the process okayed by the Kenton County Detention Center. Apparently, there were conflicts with liability insurance.

Finally, after she leaped the legal hurdles, she realized that another laser machine was required because of the constant maintenance: one could work while the other was being serviced. She looked into the cost of the second machine. Even a used one cost $60,000. She told the retailer that she would have to think about it. When she called back, he told her he would donate the laser machine to the cause. Jo said she could not believe it and literally cried.

She needed one last piece of equipment. It was from Zimmer USA. It would prepare the skin prior to the laser removal. When she called the company to buy it, once again she was in shock at the price. Within one hour, the company called Jo back and told her they would donate it because they really liked what her website described her service to be. Once again, Jo said, “I cried!”

At this time Jo Martin has been “in the business” of removing tattoos as a service for three years. She said she has done it for approximately 350 – 400 people and has done thousands of treatments. She said she only does tattoo removal on a person’s face, neck, and hands that is visible because it would wear out her machines prematurely since more and more patients are coming for help. Most recently, she has helped people from Dayton, OH who come for treatments.

Jo said she was surprised by her recent honors . She was named one of “Ten Women of the Year in 2017.” She was featured in Success Magazine because of helping people get from jail to jobs.

1. Tell us about some of your patients. One was an XU freshman who made a mistake one night and served a prison sentence for the next 26 years. During that time he obtained multiple tattoos, the most offensive of which were the swastikas. I removed them. Another man was the Grand Wizard of the KKK in Ohio. I removed his as well. Tattoo removal is very painful. I had one guy who is 6’5” who literally cried during the process of removal on his neck. Sex workers have tattooed numbers on their breasts or their upper arm.

2. Dress for Success helps in many ways, but not with tattoos.

3. The first fundraiser was on the Gary Foster television show entitled, “Laugh Your Tatts Off.”

4. There are no regulations on tattoo artists. One guy had a tattoo on his face that said, “I am a teenage porn star.” He said he could not even get a driver’s license. I am in the process of removing his tattoos. He is thrilled.


January 31, 2019

Kevin Finn, President/CEO
Strategies to End Homelessness

Doug Bolton introduced Kevin Finn. He said, “Kevin is a warrior for the homeless in this region. He is the ‘Go-To’ person locally.” The Enquirer in 2016 described Kevin Finn as “One of 16 to Watch in 2016.” Kevin said his goal is to change the world by helping Cincinnatians to help with thousands of strategies to end homelessness.

Kevin began by saying, “You may not know my firm because we assume a role that most assume doesn’t exist.” Most see non-profits that help the homeless as islands that do not really interact with one another: having little or no communication or coordination among them. There are actually 30 such organizations that provide direct services to the homeless. It is our job to help them communicate so they can get the resources they need to do their work. Some of these organizations are the Talbert House, the Bethany House, the Salvation Army, and one in OTR to name a few. Our purpose is threefold: to prevent homelessness, to assist those who are in the throes of homelessness if it cannot be prevented, and finally if they are homeless, we try to provide housing support. We apply for and use $23M in funding from local, state, and federal funds. It is a best-kept secret that 410 communities are funded and there are 7 in Hamilton County.

Who are the homeless? We are one of the first communities to have agencies that communicate their homeless data.
Summary statistics include the following:
There are 7,197 homeless in Hamilton County, either on the street or in shelters. Of those, 979 or 14% are unsheltered. We are able to shelter 93% of the homeless. This does not add to 100% you will notice because the population moves between and are often double counted. 452 moved back and forth. The numbers have declined by 42% since 2013. The homeless camps have moved from out of sight to greater visibility. There are 14% of the population who are homeless in Hamilton County as compared to 34% nationally. There are 551 families and 1,700 children. Most people think homeless people are single, but instead the fastest growing population among the homeless is families. This is also a predicted future trend in homeless camps.

I used to work in street outreach to teens living outside. Hamilton County has four very good programs to reach them.

Help vs. Authority
We provide “carrots” to the homeless by giving them housing or places to sleep. Then, in contrast, the police come and give them sharp admonitions, or the “stick,” asking that they move along. Both have their place in moving the homeless to a better place. This year the police, whom I support in every way for their efforts, pulled back. The City offered to clean up the area if the homeless would pick up their belongings. This made the homeless think it was ok to be there. As a result, many homeless from other areas came to the downtown encampment. Thus was the cause of the situation that was reported in the news last year. As the groups of homeless were forced to move from place to place, their numbers began to shrink: some accepted shelter, others treatment, and for the luckiest ones, housing.
The homeless population, statistically speaking, is found to be “three times as likely to die” as the general population if they live on the street or in a shelter where they face uncertainty nightly. They are “ten times as likely to die if they get no help at all.” Laws give the right for the homeless to sleep outside. If you were to call the Homeless Coalition, they would say they are full. This is true. They are at capacity because they will not turn anyone away. Therefore, in the discussion regarding the homeless and their rights, all parties are correct.

Why are people homeless? The majority of the homeless are without a place to live because:
46% are in poor physical health.
38% have multiple chronic conditions.
29% have substance use disorder.
26% age out of Foster Care.
25% are severely mentally ill.
11% are alcohol dependent.
The one thing that is universal however, is the lack of affordable housing. We are surrounded by people spending 50 – 70% of their income on housing. This puts them at risk when their hours are cut or they are laid off from their source of income. I say, “The number one cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing.”

What is the cost of homelessness? Prevention services have the best outcome. By spending $1,300 per person, 85% never become homeless. This amounts to a total cost of $955,000. In sharp contrast, once a person becomes homeless, the cost is $3,800 per person. In this case, the law requires a person to already be homeless to get any assistance. The federal funds available are $18M. Prevention is three times as effective as caring for a homeless person. By spending only 4% of $23M (the amount we oversee from federal, state, county, city, and the United Way), we could cure homelessness. If only these two buckets could share their resources. Hamilton County is very generous, but is not involved systemically.

1. How many homeless are veterans? With the help of 3CDC, we conducted a survey of panhandlers. We found that 2/3 of panhandlers are neither homeless nor veterans. Therefore, to answer your question, the number of veterans is 7 – 8%.

2. If I were to meet someone like I did at my local grocery store in Montgomery, who should I call to help them? If you call
381-SAFE (or 7233), you can get information regarding shelters, but the volume is up in the last few months. They must prioritize who gets in each night.

3. Why can’t we give housing vouchers as an entitlement? Getting Section 8 housing is like winning the lottery. Instead, a person has to wait five years, and then in an appeal process, must wait several years more. Housing is not easy to get, so vouchers are not able to provide assistance due to the scarcity of supply.

4. How long is a person homeless? We have learned that 90% who find themselves homeless, exit on their own. They find a place often with the help of family or friends. Most homelessness is a short-term crisis, usually just a few weeks. We try to target those who get stuck in it.

5. What can we do as individuals? First of all, do not give money or anything (like a McDonald’s coupon) that can be monetized. Instead, give a sandwich, bottled water, or a granola bar. If any gift is monetized, think that it will be spent on either alcohol or worse, on heroin laced with the unknown or unforeseen fentanyl so that your small gift might be an unbeknownst death sentence.

If you would like to know more or want to contact Kevin Finn, here is his contact information:


January 24, 2019

Leigh Fox
President and Chief Executive Officer
Cincinnati Bell, Inc.

Leigh Fox is President and Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati Bell, Inc. Mr. Fox has been with Cincinnati Bell since July of 2001, most recently as President and Chief Operating Officer. In that role, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of operations, sales, and customer care for both the Entertainment & Communications Segment and the IT Services & Hardware Segment. Mr. Fox also serving as the company’s Chief Financial Officer from 2013 until September 2016, was responsible for all aspects of finance, accounting, and treasury.

Prior to 2013, Mr. Fox had increasingly larger corporate responsibilities as Chief Administrative Officer, and Senior Vice President of Finance. He spent eight years in senior roles within the company’s technology services business.

A native of Cincinnati, Mr. Fox holds a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati. He is on the boards of the USA Regional Chamber, American Red Cross, and Anthony Munoz Foundation. He is a member of the Cincinnati Business Committee and the Business Leader’s Alliance.

Mr. Fox is chairing the ArtsWave Community Campaign in 2019. It is the 70th annual arts fund drive to be held in the Greater Cincinnati region.

Doug Bolton made the introduction of Leigh Fox. He said Leigh was a hometown boy: born and raised on “the West Side,” in Price Hill and later, on Colerain Ave. Leigh went to Miami University for his undergrad degree in Geology. (Leigh told us that he actually worked in the field for several years.) He obtained his MBA degree from UC.

Leigh said he and his two sisters were reared by a single mom, all of whom served to “raise his IQ several notches.” Above all, I was raised to work hard and to be considerate of others.

I have become the CEO of a company that has operated for 145 years. Many of the employees with whom I work have 50 years or more of experience with the company. I have had conversations with the “first women in technology” who began their futuristic work back in the 1970’s.

My wife whom I met at Miami University (another “Miami Merger”) agrees with me that Cincinnati is great for raising our kids whose ages range from 8 to 15 years.

I have been CEO for 18 years. Cincinnati Bell, Inc. (CB) is more of a tech company than it is a telephone company. We do provide the access line for homes, although that has dwindling demand (due to the rising aggravation from Teleprompters so amply noted by Rotarians during the Question period at the end). Today CB is a tale of two companies: entertainment and fiber. Fiber is the future. Our mantra is “Fiber everywhere.” Did you know that 55% of our city is provided “fiber coverage to the premises?” Cincinnati has the highest penetration of any city in the United States. This is a rarely measured statistic. It makes Cincinnati unique from a technology perspective.

Cincinnati Bell is also a tech services company that provides tech information/help to business customers all over the world. Our services are Voice Over IT, the Cloud, IT Professional, and Hardware. We are a massive business company. When we were looking to team up with a Bell company in Hawaii, I was asked “if I had a condo there?” I said, “No, I don’t. In our industry, scale matters.” We are considered small but we are “the best operators in the world; that is, we are the best at what we do.” We are often asked for advice and give it to large telcos. “WE ARE GOOD!” Hawaii may be laid back, but they talk about hometown service, just like we do in Cincinnati. We are both very family oriented. Culture beats strategy. We will grow because we relate well. We believe that if we give back to the community, it will enable us to be present there with their unique issues. We respond to everything. We compete through localization. For example, I do not manage our Hawaii partner from Cincinnati. Instead, we have put a local team in place. They know their community best.

It is very important to be in a vibrant community. As Chairman of Arts Wave, I am hearing from all business leaders how important it is to attract and to retain talent. It is ALL about talent here. The challenge we all face is how to keep our youth here, and not have them take off to the coasts for more creative work. We present them three tenets: meaningful work, life balance, and personal balance in Cincinnati.

Whether it be the music or the arts, Cincinnati spends less than the national average. Austin, New York City, Dallas, and the coasts spend exponentially more than we do. Quality of life is often defined by the arts. We must spend more to retain talent. Philanthropy is good for business and families. All boats rise. Every CEO is compelled to give back to a community when their business is performing well. However, their attention turns inward to fix it when their business is down. Each individual at Cincinnati Bell is encouraged to give 40 hours each year to community service. We have said, “Just give back and then tell us.” They have asked me why they should have to tell about it. I replied to them, “I want to brag!” As a result, CB has given more than 8,000 community service hours. This goes well beyond giving money. It is incredibly good for my business. It provides us second and third chances in case we screw up.

After Stephanie Byrd became CEO of the Red Cross, I asked how CB could help the Red Cross. She said, “What if your technicians install smoke detectors?” Because of the partnership not only did the Red Cross meet its installation goals, it ran out of smoke detectors! In addition, the Red Cross could not train fast enough all the technicians who wanted to be a part of the program! One detector can save many lives. I remember when the Finance team heard about the 40 service hours away from the job and had a problem with it. They have come to see that goodness cannot be measured!

1. How many employees work at CB? 4,300.
We are a $2B Revenue company.

2. At one point in time, CB was the main sponsor of the streetcar. Is CB doing anything now behind the scenes to support it? We are the streetcar’s biggest investor. Not so long ago I asked to see their financial plans in an attempt to see whose “throat to choke.” I strongly suggested they appoint a CEO and after 90 days, I would like to talk. We are not pulling the plug. We believe in this city; however, we are just as divided as the city in this matter. The streetcar is here: we want it to work. We admit there were some preplanning hurdles that were not planned for. It is like IT hacking in that if there is a way, the bad guys are going to get in. It is a BIG problem. The FCC is dealing with it, but the bad guys can manage to work around it.

3. What is CB’s biggest disruptor? 5 G technology. We do not know what it means for our business. There are more than 20B IOTs (internet of things). It is a $3T industry.
Ultimately, we are going to get rid of our TV service. We know we have to have the best data management to meet whatever the future demands.

4. Presently I cannot use my landline because of the annoyance of so many telemarketers. Unfortunately, it is spreading to my mobile service as well. What can be done about this? We will build service for our customers’ needs.

January 17, 2019


Stephanie Wright Byrd is no stranger to the local non-profit community. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross, Cincinnati – Dayton Region, appointed in May 2018. In this role she is responsible for the local operation of this 27-county, highly respected, “there when you need them” national organization.
Byrd has an extensive background in the non-profit and health care communities. As Senior Vice President for Early Learning Strategies at United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC), Byrd implemented the Success By 6 Kindergarten Readiness Strategy in the 10-county UWGC region, which included leading the $10 million Winning Beginnings Campaign to expand effective early learning strategies, and increased kindergarten readiness scores across the region.
In her role as Founding Executive Director of Cincinnati Preschool Promise, Byrd planned and implemented the start-up of this $15 million, school levy-funded preschool initiative. She spearheaded the 3-year strategy to pass the November 2016 ballot issue and was responsible for implementing the program within 9 months of passage. Byrd stood-up the organization by forming the Board of Managers, hiring the initial staff, establishing the enrollment and payment systems and overseeing back office functions provided by United Way. The program created a network of 80 preschool providers and enrolled 1100 children in the first year of operation.
Prior to joining United Way, she held executive positions at Drake Center, Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, HealthSpan, and The Christ Hospital.
Byrd holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Miami University and a Master’s degree in Health and Hospital Administration from Xavier University. Among her many awards, Byrd has been recognized as Cincinnatian of the Year (2017) by Mayor John Cranley, Champion for Children by 4C for Children, Outstanding Achievement Award from the Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus, and as a Career Woman of Achievement by the YWCA. She was appointed by Governors Kasich and Strickland to the Ohio Early Childhood Advisory Council. Byrd has served on several community Boards including the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, the Wellness Community, Teach for America, and the Pete Nadherny Scholarship Trust. She is a Leadership Cincinnati Class 28 alumna and is a member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Links, Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Trish Smitson introduced Stephanie Wright Byrd who is the present CEO of the Red Cross for the Greater Cincinnati – Dayton region. Stephanie said she has been at the helm eight months and is so very pleased to call attention to her Red Cross colleagues who are in attendance at Rotary today: former CEOs Sara Peller and Trish Smitson as well as the present CFO, Steve Drefahl.

The mission of the Red Cross is to alleviate human suffering. This make it very easy to come to work each day. Clara Barton justified the need for the Red Cross in 1881 and by 1905 it was deemed “official” by then President William Howard Taft. It was founded to mobilize volunteers into service during emergency situations. Today 90% of our workforce is volunteers. We have a congressional charter to assist the military in helping those facing emergencies. We are part of the 190 Red Cross agencies around the world. Every one of them has committed to the mission of uplifting people in their time of need wherever that may be. There is one Red Cross per country around the world.

The Greater Cincinnati – Dayton Red Cross serves 27 counties. To do so there are three chapters in this region. There are over 230 chapters in the US. Our services include humanitarian disaster support, training, bio-medical service or blood banking. We do this elsewhere because we are able to partner with Hoxworth Blood Bank here. In 2018, we offered 97,800 work hours with approximately 63,800 volunteers on call. Thanks to the volunteers, we provide many services that otherwise we couldn’t begin to pay for. Every 8 minutes the Red Cross responds to a disaster. We must be ever-ready with supplies, partners, and infrastructure. Our many partners include Baptist ministers, the United Way, and ___?__.

Last year we had many significant weather-related disasters. We served 8.2M meals, provided 290,000 shelter nights, and
offered 2.2M relief products like diapers and coolers of water. $0.91 of every $1 goes to provisions for those services. Hurricane Florence was my first hurricane last year. It dumped 10 trillion gallons of rain on North Carolina in 24 hours. We got people into shelters. We gave food, water, and provisions to the emergency victims. We stay until the victims can return to clean up their homes.

From the California fires to Hurricane Michael, each requires a different response from the Red Cross that is unpredictable. Our planning follows a militaristic response. This makes us more efficient.

Last year, in March, 2018, Cincinnati experienced flooding that hit communities along the Ohio River from Aurora, IN to Portsmouth, OH. We provided 9,600 blankets and over 500 meals. Many victims need medications and medical devices. Red Cross nurses help them. When a region is hit by a tornado, the responsibility is on the local resources, but we lend our support. We responded to the 5/3rd shooter by helping the first responders with food and drinks. We did similarly in Las Vegas when they had a shooter at a concert.

Of all disasters, fires are the Red Cross’s first response. 36 suffer injury per year on average and there is approximately $7B in property damage. We have programs in which we educate the public. We provide free fire alarms and map out escape routes to citizens who attend our programs. We teach family members a two-minute readiness plan for their residence. The fire alarm program costs $100,000 across the US. During the program we spend two weeks each year going door to door installing fire alarms. We need volunteers to help canvas and schedule appointments. You may remember a family of 13 in Avondale. Because the house was under renovation, it did not have any fire alarms. We installed one on every floor. A fire did break out in the home after the installation and the father said, “Without the alarms sounding, we might have lost our children who were asleep on the third floor.” This program started here in Cincinnati and has now spread country-wide. We have saved approximately 511 lives thanks to the program.

