4C for Children will honor Kim Chiodi and Dr. O’dell Owens as Champions for Children at the 13th annual Champions for Children Gala on Saturday, March 16, 2019, at JACK Cincinnati Casino. In addition, 4C will present the Sallie Westheimer Community Impact Award posthumously to the family of Dr. Dorothy June Sciarra, a longtime leader in early childhood education in the region.
“4C for Children continues to celebrate the people who are on the forefront of early childhood at our annual Gala,” says 4C President/CEO Vanessa Freytag. “Every year we scan our community for the heroes and heroines who are striving to unlock the potential of our youngest children. We hope the stories of these Champions for Children inspire others in our community to continue leadership in service to children and families!”
Co-chairs Christy Stockton and Jill Warman are leading the Champions for Children Gala Committee, which also includes Lucy Burke, Adia Molloy, Chris Pratt, Veronica Sebald, Nicole Trimpe and Jessica Woodward.
Champions for Children
Kim Chiodi is senior vice president of Public Relations and Corporate Communications for Western & Southern Financial Group and is a former member and chairperson of the 4C Board of Trustees. She also serves as a presenter at 4C programs for child care providers.
According to Freytag, Chiodi has helped 4C move into the 21st century realities of early childhood education. “She played an integral role in helping 4C set its strategic plan in 2014 and provided guidance as a 4C board member during major early childhood changes that took place in Ohio.”
She’s also “a generous and unsung hero to many child care providers,” Freytag says. “She has given her time and expertise for many years to the Developing Early Childhood Leaders (DECL) program that is the first of its kind to specifically build the leadership skills of child care owners and administrators.”
Chiodi’s passion for advocating for children and families in the community has led her to serve on the 4C board as well as the board of directors of the Greater Cincinnati United Way. She also serves as a member of Women United, a United Way program that propels forward early childhood education and development in the community and as a board member of the Local School Decision Making Committee for Withrow University High School.
Before joining Western & Southern, Chiodi was in private practice as a human resources management consultant and served as director of employee development for Makino and manager of training and personnel research at Western & Southern Life. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cincinnati’s Xavier University and a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Akron.
Dr. O’dell Owens is the president and chief executive officer of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. Owens is a reproductive endocrinologist and holds a medical degree and a master’s of public health degree from Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. After a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School, Owens returned to his native Cincinnati.
Owens has always worked to integrate advocacy for early childhood education into his professional career, especially regarding its role in ending the cycle of poverty in the community. He is a past president for Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams), a collaborative of the Cincinnati Public Schools system, and former president and chief executive officer of RISE Learning Solutions, Inc., a national non-profit organization that uses technology to bring world-class training to adults who care for preschool-aged children. He is also a member of the Executive Council of the Childhood Poverty Collaborative.
“Dr. Owens was a proponent for early childhood education decades before communities understood the critical link between the early years and the success of children later in life,” Freytag says. “He has been a true pioneer, bringing his passion and influence to the early childhood arena.” This pioneering spirit “ultimately paved the way to his membership on the Cincinnati Preschool Promise Board, where he has championed the needs of low-income working families and the role that licensed family child care plays in kindergarten readiness.”
In recent years, Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President, and Interim Health Commissioner and Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Department. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for U.S. Bank and the Cincinnati Fire Foundation.
Sallie Westheimer Community Impact Award
The Sallie Westheimer Community Impact Award, created to honor the lasting impact that retired 4C President/CEO Sallie Westheimer has had on the community, will posthumously honor local and nationally-known early childhood pioneer Dr. Dorothy June Sciarra.
Throughout her lifetime, Sciarra made countless contributions to the field of early childhood education. A Professor Emerita of the University of Cincinnati, she led the early childhood associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and was a director of Arlitt Child Development Center. She was also the lead author of multiple editions of a landmark textbook originally titled “Developing and Administering a Child Care Center.”
“June was a great friend and resource for 4C staff over the decades but even more, she was responsible for helping elevate the quality of early childhood throughout Greater Cincinnati by educating generations of early childhood teachers,” says Freytag.