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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.

Shannon K. Carter

Awarded In 2016

Shannon Carter is a force of nature, filled with ideas, energy and the ability to make things happen. She is also a woman with a highly refined sense of decorum who loves antiques, cooking and entertaining. And, because she is married to Lee Ault Carter, also a Great Living Cincinnatian, Kathy Merchant, retired CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, points out that the two are “practically a packaged deal” who work together tirelessly to make Greater Cincinnati a better place.

As a member of Class 19 of Leadership Cincinnati in 1995-96, Ms. Carter convinced her project team to do something about reports that teachers in schools serving low-income children regularly spent $500 a year of their personal money to buy supplies for their classroom. Led by Shannon, the seven-member team developed the concept of a “Teacher’s Free Store.”

They needed someplace to start and worked with Steve Gibbs of the Freestore Foodbank, and Dick Bere; former President and COO of Kroger to find a location for the operation. Wickliffe Ach remembers that their group made a commitment to each other to make their project, “something of great long-lasting value for our community.” They succeeded. Over the 16 years Shannon Carter led Crayons to Computers, the organization distributed over $100 million in school supplies to local children and teachers. Not only does C2C serves 600 schools in 16 counties here in the Tristate today, it inspired the creation of similar organizations in 42 cities.

That ability to gather collaborators marked Shannon’s 16-year service as the volunteer CEO of C2C. She attracted volunteers to staff the store, cajoled manufacturers to provide products and created partners in the most unusual places – our prisons.

Working with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), Shannon created Crafts with Conviction where prisoners manufacture and assemble flash cards, book bags, notebooks, and other supplies for C2C.

Shannon has also had a long career as a community leader and volunteer. She started sorting clothes as a high school student at the Children’s Hospital Thrift Shop, and then served as Co-Chair of that organization from 1982-92. She helped create the Sampler Weekend for the Fine Arts Fund, now ArtsWave, in 1982, and chaired the Cincinnati Antiques Festival in 1986. Shannon currently serves on the boards of the Taft Museum of Art, Seven Hills School and the U.C. College of Nursing.

After co-chairing the 2012 World Choir Games, Shannon partnered with Louise Hughes to create the Welcomers Community Volunteer Network to identify an army of volunteers to provide hospitality for future community events. Hundreds of these volunteers were called upon as ambassadors for our city as Cincinnati hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July of 2015.

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