Another Red Cross service is our support to the families of deployed military. If an emergency occurs at home and a military troop needs to return home suddenly, we can go in and verify the need and provide help.

The International Red Cross administers measles and rubella prevention. We had eradicated measles, but recently some have chosen to omit the vaccine for their children. Tragically, measles has had a resurgence. We try to educate families about the importance of the Geneva Convention’s rules. Another International service by the Red Cross is online where we provide a website to help families connect with one another when crises like war scatters them.

As you might imagine to accomplish all of this, it takes a lot of volunteers and resources.

1. Do you act in connecting children with their parents when they come into our country? Unofficially, we tried to do logistics. We put a process in place, but weren’t asked to activate it.

2. Is the Red Cross all over the world? Yes, we are in 190 countries.

3. Do you connect and/or partner with FEMA? In the aftermath of a disaster, it is gray sometimes where we start and FEMA ends, since we both do the same thing. We respond to emergencies to help people get back up on their feet. Unfortunately FEMA is never fast enough. Hurricane Katrina taught us a lot about climate change. There is considerable evidence that the number of disasters is increasing. The Red Cross has a Disaster Operations Center that predicts where we should be. There are more Level 7 hurricane disasters. We are prepared for 2 Level 7s or 3 Level 4s each year. We’ve surpassed this so we are overwhelmed and must spend more time planning.

4. Are some volunteers people from the Coast Guard? Yes.

5. Our public education involves an update of our national strategy every day. The Red Cross is at its best when it is in disaster mode.


January 10, 2019


The Director’s Office works with the Board of Park Commissioners to set and implement policies and work programs of Cincinnati Parks and the management of approximately 125 employees.

Wade Walcutt, a graduate of Ohio University serves as Director of the Cincinnati Park Board. In this role, he is responsible for the oversight of the 5,000 acre-plus, award winning, system containing some of the best professionals, programs, parks, gardens, trails and facilities in the country.
Prior to joining the Park Board, Wade most recently served as the Director of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department in North Carolina, where he was recognized as one of their 40 leaders under 40. During this time, Wade successfully coordinated and led the city’s effort on the presentation and passage of the Parks and Recreation Bond package of $34.5M with a 72% approval rating. Wade has served in several other leadership roles with the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, National Audubon Society in Columbus, Ohio, and helped secure the National Gold Medal Award as a manager with the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department in Westerville, Ohio.

Wade has been recognized as a parks industry leader and education presenter at the state and national level for parks and recreation agencies, engaging with participants on: Leadership and Management; Introducing Organizational Change; Interpersonal Communication; and Personal and Professional Development.

He also serves on the Board of Regents as an instructor for the National Supervisors Management School, sponsored by NC State and the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA). This two-year, curriculum-based school is dedicated to improving the management and leadership skills of the country’s mid-level parks and recreation managers.
Wade and his family love being active in Cincinnati Parks and being a part of the wonderful Cincinnati community.

Doug Bolton introduced Wade Walcutt to Rotary today. Wade said he felt so fortunate to be employed exactly where his passion led him. He said he has always been involved in some way in our Ohio parks. He did take a detour, however, to Greensboro, NC because he and his wife thought how nice it would be to be “just four hours away from either the ocean or the mountains.” Yet he told us that he never had the amount of support he enjoys in CINCINNATI, OHIO!!!

Wade said, “Right after we passed the bond levy to take care of park infrastructure in Greensboro, I saw a job description and saw the support system of the Cincinnati Parks. I just HAD to apply!” Soon thereafter Wade Walcutt was selected to become the new Director of the Cincinnati Parks. In this capacity, I travel all across the country. Cincinnati always comes up admirably in conversation. Did you know that Cincinnati Parks is ranked in the top three parks in many categories and in the top 7 in the rest! Not only is that noteworthy, but also Cincinnatians have made my family feel more a part of the community than anywhere else has.

Ok, now I want to ask you Rotarians, “What comes to mind when you think of the Cincinnati Parks?” Our answers came readily: golf courses, trails, Sharon Woods… We need to market our brand better. This was good, but we have no golf courses and Sharon Woods is part of Hamilton County Parks. Great Parks of Hamilton County get no county funds. They have their own budget and Board of Directors. Think instead of Krohn Conservatory, Ault Park, etc. What do these mean to you? We said, “History. Flowers.” How about experiences like music, plays, etc.? It is hard not to smile when you think of your past experiences in our Cincinnati Parks, isn’t it? They mean many things to many different people.

Our Mission
“To enhance Cincinnati’s public green spaces for all.” We want to be leaders in the US by offering the best experiences. We are in the business of creating better lives, which means a better Cincinnati.

Our Principles
There will be no change “for change sake” with me. We want parks that are “clean, safe, reliable, enriching, and (above all) beautiful.”

Our Core Foundation
… whether it be operational or foundational. Cincinnati Parks create economic value. Economic impacts benefit economic value.

Secondly, park economies attract residents and retain them.

Third, we advanced conservation by having a seat at the global conservation table in Italy on November 18, 2018, where the first Urban Forestry Forum convened. Yes, we did discuss climate change, but also we discussed how to improve policies such as employing environmentally clean shipping containers because oftentimes wooden pallets introduce insects from one country to another. Remember the Emerald Ash Borer? We were invited because “Cincinnati submitted a film entitled Trees in Trouble to the International Film Festival associated with the Urban Forest Forum AND …………out of 23 films submitted world-wide, CINCINNATI WON!” This enables us serve on the national level as well as the local level.

Fourth, we want to rejuvenate Cincinnatians’ personal health and physical fitness by making trails more available for runners and by providing a respite to sit and enjoy our beauty.

Fifth and finally, we want to sustain social equity by removing barriers that exist in and among our physical abilities, demographics, and geographies.

The long and the short is that these five pillars spell C.A.R.E.S. because we do care! 99.8% of our team did not sign up for a job that runs 9AM to 5PM. They went to school to impact their communities through parks. We are here to serve the public and each other. All of this is part of our social equity plan. In the past year and a half, we have built a stronger relationship with the Cincinnati Parks Foundation who raised $1M. The foundation has contributed to Westwood’s Town Hall Park, to Ault Park, to Tom Jones Commons, and $250K for picnic tables at Eden Park to name a few. Other recipients are Lytle Park as well as the many trails throughout. You may be surprised that there are more than 60 trails, some of which go back to the 1900s. Some are in severe disrepair and neglect. We need even more advocates to help us reclaim the trails that will connect communities. Currently we have 2,000 repair projects and 3,000 preventive maintenance projects. Come join the effort.

We have survived the Butterfly Heist where someone stole a butterfly and in the escape ran over a member of the staff.

We have also survived flooding. This was thanks to the prior planning and saving of funds for emergencies where we removed a piano in one location and saved a comfort station under the Roebling Bridge. Hundreds of other things were saved thanks to the foresight of our previous leaders. An example is when we planted hundreds of bulbs by the Ohio River that faced being flooded and washed away by the river. The team placed emergency sandbags around the beds and all have survived. In another instance, the floodwater residue covered the lawn space for national events. As it has turned out, the fields have become their very greenest because of the fertility provided by the floodwaters.

In conclusion, we will do a better job off telling our story. Thanks for all you do, Rotary!


December 20, 2018


Rotarian, Doug Bolton, led a Q& A Session with the Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr., pastor of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church and chair of the board of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Freedom Center in 2019 will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019 as a concept and the 15th anniversary of its actual opening. Rev. Lynch was co-chair and founding board member of the organization. The Freedom Center is financially strong, and is being rejuvenated under a new leadership team led by Dion Brown. Rev. Lynch at nearly 80 years of age is an iconic Cincinnati civil rights advocate, dating back to the 1960s. Rev. Lynch serves as a Director of UC Health at University Hospital and is a Great Living Cincinnatian Award recipient. Rev. Lynch is a man of God, first. His church has grown from 65 members to more than 2,000 in his 58 years as pastor. A native of Georgia, his family moved here when he was young. He graduated from high school and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon return from the service, he started working at a barbershop and attended Bible College. He would later earn an MBA and brought Billy Graham to Cincinnati in 2002 as part of the healing process following the 2001 downtown riots. He is known for taking strong positions on very public issues, sometimes contrary to what many people would expect from an African-American pastor who was shaped by the civil rights movement.

Doug Bolton described Rev. Lynch as a “man of God who has saved the souls of many citizens.” He has also done much for the Freedom Center.

Reverend Lynch reminded us of the problems Cincinnati faced some twenty years ago. A riot broke out around the presence of the Ku Klux Klan who demonstrated on Fountain Square. To add to erupting feelings, Marge Schott, owner of the Cincinnati Reds fueled the fires with “off the chain comments.” She thought, “More is expected of you because you live in Cincinnati.”

The National Council of Christians and Jews undertook many changes in order to make Cincinnati a place that would garner great respect. They decided to form around the history of the Underground Railroad. They wanted to make what it stood for live in today. When slaves sought their freedom by crossing the Ohio River, it was likened to crossing the Jordan River in biblical times.

As the Center was gaining favor, many other cities up and down the Ohio wanted it, but Cincinnati got it.

The idea of the Freedom Center was being “spelled out.” so to speak, and Rev. Lynch told us it took a full year and a half just to agree on the spelling of center: whether it would be the Freedom Center or the Freedom Centre. Today over 25 years later, it is hard to believe there was such squabbling. We agreed that we did not want a slavery museum, but instead we wanted a freedom museum. We wanted it to be a dynamic place, not one that is static to match the predecessors who were people as slaves “on the move” because both dogs and men were constantly in pursuit. Even when they reached the banks of the Ohio River, they still were not free. Others were waiting to catch and return the arrivals.

Along the way, on Channel 9 News, a picture was shown of the Underground Railroad. It gave us a sense of pride.

Now fast-forward to what has been accomplished. For the first ten years, the Center was located at 312 Elm St. where the Enquirer housed us free. Oprah came to the Center to offer $1M. We had the Freedom Award induction ceremony and named Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and the Dali Lama into the ranks for inspiring freedom around the world.

The Freedom Center remained down “in the mud” for ten years due to squabbling between Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati. We were finally able to stand without our neighbors and applied for a federal designation.

Local museums banded together to get Union Terminal out of its transportation origin and into being a living museum.

Most of what we do today involves informing about human trafficking. We went to India to the “red light district” and spent 11 days there. Now our focus is up and down I-75 and I-71 at truck stops. I think we have the wrong idea about the gospel if we think it stands back. Jesus is in the front row of life. Let me see what this is so I can tell people that human trafficking is real. This is where my background as a Marine is serving me well.

I am thankful to meet with you Rotarians today and I am particularly thankful for the Freedom Center and for what it does.

1. What is the annual attendance today at the Freedom Center? Proctor and Gamble helps by bringing in school kids from all over Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Attendance is probably close to 1M. We have a new director today.


President & Executive Director of the Military Bowl, Steve Beck, also joined us for our meeting. Beck is responsible for overseeing all aspects of preparation for the bowl game known as the Military Bowl, including serving as the liaison between the teams and conferences, guiding the team selections and negotiating all contracts. Since Cincinnati’s Bearcats will be playing in the game on December 31, 2018, against Virginia Tech, it will be great to get the inside scoop on the operations of the Military Bowl.

Steve Beck told us the selection committee was locked in on Virginia Tech. There had been some discussion about Boston College meeting Duke in the Bowl, but because they had already met during the season, the match was voted down. The selection call came at 3:15 to 3:45. University of Cincinnati would play Virginia Tech. There were no ACC members present.

On the day of the game, December 31, 2018, there are many activities prior to the match including parachuting into the stadium.

Although football is our focus now, our passion involves supporting the USO that services Walter Reed Hospital. Three years ago, we purchased a large farm in Maryland for caregivers and families to come. We will also let other non-profit organizations use the facilities. We provide participants with suitable activities.


December 13, 2018

Rotary Club of Cincinnati Holiday Program

This week’s meeting was a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays! The program featured a performance by the Hyde Park 6th Grade Elementary Choir (Jill Sunderman, Principal) under the direction of Mark Messerly.

Hyde Park School encourages academic achievement and supports individual social development. Students thrive in the positive environment. STEM Classes are offered as well as Latin, Tutorial & Enrichment, Electives, and Gifted Services. Their lives are enriched as they participate in field trips, watch a Tower Garden grow, or learn an instrument in Band or the Suzuki program.

Mark Messerly directed the choir and told us that music is part of everyone. From archeological digs, we find constant sources of evidence that music was part of people’s lives through the ages. It’s “just who we are!”

As the students learn to work together in our choir, they learn to read music notes and rhythm. They also learn the joy that one feels when music is in their life.

The 6th Graders wowed us with rhythmic songs from Latin America. Finally, even we were drawn into the program with a round of Deck the Halls with boughs of holly Fa La La La.

Everyone left feeling the joy of the season.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Cincinnati King Records

At Thursday’s meeting, we learned about the world premiere of Cincinnati King, which the Playhouse has been developing for six years. Blake Robison, the Artistic Director at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, said this about the play in an interview with the Cincinnati Business Courier, “When I first got to Cincinnati, we commissioned my colleague, KJ Sanchez, Associate Artist at the Playhouse, to create a play about the King Records story. It is a play with music, and the music is drawn directly from the King Records catalog. It tells the story of King Records, including behind-the-scene stories, such as the conflicts between Syd Nathan and some of the many musicians who worked there. It deals with local history, music history, and the racial history of Cincinnati and the area.” Cincinnati King shines a spotlight on the Queen City’s music roots including such artists as James Brown.

Blake Robison has 25+ years of theater experience. He has been the Artistic Director at the Playhouse since 2012. Blake worked on Broadway and at theaters across the United States. He has directed internationally in Germany, Austria, and France.

Blake grew up in the small, New England college town of Middlebury, Vermont, where he did plays in his garage and played every sport available to him. He lives with his wife and two children in Mount Lookout.

Don Hoffman introduced Blake Robinson. Don told us that Blake is a passionate fan of an English football team known as Chelsea.

Blake Robinson said, “I look around the room today and see friends, patrons, and sponsors.” Today I want to tell you about the play, “Cincinnati King” and about the construction of a new theater at the Playhouse.

Cincinnati King
We are very excited about the actors who portray the icons of King Records: Richard Crandall, Broadway actor, and Christian Carol. You may not realize that King Records was the first racially integrated and the sixth largest record company in the world. It put roots music (racial) and country together with the blues as a single song was portrayed in each of the three styles. Some felt strongly when they were cheated out of royalties. Others saw it as being on the creative edge leading to the birth of a new form of music: rock and roll.

The play began as a documentary when a team of journalists, drama students, and the like began talking to relatives and living musicians. One evening in Washington Park, we attempted to show the documentary in the middle of a downpour of rain. Afterward it took on a feverish passion and since then it has become a musical. Today we even have an integrated band on stage during the performance. This is a shared experience for us to learn about Cincinnati history that extended from WWII to Watergate.

Building Project
We are constructing a new stage for Cincinnati’s National Theater. The Marx Theater was built in 1967 and since then, the only new thing it has to boast about is its new seat cushions. It stands today as the oldest unrenovated theater in the country. The Marx Theater will be replaced entirely. The building just can’t be saved. Yet we can’t vacate the building for a year. We do more than 100 performances per year. There was no other place that we could go to temporarily relocate. We turned to the designers and asked them to figure out how to build the new theater without our leaving the premises. What they decided to do is to continue performing in the Marx Theater while the new one is being built. We will be out of the Marx for the summer only. The new theater will have better sight lines, acoustics, staging, and so on. Currently there are no wings for scenery to come on stage. We bring it on stage through the floor presently. Once the new theater is completed, we will be able to share productions with other theaters. We can try out productions pre-Broadway. Having a start in Cincinnati rather than as per usual now in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago will put Cincinnati into a new theater plane.

We want the design of the building to be harmonious with the park’s setting. We will use stone, wood, and slate just like what you might find in the park. The exterior front wall looks like it is constructed from tree bark. The present theater has 14 different levels. The new theater will have two. The theater will have a bigger, faster elevator to the Shelter House.

The Shelter House will remain where it is and will get 50 new seats to hold 225 in the theater.

The cost is $40M. We are already over halfway there in raising the funding. By next fall, we will enter the public giving phase. This is not an art project, it is a civic project. Life will be improved for all. Cincinnati will become “an attraction that punches way above its weight.” The Cincinnati Shakespeare Theater cost $17M by way of comparison. We will be able to have over 400 performances per year after all is said and done.

Some have said, “It doesn’t look like you need a new theater.” I take that as a compliment. What they do not see, however, is that backstage we are being held together with duct tape and pipe cleaners.

The new theater will open in the fall of 2021.

1. Cincinnati King is an oral history told among native Cincinnatians.

2. The new theater will have a thrust stage for even more intimacy with the audience and a proscenium stage. The scenery will enter from both sides of the stage. At present, it enters from under the center of the stage.

3. An improved Parking Garage would have cost another $8M so we had to compromise by putting the focus on the theater. Parking will therefore remain as it is now, but we are looking into adding shuttles and vans to help transport people quickly.

