A Tribute to Cincinnati

Johnna Reeder, President of REDI Cincinnati and former Vice President of community relations and economic development for Duke Energy, authored an op-ed featured in the Cincinnati Enquirer that celebrated her 12 year anniversary living in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region.  She highlights the region as a place where one can make a difference and a place she is glad to call home.


A tribute to my time well spent in Cincinnati
By Johnna Reeder, Cincinnati.com
Date: October 31, 2012                                                                                                                                                      

Happy anniversary to me. No, not that kind of anniversary, so my husband can now relax and breathe easy.

Twelve years ago this month, I left the comforts of a promising career and family in Tennessee and moved to Greater Cincinnati.

The only thing I knew about Cincinnati was the TV program “WKRP in Cincinnati” (so sad to learn the station was fictional) and Marge Schott’s antics as the Reds’ owner (so sad to learn that was factual).

Obviously, I knew nothing about the great things this region had to offer.

Even worse, I came to the region without a job, and I didn’t know a soul. Ahhh, who knew, to be young and naïve and without a house payment leads to hasty decisions.

Not knowing what you don’t know can create anxiety but also opportunity.

I spent three months receiving rejection letters from employers, eating humble pie and being told my southern accent was too strong for a career in the region.

Finally, I landed a day job at United Way and sold makeup at a local department store at night to make ends meet.

While I started over financially, I had an awesome opportunity to build a life in the region. I immersed myself in meeting community, government and business leaders. I volunteered for the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati Chambers of Commerce, schools and nonprofits dedicated to children’s issues and neighborhood development. I explored the region’s parks, festivals, restaurants and museums and took advantage of one of our numerous and convenient educational institutions to get my MBA.

I was even converted to a passionate Reds and Bengals fan. Having grown up a Cardinals fan, this was no small feat, but who can’t be a fan of a leader like Bob Castellini.

Several years ago, I sat in a meeting with a highly successful businessman from Northern Kentucky. A group of business people were discussing a project’s funding with a state official. All we heard were the reasons the project couldn’t be done. Finally, the businessman sighed and said, “Well, I guess we will just have to do it ourselves.”

That’s when I knew I was home.

Through the years I’ve had numerous opportunities to participate in bettering the community. Some of these endeavors I was asked to participate in, while some I wiggled my way into because it was important to me.

You see, I have always heard there are two kinds of people in the world, those who do and those who let them. Greater Cincinnati likes the former. This is a special place where anyone can make a difference especially if you are willing to be a part of the solution and not the problem. Dedication will earn you respect. People will mentor and support those who want to do more and don’t accept the status quo. Give this region a cause or an opportunity and people will roll up their sleeves and do the hard work to find a solution.

I am proud of what Cincinnati has let me accomplish and I swell with pride every time we have another “win.” I’d fight for her because she accepted me as I am, helped me pay my dues professionally and lifted me as I climbed. I may have been born in Tennessee, but Greater Cincinnati is now my home.

Happy anniversary to me. This is one relationship that is built to last.

Photo credit: The Cincinnati Enquirer