The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is honoring four prominent local leaders as 2020 Great Living Cincinnatians. Dr. Uma R. Kotagel, Don Neyer, Dr. O’dell Owens and Harry H. Santen will be honored Feb. 27 at the Chamber’s annual dinner.
Great Living Cincinnatians are recognized by the Chamber for community service, professional achievement, leadership, awareness of others’ needs and other distinctive accomplishments.
The four honorees for 2020 will join 159 previous Cincinnatians chosen by the Chamber’s Senior Council.
Dr. Uma R. Kotagal, a senior fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, comes from a family of physicians committed to serve people in need. Born and raised in Bombay, India, she has worked in Cincinnati since 1975, when she took a fellowship at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in neonatal physiology. Kotagal currently serves as a professor of pediatrics and gynecology at UC.
At Cincinnati Children’s, her career turned toward clinical effectiveness, focusing on the delivery of care and her passion for the health of children.
Recently, she has turned her efforts outward, into the Cincinnati community. Kotagal fostered partnerships with Cincinnati Public Schools, the Cincinnati Health Department and Hamilton County Job & Family Services, to find new ways to deliver care and transform outcomes for the children in our community.
Don Neyer represents the fourth generation of his family to take the helm as CEO of Al. Neyer Inc. He started working for the family company while in high school and continued while in college.
Neyer championed the design-build methodology for construction services (wherein a company takes a full-service approach from design to build) and helped Al. Neyer build on its reputation of being ethical developers and contractors.
He joined the Rotary Club of Cincinnati in 1975, serving on the board in the mid-1980s. He is passionate about the Rotary and two of its beneficiaries, Camp Allyn and Stepping Stones, which provides respite programs for adults and children with disabilities.
When his beloved wife Phyllis suffered third-degree burns in a car crash in 1982, Neyer never left her side. In 2015, he received the Hamilton County Caregiver Award for his dedication to his wife’s care.
For 55 years, he has attended All Saints in Kenwood. He served on the advisory board of Tender Mercies, and on the board of the Springer School. On Nov. 8, St. Vincent de Paul named their new building in the West End the Don and Phyllis Neyer Building.
Dr. O’dell Owens combined his lifelong love of science and his desire to help people into a successful career in medicine. His personal motto is “help people help themselves.” A graduate of Woodward High School and later Antioch College, Dr. Owens went on to Yale University School of Medicine, where he graduated from in 1976 with a MD and Masters of Public Health. When Dr. Owens returned to Cincinnati to work at the University Hospital Medical Center in 1982, he established an in vitro fertilization lab, a then-new field of study in medicine.
Dr. Owens ran for Hamilton County Coroner in 2004 and won, becoming the first African-American to hold executive office in the county. In 2010, he was appointed the fifth president of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Since 2016, Dr. Owens has been president and CEO of Interact for Health, and he serves as a member of the board of directors for U.S. Bank, Cincinnati Preschool Promise and the Cincinnati Firefighter Association.
Harry Santen, in addition to a busy law practice, has spent a lifetime giving back to those in need in the community. A Xavier High School graduate, Santen attended the University of Cincinnati College of Law, graduating in 1957. In 1958 he, his father and his brother formed the firm Santen & Santen, now Santen & Hughes.
Santen was the president of the Legal Aid Society from 1984 to 1988, and was a founding member of the Volunteer Lawyers Project. Under the leadership of Judges Nathaniel Jones and Robert Black in 1989 he helped to form the Roundtable whose goal was to increase diversity in Cincinnati law firms. Santen became President of the Cincinnati Bar Association in 1991.
Santen has been involved with Catholic Inner City Schools Education (CISE) for 37 years. He served as chairman of the board from 1991 to 2000. He also was president of Cincinnati Opera from 1972 through 1975.
The Chamber’s annual dinner will take place Feb. 27 at the Duke Energy Center Grand Ballroom, with a cocktail reception at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m.
513-579-3111 or cincinnatichamber.com/annualdinner