4. How would you account for Cincinnati “punching above its weight?” This city puts great value on financial security. Cincinnati pays as it goes. The Playhouse has been “in the black” for the last 26 years. By doing this, it gives the chance to take risks. By thinking bigger over the course of 20+ years, the impact has been a more adventurous art scene and more loyal customers. Today we have over 17,500 season ticket holders. That is the same as the Cincinnati Reds. It is the most subscribers of any theater in the Midwest.

5. Tell us about how the Playhouse works to attract young people. We reach about 180,000 in all our performances. Of these, we have 60,000 students. We go to schools, rec. centers, township buildings, and even assisted-living centers who invite their children and grandchildren to enjoy a performance together. We provide a lot of exposure at an early age.
In addition, the city spends a lot to attract young professionals (YPs). The sweet spot in attendees is forty year olds. Many started as kids themselves. Over their lifetime as they are increasing their disposable income, they want to get back to the theater.
We are committed to a multi-generational focus where the Playhouse can serve as a bridge between youth and their grandparents.
Finally, you may be surprised that the median age of Playhouse attendees over the past seven years has dropped. You are not getting any younger!

6. What is meant by Cincinnati Playhouse as a “national” theater?
The Playhouse has won two Tony Awards due to Ed Stern. It’s the theater other theaters look to try out new plays. “Native Gardens” was originally produced in Cincinnati at the Playhouse. We have become a national leader in this genre.


Thursday, November 29, 2018


Join us this Thursday as we honor four members of the Cincinnati Fire Department for their individual accomplishments and their service to our community.

Administrative Award – Captain John Raterman
Bravery/Valor Award – Firefighter Camela Turrin
Community Service Award – Firefighter Alexis Rodgers
Self Improvement Award – Captain Matthew Flagler

Assistant Fire Chief Anson Turley introduced the day’s honorees and brought us up-to-date on the latest happenings in the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Barry Evans introduced the program. He asked, “What does it take to be a fire fighter? It takes ongoing, intense physical training, “special situation” training, and emergency health care training. We saw a video demonstrating the variety of special situations fire fighters have to navigate at a moment’s notice. Some of these situations involve carrying a person down a ladder, pulling someone out of a flaming room to safety, lugging heavy hoses, and donning a facemask to breathe as they charge into a fiery doorway. After the video, Barry told us that fire fighters spend 85% of their time providing emergency health care at victims’ homes.

Barry introduced Assistant Chief Anson Turley as having a 31-year career entirely in firefighting. He was born and reared in Cincinnati. He is a graduate of Walnut Hills High School and in the summer of 2019, he will graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University.

Assistant Fire Chief Turley
As some of you may have noticed, I am not Chief Winston. I guess it is kind of like finally getting that ticket to the upcoming Broadway play, Hamilton, and realizing that you will not get to see the original cast. Chief Winston wanted to be here today, but unfortunately, family obligations prevented that. On his behalf, I would like to thank the Cincinnati Rotary Club for hosting this annual event. Not only is this an event that is a highlight for the department staff, but it also reaffirms the special relationship that the Fire Department and the Rotary Club have enjoyed for many years. This relationship will continue long into the future.

We are gathered here to recognize the accomplishments of certain members of the Fire Department. Firefighters every day do things that are worthy of recognition, but today we have chosen to highlight a few exemplary individuals who have risen above and beyond the usual call of duty. These remarkable individuals truly live up to the Rotarian value of “Service Above Self.”

One of the awards highlights the importance of community. I found a quote on your Rotary website that exemplifies this value for both of our organizations. “Rotary members see a world where people unite to create lasting change.” Examples of this Rotary commitment are: Condon School formed in 1925 to help disabled children. In addition, Rotary was inspired to immunize 2.5B children against polio. It is clear Rotarians understand the importance of community.

The Fire Department was organized under an old “service” model where we acted as “insurance.” We come to your aid on the worst day of your life. The Fire Department’s mission has not changed, but the world has. Attacks on firefighters while helping the public in Las Vegas and now in Cincinnati make us turn to the military for help with proper protection. Today Fire Departments across the country are budgeting for the use of new equipment like the Mose ballistic helmet and vest. No one is immune. These are challenges that no single organization can face alone.

The Cincinnati Fire Department Strategic Plan stresses the importance of community outreach. The following are a few of our new programs: Hamilton County Opioid Task Force, Stop the Bleed, Fire Academy in the Schools, and Smart 911 Cincinnati (check out on google) to name a few.

The awards are as follows.

Community Service
The Fire Department names Firefighter Alexis Rodgers for the Community Service Award. Rodgers joined the Cincinnati Fire Department in 2014. In that short time, she has been engaged in departmental activities and has contributed greatly. This past year, she led the Fire Cadet Program with distinction. Firefighter Rodgers acted as an instructor and role model for the youth who participated in the program. She taught them what it takes to be a firefighter and has helped them become more involved in the community through service projects.

Rodgers is an active member of the Cincinnati African-American Firefighters Association and participates in community service projects through the organization. Recently, she joined the Mayor’s Gender Equity Task Force to address the work environment for women in the city. She has demonstrated great love of the fire service and for the youth of Cincinnati. For this, she is receiving the Community Service Award.

For the Administrative Award, Fire Captain John Raterman is a 29-year veteran of the Cincinnati Fire Department. In his current role, he is one of three Safety Officers for the department where he puts his knowledge and experience to use daily. In the past year, he developed systems for tracking administrative issues and has improved the safety and health of firefighters on the fire ground.

Captain Raterman has written the job duties and procedures for all fire captains and has personally trained each individual captain on those roles and responsibilities. He has developed systems to efficiently track sick leave and the verification of overtime. Most importantly, Captain Raterman has implemented additional accountability measures within the Safety Officer position that insures the Incident Commander and Accountability Officer knows exactly which fire companies are operating at the fire scene and tracks where each firefighter is serving in a fire.

Cancer within the fire service has become a major concern as recent studies have shown that firefighters have an increased risk of cancer because of occupational exposure. Captain Raterman has championed the department’s preventive efforts by writing the department is Fire Ground Decontamination Policy and has implemented a hood exchange and cleaning program to keep as many carcinogenic materials away from our firefighters as possible.

For his many contributions to the improvement of the Cincinnati Fire Department and for protecting the health and wellness of Cincinnati Firefighters, Captain John Raterman is receiving the Administrative Award.

Self Improvement
Captain Matthew Flagler is an 18-year veteran of the Cincinnati Fire Department. He has spent that time continually seeking to better himself as a firefighter and as an individual. He stays current with industry best practices and has built a network across the country among the firefighting community. Captain Flagler earned a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science from the University of Cincinnati. He took his fire service education a step further by pursuing and obtaining certification through the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program. Captain Flagler not only continually strives to stay abreast of industry best practices for himself, but he is also an instructor and regularly teaches courses to share his knowledge with other firefighters.

Flagler has recently enrolled at the Cincinnati Christian University to obtain a Master of Divinity degree. He has responded generously when asked to put his passion for the department and his current educational journey to work to provide the benediction and invocation at numerous CFD (Cincinnati Fire Department) events. His deep understanding of the fire service and the time he has devoted to his spiritual development are evident in the sentiments he has shared at these events.

Captain Flagler’s passion for the fire service and his dedication to increasing knowledge in the field as well as his own personal development and care for others are the best. For that, he is receiving the Self Improvement Award.

Firefighter Camela Turrin responded to a fire at 633 Forest Ave. in early August, 2018. Upon arrival, the company received reports that residents were trapped inside an apartment above the fire. Due to the apartment’s proximity to a smoke-filled hallway and a poorly sealing door, the residents were in heavy smoke conditions. They were coughing, crying, and pleading for help. They were trying to stick their heads out a window to breathe, but that was becoming almost impossible due to the swirling smoke.

Responding firefighters believed the residents were close to making a choice between jumping out of the window and being rendered unconscious by the smoke. As soon as a ladder was placed, Firefighter Turrin quickly ascended to reach the residents. She spoke calmly to the panicking residents, reassuring them and informing them of the rescue plan. One of Firefighter Turrin’s fellow company members remarked later that he had never seen a firefighter work so quickly and efficiently to gain a victim’s trust and compliance as they struggled to breathe.

Firefighter Turrin’s ability to connect with people along with her calmness and clear thinking, make her a true asset to the department and a role model for young firefighters. Her dedication and clear thinking in the face of a fire emergency led to the best possible outcome for the victims that day. For this, Firefighter Camela Turrin is receiving the Valor Award.

We cannot solve all these problems alone. We need you to partner with us to meet this vision. If we work together to make change, there will be good for all of us. Thank you for inviting us today.

1. Any chance of “ride-alongs” in the future? Yes, just call us to make an appointment. We will be happy to have you!

(NOTE: After the meeting, I learned that firefighters so often face emergency medical runs that they have little time to cook. As a result, they are eating cold sandwiches on the run. If you should decide to go, consider taking 3 two-topping pizzas from LaRosas with you to share…… (Bob McElroy says they cost approximately $22.) It seems this would be GREATLY appreciated. You might ask about this when you call to make your reservation, just to be sure.)

2. How has firefighting changed over time? Today 85% of our runs are emergency medical. In addition, there are times when we face shooters who threaten our effort to help the public. We are being forced to make ballistic helmets and vests standard equipment. Finally, the additional health hazards firefighters’ face are causing medical costs to escalate for our members.

3. What can we do to help the people with addictions and/or who overdose? The opioid crisis touches us all. It has increased our workload. We carry Narcan (an antidote) to reverse the response.
We have formed the Hamilton County Task Force to bring doctors, police, firefighters, sheriffs and the like together to solve this crisis. We all agree that we must deal with the issues prior to overdoses happening. We need more transport units and they need to be used more often. We need more education on this issue in schools. We need to tap into all our perspectives to get ahead of this crisis.

4. Have you seen much change in our urban architecture? I am not an expert. Luckily, in our region we do not have to deal with wildfires. That is a completely different kind of firefight.
In our area, there are improvements like widespread installation of sprinkler systems.

5. Tell us about the recruitment of new firefighters. Today more than 3,000 apply, but once upon a time, it was more than 6,000. Hamilton County is hurting presently. This happens when we have a good economy. We hire 40 people per class. We have an established eligibility list. There are two to three classes. We restart the process after a freeze in hiring and/or after many retire.


November 15, 2018

Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve and
Director, U.C. Institute Of Military Medicine

Dr. Jay Johannigman, a Colonel in the United States Army Reserve and Director of the UC Institute for Military Medicine, joined us to share the exciting news about the recently announced partnership between the U.S. Armed Forces and the University of Cincinnati Health System which will provide specialized medical training to Active, Reserve and Guard personnel from all branches of the service. Jay shaed the details of the program called S.M.A.R.T. (Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training). Major General Michael O’Guinn, the former Deputy Surgeon General for Mobilization and Readiness, said this about the program, “This will insure the readiness of our soldiers and our nation to help save and sustain lives on the battlefield.”

Johannigman has been a member of the University of Cincinnati Trauma, Acute Care Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care service since 1995. In addition to his work as a UC Health trauma surgeon, Johannigman is also a professor of surgery at UC College of Medicine.

Jay is an Honorary Rotarian, native Cincinnatian, and a graduate of St. Xavier High School. He did his undergraduate studies at Kenyon College and graduated from Medical School from Case Western Reserve University.

As part of our Veterans Day Celebration, we honored 41 Club 17 Veterans. We will also hear about what is happening at the USO, and will enjoy a spirited, military-themed performance by our chorus.

Tribute to the USO
Sherry Ems
The USO was organized under President FDR during World War II to garner support for our troops. It was organized as a 501-3C so it gets no tax revenue or government funding as it serves our nation’s guard and their families. No matter where troops may be serving, the USO will be there for them. The USO’s mission is to provide a connection back to soldiers’ homes and to the country.

Cincinnati is a charter center going back to 1966 and serves 65 counties. There are USO lounges in all the local airports; e.g., Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and even at Wright-Patterson AFB. At Wright-Pat we have a Thrift Store for E-6 (enlisted service people) and for ranks below to help with basic living expenses. We support our local troops and try not to turn down a request for help. We get many donations that help. One such opportunity presented itself and we made a regular tradition out of it. We get many unused wedding dresses. We decided to make “the day” special for each service woman. She is given a never-worn wedding dress to wear. In addition, we can help when their babies are born. As the children grow up, we provide a week at camp on Kelly’s Island to give military kids the chance to learn from one another and to make lasting friendships.

Sherry Ems can be reached:

Dwayne Hickerson
For the past 15 years, we have held an annual tribute to the local USO at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse. It will be September 1, 2019 and you, Rotarians, are invited. It began as a “give back” to returning veterans who are severely wounded. We raise money to help with Walter Reed Hospital expenses since a veteran’s average stay is 30 months. In addition, we have built a “state-of-the-art” USO Center at Walter Reed. It has all the technology (Wi-Fi, television, etc.) and entertainment (entertainers, crafts, etc.) features to give vets a place to heal. Physicians drop by to “keep an eye on” their patients.

Dwayne Hickerson can be reached:

Steve Lee
I have gotten to travel all over the world with the US Army including landing on aircraft carriers. I have even gotten to go to Guantanamo Bay. I am an advisor on the battlefield. On Thanksgiving Day in 2008, I addressed the troops telling them (quickly because of sharp-shooting enemy looking down from the mountains on our troops in formation) about our support and appreciation for what they are doing.

The US wants battle readiness such that we want our troops to have an unfair advantage over the enemy. We are in the process of building a new force. We presently have 350,000 troops, but we want to get up to half a million. Anytime you see recruiters, help them find the best recruits. We give the best scholarships!

There is a new combat-ready physical fitness test. It will be introduced to the nation in Cincinnati first from January 21 – 25, 2019, at UC. We will be training the physical fitness trainers. UC Medical School has been a big support of this program. Please note, there are 20 spots open for the public to come have a try.

Dr. Jay Johannigman
Dr. Jay showed a military picture of his mentor who served with his father in Korea, Gus Juengling, a Rotarian. He said, “Both are gone now, but their memory lingers with me.”

After 37 years with the USAF, because he could not deploy directly to the battlefield, Dr. Jay Johannigman petitioned to “defect” to the US Army. His request was passed by General Matis in a day, signed by President Trump, and was passed by Congress. He became Col. /Dr. Johannigman in the US Army in the Medical Corps.

He found himself working at FOB Fenty near the Kyber Pass in Afghanistan. He served with seven enlisted tech/nursing graduate trainees. They did triage out front of their makeshift operating room and then moved patients inside. Our job was to triage each one and then move them by night to the military base hospital in Bagram.

Since 1916, during WWI and the Korean War medical teams gave “whole blood” transfusions to wounded soldiers from the lines of battle. It was considered “the best” for the soldier. Even as late as 1952, if you had a civilian accident here in the states, you would have been given a “whole blood” transfusion. Soon after, scientists began separating the blood to keep it from deteriorating (within 3 weeks).

In Afghanistan, the way we get blood is from my medical team and the base troops who act as the “whole blood’ blood bank. If we are short a specific blood type, troops may be awakened in the night to give a pint. It works well in Afghanistan, but until last year, it was not possible to get “whole blood” in Cincinnati. I could not imagine that we did not do it here in Cincinnati. Finally, it is happening here in Cincinnati too. From start to “miracle”, it took 40 minutes in Afghanistan. Today Cincinnati is the sixth of eight centers that use “whole blood” in conjunction with Hoxworth Blood Center.

Cincinnati is at the epicenter of military medicine. I defy any of my east coast or west coast friends to “fly over” and say there is nothing down there! I dare them to keep up. For example, Trauma Centers have been operating in Cincinnati since 2001. We train CCAT teams in Cincinnati, and then send them on to Bagram. Young nurses train to become “Patriot” nurses here. Since 2010, a little-known force out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky called the Invisible Night Stalkers, are trained here.

Congressman and Rotarian Brad Wenstrup started SMART (Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training) here. All local military hospital personnel come here for two-week training. Cincinnati is headquarters.

Coming up in February 2019, the Army will expand again. Training will be needed and they will come to Cincinnati.

Dr. Jay showed a picture of two wounded army soldiers. He said, “These guys are the nation’s greatest resource. These two men: wounded warriors are the real heroes here. Never feel sorry for them. They are living large. One is a quadriplegic, Travis Mills, who runs the Travis Mills Foundation.”


November 8, 2018

Ohio Supreme Court Justice
Sharon L. Kennedy

On November 4, 2014, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy was re-elected to a full term on the Supreme Court of Ohio in a decisive victory winning all 88 counties and garnering 73 percent of the vote. Justice Kennedy first joined the court in 2012, having been elected to fill an unexpired term.

Prior to her term on the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy served at the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division beginning in 1999. From 2005 until December of 2012, Justice Kennedy served as the administrative judge of that division. During her time as administrative judge, she improved the case management system to ensure the timely resolution of cases for families and children. Working with state legislators, she championed a “common sense” family law initiative to reduce multiple-forum litigation for Butler County families.

When Butler County faced tough economic times, Justice Kennedy organized concerned elected officials in a countywide Budget Work Group. Seeing the need to bring private sector financial expertise to the government, she worked to create the Advisory Committee to the Budget Work Group. Justice Kennedy served as the facilitator and led discussions between county officials and private sector leaders to analyze county finances, to study and implement cost saving measures, and to present business driven fiscal policy to the county commissioners.

In 1991, after obtaining her law degree from the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law, Justice Kennedy ran a small business of her own as a solo practitioner. While in private practice, she served the legal needs of families, juveniles, and the less fortunate. As special counsel for Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery, Justice Kennedy fought on behalf of Ohio’s taxpayers to collect monies due the State of Ohio. As a part-time magistrate in the Butler County Area Courts, Justice Kennedy presided over a wide array of civil litigation and assisted law enforcement officers and private citizens seeking the issuance of criminal warrants for arrest.

Justice Kennedy began her career in the justice system as a police officer at the Hamilton Police Department. She was assigned to a rotating shift, single-officer road patrol unit working to protect and serve the citizens of the City of Hamilton. From the routine, to the heart pounding, to the heart breaking, she has seen it all. During her time as an officer, Justice Kennedy also worked in undercover operations, implemented crime prevention programs, and later, as a civil assistant, assisted in drafting police policy and procedures for the Accreditation Program.

Throughout her career, Justice Kennedy has served on numerous boards, developed and facilitated programs to address the needs of young people, and worked with judges across the state. As a dedicated jurist she has received multiple awards of recognition including: The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Silver Good Citizenship Medal, May 5, 2018; The Ohio Community Leadership Award, 2016; The University of Cincinnati College of Law Nicholas Longworth, III Alumni Achievement Award, May 17, 2014; Northwest High School Distinguished Alumnus Award, April 25, 2014; named “One of 13 Professional Women to Watch” by The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 17, 2013; For Excellence in Public Service, June 2009; as Judge of the Year, 2006; Above the Fold Award, 2002; and the Furtherance of Justice Award, 2001. Justice Kennedy was also featured in Trends in the Judiciary: Interviews with Judges Across the Globe, Volume II, published by CRC Press in February, 2015.

Ali Hubbard introduced Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy to our club. She said Sharon’s law career began in 1991 when she obtained her law degree from the University of Cincinnati. After a storied career in law enforcement, she became the 154th Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

A Look At the First Amendment, At the Founding Documents, and At What They Mean

I will have to be brief because there is so much material to know about this that in Law School there are classes on these subjects and there is one entire class devoted to the First Amendment alone.

The First Amendment has just 45 words. These are some of the most powerful words ever written. Sadly, two-thirds of Americans have been found unable to list even a single protection covered by the First Amendment, yet they can list all five names of the Simpsons from television.

The First Amendment lists the freedoms of speech, press, peaceable assembly, religion, and the right to petition the government against grievances. It is the first of its kind: a constitutional supremacy.

Consider only the freedom of speech because of our short time together. Can you yell, “Fire” in a crowded theater?

Why do most Americans believe the First Amendment is the most important amendment? Probably because it is first.

Historically there were more than 210 Amendments proposed, but they were eventually reduced to 12. George Washington sent out the 12 for approval and only 10 came back approved by the citizens of the new nation. What were the two that failed? Originally, the early framers thought we should have one representative for every 40,000 persons. They, of course, would have no way of knowing that one day the size of the US would become over 300M. If so, today we would have over 6,000 representatives.

The second that failed was when they were deciding whether Congress could vote themselves a raise. Originally, it failed. After many attempts, this became the 27th Amendment in 1992. It was not the first amendment, but it did not matter. Because I ask, “Does rank order determine an amendment’s importance?” Not at all.

Some still believe that the Freedom of Speech overrides all. What is speech? Is it all covered? Speech is spoken. It is written. Someone’s conduct can be speech. For example, what if someone burns the American Flag? In addition, symbols can be speech: think of tattoos, artwork, billboards, and Twitter. It even matters where it is spoken. If I grandstand or am in the public square, I am exercising my right to speak. In contrast, if I am standing in my front lawn, I am not. What about in the workplace? Can I really stop a person’s First Amendment right to speak? The first words of the First Amendment state, “Congress shall not …” which means No, unless that person is a representative of government that is if they are a “government actor.” Individuals have the right to speak, but what about corporations? Yes, they, too, have the right. This was decided by the Supreme Court who answered that a corporation was the equivalent of an individual with free speech, especially since corporations are taxed at the individual rate (LLCs).

What about an animal: does it have the freedom of speech that humans have? This was decided based on a case in 1983 in Dalton, GA involving “Blackie the talking cat.” The cat’s owners were showing him and making money off his abilities. The town of Augusta, GA attempted to shut him down. The judge decided that “Blackie was just a cat.” with no right of speech.

What about music? Crafts?

Is the Business Courier protected? Yes.

If you take a leaflet, or read a blog or tweet, are you covered? A source has no protection under the First Amendment.

Who is the press?

Does the First Amendment protect in a boycott across America? Take for example an album by Madonna. On several late night couches during television interviews, she claimed that fans were boycotting her First Amendment right. A judge later determined that fans were simply saying, “We don’t like your product.”

What if we were to boycott coffee shops like Starbucks in support of a specific cause? Does my $2.10 cup of coffee impinge on their freedom of speech? No way.

Therefore, the important question is “What does the First Amendment protect? Ask yourself these questions: Who, When and Where? Those are the First Amendment’s protections.

It is only when we fail to educate ourselves that we will lose these freedoms and eventually our country itself. We must engage to improve. You can change course by educating into the future.

1. What are the rights of speakers who are invited to speak at college campuses? It depends upon whether the campus is public or private. Can a campus invite and then disinvite a speaker? Yes. Even if I hate your speech, even if you feel violated, but you live in America where freedom of speech is allowed. More speech is indispensable to a free society. It allows us to redefine ourselves. Self-development occurs with more conversation, not less. Is becoming isolationist better?

2. What is the trend of the Second Amendment? It protects every person’s right to own a firearm. The government has the right to limit conversations everywhere. Because of the Fifth-third Shooter, should I not have the right to own a gun?

3. Do private entities like Facebook and Twitter have the right to provide a platform for even hateful speech?
Think of the Declaration of Independence and the clause, “the pursuit of happiness.” The Bill of Rights keeps the government from trampling our rights.
A fundraiser for veterans on Facebook was banned calling it hate speech. When things like this occur, over time competitors will pop up and provide additional forums. Alternatively, eventually there will be divisions for Facebook. Whatever the platform, it should not limit my speech.

Truth. We do not know what truth is. We hear about millennials who are becoming outraged when they only read the headlines and then rant on Facebook about it, not realizing there was more to the story.

Remember my opening question, “Can you yell, “Fire” in a crowded theater?
Yes, if there is actually a fire.
Or, if you’re an actor and you are reciting a line.
Or, if you yell, “Fire!” and you think there is a fire, but you are mistaken.
Otherwise, “No, you may not.”


November 1, 2018

Political, Economic, and Social Change
Building Blocks for a New Era

Dr. Al Tuchfarber, Professor Emeritus of Political Science – University of Cincinnati, Owner – Tuchfarber Political-Economics, LLC, and Blogger – was our speaker on November 1, 2018.

The world is clearly in transition to a new era. The post-WWII era has ended, but we do not yet have anything other than a fuzzy picture of where we are now and where we are going. Dr. Tuchfarber will not attempt to completely define the new era, but will discuss, in practical terms, some of the major building blocks that will help shape the new era.

These include:
1. The meaning and consequences of the “America First” foreign policy
2. The coming economic stagnation and decline of China
3. Worldwide populism and nationalism
4. The dramatic effects of demographic changes
5. The rapidly changing American political party coalitions

He will also give Rotary a sneak peek at how the Nov. 6 elections might turn out.

Al Tuchfarber is an academic and entrepreneur who has had a successful career as a teacher, researcher, senior administrator, campaign manager, political analyst, organizational strategist, and writer. He holds a PhD in political science and has well over 100 publications.

• Al’s intellectual and practical interests are very wide-ranging. He has spent his career both in the arena of ideas but also in the “real-world” where the rubber hits the road…where things must work. Areas of special interest to him are American politics and political-economics, global politics and global political-economics, political polling, campaign and organizational strategies, demographics, and societal change. Tuchfarber founded the Ohio Poll and directed it for a quarter century. The Poll established a remarkable record for accuracy in predicting elections and has been rated one of the nation’s best. Al brings that experience and skill-set to his weekly blog — the Tuchfarber Report, as well as to his consulting, speaking, and writing.

In 2014 and 2016 Tuchfarber predicted the American election results with great accuracy, unlike a large majority of the pundits. He did so because he has a deep understanding of the voters’ priorities and thinking, as well as of the rapidly changing coalitions that make up the American political parties. His predictions are 80 to 95% accurate because they are based on facts, data, history, and common sense…NOT on ideology, partisanship, or hopes.

As a political-economic analyst and author of the Tuchfarber Report, Al brings you insights and forecasts that you will not find elsewhere.

Where is the world headed, near and far term?

American Foreign Policy: America First!
This terminology has meaning for the President. It does not involve well-being or the US’s place in the world. It does mean, “He will do what’s best for America’s middle class, from the lowest to the highest. He means the average citizen. This excludes the elites who have dominated US politics for a long time. It also excludes what is good for US corporations.

President Trump has started 12 trade wars: China, Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, etc. He has done this with a massive purpose in mind. Each time he makes a new deal; e.g., South Korea, Canada, and Mexico, etc. you may have noted they are not “all that different from what they were.” The rhetoric, however, is “Everything will change!” Because we have been bested in the past, we need the deals to be changed. Eleven of those trade deals will be over in the next six to twelve months. Only China’s tariffs will remain. We have a full-blown, across-the-board economic war with China that does not involve an aggressive military like we had with the Soviet Union.

Another point, President Trump is committed to “not getting the US into a ground war with any countries other than two regions: we would come in and fight in northern Europe because NATO exists to fight Russia. Additionally, we would fight in S. Korea. We will not fight in Iran or Iraq. If there is a war, we will fight it using air and naval power, logistics, and technology.

In the late 1970’s China adopted a top down approach to capitalism where the government’s regulations govern from the top. This is in sharp contrast to the US, where we encourage entrepreneurship and the individual regulating/empowering instead from the bottom up. China is very predatory cheating on trade, requiring technology transfer from every company operating inside China, and regularly slants trading equality with currency manipulation. If the Yuan’s value is down relative to the US dollar or the European Union for example, then trade increases because Chinese exports are cheaper.

Comparing China with Japan, the Japanese economy grew rapidly from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. Yet from the 1990’s to the present, Japan’s GDP has only grown at approximately one-half of 1%. China has adopted the same model as the Japanese. In fact, all the Asian Tigers have followed them. Presently each country’s economy is in decline. China, on the other hand, has been buying its GDP growth by increasing debt on all fronts: government, corporations, and individual households. Chinese debt was 150% of GDP, whereas today it is 300%. This amounts to $3.5T annually being added to the debt. Their economic miracle is on the verge of collapse. I have been predicting this since 2012. President Trump’s policy is trying to force this.

Economic Populism and Nationalism
The “isms” are sweeping the world presently. First, what is populism and nationalism? Populism is the revolt of the little guy vs. the elite. Nationalism is putting the nation, its culture, and its sovereignty above globalism (top-down elitism). Globalization refers to economic activity integrating all countries through trade. Notice all recently elected figures; e.g., Bolsinaro in Brazil is right wing. Same with Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico. In France, the people elected Emmanuel Macron, a left wing, centrist populist. In Italy, Napolitano and Berlusconi are right-wing centrists. Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, is forced to step down. Finally, BREXIT is another step in this direction.

Population Slowdown
Demographics show a population slow-down across the world EXCEPT in sub-Saharan Africa. China’s workforce is poised to decline, reaching its peak in the next few years. India is peaking. In contrast, the US population will grow to the end of the century as will its workforce. These trends result from “native women” having more babies and the continued increase in the number of immigrants.

Upscale white women and blue-collar men are experiencing great change in their voting habits according to the WSJ yesterday (Wednesday, Oct. 31) on the front page. The core of the white working class has abandoned the Democratic Party.

There are three significant changes.
First, upscale, white, suburban women were 60% Republican 40% Democrat.
They are now 30% Republican 70% Democrat.
Second, upscale white males have remained Republican.
Third, a major growth surge has occurred among the Hispanic voting population.

Remember when Bush and Gore were tied? We couldn’t imagine that could occur. Yet, it occurred again in 2016. These three groups are changing the parties. 99% of the professional pundits got it wrong in predicting the Presidency, the House, and the Senate.

What will happen on Tuesday? I predict the 500 lb. gorilla’s base will…… First, the economy has given a gift with its recent unemployment rate at 3.7%. There is no “unpopular war” and no accompanying pictures on television of body bags. Polls indicate, “If less than 30% of the voters are satisfied with the party in power, the party in power will do poorly. Today the number who is satisfied is 38%. So….. rather than seeing a Blue Wave, I predict Democrats will gain 5 – 20 seats in House, but will still be short of control. In the Senate, Republicans will gain 3 – 8 seats.

1. How will President Trump speed up the trade war in China? First, the trade war will go on. The Chinese know they have a debt bubble. It will eventually burst. When it does, it will bring down the country. They do not know what to do about it right now, because they realize that it is too late.

2. What happens if the Chinese sell off their investment in our treasury securities (US debt)? Their debt is intra-debt. When it collapses, they have to cram down on their own people to pay it off. $1.4T of China’s investment is in US treasuries or approximately some 40 – 50% of their investments. Their investment is approximately 6% of our treasuries. Therefore, if they were to sell out of their investment in US treasuries, they will be hurt significantly.

3. What about the 2020 election? I predict there will be at least three dozen contenders for the Democratic nomination. They will be celebrities, corporate leaders, and a few well-known politicians like VP Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Despite such a slate, there is an 85% likelihood that Trump will be re-elected.

I do not know who will win the Ohio Governor’s race this year.

To be beaten an incumbent needs two of the following:
Jimmy Carter was bland. He was beaten by the recession. He made a significant blunder in Iran. Finally, he ran against a charismatic Reagan. Look at Bush vs. Clinton. Clinton was charismatic. He was perhaps the best political player I have ever seen.

Another gift to the Republicans is the 5,000-person immigrant caravan coming to the border. Television shows the caravan to be comprised of 70% young males. The visuals corroborate Trump’s threats.

4. When do you expect a recession? Recessions are caused by an imbalance in the economy usually brought on by debt, war, or some other external events. We will likely see another year of increased productivity, probably in the range of 2.5 – 3%, not the 4.2% or 3.5% of the previous quarters. Two variables directly lead to increases in growth in our GDP. The first is a growing workforce. The US workforce has grown at one half of one per cent per year. The other variable is productivity, which is based upon improving technology, capital availability, and investment. Growth in each results in increasing productivity, which I predict, will remain positive in the next few years.

5. Where is the US debt level? It was 250% of GDP and today it remains at 250% of GDP. Where government spending is increasing, corporate debt is decreasing, as is the debt of individual households.

6. What will President Trump do with the tariffs if China retaliates with soybeans? The Chinese not buying US soybeans hurt some soybean producers. They are buying instead from Argentina and Brazil. Yet Argentina and Brazil cannot produce all that the Chinese market requires so they will supplement their soybean output with US soybeans. Soybeans are a commodity that is fungible just like oil. It does not matter from where it comes. It is all the same. This is a top-down macro-strategy to guarantee that the US is #1 in the world soybean market for the next 50 years.

7. What are the ramifications of the Chinese collapse? Let me show you with Japan. Japan collapsed in 1990. In 1982, their real estate market collapsed and in December of 1989, their stock market tanked which brought down consumer confidence in the economy. At the time, Japan was the #2 economy in the world. Eventually the Soviet Union came apart, which offset each other. When China goes, world GDP will decline to 2.5%. Only 6% of US exports goes to China while they export 4% to the US.

The countries who will be hurt by China’s collapse will be Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. Not only their currencies, but also their commodity markets will turn upside down.

8. Who else will the Chinese collapse impact on an even greater scale? A 1% decline in world GDP amounts to approximately $1T. Australia will be a debacle. Japanese electronics is mostly assembled in China. It will be hurt.

We are less dependent on China than they are. We will experience secondary and tertiary reactions.

9. If you have invested in China, as of November 1, get ready for a change. The Chinese government has the right to all information of any corporations doing business in China.

China has become even more militaristic and totally totalitarian than ever before.

9. Who is calling the shots in the Trump Administration? Mark Leonard, the Director of the European Council of World Affairs. As reported in the Financial Times, two or three months ago he went to Bejing to talk with senior Chinese politicians and intellectual elites. He learned that they are scared of President Trump who is a master tactician and strategist. Trump prepared himself by studying Sun Tzu who was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. The Chinese recognize him to be the very best Chinese master strategist of all time (past 2,000 years).

10. Twenty years ago you predicted Northern Kentucky’s growth, the importance of the airport, and the merging of Dayton and Cincinnati’s economies. What do you see in these areas now?
In a few years, the Census Bureau will combine Cincinnati and Dayton into one SMSA (Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area).

When Delta pulled out of the CVG airport, look what happened. DHL moved in and now so has Amazon. Both will reenergize Northern Kentucky, which will spill into Cincinnati and southeastern Indiana. Then add to the mix UC acting as a driver of technology by partnering with more and more corporations, these are the keys to the future in our region.


October 25, 2018

University of Cincinnati

Neville Pinto serves as the 30th President of the University of Cincinnati. He took office on Feb. 20, 2017.

As UC’s president, he has led the development of the university’s strategic direction, NEXT LIVES HERE, a new paradigm for university planning that the university launched in February 2018. NEXT LIVES HERE is a 10-year vision that allows the university to be nimble and responsive to the world’s changing landscape. It focuses on becoming a leader in innovation and impact with three main platforms of academic excellence, the innovation agenda and urban impact. As a part of these efforts, Pinto established a position for the university’s first Chief Innovation Officer while the university is poised to launch its 1819 Innovation Hub and to open its first Staff Success Center.

