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Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.
Harry Santen, in addition to a busy and successful law practice, has spent a lifetime giving back to those in need in the Greater Cincinnati community. A Xavier High School graduate, Santen went to Georgetown University. He served in the Army in Japan, where he also taught English to Japanese students. He attended the University of Cincinnati College of Law, graduating in 1957. In 1958 he, his father H.W. Santen and his brother William Santen formed the firm, Santen & Santen, now Santen & Hughes.
Santen was the president of the Legal Aid Society, from 1984 to 1988, helping to raise $4.2 million for the “Make Things Happen” capital campaign. He was also a founding member of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, which still matches over 2000 lawyers with individuals who cannot afford legal representation.
Throughout his career Santen has called attention to many instances of inequity. 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 where diversity was seriously lacking. The Roundtable is still active.
Santen became President of the Cincinnati Bar Association in 1991.
“My biggest interest is in the education of inner-city children, many of whom are African-American. I have a passion for giving those children the ability to enter the mainstream, to become professionals and executives and to be good family people.”
To that end, Santen has been totally involved with Catholic Inner City Schools Education (CISE) for 37 years. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1991 to 2000 providing educational funding for over 2000 students in nine CISE elementary schools and over three 300 high schoolers. He also founded Leadership Scholars, which empowers parents and teaches them that their involvement in the education of their children is critical.
“I look for things that need doing, and if I find a gap where the space is empty, I like to go there,” said Santen.
Harry and his wife Ann were married in 1958. They have three children, a lawyer, a doctor and a pastor and four grandchildren. They own, work and manage their 200 acre farm in Felicity Ohio with a log cabin built in 1803. They enjoy music and traveling, with a distinct fondness for France. Harry was president of Cincinnati Opera from 1972 through 1975.
Santen as a skilled potter teaches at St. Francis Seraph, a CISE school. Santen also belongs to the Literary Club of Cincinnati where members write papers shared with other members.
At the UC Law School he has been recently involved in the creation of the Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice. When Harry was President of the Law School Dean’s Council he had the privelege of “hooding” his son Edward as a UC Law School graduate.
“Help people help themselves” is Santen’s unofficial motto. His life in service to others is a testament to that belief.
Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization