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Read articles and learn more about the Cincinnati Chamber through our related news articles

Introducing United Way’s 2024 Campaign Co-Chairs
Metro, City of Cincinnati Partner to Benefit City Employees
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.

O’dell Moreno Owens, MD, MPH

Awarded In 2020

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” something he’s lived throughout the course of his professional life. A graduate of Woodward High School and later Antioch College, Dr. Owens said his time at the college galvanized his desire to be an agent of social change.

“You really had to stand for something,” he said. “You couldn’t be isolated. It was a place where they cultivated people to be concerned about the outside world.”

Dr. Owens went on to Yale University School of Medicine, where he graduated from in 1976 with a MD and Masters of  Public Health. He received the Irving Friedman Award for Outstanding Chief Resident while in the obstetrics/gynecology department at Yale Medical School. He then went on to work at Harvard Medical School, where he was a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility for two years.

“I was the first African-American and only twelfth person to do a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard,” he said. “I came to Cincinnati as the first reproductive endocrinologist; there was no other specialist in the city at that time.”

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. He achieved the city’s first successful in vitro fertilization conception and pregnancy from a frozen embryo.

Dr. Owens transitioned from the hospital setting, running for the office of Hamilton County Coroner and winning in 2004. Again, he set records: Dr. Owens was the first African-American to hold executive office in the county.

“When you are morally right, that will resonate in the hearts of the people. I am very proud of the fact I won and very proud of my reelection,” he said.

His platform? The higher the high school graduation rate, the lower the homicide rate. Dr. Owens wanted to use the coroner’s office in two ways: directly accessing young people in Cincinnati, and making the office more about, as he put it, life than death.

In 2010, Dr. Owens was unanimously appointed the fifth president of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. During his time there, he helped increase the number of high school students taking courses on campus and engineered seamless transfer programs for students to area universities. Since 2016, Dr. Owens has been president and CEO of Interact for Health, an organization focused on improving the health of the region.

Dr. Owens currently serves as a member of the board of directors for U.S. Bank, Cincinnati Preschool Promise and the Cincinnati Firefighter Association. He has held several other board memberships, including with ArtsWave, the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Black Enterprise Magazine named him one of the top 15 black doctors in America.

Dr. Owens lives in Amberley Village with his wife, Marchelle, a teacher whom he met on what he said was the only blind date of his life. He sold a microscope to buy her an engagement ring. They have been married since 1976 and have three children who live in Cincinnati.

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