Dr. Pinto is the first UC president to rise from the ranks of UC’s faculty since Herman Schneider, the founder of cooperative education (1928-1932). Pinto has spent his entire career as a university teacher, researcher, and administrator. Just prior to returning to UC to serve as president, Dr. Pinto served as acting president and Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisville. Before serving at the University of Louisville, he served for 26 years on the faculty in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where he established the Adsorption and Ion Exchange Laboratory, which focuses on research in biochemical and environmental engineering. His research includes purification of genetically engineered drugs, the study of bio-membranes, and air and water purification. His laboratory attracted over $6 million in external research funding and trained 32 graduate students including 16 PhD students, many of whom have moved on to become leaders in industry and in academia. He was admitted to the US Society of Inventors for his patents and other contributions.

Pinto was born in Mumbai, India. He was educated at the Indian Institute of Technology, in New Delhi, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. He earned an MS and a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Penn State University.


The University of Cincinnati is celebrating its bi-centennial this year. I want to stimulate thinking about higher education and its role in our students’ future. I take this responsibility very seriously. We’ve inherited a “great” university. Two hundred years ago UC and UVA were founded. The University of Virginia was positioned just outside the “hub of Washington, DC;” while UC sprung up in a small, frontier town.

I came to UC in 1985 as an Assistant Professor. It was different then: enrollment was 24,000. UC attracted federal money to the tune of $34M in research. There were 5,000 graduates. Today the university enrolls 46,000 students. Its research expenditure amounts to $190M. UC has been recognized nationally by the Carnegie Foundation. UC is one of 115 such research universities in the nation. In Ohio, only Case Western Reserve University, Ohio State University, and University of Cincinnati have obtained this level of federal support for research. “Truth comes from a good education.” UC has gone from graduating 5,000 in 1985 to 11,000 today. The average ACT score is 26. This ranks UC as being among the top 17% in the nation. We have become a destination. The faculty are scholars themselves in preparation for teaching these students. UC is first a public institution, but it is also a Tier 1 Ranking research institution.

What forces are facing UC and other higher educational institutions? What about over the next 30 years to approximately 2050? Are we asking the right questions? Yet, we might not be measuring the relevant metrics. Ohio once led the nation in manufacturing. Ohio’s families lived well with a good work ethic. At its peak in 1969, 1.4M Ohioans were employed in manufacturing. Today that number is 600,000. A lot of it went overseas. Other states attracted Ohio’s manufacturers to their business – friendly climate. But by far “the biggest contributor to this decline was technology.” Today one person can do what four once did. We have the same output as China. We are very efficient. The question is, “What is the mix that will employ our citizens fruitfully with jobs for all?”

Technology is shaping our society and will continue to do so even more into the future. The most common job today is truck driver. Automated vehicles are soon to replace human drivers. What is already a reality, like delivery of groceries or refrigeration from manufacturer to warehouse, will be a threat, but also an opportunity for those who will seize it. We must be prepared by leading the way.

A Cyborg (reference to Star Trek) had a camera implanted in its brain once in science fiction that today is now a reality for a young man who with a camera device is able to teach himself to see color by a system of vibration recognition.

Will students be ready to compete?

The second major force on civilization is urbanization. 50% of the population lives in urban areas. The economy is changing from national analog to a global digital concentration in cities where knowledge-based jobs are forming the future. In a book entitled, New Geography of Jobs, the author Maretti says, “Cities and countries thrive on talent, education, innovation, geography, and creative spaces.” If we can get it right, we can create five jobs in the future for every one that we have today.

UC is committed to this new era of innovation and impact. Business forces impact economic outcomes. Since business is already doing it, business will create strength in the present economy and it will educate the ones for tomorrow. The Top 21 are in the 99th percentile. This has been happening every year since 1990.

Academic Excellence: UC is Investing in Innovation
The 1819 Hub connects the present to the past by being housed in the old Sears building. This is “the front door” to innovation at UC. It is an I-Hub that facilitates collaboration between corporate innovators and the university in a creative collision. Research is powering innovation. In fact, innovation can’t happen without research. The digital future is powered by innovation.

We already host three major corporations and we are on the cusp of adding a fourth. Kroger, P&G, and Cincinnati Bell are already in the old Sears building. Each company is tasked with bringing their “real world” problems to our students. Next lives right here!

1. How is UC dealing with the rising cost of college tuition? How should we prepare for the future pricing of a college education?
First of all, we all must plan early. Secondly, education goes for more students. More will strengthen the region. The biggest hindrance to learning is a student’s financing of his/her tuition. Many are working long hours. This impacts their preparation for learning in the classroom experience.

We have to be creative. We need to build corporate partnerships with students. Corporations hire students and then help pay tuition of these employees. The corporations benefit as much as the students in this “win – win” approach. We are tailoring the co-op program for corporations to hire students on a temporary basis who focus their work on strategic corporate problems. Talent is sought out. Lack of talent worries corporations most. This may be a way to fund education better in the future. UC must educate students so they will be sought after for their talent and their training.


October 11, 2018

Raptor, Inc.

RAPTOR, Inc. is an acronym for the “Regional Association for the Protection and Treatment of Raptors.” For over 40 years, this non-profit has rescued and rehabilitated raptors of all kinds, from bald eagles and hawks to falcons, owls and vultures right here in Cincinnati. In addition, they provide raptor and conservation education, presenting 350 ‘live bird’ presentations annually to schools and organizations across greater Cincinnati. Our program speaker is the RAPTOR Board President, Marc Alverson. Marc will speak to us about the origins and growth of their organization (with a few live birds for us to see!). And, specifically, how they’ve developed an expanded mission to create a new public-oriented destination and attraction in Cincinnati.

Marc is a graduate of UC in Electrical Engineering. He went on to work at GE for 35 years. He and his wife, the Executive Director of the Raptor Center, have two sons and live in Cincinnati.

Marc told us that he became interested in raptors after going to a photo seminar. The photos he saw captivated him and his wife. Not long afterward, the Raptor Center was incorporated in 2000 to help injured birds. Marc became a volunteer. He rehabbed birds, educated the public, and helped to maintain their facility. Early on Charley Harper designed the Center’s logo.

What is a raptor exactly? It encompasses hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, and osprey. All of the birds hunt and kill live prey.

The Mission of the Raptor Center is to rehabilitate and return injured raptors to the wild. At the same time, the Center educates the public on the importance, support, and preservation of habitat.

The History. In the early 1970’s in southwest Ohio, two guys began helping injured birds regain their health in their backyard. In 1978 they founded the center as a 501-3C. Finally in 2012, the center opened. It was located where it still is, next door to the Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford. The organization began working with the public and with schools. Today the organization has a nine-member Board of Directors. There are 70 volunteers and there are two paid staff members, one of whom is my wife. Seven local veterinarians volunteer their services. The annual budget is $150,000 to cover food for the animals, utilities, and the two person staff. Today there are approximately 350 Raptor members.

Volunteers spend their time rehabilitating injured or sick birds. In addition, they climb up into trees to gaze upon nests and band the new baby birds before they learn to fly. (Surprisingly it is a misnomer that a human’s scent will repel the mother bird from tending her babies. Question asked after the meeting.) Birds are often taken into schools to serve as ambassadors and to encourage students to respect their needs. Finally, the most highly trained volunteers are sent to pick up injured birds. Their training enables them to disarm panicked birds who might be dangerous when they are unable to fly away. Other volunteers spend their time feeding, building, and fixing whatever makes the “Fix It” List.

In our current facility, we have some room to educate and to house injured and sick birds.Our space is improved, but nonetheless limited. There are few programs at present to display the birds in residence.

Outreach. We have increased our educational outreach to 368 programs for 22,577 people. Recently a call alerted us to an owl caught in a school’s soccer net. The school asked us if a science class could come watch the rescue effort. As it turned out, the entire school came out to see and to learn from the event.

Raptor Sponsored Research. Several studies are underway at this time. The first, involves the Red – Shouldered Hawk and how it is adapting to the urban environment. The second, involves a local Ph. D. candidate who has obtained a grant to conduct a clinical trial and blood test for the West Nile virus on local area birds.

Proposed Expansion. We have drawn up plans to expand our facilities on our existing property in order to better message conservation and an appreciation of nature. The plans include a larger building and a raptor trail where participants can see raptors and learn about each kind while exploring the trail. We will have much better parking so we can begin to house school busses when we invite schools to bring students to our site.

Why Study Raptors? Nature is about balance. Birds in general and raptors in particular act as indicators about the health of the environment. Raptors’ source of food is mice and rats. To live they must hunt and kill their prey. Birds can’t save themselves. Neither can they can wreck the environment. They need our help. Hopefully we will be able to do even more with the new raptor facility. I am reminded of a Native American Proverb that says, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

1. Are vultures part of raptors? I’m not sure exactly. Vultures are more social, while raptors are solitary. Vultures, like storks, carry dead animals they eat as food. Raptors feed on live prey. Raptors have bigger talons.

2. Are any of the raptors native to our area? Yes, the Red-tailed Hawk.

3. What are the common injuries that occur to raptors? They can be hit by cars. They often land on the median along highways. There are no chemicals there so the area is rich in mice, rats, and snakes. Their wings get broken. To heal them, their wings are put into a cast. They often get head and eye injuries.

It is a challenge to know once they are healed, when to release them to the wild once again. Usually we let them fly and if they are not breathless and can land easily, they are ready to go. If they can’t catch prey, possibly their eyesight is impaired or injured. If a bird is young when it gets hurt, it is an inexperienced hunter so its hunting ability will likely be stunted. In captivity it is unable to learn.

In captivity while they are healing, we feed them dead animals. It takes them awhile to learn to eat dead animals.

4. What is the life span of raptors? Typically it is 10 – 15 years, but a Great Horned Owl set the record at 28 years of age.

Smaller birds live 2 – 3 years. A barn owl lives two years, but we have one that was injured so is living in captivity that is 11 years of age.


October 4, 2018

Founder of Sensory Logic
Author of Famous Faces Decoded

Dan Hill, Ph.D., is the founder and president of Sensory Logic, Inc., which pioneered the use of facial coding in business beginning in 1998. As an expert facial coder, Dan is the recipient of seven U.S. patents related to advanced methods for the scoring and analysis of facial coding data. He is also a certified Facial Action Coding System (FACS) practitioner. Dan has done consulting work for over half of the world’s top 100 B2C companies. Among his five previous books is Emotionomics, chosen by Advertising Age as one of the top 10 must-read books of 2009, which featured a foreword by Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons in its second edition. Dan’s TV appearances have ranged from ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Al Jazeera, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, CNN, ESPN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC’s “The Today Show,” and PBS, to The Tennis Channel. For radio, Dan has been interviewed by the BBC and NPR’s “Marketplace”. Print and digital coverage of Dan’s work has included: Admap, Advertising Age, Adweek, Allure, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, The Financial Times, Forbes China, Inc., Kiplinger’s, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Politico, Time, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, in addition to his having been a columnist for Reuters. His essays were noted with commendation in the 1989, 1991 and 1994 editions of The Best American Essays. Since his education at St. Olaf College, Oxford University, Brown University, and Rutgers University, Dan has given speeches and led workshops in over 20 countries. Along with his wife, Karen Bernthal, he lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and Palm Desert, California.

Dan Hill is an expert at reading emotions on people’s faces. He said, “The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves.” Also he shared a picture of “The Thinker” while quoting Descartes who said, “I think, therefore I am.” which he said, “implies that we are rational.” Everyone feels before they think. We make decisions based on emotions. Decisions are made for two reasons: the good and the real reason. Most of us are more like Watson than Sherlock who thinks of emotions as noise, then he gets back to the truth. Only a third of the people actually know what they are feeling at a given time.

I began my business in 1998. I was lucky. It was a time when we became more aware of the brain which has led to the study of emotional intelligence and perception. “Ability EQ” gives a 6% edge. When compared to tennis, the number one tennis player only wins 53% of the points. It is actually much closer than you think. Presidential races are won by a 2.2% margin. Therefore, a 6% edge provides a big advantage; especially when a sales person often tells 3 lies in 10 minutes of conversation.

All emotions are on our face. It’s universal even in children as young as 9 months of age. Only body language is determined by culture. Facial muscles are the only ones attached to the skin. There are 44 muscles ready to convey what a person is thinking so pay attention. Another author, Professor Paul Ekman in Emotions Revealed concurs with my book, Emotionomics, in saying that body language conveys 50% of meaning, while facial coding conveys much more. I pioneered its use in business. Today it is a $1B industry. The facial industrial complex has begun to link with artificial intelligence. I use facial coding for constructive purposes, but there are many nefarious uses as well. For example, the Chinese government monitors the local population and pulls out those who are not impacted by government propaganda. On the other hand, if it’s used in hospitals to detect what is happening to a patient. I believe that our society will be transformed over the next five to ten years. Emotions can be diagrammed. Trust is the basis of business versus contempt. In marriage counseling facial coding can detect true feelings with a 98% accuracy predicting whether a couple will stay together or not. In speed dating one can predict interest with 100% accuracy. It can predict what we do not say, because our face will.

We study celebrities for the emotions behind their actions. Anger is a dominant emotion signaling the intention to gain control. It is passionate. It can lead to violence when held unchecked. Emotions have upsides and downsides. For example, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has a face that exemplifies happiness. At the same time, however, Facebook’s recent difficulties may have resulted from his being too footloose on the details. We are very complex. Emotions overlap. Fear and surprise often show themselves together.

When people approach one another, they may come in anger, happiness, or sadness. Anger is demonstrated by a tightened face with lowered brows and taut lips. It may be manifested by a hit. Happiness is detected by a face that lifts upward. It is often accompanied by a hug. Sadness is about loss and is signaled by a wrinkled face. A wince pushing up the cheeks is the surest sign followed by closing eyes. Janis Joplin comes to mind.

We spurn one another with disgust and contempt. Think of Kanye West whose upper lip flares. Contempt by Hillary Clinton was demonstrated by superiority with the corners of her mouth curled up and out. Yet, in New Hampshire after Hillary spent $50M and came in third there was no smirk. Had the cameras picked up her sincerity that night in the town forum, she could have beaten Obama on the rest of the campaign trail.

Reactions emote as surprise or fear. When surprised, our eyes widen for about a second. If any longer, the person is acting. Eyes widen because we want more information. With fear, our face opens and our lips pull back bracing for fight or flight. I think of OJ Simpson’s face. He was insecure.

1. Does the US Military use facial coding in their selection process?
Yes, the FBI and CIA use it as well. Even at West Point cadets are monitored.

2. Is it used in court? No one has been called to be an expert witness. I think of the priest who was investigated in a major city diocese. He showed his emotions after all.

3. What about in the case of Kavanaugh versus Ford?
There is no lying muscle. People have horrible memories. They only remember what is searing, while losing the peripheral details. We can detect lying by asking the person to tell the details of their story in reverse. We remember novelty items or what’s new or meaningful. Ford remembered distinctly “They were having fun at my expense.” While it wasn’t meaningful to Kavanaugh or to Mark Judge, they forgot it.
Impressions of Kavanaugh: It was a normal reaction for Kavanaugh to be outraged at his being publicly embarrassed. He showed indignation. If you look at Kavanaugh’s high school photos, he demonstrates a lot of anger. The burden of proof is on his side.
There were few details on his side.
Impressions of Ford: She was authentic. She was terrified. There were horizontal lines across her forehead and her mouth was pulled wide.
Note: If you would like to read more about Dan Hill’s work, read his blog: @emotionswizard


September 27, 2018

Founder & CEO

Puerto Rico: The People
Mariela is the CEO & Founder of Jibaro. Jibaro is a lifestyle brand dedicated to celebrating and promoting authentic Puerto Rican culture, heritage, and principles. The Jibaro brand shares the story of Puerto Rican culture and roots with high quality apparel and home good products that are creatively designed. They value craftsmanship and pride themselves in providing their customers with only the most authentic and highest quality products. Additionally, Jibaro delivers the best customer service possible. Further, Jíbaro donates 10% of its profits to charitable partner organizations that are focused on the economic and social advancement of the Puerto Rican people and the ecological protection of the island. By buying their merchandise, customers are helping Jibaro to increase donations to their partner non-profit organizations.

After watching hurricanes pummel her native island of Puerto Rico last fall, Fort Mitchell resident, Mariela Oyola-Brauch, knew that she would be stepping up her company’s efforts to provide support to the people there.
Today founder and CEO Oyola-Brauch is celebrating the first anniversary of Jibaro, a lifestyle brand with a mission to celebrate and to promote authentic Puerto Rican heritage. The company sells men’s, women’s, and kids apparel including shirts and hats, and decorative items for the home, donating ten percent of all profits toward nonprofit organizations based in Puerto Rico.

In addition to founding her own company, Mariela has become an organizer for Puerto Rican events throughout the tri-state area. Only a week after the hurricane devastated the island, Mariela used Jibaro’s Facebook page (#JibaroRoots) to reach out to all Puerto Ricans living in the USA who had not been able to communicate with their loved ones, due to lack of electricity, inconsistent internet, and cell phone services.

With the help of Mariela’s family living in Puerto Rico, they were able to locate almost 30 elderly people in 10 different towns and send videos and messages confirming their safety back to concerned family members. In addition, Mariela recently helped organize a major hurricane relief effort with leaders at Madison Avenue Christian Church, identifying and partnering with PANI (Programa de Adolecentes de Naranjito, Inc.), who will be using the fundraising proceeds to help increase psychological and counseling services for children and adolescents in Naranjito, Puerto Rico.
Mariela also separately collaborated with Covenant-First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cincinnati and Cincinnati for Puerto Rico, to raise and donate funds towards the recovery efforts. Most recently, she managed a project with Water Mission ( to begin the restoration of an inoperable water well that serves over 300 families in Naranjito, Puerto Rico. Through her efforts, over 1,000 individuals who had been without a functioning water source for over 5 months will soon have a sustainable solar-powered well.

