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The Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati is proud to award
Dr. O’Dell M. Owens
the bi-annual Charles P. Taft Civic Gumption Award.


Dr. O’Dell M. Owens, MD, MPH, a native Cincinnatian, has devoted his entire adult life to making Cincinnati a better home for all, especially for low-income families.

He has shown gumption from the early age of 11, when his mother died. He is a graduate of Woodward High School, Antioch College, and then attended the Yale School of Medicine. At Yale, he received the Irving Friedman Award for Outstanding Chief Resident, and was the first African American to receive a Harvard Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology.

Returning to Cincinnati in 1982, he performed Cincinnati’s first in vitro fertilization. He was named one of the nation’s top 15 Black doctors by Black Enterprise Magazine in 1983. In addition to being a ground-breaking physician in private practice, he was elected Coroner in 2004 and 2008, the first African American elected to any Hamilton County office.  He became President of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College from 2010-2015, where he raised significant funds and increased the number of high school students taking college courses.  He gave over 150 presentations to high school students because “the higher the high school graduation rate, the lower the homicide rate.” He founded and recently retired as CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Health Collaborative, originally named  Interact For Health.

While Hamilton County Coroner, he initiated several reforms and changed the focus from death to life. He has been an early and long-time advocate for women’s and children’s health, education, and attention to their emotional risk, due primarily to poverty.

Dr. Owens has been a constant advocate for better education. He has often said “… the greatest gift you can give a child is how to read”. His dedication to children’s education has been highlighted by years as Chair and Master of Ceremonies of the WCET Action Auction.

Since retiring, Dr. Owens has been prominent in advocating vaccinations for the Covid-19 pandemic and was recently appointed a volunteer Deputy Sheriff by Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey for his personal work to avoid the spread of Covid-19 in the Hamilton County Jail. 

Dr. Owens has strived and succeeded to make a difference. He has accomplished this with imagination, energy, expertise and, Gumption.

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2020 George P. Vincent

2018 Thane Maynard

2016 Marge Hammelrath
2014 Roxanne Qualls
2012  Alice Skirtz
2010  Rob Richardson,

          Joe Sprengard 

          & Bobby Maly 
2008  Tommie Thompson
2006  Jack Rouse
2004  John Gilligan


2002  Alphonse Gerhardstein

2000  Robert Brown

1996  Donald Spencer

1994  Jim Tarbell

1992  Judge Gilbert Bettman

1990  Charlene Ventura

1988  Bruce Petrie

1986  Bud Anderegg

1984  Lawrence Hawkins

1982  Ewart Simpkinson

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