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Recognize & Celebrate businesses & people

Great Living Cincinnatians: Honorees

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.

John J. Frank, Jr.

Awarded In 2019

“I will never lose my passion for helping others,” said John J. Frank, Jr. of his lifelong commitment to the multiple philanthropic causes he holds dear, including child poverty, diversity and inclusion and mental health.

Mr. Frank’s passion for service was sparked by his father, John J. Frank, who continuously motivated him to volunteer for different organizations, as well as his maternal grandmother, Florence Rosenthal, who worked as the director of a home for mentally ill children. After graduating from Harvard in 1954 and serving as a special agent for the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps, Mr. Frank returned to his hometown of Cincinnati to join the family business and start a career in the commercial real estate industry a few years later.

Despite having worked as the head of a number of companies and counseled individual clients, law firms and corporations, Mr. Frank always strived to find a balance between work, life and service. “I always believed I was lucky to have great parents, a wonderful education, and that I needed to give back to the community.”

His family’s background inspired much of his early volunteer work with the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Cincinnati Chapter, as well as the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, the Jewish Vocational Service, Rockdale Temple, the United Jewish Cemeteries and the Jewish Community Relations Council. His great grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Germany and France in the mid 1800’s to escape anti-Semitism.

After his early volunteer work, Mr. Frank moved on to playing key roles in multiple civic action organizations. Under his leadership, the Cincinnatus Association created the Greater Cincinnati Commitment (GCC), patterned after the Birmingham (Alabama) Pledge to disavow racism in the region. He chaired the 2010 Government Cooperation Task Force, which brought together local government, political and community leaders to report on community’s most relevant issues over the course of five years.

Mr. Frank’s commitment to civic action stretches beyond his work with the Cincinnatus Association. He served the Alliance for Regional Transit, Downtown Cincinnati Inc., and the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.

He is also passionate about initiatives that support local youth and mental health efforts. Over the years, he has worked extensively with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association (both locally and nationally), the Boys Hope/Girls Hope of Greater Cincinnati, Winners Walk Tall, the Cincinnatus Leader to Leader Program, the Hamilton County Mental Health Board and the Children’s Psychiatric Center.

At age 85, Mr. Frank is still actively serving the Cincinnati community.  In addition to sitting on the board and executive committee of Excel Development, an organization that provides housing for the mentally disabled, he volunteers at Hays-Porter School and meets regularly with the principal at Withrow University High School.

He also continues to be involved on the board of the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center and the inclusion panel of the Cincinnatus Association, for which he helps plan the Donald and Marian Spencer Spirit of America Awards dinner recognizing companies and nonprofits promoting diversity and inclusion efforts in the region.

According to Mr. Frank, being a good leader means “listening to the people you lead.  It also means working very hard, but not neglecting your family, and spending time to give back to the community and mankind.”

Mr. Frank has two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter and 10 grandchildren. He has been married to his wife, Susan, for the past 21 years. “She has such a positive attitude about life, is so passionate about helping people in need and making this a better world, and is so supportive of me, that she has been one of the most important role models in my life.”

Nominate a Great Living Cincinnatian

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