Migrating with her family to Bronx, New York at nine months old, Mariela returned to Naranjito, Puerto Rico to be closer to family members. After obtaining a Chemistry degree from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez Campus and a master’s degree at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, Mariela worked as a chemist for almost ten years, developing and innovating consumer products for Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s most prominent marketing and manufacturing companies.
Mariela’s passion to serve those in need led her to work at Crossroads Health Center, an inner city medical clinic, and as a Spanish medical interpreter at the local hospitals. Along with being a full-time mother, Mariela is an active volunteer, who has mentored a young girl for 10 years, participated and led numerous domestic and international service travel trips to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and to Central and South America.

Jibaro has sold its merchandise to customers located in 27 U.S. states and 45 towns in Puerto Rico. Jibaro has donated over $1,500 to non-profit organizations since its inception in March, 2017 and currently has over 5,000 Facebook followers.
Mariela Oyola-Brauch received the Impact 100 Wendy H. Steele Award for volunteering excellence through her leadership with the Hispanic Network Mentoring Initiative and her active involvement in the community.

I realized that I must be a serial entrepreneur with my first memories of making arts and crafts at home and selling them to my fellow classmates at school each day. It was when I had made $40 one day when the nuns said, “Enough is enough!” and I was rapped on the knuckles for selling at school.

“I want for you to see Puerto Rico (PR) as I see it: like it was when I was young.” It is a true labor of love that I celebrate the heritage of the mountain folk of PR. Russell Smith described Mariela in his introduction to the club saying, “Mariela has used her business experience and connections from her years working at Proctor and Gamble to support her people and she embodies faith, hope, and love as she reaches out to help her people with Jibaro.

Today PR is shattered. To remind you of recent trends comparing the US with PR. During the Zika epidemic PR lost 38 while Florida lost over 300 people. A half a million people have migrated to the US from PR. My sister was among them. Crime and unemployment rates in PR where there were as many as 716 homicides. In comparison, in Cincinnati at the same time there were 62. These facts are just to help you picture the differences in our quality of living. It was these facts that motivated my husband and I to begin thinking that we MUST do something. We decided to shine a light on the lives, values, and traditions of the PR mountain people. We named the business that we started Jibaro, which means mountain folk. Actually, in PR it refers to a farmer up in the mountains. It was an insulting term that meant they were illiterate. Instead, I think it refers to my family’s heritage and I appreciate where I am from. So Jibaro was launched to sell apparel and home goods to benefit my PR people.

During the 1920s – 1940s in America, photographers were sent to travel the country to photograph its people. Among the pictures were some from PR. They were beautiful! Then along came Hurricane Maria. What a surprise! PR had never experienced any storm like Maria. The wind was so strong, yet it moved so slowly. It was like a “tornado that wouldn’t move out.” My family told me during it on the phone that it felt just like the walls were moving in and out.

For three weeks after Maria, I tried to be strong for my father. There he and my mother were in the midst of complete devastation. He spent his career working as a social worker. As I grew up if there was a storm anywhere in PR, we went as a family to help the people. We were always volunteering. Many times we went back to this one beach. It became my favorite beach. It meant so much to all of us. Later when I grew up, I got engaged and even married at that beach. After hurricanes we went back over and over again to help the people to rebuild their lives.

When the Hurricane Maria struck, I scheduled a flight to PR almost immediately thereafter. I planned to take a satellite phone so I could help people find their loved ones. I advertised and more than 30 people had responded wanting my help. The day came for me to depart and the flight was suddenly canceled without warning. The PR people had no water or electricity. There were no working traffic lights. Poles were down everywhere. I called my father to ask if he would help find the 30 missing people. He said he was able to fill up with gasoline, even though in long lines, every morning. My family drove around following any leads they could and eventually found information about all 30 of the missing people. I finally got there myself. We brought water, sanitation items, and music. We brought them joy where they had been afraid. My friends here pitched in to help. How I love Cincinnati! Even Russell Smith’s church members responded wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, mental illness and suicides are up in PR. So is migration. Puerto Ricans are leaving every day.

My husband and I partnered Jibaro with a non-profit out of Charleston, SC called Water Mission (water We are now involved by repairing wells to re-provide much needed water. When there is no electricity, we learned there is no water. Today we have connected with 300 families by helping them with their needs and to help them find jobs. We are helping them to set up solar panels to help supplement their electrical sourcing.

I see PR through its people: artists, children, people doing whatever it takes to regain their lives. There is color, coffee, music, and even rum. Love is blooming amidst the chaos. Here are a few pictures of PR. San Juan on the water surrounded by a wall. If you share my enthusiasm, advocate for PR. Look up You can practice your Spanish, or buy apparel and home goods. Just say “Rotary18” for a discount on all items for the next week.


September 20, 2018

Founder & CEO
Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

Auto Retailing: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Jeff Wyler is the Chairman and CEO of the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family, the company he founded in 1973 as a Chevrolet dealership. The company has grown from the one Chevrolet location in Batavia to 15 locations in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky representing 16 different makes of automobiles. Sales have grown from 200 a year to more than 39,000 in 2017, and his service departments repair more than 400,000 vehicles a year. His original 12 employees have increased to slightly more than 1,500, and The Jeff Wyler Automotive Family was listed by Automotive News in 2017 as the 39th largest automotive retailer in the country.

Civically, Mr. Wyler currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Art Museum and is Vice Chairman of UC Health one of the largest hospital systems in Cincinnati. Previously, Jeff Wyler served as Chairman of the Board of CBank, a commercial bank located in Montgomery, Ohio that he helped co-found in 2007. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors of Bank One Cincinnati and on the Board of Trustees of the University of Cincinnati for nine years where three of those years he served as Chairman. He is also Chairman of the Wyler Family Foundation.

In 2006, he became a minority partner in the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he sold tickets to pay his way through college. He was elected into the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Business Hall of Fame in 2010, recipient of the “Dealmaker of the Year” award from Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) in 2014, and the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Award for Entrepreneurial and Civic Spirit also in 2014. Mr. Wyler is a member of the Commercial Club of Cincinnati, an organization of the top 65 business leaders of Greater Cincinnati. From 2005 to 2008, he owned and operated a NASCAR Truck racing team that won three races including Daytona in 2007.

Jeff and his wife, Linda, have four children, three of whom are active in the business, and six grandchildren.

Owen Wrassman introduced Mr. Wyler to the club. In jest he said, “ is all we need to say.”

Jeff told us that he had once been a Rotarian in the Batavia Rotary Club. He had even been elected President of the club at one time. They met regularly for breakfasts on Saturdays. He told us when he was president; women were not invited to the meetings. However, his wife, on the other hand, was the first to join Rotary when she was invited into the Hamilton, OH Club. He said that he was honored to come today to speak to us as well as to admit that he was curious about us due to our size and prominence in to downtown so many years later.

He immediately drew a comparison about how public opinion viewed his profession. He said, “You may as well have gone to have a root canal from your dentist today as come and listen to a car dealer!” This is because on the spectrum of trust in professions, car dealers are at the very bottom of the list preceded only by a visit to the dentist. Way up the list are lawyers and even further up, bankers! I have found that when people come to a car dealer, they want respect, but their manhood is at stake when they learn that someone else got a better deal.

We are a retailer. We simply purchase from the manufacturer and pass it on to you. You may have a piece of iron that you want to trade-in at the time of the sale that I’ve got to sell first, so there’s a lot more than meets the eye at the showroom. Our next service at the time of purchase is the financing of the vehicle.

I promised that I would talk about the history of car sales. It may be hard to imagine, but the retail part is only about 100 years old. Cars replaced the sole transportation that had been used for thousands of years. Picture this: New York City had 100,000 horses in 1900. They deposited 2.5M tons as they went….and we complain about car exhaust! Now 7,500 companies manufacture autos. At the turn of the century, a car dealer offered 4 or 5 cars only. They were challenged to get these cars out to the public yes, but what they really needed was the cash fast from them to buy more. Today Tesla, for example, manufactures until the demand meets supply.

Franchises at the turn of the century were renewable annually. This made for an arbitrary business model and lasted until the mid-1950s.

When I began in 1973, there were six Chevrolet dealers in Clermont County and thirteen more in the Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky region. The population centers were concentrated in the northeastern part of the country and the Midwest. After WWII, people began to move westward. The dealerships followed where the people were. Phoenix, the fifth largest city, had 11 dealerships, practically the same number as Cincinnati. I would love to offer a hard and fast sticker price, but when you shop around; my competitors will not match it.

From December 1941 to the end of WWII in 1945, we did not build cars. The Depression made people unable to have cars. There was a strong demand, but there were price controls. Dealers managed to figure around it by offering the car at the price controlled level of $1,000 and then added accessories to up the price.

It wasn’t until 1972 (?) that we had our first sales: 23 payments of $35/month and on the 25th a balloon of $800 was due. Often the balloon payment wasn’t disclosed. Dealers routinely rolled the mileage back saying, “It doesn’t matter how many miles is on a car because what is more important is: how many more it can go!”

The sticker went on the car window in 1958. Car sales was the most regulated industry. We acted as bankers writing contracts in pen, and then checking for the payments in the book. That was it!

We do over $400,000 in repairs each year. Of these about 80,000 come in though were bought elsewhere.

I have spent millions of dollars on buildings, but my real front door is At any one time I have 8,500 cars with their pictures and their prices on-line. You fill out the credit form and can talk face-to-face over the computer to the sales person. We value your present car. We then find any number of cars that you may want within a 5 – 10 mile area, and the sale is made. Or you can pay a fee of approximately $300 to have someone else find and negotiate the price of your chosen car. We have been voted one of the “Top Ten Places to Work” this year. The many years of tenure among my employees is remarkable. We just had the President’s Club dinner this past Saturday night where we honored employees with more than ten years with us. We are a family business. We are Cincinnati!

I used to meet here in the Hall of Mirrors quarterly with General Motors. It is good to be back!

600,000 electric cars were sold last year in China. People here just do not want to pay the additional $10,000.

Ride Share is popular in population centers like Washington DC, NYC, and Chicago, but it is hard to get it going in Cincinnati.

1. My first answer before you ask me anything is: “My favorite car is the one with my name on the back of it!”

2. Why are manual transmissions going away? People are lazy. Ha! Today there are only 2.5% that are stick shift.

3. Advertising $
We used to have rules stating that we couldn’t advertise anywhere, but where we had our dealerships. Violators were penalized by forfeiting their next shipment. Radio and TV covered my market. I used both for about 12 years. Then a friend offered to make a TV ad. He produced it on his own. His wife wanted a special car so that was the price! USED CARS that were available only through pages and pages of newspaper are available on the internet. Today, we employ 40% for radio and tv ads and 60% for digital. We’ll stop some of the radio and TV as well as the mailings. We used to advertise with a sign at the Great American Ballpark. We took it down, but it will be returning in the next few years.

We tried the “Fast Lane” Program where participants could change cars often. We needed 100 to break-even on the program, but only got 45 so it won’t continue.

4. Where did you get the expression in your advertising, “Eggs are cheaper in the country” come from? From a dealership who used it in Columbus. I asked the owner, Bob, if I could use it as my slogan too. He said, “Sure. I got it from someone in Harrisburg, PA.” Wouldn’t you know I wound up buying Bob’s dealership!


September 13, 2018

“The Music Professor”

Jim LaBarbara began his career in broadcasting in 1959 while working on his undergraduate degree from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and has been heard on hundreds of radio and television commercials ever since. Throughout the years, Jim worked under the pseudonyms of Jimmy Holiday while working in Meadville, Titusville, and DuBois, Pennsylvania, and J. Bentley Starr in Erie, Pennsylvania. He began using his real name on the 50,000-watt WKYC and WIXY in Cleveland and the year he spent in Denver. However, he is best known as the “Music Professor,” a moniker that was given to him when he began his work in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked for the powerful WLWT, WCKY, WSAI, and WGRR FM, among others. Jim’s graduate studies were at the University of Cincinnati where he earned a Master’s Degree in Broadcasting and was an adjunct professor at that university for several years. Jim is regarded as a respected musicologist on early rock ‘n roll. He was named one of the “Top 40 Radio Personalities of All Time,” was listed in the Rock Jock Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. He has a son and daughter and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio along with his wife Sally.

Ron Ott introduced Jim LaBarbara to the club. Jim responded immediately to the introduction along with the serenade by “Sonny and Cher” by saying, “I remember the time when Sonny and Cher were performing on stage and a barage of preteens in the audience broke through the crowd barrier and stormed the stage.” Sonny simply said, “So what do you want to do now?” They jumped down off the stage and the concert went on.

Jim said, “Back when I landed at WLWT in 1969, not many people recognized “rock and roll” for what it was. It all started in the 1920’s with Trixie Smith and then King Records picked up on it in the 1940’s. Remember “Rock Around the Clock Tonight?” The term “rock and roll” was black slang for sex…..and the rest is history!

Jim began to roll down memory lane. Let’s just step back in time and remember….

Bill Randall was the #1 disc jockey who was behind the scenes of the Dorsey Brothers, the Ed Sullivan Show, and even the Jackie Gleason Show introducing and promoting Elvis Presley. He first hit the microphones with “That’s Alright Mama.” There was a commotion backstage. He was nervous. Within a week, he released “Heart Break Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” which became a 1M record seller by the time it sold to RCA.

Buddy Holly died and it was termed by Don McLean as “The Day the Music Died.” Chuck Berry hit the charts with music that reeled in the teen crowd with his stories. Muddy Waters thrilled his audiences with the “duck walk” right on stage. Little Richard found Jesus at a church.

Jerry Lee Lewis was writing the stories about him that were not ever as good as reality. He married his 13-year-old cousin. When asked about it he said, “Oh she’s closer to 14.”

Dick Clark owned it all: “Sixteen Candles,” the “Mashed Potatoes,” etc.

In November 1963, the President was reported to have been assassinated. We did not know what to do. At that time, the “Singing Nun” was #1. Then Christmas ticked by and we were into January of 1964, when four guys showed up from England. They gave us the simple old American music back that we had lost like “She Loves You” which was from Gary Lewis and the Pacemakers (remember “I Like It!”), “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” To get them on the air, we disc jockeys had to say, “We’ll pull your records if you don’t at least listen to the Beatles.” They were open to suggestions because of George Marlin.

In Cleveland, KY was THE radio station. I was 24 – 25. I was hired in 1969, to change the music of WLW. I was on at night while Dixon and Braun were on during the day. I was told to do more talking with pop music groups to inform the public. It was because Stan Matlock of WKRC had opened up the market to information with his “Magazine of the Air.”

I became friends with James Brown. We would sit up until 4 o’clock in the morning talking. James did not drink. He was conservative. He told me many stories. He told me that Otis Redding went to King Records after he would play in the football games on Friday nights. Otis gave me “Two Hearts.” Pat Boone covered black music. Remember “Tootie Fruity?”

Chubby Checker should be in the Hall of Fame. Jackie Wilson recorded with him.

I remember when we celebrated New Year’s Eve here at the Netherland Hilton. It was all lit up. The night featured Lonny Mack who was “the best” guitar player ever. We made music at the Gibson Hotel here in Cincinnati where in room 105, Harry Carlson regaled me with so many stories. Another place was the Twilight Lounge in Hamilton, OH. There were so many good places!

Andy Williams claimed he was “corrupted in Cincinnati.” Back then WLS in Chicago played recorded music while WLW played live music. Andy Williams was in Cincinnati to see his first girlfriend, Elaine Evans, who happened to be a member of the Walnut Hills Women’s Club.

Ray Vaugn went blind. He was not born blind.

Davy Jones and the Monkeys never got money from the sales of their memorabilia.

I have been truly blessed. I have met many wonderful people during my career.

1. Tell us about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was very political. Yet, anyone who recorded with Atlantic Records got in. Probably 85% of the “famers” were convicted felons.

2. What do you think are today’s performers’ view of drugs? I’m only familiar with the 1950’s – 1960’s. Drugs flew then.


August 30, 2018


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

The Kroger Company

Rodney McMullen is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Kroger Co. Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve America through food inspiration and uplifts customers through a seamless digital shopping experience at 2,800 grocery retail stores under more than a dozen banner names. Kroger also operates 38 U.S. food-processing plants and 274 jewelry stores (through the acquisition of Fred Meyer).

Rodney joined Kroger in 1978, as a part-time stock clerk in Lexington, KY. During his career with Kroger, he has served in numerous leadership positions, including Assistant Treasurer, Vice President of Planning and Capital Management, Corporate Controller, Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and Vice Chairman. He was elected to Kroger’s Board of Directors in 2003, to President and Chief Operating Officer in 2009, and to his current position in 2014. Rodney was named Chairman of the Board in 2015.

Rodney is a member of the Board of Directors of Cincinnati Financial Corp., VF Corporation, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), Cincinnati Business Committee and Consumer Goods Forum. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Xavier University and on the Dean’s Advisory Council of University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Rodney earned bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Finance, and an MBA with an Accounting concentration, all from the University of Kentucky.

Rodney and his wife, Kathy, live in Cincinnati and enjoy traveling and hiking.

Kroger’s official purpose is to “feed the human spirit.” This overlaps with Rotary’s purpose. When people come to a Kroger store, they are coming for food. Food is our primary job.

