As women, we tend to be a good mix of five things: caregivers, connectors, beautifiers, survivors and — let’s be honest — shoppers. Of Cincinnati’s 332,458 residents, five people who represent those very things stood out to the Cincy Chic staff (no offense, to the other 332,453 of you).
Joan Kaup (pictured above) has one mission: Building community. And that mission is three-pronged: through activism, through the bricks and mortar of saving and fixing important local structures and through connecting people.
Her activism spans far and wide; from empowering people to become active in the community to running for City Council. “I like to inspire people to pick up the baton and carry it forward to improve our city,” Kaup says. “That means everything from voting and saying ‘hi’ to police to planting flowers and enjoying the arts.”
Speaking of the arts, Kaup consults for the Emery Theater in Over-the-Rhine. This building is steeped in history as it will be 100-years-old in 2010, but it’s been ignored for the past 10 years. Kaup’s job is to partner with organizations such as Give Back Cincinnati to revamp and revitalize this structure physically and emotionally in the community. Recently, Give Back Cincinnati rallied 100 volunteers to paint and clean the old theater and “it made a big difference,” says Kaup.
While she didn’t win the open seat when she ran for Council in 2007, supporting the arts was a huge part of her platform. Kaup cleverly answers “that question is not yet answered” when asked if she’ll run again. But — hypothetically speaking — if she did, she says she’d chair an Arts and Culture Committee that will advocate for arts, culture and tourism. “These are economic drivers our city would certainly benefit from,” she says.
As for connecting people, Kaup is the founder of EBRATS, or “Entrepreneur Business Resources and Talents,” which serves as a sounding board for a local entrepreneurs. “Small business owners often fall into the trap of working so hard to reach their clients’ goals that they lose sight of their own goals,” explains Kaup. “EBRATS helps these business people stay on track, stay effective and it’s all with mutual respect and confidence.” She also brings groups of people into her home — most of whom have never met each other, but share common interests or passions — to discuss issues, network and brainstorm. “My husband and I truly enjoy connecting these powerful people and sparking new ideas,” says Kaup. “We always get into the best conversations, which distracts everyone from my bad cooking.”
By day, 37-year-old Rebecca Kelley is the Cincinnati YMCA district vice president. There, she aids youth with academic enrichment, tutoring, youth civic engagement and afterschool arts programming just to name a few good deeds. For most people, that earns plenty of karma to stop there. But Kelley is just getting warmed up after her 9-5 job.
In Kelley’s spare time — with a husband and two kids, mind you — she’s known on the streets as “the baddest grantwriter in Cincinnati.” Or at least that’s what Cincinnati-based blogger, Ozie Davis III, calls her. She’s raised more than $30 million for youth, and her stealth grant-writing skills took her brainchild of CincyAfterSchool from an mere idea in 2004 to a national afterschool movement today.
“Perhaps it’s my willingness to tread where others fear, particularly in bringing parties together to collaborate on grant proposals,” says Kelley, “In terms of strategy, I’ve applied local guru Doug Hall’s marketing principles of stating an overt benefit, providing a real reason to believe, and emphasizing the dramatic difference.”
Kelley puts her Goucher College BA in Politics and Public Policy and University of Cincinnati law degree to work in all her spare time (is she creating matter on her clock?). Throughout Kelley’s career, she has lent her writing and research skills to two national publications and trained upwards of 2,000 individuals through organizations such as the YMCA, U.S. Department of Education, Search Institute and others.
This Anderson resident is one to know because she’s keeping a watchful eye on our local youth and she’s grandiose grant-writing her way to a better tomorrow for the nation’s new generation.
It’s not easy being green. But thanks to one local woman’s brainchild, it’s a lot easier to live green. Brianne Fahey, launched Livegreencincinnati.com (LGC) in April 2007 to be an online resource dedicated to inspiring, informing and enabling change and action for building Cincinnati’s green economy. Fahey maintains the research, content creation and the outreach with partner Suzanne Hanners, who does the web development and business management.
Fahey has a full-time job — a US Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional — but she works tirelessly on LGC to inform locals of sustainable products and services, develop practical environmentally-responsible tips and connect Cincinnatians to events and news they can use to go green.
“I believe that helping the environment is an effective way to contribute to the greater good,” says Fahey. That’s why she pursued her environmentally—friendly career path. She’s originally from Cincinnati, but she accepted her first job two years ago at a green building firm in Portland, Oregon. “After some soul searching, I realized that I love Cincinnati,” she says. “All my family is here, and I would much rather help things happen in my hometown than go away to be a part of something that is already happening.” Fahey says many Tri-State companies and organizations have been working for the environment for a very long time, so she wanted to use her skills to expose all the good green things happening here in the Queen City. “We started working on the site after that, and have been going strong for just about 18 months,” Fahey says with a smile, as her site enjoys 20,000 unique visitors a month with consistent growth.
You need to know about Fahey because she’s working hard to encourage environmental change and work for the future. “[It’s] your future, if you are like me and never plan to leave this Midwestern oasis, save for the odd vacation,” says Fahey. “When you want to figure out how to drive less, recycle more, contribute to reducing our impact on climate change, and find a clever reuse for something you’d hate to throw away, look us up at www.LiveGreenCincinnati.com.”
Karen Sacksteder turned a roadside Mother’s Day flower sale into a long-standing home decor company, Sacksteder Interiors. Today, her company enjoys 23 years of experience, 12 employees, two locations — in Montgomery, Ohio and New Trenton, Indiana — and has participated in five Homearamas. But Sacksteder is so much more than an interior designer or business owner; she’s a survivor.
Two years ago, Sacksteder lost her husband of 30 years. A few months later, her two sisters, Linda Nixon and Connie Acra, were diagnosed with breast cancer. This prompted Sacksteder to get a mammogram, which detected a cancerous tumor. Although she received numerous chemotherapy treatments and lost her hair, she still maintained her humor. In fact, she’s about to release a book titled Vivacious Vivian: The Wig Who Helped the Girl Through Breast Cancer.
“I had lost all my hair through the chemo, and I spent a lot of money on a good wig that looked very realistic,” Sacksteder recalls. “But one windy day, I was outside in this huge crowd, the wind kicked up and took my wig.” And, boy, did that wind take it. Her wig traveled across the street and into a ditch. “For a split second, I wanted to cry. But then I realized I could laugh instead. That set the tone for the rest of my treatment, recovery and life, really,” she says. “You know, sometimes I wonder if my husband whisked that wig off my head to teach me that important lesson.”
A portion of the book proceeds will benefit the Pink Ribbon Girls (PRG), an organization that helped Sacksteder through her treatment and recovery. While the site is a nationwide resource for breast cancer survivors to connect and share information, it is locally run by West-sider Tracie Metzger. Sacksteder aids Metzger in planning and running events and fundraisers to support PRG and breast cancer research, such as the “Barking for Breast Cancer” event on October 12.
When asked why people should know her, Sacksteder simply says, “I’ve been through it all, so I can relate. But more importantly, I can also make you laugh.”
Attention, shopping addicts. It’s time to meet your enabler: Sean Fisher. He’s the creative director and lead writer of BuyCincy.com who works hand-in-hand with business director Kurt Myers to provide you with a Web site dedicated to supporting locally owned and operated businesses as well as the people who help make Cincinnati unique.
Launched in August 2007, the free site now enjoys 9,500 pageviews a month. In their short lifespan, they’ve earned two of City Beat’s Best of Cincinnati Awards for “Best Blog” and “Best Retail Promotion” for their annual “Un-Chained event,” a day that encourages shoppers to shop only at locally-owned businesses on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. “This year we hope the event will be even bigger,” says Myers.
But to do that, they first have to make the site bigger. To accomplish that goal, they are beefing up their “local people” section of the site, where they’ll put a stronger focus on local business owners, musicians, artists and other Cincinnatians who are contributing to the vitality of the city. They also plan on offering affordable services, such as marketing/business advice, to local businesses that might not have been able to afford it or have access to it otherwise. In addition, they will be moving the site away from the strictly blog format to more of an e-zine.
“I think BuyCincy is helping people to take pride in the little things around Cincinnati. I hope that we are able to help Cincinnati buck the trend of becoming ‘Anywhere USA,’ and stay true to the history of the city and to the entrepreneurs who continue to make the city unique,” says Fisher. “I think we provide a great resource to help people interested in supporting local business owners find out more about area shops, restaurants and artists.”
Fifth Photo: Amy Storer