CEO McMullen then showed a video with the following facts.
Kroger was first to put a butcher shop into the grocery store in 1883. There were supply chains as early as the turn of the century. Kroger was first to scientifically test the products it sells in its stores. Thanks to mergers and acquisitions, Kroger extends in the US from coast to coast. It is presently the largest florist in the country. In addition, it operates 19 dairies. From horse-drawn carriages to home delivery, Kroger employees have been doing their part. The first store was on Pearl Street very near what was once home plate in the Reds Riverfront Stadium. Today Kroger is in 35 states and in the District of Columbia. (End of video.)

Recently I was at an event in the city and learned about a water project that one of our Kroger employee teams put together. They did not have to ask me. There is no waiting for permission from the top. They are empowered to initiate from whatever position they hold.

Today Kroger is redefining the grocery shopping experience: from efficient shopping within the store to a seamless delivery from afar. We are even delivering kids’ needs such as a forgotten lunch or a spiral notebook to their schools while the parents are at work. We deliver whatever you want, wherever you want it! Parcels arrive in boxes decorated in streetscapes for kids to color later on.

Kroger moved its digital headquarters to Cincinnati. We moved on faith in fellow Cincinnatians. Where digital talent is lacking as we have many jobs to fill, we will partner with others to make Cincinnati the Kroger epicenter. Presently we have 1,000 associates, but we are looking to grow.

We have two Kroger brands: Simple Truth that brings in more than $5B in sales and Private Selection. We are launching Simple Truth in China on Alibaba on “Singles Day.” Singles Day is November 11, (11/11) the biggest shopping day in the world. This is our first international venture. There are many middle class households in China in whom we trust will try/like the Simple Truth line.

OCADO is the world leader as an online grocer. They are partnering with Kroger in the US.

Home Chef, out of Chicago, is making money providing a way for working families to eat together. Statistics show families who eat together have kids that get into less trouble.

NURO is a driverless delivery vehicle for delivering grocery orders directly to households. We launched it in Phoenix a few weeks ago.

Look up to learn more. We are not your parents or grandparents’ grocery store any longer!

After the recent tax cuts directed by the Trump Administration, Kroger reinvested its tax savings back equally into associates, customers, and shareholders. In addition, we provide $3,500 per year to any employee for additional education, from undergrad through a Ph. D. program.

We have a goal to end hunger by 2025. Last year, we provided 325M meals. This was enough to feed everyone in Iceland for one year. In addition, by 2025 we will eliminate plastic bags. Our customers can do this anytime earlier however. This year, Kroger was named #6 on Fortune Magazine’s “Change the World List.” It takes all of us working together so we can make the world a better place.


August 16, 2018


Thursday we thanked the Sheriff’s Department for their service to our community. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil presented the following awards to :

Administrative Excellence Award
Deputy Robert J. Weber, Court Services

Superior Achievement Award
Major Chris M. Ketteman, Director of Corrections

Hero/Valor Award
Deputies Nicholas E. Rauen, Lawrence L. Mehn and Jeffrey R. Landis, Enforcement

Career Enhancement Award
Captain Scott A. Kerr, Corrections

Sheriff Jim Neil introduced his staff at the Sheriff’s Department and said, “Thank you, Rotary. We both seek to put the service of others first.”

Administrative Excellence Award
Our first recipient, Deputy Rob Weber, has been a part of our department since 1999. He is assigned to Court Services duty. He has excellent administrative skills. In this job we are required to serve workers and to provide security services to all in court. You may not know, but there are a lot of fights at the Court House. Every morning when Deputy Weber comes to work, he has no idea what might transpire that day. It is his job to inspire. When complimented, he answers, “I’m just doing my job.”

Upon receiving his award, Deputy Weber said, “I follow a calling to serve. Thank you to my wife and also to my colleagues.”

Superior Achievement Award
Major Chris Ketteman joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1988. He is over the Jail Division. He has received 54 letters of appreciation or accommodation. His responsibilities extend outside Hamilton County to Columbia, Sycamore, and ________ townships amounting to more than 500 inmates. Inmates range from illiterate to having a post-secondary education. The biggest challenge is when former inmates return to society after their jail experience. We have a progression of jail ministers who help. Because jails have become so overcrowded, Major Ketteman oversees a reduction in the jail population. He is exemplary of having a positive impact on others.

Major Ketteman said, “I feel like Sally Fields right now because ‘everybody really likes me’…….today!” Thank you, Rotary.

Hero/Valor Award
I want to introduce three officers who reacted well and quickly to an active shooter incident in 2017. At a McDonald’s Restaurant, 7671 Beechmont, at 10:50 PM, the three officers arrived, went inside, and found two victims, one shot in the head. They took custody by caring for the victims and the others inside as well as  securing the restaurant against other shooters — all in the time that it has taken me to stand here relating the event!  The three officers are Jeff Landis, Larry Mehn, and Nick Rauen. We are so proud of their professional oversight of this incident.

Officer Mehn spoke for the three saying, “We are so thankful to Rotary!”

Career Enhancement Award
Major Chris Ketteman introduced Captain Scott Kerr. Major Ketteman told us that Sheriff Neil has been with the department for six years. He is known for asking us, “What can we do better to serve our citizens?” He also asks, “What is the future of the Sheriff’s Office?”

Captain Kerr attended the Police Institute, living in a dorm away from his family, for three months. During this time he studied these questions and has returned with ideas to be implemented that will improve the impact of the Sheriff’s Department in keeping with Gandhi’s philosophy that a “society will be judged by how well it treats its weakest members.”

Captain Kerr said, “The Police Institute experience has been extremely useful.” Also he thanked Rotary.

In conclusion Sheriff Neil answered many questions posed by Rotarians. Questions and answers follow.

First, Jim Neil said, “Today there are 1,569 offenders in Hamilton County. This is the third largest jail in Ohio.”
1. Do all officers carry Narcan?  Yes
What are we doing that is new? Upon arrival and we detect a drug overdose, we leave a family member or a close friend with a second dose of Narcan so they can immediately reverse the overdose if/when it happens again. We are also handing out Narcan at the county jail to help family members who have overdosed.

2. What program can reduce the jail population? We have always had a full jail, whether we had 300 or 3,000 beds. Ever since I was a deputy, the jail has been full. The reforms that we are putting into place are what we call “pods” for help with recovery, reentry into society, and more. We want to stop the cycle.

3. What about our homeless population? When camps are moved, we work in a support role. Beds are available to the homeless, but there are motivating factors that cause them to refuse the help. Such reasons include not wanting to follow housing rules like couples must seek separate housing, no drugs (risking discomfort from withdrawals), no pets, etc. Others are paranoid and are afraid of others.

There used to be a group who set up camp right at the jail. They said they felt safe there. We engaged with the population and tried to find out why they were homeless. We were able to place many of them and linked them with Human Services professionals who would follow them. There were a few, however, who just wouldn’t accept the help.

The only arrest was a sexual predator who did not file with Hamilton County.

In Cincinnati, the Sheriff’s Office “will do what’s right.”

4. Are there any common issues at sporting events and schools when securing against predators? We are beginning to assign “peace officers” to schools who request them. Fortunately we have had few serious incidents. There was only one: a kid shot himself while at LaSalle HS.

We are training deputies in security programs and in human resources. We will do more as funding becomes available. We are open to growing the program if schools want us.

5. What is the status of organized crime in our area? Drugs are driving the crime in our area. We’re experiencing an epidemic. We have no offenders in jail “for the habit.” There is a violent sub-culture that pushes drugs.

6. What about “conceal/carry” of firearms locally? I’ve followed the law since 1981. You have the right to bear arms. We offer a training program for “best practices.”

To distinguish between the terms, “carry conceal” requires a permit and training. A person must be eligible; i.e., free of a mental condition or of a prior record of misconduct.

“Open carry” is legally your right, but it tends to make people nervous.

7. Cincinnati is contending to host the World Cup where hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world will descend upon our city. What is the Sheriff’s Department doing to prepare itself?

Thank you for this information!

At present we are facing a $10M cut or a layoff of 150 people. This will devastate our safety. If we promote events, we must have safety, or the people won’t come. It must go hand in hand. We must have adequate protection. Cincinnati is a wonderful place to live and to raise a family as you know! It is a small city with a large region: a population of 300,000 within the city, but more than a million in the region that comprises Butler, Warren, Brown, and Grant counties and northern Kentucky.

8. When the President of the U.S. pops into town, who pays for it? You and I do. We utilize officers on duty. I make sure that I am working at these events. In fact, you may not know, but I am a certified bomb technician and have been since 1997. I am the only Sheriff in the US to have this. When any dignitaries visit Cincinnati, I’m there. It’s not political. Even though I’m an elected official, I will be there. I want to be known as a “police professional, not as a politician.”


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Executive Director

Todd Schwartz became the Executive Director of the European American Chamber of Commerce (EACC) in January, 2017. With the support and guidance of the EACC’s Board of Directors, he develops and implements EACC activities in three key areas – Economic Development, Talent and Workforce Development, and Business Development. The EACC is part of a growing transatlantic network with chapters in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, New York, New Jersey, and the Carolinas.

Prior to joining the EACC, Mr. Schwartz was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. His twenty-eight year career as a diplomat included overseas tours in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Qatar, the Philippines, Kuwait (Counselor for Economic Affairs), Canada (Principal Officer in Winnipeg, Manitoba), and Iraq (Counselor for Economic Affairs). His assignments in Washington have included tours as Director of the Office of Iraq Economic Affairs; Director of the Office of Iran Affairs; Assessor with the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service; and Deputy Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs. He received numerous awards throughout his career, including three Superior Honor Awards, six Meritorious Honor Awards, and the Secretary’s Career Achievement Award.

Mr. Schwartz earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics at the Richard T. Farmer School of Business at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. A father of four, he is married to the former Nancy Dye Sunderland of Dayton, Ohio. Nancy and Todd now reside in the Mount Washington area of Cincinnati.

Deborah Schultz introduced her good friend, Todd, to the club. Beyond the information provided above, Deborah further described Todd’s expertise as a “trivia buff extraordinaire.” She told us she appreciates what Todd is doing at EACC to support many local businesses.

Todd told us that one of the first things that everyone asks him is how he got a job with the State Department? My first trip overseas included a tour of six countries in Europe with a choir from Miami University. I remember being fascinated by the people I saw in the various countries in Europe who “not only spoke, but thought” in a foreign language.” I enjoyed it so much that when my very next opportunity came during my junior year, I signed up for Miami’s Luxembourg program.  During the program, I field-tripped all over Europe. Finally, when I returned and was back at school during my senior year at Miami, the State Department came to campus to interview the expected graduates. I interviewed, took, and passed the State Department’s entrance exam.  That’s how it began.

My tenure at the State Department involved being more than a diplomat.  I was the father of three sons and a lovely daughter.  I dragged my wife, Nancy, and our family around the world. The kids were always changing schools. They followed everywhere, but they couldn’t go with me to Iraq.  I was gone for a year.  This posed many challenges for 28 years, but also we were offered many opportunities.

Todd showed us a picture of himself in the desert of Iraq with a large fire burning behind him in the picture. He was standing at a crossroads of tire tracks in the desert sand. He said, “We quickly learned to walk where the tire tracks were in order to miss stepping on a mine.”  Yes, there were challenges!

When it came time to retire from the State Department, it was Nancy’s career that brought us to Cincinnati.  She enjoyed telling me, “Now you will have to find something to do!”

That’s what led him to the EACC. The Mission Statement stated that it intended to “stimulate business and network relationships between the tri-state region and Europe.”  Interestingly the translation for “Greater Cincinnati” was met with stares and the question, “greater than what?” Thus the word choice “tri-state region.”

Initially EACC was the French-American Chamber of Commerce with international chapters in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, NY, NJ, the Carolinas, Miami, and Boston. Today there are more than 120 companies locally. They are largely manufacturers. We facilitate their business relationships.

You may ask, “Why is the EACC in Cincinnati?” Because there are over 200 European companies from Germany, France, the UK, and Italy to name a few operating locally. We make it our business to help them so they can create jobs. This makes our region the 11th largest exporting region in the US while being 29th in population size.

What does the EACC do? We work in three areas: economic development, talent and workforce development, and in business development. Examples of economic development include working with a local company like Fluid Bag and Finland. Workforce development includes partnering with Cincinnati State and with foreign companies that provide internship programs from European companies here in the US.  Business development is ongoing with many networking events such as Stammtisch which means regulars who meet monthly with business directors from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Another example is L’Appertif, a French cocktail hour for networking prior to the evening meal. Other opportunities are planned for an overview of the business climate for trade, commerce, and investment in the Baltic countries offered by their embassies.  Please see for more information.

If your company brings in anyone from Europe or exports to Europe, then we can use our network to help you.

1. What is the impact of tariffs? We are a 501 C 6 organization. Recently we had the European Union Ambassador here to speak just prior to the onset of the tariffs. He said, “Europeans are concerned. This has created a lot of uncertainty.”
2. What are the perceptions of Iraqis about the US and Americans?  They recognize that the vast majority of Americans had nothing to do with the war in Iraq. They also know that the State Department is there to help them, even though we broke their country. I arrived in Iraq three weeks after the Black Water incident. The Iraqis I met were wonderful people who generously provide hospitality. At the same time they resent our presence there. Even the military just wants to fix what is broken and get back home.
3. What about BREXIT and food production?  Europe is fragmented as is the UK.  I don’t see that people will be starving in the streets. I am concerned, however, about disruptions in the supply chain.  It is clearly a mess. I think the average person’s standard of living will be negatively affected.
4. Does the EACC have a structured education program? No. We do work with UC a lot though. They have a chapter overseas.  Each country has great exchange programs. I will put American students who wish to gain foreign business experience on their radar.
5. International business is conducted here with people who have a short-term visa, like a V1 visa. They have gotten help at the airport. However, renewals and approvals are taking longer and longer. This is a cost of doing international business. This cost will be increasing in the future due to uncertainty.
6. Expansion by the European Union (EU) in the future?  There was an article about this just today in the Wall Street Journal. The next few years will be a challenge for the EU.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Dr. Monica J. Posey became president of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in June 2016 and has energized the College with a collaborative leadership style and a vision for increasing student success and strengthening employer engagement. She is Cincinnati State’s first woman president and the first African American woman to lead an institution of higher education in Greater Cincinnati.

A native of Philadelphia, Dr. Posey holds a Doctorate of Educational Foundations from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University.

After a business career that included eight years with AT&T Company, Dr. Posey moved into higher education in 1991, first at the University of Cincinnati as Assistant Director of Career Development & Placement, and a year later at Cincinnati State, where she was named Assistant Dean in the Engineering Technologies Division. In 1998, she established and became director of the College’s Office of Institutional Research. In 2003, she became Academic Vice President and an officer for the college, a position she held, adding the title of Provost in 2015, until being named interim President in September, 2015. During much of her career she has taught Business Statistics as an adjunct instructor at UC.

Dr. Posey’s extensive list of recognitions and community service includes the Business Courier Women Who Mean Business award, the Greater Cincinnati YWCA Career Woman of Achievement award, and a Distinguished College Alumni award by the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. She is a graduate of the Cincinnati U.S.A. Regional Chamber Leadership Cincinnati Class of 2010, and serves on the boards of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, ArtsWave, the Holocaust & Humanity Center, Minorities in Math, Science, and Engineering, and GRAD Cincinnati, Inc.

Dr. Posey and her husband, Rev. Dr. Michael J. Posey, live in Green Township. They have one daughter, Marchelle, and three grandchildren.

Ken Keller introduced Dr. Posey to the club. He said that Dr. Posey has been energizing Cincinnati State ever since she ascended to the Presidency in June, 2016.

What’s Happening at Cincinnati State?

Dr. Posey told us that nearly half the students at Cincinnati State are attending the Community College. Due to the “open access” policy at Cincinnati State, no matter what a student’s academic achievement level, each is invited to attend classes. Placement testing enables their insertion at the appropriate course level.

Cincinnati State’s faculty offers a qualified technical education. They are not asked to do research in order to promote. They share their industry experience instead. We offer a transfer program through partnerships with other academic institutions to transfer credits earned while at Cincinnati State. Our largest partnership is with the University of Cincinnati. We are a two-year institution where students who attend can go on to earn their bachelor degrees at these additional four-year schools: Northern Kentucky University, Miami University, and Mt. St. Joseph, to name a few. Wilmington College actually uses the Cincinnati State buildings to offer four-year degrees of their own.

Our goal is that we want some part of our curriculum to have a practical aspect through co-ops. As you may know UC founded the co-op system. Few two-year schools offer a co-operative component. Some of our students are enrolled in “terminal training” programs (ending in a certificate with no degree intended).

Cincinnati State enrolls 9,600 students each semester on average. It is the 4th largest academic institution in Greater Cincinnati. We offer the bachelor degree – bound student a two – year Associates degree. We also offer a High School Dual Credit program for high school students who desire college credit prior to high school graduation. Tuition is $158 per credit hour. This amounts to $5,500 per year or approximately half UC’s tuition. We offer classes in Clifton, Middletown, Harrison at the airport for aviation training, and Evendale at GE. Class size is approximately 16. We do not offer classes taught in large lecture halls. Upon graduating, approximately 90% stay in this region for work.

Cincinnati State’s demographics are as follows:

  1. There are more females than males enrolled.
  2. The average age of students is 26. There are high school students and adults who are returning for retraining.
  3. 20% are African-American. 3% are Hispanic.  7% are international.  3% are Veterans. 15% are high school students.
  4. We primarily service Hamilton and Butler counties, but also some come from Clermont County.
  5. We offer tuition reciprocity (credit that is accepted by all local institutions). We recommend checking with the administration prior to enrolling in courses, however.
  6. Most students are employed, some with as many as three jobs. Many students are eligible for financial aid.

We offer courses in the following industries:

Nursing – A student can earn an RN degree from an Associates degree. This provides a significant increase in pay.

Manufacturing and Engineering

Information Technology

Business Technology

Culinary – The pastry chef at the Omni Netherland Hilton, incidentally, is one of our graduates.

Our initiative states that we at Cincinnati State are committed to the eradication of poverty in our region. While a student is enrolled in a program we offer such support as childcare and career counseling with help to find a job. For example, if a student chooses welding where they need math and problem-solving skills, after the two-year program they can earn $40-50,000 if they work full-time. Most can enroll with financial grants so they finish with “no debt.”  Yet, if students don’t want a two-year program, but instead want a 3 – 4 month certificate, there is no federal financial aid. Because of this, we at Cincinnati State decided to start a fund to help support these students.

We bring high school students in, and even their teachers, to learn in our “hands on” curriculum. For example, land surveyors need a bachelor’s degree and an experience component.

Next year we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary. We are offering new degrees all the time in order to keep up with the culture. One such because of its popularity is a degree in Brewing Science. Another is becoming a Food Science Chef.

Our goals are that we are continuing to try to reach more students. For example, if a high school student thinks he/she will be going to UC or OSU and suddenly learns that he/she has not been accepted, we want them to come to us and then, perhaps, try again.

We want to elevate residents of the region from low paying jobs.

We are trying to keep ahead through partnerships; that is, with institutions that guarantee credit transfer.

We want above all to inspire, engage, encourage, and transform.

Personally Speaking

Sometimes my students tell me that they can’t relate to me. I tell them my story so they will change their perspective.

My parents were older when I was born. My father worked on a cotton farm in South Carolina. Even though he worked hard, he realized that to provide for his family he would have to move us to Philadelphia where we attended the Philadelphia Public Schools. My parents knew nothing about college, but they did know about hard work. As it turned out, I got a full scholarship to Cornell University. When I arrived, I discovered the students at Cornell were middle class; whereas I was working class. I graduated, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Before long I enrolled in the MBA program at the Wharton School. Quickly I was surrounded by very aggressive students and wondered, “What am I doing here?”

Afterward I came to Cincinnati because my husband had been hired to work at Procter & Gamble. Soon thereafter, I began teaching as an adjunct professor. After 27 years at Cincinnati State, I realized that although I had started a doctoral program once, I had never finished it. BUT … now it was the time! I began the process and when I graduated at last, I applied for a Dean’s job two different times and was turned down for both. I kept working. When Dr. Odell Owens came to lead Cincinnati State, he recommended me for Vice President. Before long he recommended me as Provost. Finally, as he left Cincinnati State, he recommended me as the next President.

I have decided that through failure, if we keep working, we will eventually have success and hope. This is what I try to convey to the students at Cincinnati State. That’s MY story!

1. Describe the financial challenges you face at Cincinnati State.
When the economy is good, fewer people enroll. I’m tasked with rounding out the abrupt “ups and downs” in enrollment due to the economy. Everyone at Cincinnati State has helped me with the budget. We’ve cut our spending rather severely. We do not receive any “Levy funding” as does Sinclair College. Our only revenue source is tuition. Although it is low, it is controlled by the state.

2. What about the state’s regulation?
Each school has its own Board of Directors. In the Transfer Program, everything is guaranteed to transfer. In engineering, however, there are two degrees: associates of arts and associates of science. Transfers are easily obtained with the latter, but not the former. I recommend that students learn about the credit status of the courses they take prior to enrolling in them so there will be no surprises.

3. What about on-line classes?
We offer 20% of our classes on-line. There are many technology classes that need lab experience so most classes are still offered on campus.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

8th Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs
Retired Chairman, President, & CEO of Procter & Gamble

Robert A. “Bob” McDonald was nominated by President Obama to serve as the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA). He was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on July 29, 2014.

Secretary McDonald led the VA in its ambitious transformational journey to be a world-class service provider and the No. 1 customer-service agency in the Federal government. His goal was to give Veterans consistent, high-quality experiences. Secretary McDonald’s five Veteran-centric strategies effectively improved  veterans’ experience, improved the employee experience so employees could better serve veterans, improved internal support services, established a strong foundation for the VA’s growing culture of continuous improvement, and enhanced strategic partnerships across the country. By the end of Secretary McDonald’s tenure, veterans at all VA Medical Centers had access to same-day services in primary and mental health care when needed right away, among many other improvements.

Before joining the VA, Bob McDonald was Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G). Under his leadership, P&G significantly recalibrated its product portfolio, expanded its marketing footprint by adding nearly one billion people to its global customer base, and grew the firm’s organic sales by an average of three percent per year. This growth was reflected in P&G’s stock price, which rose from $51.10 the day he became CEO to $81.64 on the day his last quarterly results were announced—a 60 percent increase from 2009 to 2013.

Bob McDonald is personally and professionally committed to values-based leadership and to improving the lives of others. Bob and his wife, Diane, are the founders of The 2  McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character at West Point—an annual gathering that brings together the brightest young minds from the best universities around the world and partners them with senior business, non-governmental organizations, and government leaders in a multi-day interactive learning experience.

The recipient of numerous leadership awards and honorary degrees, in 2010, the University of Utah Alumni Association named Bob a “Distinguished Graduate.” The West Point Association of Graduates named McDonald for its admired “Distinguished Graduate Award” in 2017, recognition provided annually to “West Point graduates whose character, distinguished service, and stature draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives.” In 2014, The President of the Republic of Singapore awarded Bob the Public Service Star for his work helping shape Singapore’s development as an international hub connecting global companies with Asian firms and enterprises.

Bob McDonald graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1975. He earned his MBA from the University of Utah in 1978. An Army veteran, Bob served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He completed jungle, arctic, and desert Warfare training and he earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and Senior Parachutist wings. Upon leaving military service, then-Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Bob McDonald and his wife are the parents of two grown children and the proud grandparents of two grandsons and one granddaughter. His son is a partner at Taft, Stettinius law firm and he is the founder of The Brandery. His daughter-in-law is expecting a new baby soon.

Bob McDonald
The last time I was here I spoke at my daughter’s wedding. I must say that it is much less expensive this time!

During Doug Bolton’s generous introduction, I was reminded of the time I saw Valerie Jarrett (former Obama aide) and President Obama lying on the steps of the dais during his introduction (because the introduction took so long). After all, it is the President of the United States. No introduction is necessary!

Lessons Learned: or What I Wish I Knew at 20

Having purpose in life leads to reward versus ongoing meandering. I learned about Rotary’s purpose from my wife, Diane’s, father, Wade, who was a Rotarian.  I must give all the credit to my wife for my rebuilt empathy (sensitivity to others) after being an unemotional Airborne Army Ranger.

Once when I was visiting Harvard, a student asked me how to become a CEO. I told the audience that “I can’t prescribe that, but I can say that everyone wants to succeed.” In my first experience leading an infantry battalion, I encountered people who had been told all their lives that they were losers. They believed it. We gave them small tasks. With each success, the tasks got larger.

While I was with P&G, I traveled the world. I was invited into people’s homes to see how they were using P&G’s products. When leaving, I asked them, “What’s your dream?” All over world, each one answered, “I want a better life for my family.”  Try to catch someone’s dream and help them make it happen.

My definition of character is a leader who puts the needs of his/her organization before his own. For example, an entrepreneur eats last. The needs of the enterprise are his/her first priority.

Take responsibility. A cadet is the lowest rank. He/she has only 4 responses. They are:
1. Yes, Sir!
2. No, Sir. (This is not an honorable response.)
3. Sir, I do not understand.
4. No excuse, Sir! (Which means he/she is taking responsibility and it won’t happen again.)

I am reminded of the West Point prayer where we say, “God, help me to choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong.”

Leadership matters. I regret how long it took to get the right person or leader into the right job when I came to the VA. It took 2.5 years. I am reminded of what Jim Collins, the author of the book Good to Great, said, “To lead effectively you must get the right people on the bus in the right seat.”

Culture matters. This is why many resign when new management comes in. At the VA, many employees echoed, “I’m a prisoner and I can’t reach my goals.”  I am reminded of two stories. In the first, a disabled vet arrived at the VA in Spokane, WA. He cell phone called the receptionist inside the VA for help with the 20 foot distance from the car to come inside. The answer by phone was, “I’m not allowed to leave my desk.” The veteran was forced to call 911 in order to come inside the hospital for his appointment. Bob responded immediately, “This is not what we want for our veterans!”

In a second, a nurse in White River Junction, New Hampshire experienced a “no show” from a veteran who was never ever late for his appointments. She took the initiative and went to his home and found him lodged between a living room chair and his wheel chair. Had she not gone to his home, he might have died there unbeknownst to anyone and unable to get help. Bob said, “We MUST have our veterans backs!”

The VA was too rules-based, which made it a safe environment, but it was not what we must do for our veterans. This wasn’t a good customer service model. We had to change it to have a good healthy, customer-responsive culture.

Cincinnati is a precious environment. If you haven’t lived elsewhere, I will assure you that it is very unique!  In 2003, 3CDC was created. We invested $25M into the city and it was matched. Fortunately we got Steve Leeper to come here from Pittsburgh, despite his leanings toward the Steelers. His ability to revitalize has made us proud of Cincinnati. Look what has become of Downtown, OTR, the Banks, and on it goes!

Next, Centrifuse provided a place for entrepreneurs to have their logistical needs met. Once in place, venture capitalists began coming to Cincinnati to invest. Bob told us, “I’ve been out requesting financial contributions and I want you to know that perhaps only one in 1,000 of those asked, declined. I am so impressed with and I can’t speak highly enough about the generous spirit of this city. I once lived in Orlando, FL. They have come to Cincinnati to learn.

The United States has a long history of military action. Most of us have served. Our volunteer army system is good, but the US needs more widespread involvement. Only 1% serve in the military. When a civilization contracts its military, it loses touch. We must take care of our veterans and, civilians need to be better connected to those who serve.

Did you know that disabled veterans organized themselves as the Veterans Administration at Memorial Hall after World War I?  They have become a fantastic organization. Why do we need the VA today?  First of all, for research. It was at the VA that we had the first liver transplant and the first prosthetic arms that were powered by the brain, to name a few. Secondly, for education. The VA trains more nurses and doctors than any other organization. The VA was set up by Omar Bradley. It was Bradley who created the association between the VA and medical schools. It is no accident that UC and the VA are down the street from one another. It is this association that will insure the VA gets state of the art care.

Many ask me why veterans are so humble and won’t talk about their service?  One vet after his Normandy experience said to the Ambassador of France, “We all feel inadequate.”

Bob said, “I know vets who with no arms and legs are leading very productive lives.” They say of themselves, “How can I complain, when my buddies made the ultimate sacrifice?” Remember in Steve Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private Ryan, where Tom Hanks stood in the cemetery imploring the grave markers, “Please tell me I earned it.”

1. I am a veteran. I get great service at the VA. I have no complaints. Another veteran, a female, retired Army Colonel said, “The VA is an outstanding “team” of people.”

2. Which was more challenging, being CEO at P&G or directing the VA? Each was a blessing. There is nothing more precious than being responsible for someone else. In both cases, my challenge was to inspire people. I wanted us to open the windows, let the sunshine in, and put down the draw bridges.

3. The VA has made progress, but now how is it to be sustained? If the VA was on the Fortune 500 list, it would be 9th. P&G is 25th, for comparison. There are 22M veterans and 6M of them are in medical care. The VA changes its leaders every 4 years. Many leave in scandal. We need for the VA to become a quasi-governmental organization — not political. After all, “What’s political about veterans?”

In 2016, we codified the VA’s accomplishments. We invited the Harvard Business School to critique the VA. We are eager to uphold any suggestions. Write me at RAMWP75 (which stands for my initials and West Point class of 1975).

4. What has changed you most by your experience at P&G? The turning point was our move to the Philippines. We saw that we could change lives with the products at P&G. The majority of people in the world live in much worse conditions than we do in the US. Very few are literate and even fewer have computers.


July 12, 2018



To ensure a little known history is not lost, Gerda Braunheim is sharing her childhood memories of brutality, homelessness, and heroism while fleeing from World War II. Gerda experienced the horrors and trials of World War II as a young girl living in East Prussia. She will be sharing the story of her recollection of what happened when Hitler invaded Europe, and she was forced to flee her home, taking refuge in train stations, and leaving everything behind. She fled with her brother Willi, her older sister Lilli, an aunt, and their grandmother. She landed in a refugee camp in Gedhus, Denmark, that contained over 5,000 displaced Germans who had no way of communicating with loved ones left behind in Germany, as all communication was suspended for two years. Her story isn’t about political viewpoints or economic impacts of the war, but the impact of the war on the world of a young girl. She will also share the details of her immigration to America in 1956.

Gerda Braunheim was introduced by Past President Ute Papke. Ute told us that Gerda was born in East Prussia which had once been a part of Germany. Today the area has been divided into Lithuania and Poland. We learned that Gerda’s mother became very ill when Gerda was young. Her mother actually died when Gerda’s father went to war. This is a true story of a child facing war and loss without parents.

Gerda said Hitler moved into Poland (1939) and later destroyed Stalingrad (1943). From there they moved on to control Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) by 1944. The army was strong; yet over time they suffered substantial losses. At least 700 trains came through to supply the Russian forces each month.

The Germans were ruthless. Once the Russians began to retaliate, nothing could stop the Russian army.

Gerda said she remembers seeing the Russian troops moving toward her home town. They forced out over 12M people from their homes and farms. No one could understand what was happening, but everyone heard the bombs.

The biggest burden was on the women who were left behind once all the husbands had gone to war. What I remember was that we moved from town to town, but we couldn’t outrun the Russian invasion. We finally got to a harbor where there were ships waiting to help transport the refugees, but there were only 4 ships and 25,000 people needed help. One of the ships had been a cruise ship. More than 10,000 people were aboard. It went down and about 9,000 people drowned or died of exposure in the icy waters.

By this time it was August 2, 1944. I was with my aunt and grandmother. We boarded a train and hastily said good bye to our homeland. We got off in a small town and stayed 3 months. It was the coldest winter on record. While there, we learned that many people either froze to death or they starved. The town had been 12,000, but it was decimated by the harsh winter conditions. While there we stopped at a lady’s farm house. She was afraid to open her home to strangers. Little did she know that she would become a refugee herself a week later. The Russian Army kept coming. We walked to another village and found another farmhouse that turned their three beds over to us five. We thought we might be safe for a while when after five days, Russian tanks rolled in. For three days and nights the soldiers set houses on fire, shot civilians, and in short, had no mercy. They actually went into the farmer’s homes and took control. They luxuriated in the security of having enough to eat.

On February 2, 1945, the Mayor went to the Russians to ask them to cease their attack on the town. He found the Russian soldiers to be so drunk that he came back to the remaining townspeople and directed them to join him and his family to escape from the town at once. My grandmother was too afraid so someone carried her. We walked through snow from about 10:30 at night until 2:30 AM. We didn’t know if the drunken soldiers had awakened and surrounded us. It was very quiet walking in the forest. We suddenly became aware that my aunt and grandmother were no longer with us. We realized that the forest was too thick for the tanks to follow us. Once stopped, the group became aware that we three children had no one to look after us. During war times, everyone was fighting for their lives, so they told us to leave them and to return to our grandmother and aunt who had stayed behind. We started walking back when we came upon three Russian defectors. They said we would never survive, because things would surely get worse. We realized that we would have to abandon our grandmother. We found a barn for the night, then continued walking the next day and got to another village, but had to continue walking to village after village. Finally we reached a larger town, but it was only a shell of its former self due to the bombing. As we walked, there were dead bodies everywhere. They couldn’t be buried because of the frozen ground. I remember a lady with an infant. The infant had frozen to death in its mother’s arms. All we could do was to wrap the infant in a blanket and lay it in the snow.

We finally boarded a train that would take us from Germany to Denmark. It normally took about 4 hours, but in our case the weather was so bad it took 3 weeks. The homeless people aboard were so hopeless and discouraged from the traumas they had endured. After about three days, we got a Danish newspaper. Although we couldn’t read Danish, we learned that Germany had capitulated. We departed the train for a school where we were kept for three months. They insisted upon shaving our heads to rid us of lice and cleaned us for no one was able to bathe during the exodus. We were extremely filthy after being on the run for so long.

Time went by with no further news. We were Germans in Denmark.  After three months, they put us on another train. In 1927, Hitler had established a pact where he agreed not to bomb an area if detention camps were built. We were taken to a camp where there were 5,000 refugees. In fact there were 1,100 camps that housed a quarter million people. Denmark didn’t know what to do with all of us. During this time over 7,000 infants and children were starved to death, to make room for more refugees.

Finally, I learned that my father had survived the war. He was working in Germany to bring us back together even though after the war Germany had little to offer: no food or housing. We hadn’t had any schooling for so long. There weren’t any schools.

After WWII, we were invited to come to America. I had been working and made about $25/week in early 1956.  The day I landed in New York harbor I was greeted by the most beautiful sight: the Statue of Liberty! Finally on December 19, 1956, I arrived at the Museum Center in Cincinnati. There were 47 others with us. We had so little. Each worked to establish him/herself in a diversity of professions. I am so grateful to America for giving me the opportunity to become who I am today.