Meredith Moss has made making a difference her business.
The longtime “Dayton Daily News” reporter and columnist — a fixture in Dayton’s arts scene — is the champion in connecting organizations in need with those willing to help.
We caught up with Meredith, our latest Daytonian of the Week, between her many adventures.
What do you do?
I’m officially retired but don’t seem to be able to stay away from my desk at the Dayton Daily News. I’ve always been a features writer and over the years have covered a number of topics — from religion and fashion to women’s issues, family relationships and children’s books. In recent years I’ve focused on my passions — the arts scene and our non-profit community. My Sunday “On the Arts” column highlights the people, places and events that make Dayton such a terrific city. My “Make a Difference” column runs in the Life + Neighbors section on Thursdays, and highlights service organizations in our area and their specific needs. It’s turned out to be helpful, not only to our readers who want to donate items they can no longer use, but to so many wonderful organizations that are always struggling to make ends meet.
How did you become a journalist?
It was a circuitous route. I started out in theater, worked as an editor for a national magazine, then ended up in television. One day I got a call from the editor of the Dayton Daily News, Arnold Rosenfeld, who asked if I’d like to try my hand at writing a shopping column for the newspaper. Heck, I figured I knew how to shop so I accepted and have been here ever since.
Who was the most interesting person you’ve ever interviewed?
When I worked for TV host Phil Donahue, I not only learned how to conduct an interview, but I also learned that the most interesting people to interview were not the celebrities. They were the everyday people who had a passion for something or were making the world a better place. My favorite project for the newspaper was a “Cycle of Life” series where former photographer Jim Witmer and I spent time with folks from a wide variety of religions and ethnicities and learned about their traditions surrounding birth, coming of age, marriage and death. We went to baby namings and weddings and funerals. It was fascinating.
What superpower would you love to have?
I’d like to be able to time travel. First I’d get to know the ancestors I’ve never met, then I’d revisit my growing up days in Dayton View. I’d spend some time at Jefferson Elementary School, Colonel White and Fairview High Schools. I’d visit the old English Tudor Dayton View Library on Salem Avenue and take a bus downtown to shop at Rike’s department store. I’d stop at Temple Israel’s Youth Room where we all hung out after school and formed lifelong relationships. I’d definitely drop by Goody’s on Salem Avenue for a hamburger, fries and an EZ-Way (a yummy cake and ice cream combo.)
Then I’d take a trip into the future to meet my grandchildren’s children and their grandchildren. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
What do you love about life in Dayton?
I inherited my love for Dayton from my dad, Jack Moss, who was an admirer of John Patterson and Charles Kettering and loved our city’s history of innovation. He himself was an inventor and is featured in Curt Dalton’s Book, “Dayton Inventions.” He invented a paperwork system (Key-Rec) that tracked merchandise at department stores and was eventually used in stores throughout the country. He also taught brainstorming and creative problem-solving. My dad wanted to re-name Dayton the “City of Ideas” and he envisioned a “Self-Starter Village” in the Oregon District that would attract visitors and become a tourist destination.
I love Dayton for all those reasons and more.
What would you do on a perfect day in Dayton?
I’d like to say that I’d head for the gym and then hike trails and ride my bike on the bikeway. But since I’m a couch potato, some of your readers would know that I was lying. I’d more likely catch a movie at The Neon (with popcorn), have lunch with a girlfriend, head for a local theater for a good play, enjoy a home-cooked meal with my husband who is the family chef, spend time with my kids and grandkids.
What should people know about Dayton?
Our city is small enough and accessible enough that if you have a good new idea, you can make it happen.
What is your favorite hidden Dayton Gem?
The Children’s Garden at Wegerzyn Garden near DeWeese Parkway. I always take out-of-town visitors there and on a stressful day, I stroll through those gardens and leave happy.
Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?
A combination of reasons:
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, would it be?
A good Jewish deli complete with corned beef, lox, bagels, and Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda.
What is your hope for the community?
I think there’s terrific excitement about Dayton these days. I’m hopeful about development projects like the Arcade and the Fairgrounds. I’ve loved reporting on the original art in all of our beautiful new libraries.
I’m enjoying the Miami Valley’s new interfaith women’s group that brings together women of all religions in an effort to break down barriers and get to know one another.
I’m hoping we can continue to welcome new folks to our community . I’m hoping we can respect and value one another’s differences.
Heather Salazar has put family first in every aspect of her life — and this includes the hundreds of women she has made family by choice.
“There really is nothing like family,” Salazar said.
Equipped with a heart of gold, Salazar triumphed after a trying journey that led her to become the president and CEO of the Dayton-based non-profit organization, Pink Ribbon Girls in 2012. The organization supports and empowers those in the fight against breast and gynecological cancers.
“In 2002, I met a young woman diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer,” Salazar said. “She was raised in the foster care system and looking for a home for her baby, Lexi. My husband and I adopted Lexi in 2002. We took her mom to treatment and helped care for her. (The mother) passed away in 2003 at the young age of 24. Just two years later while doing a self exam, I found a lump and was diagnosed with the same kind of aggressive breast cancer as Lexi's mom. I was an early stage. After getting through treatment, I wanted to do something tangible to really help women and their families going through the toughest battle of their lives.”
Salazar was born into a very large family in Ohio and moved with family to Tipp City while in high school. She married her husband Steve at a young age, and the couple has called Dayton home ever since he got out of the military. The Salazars wanted their children to grow up near their grandparents, who have been together for 67 years.
Before Salazar became the CEO and president of PRG, the 501c3 non-profit did not offer free direct services of meals, housecleaning, rides to treatment or peer support — now at the core of PRG’s mission to make sure “No One Travels This Road Alone.” She has helped countless survivors and those currently battling cancer. She is our Daytonian of the Week.
💗What is it like to be the CEO and president of a nonprofit organization?
“I am beyond humbled and honored to be the CEO of Pink Ribbon Girls. This organization is special because of the people involved. I always say we need doers, donors and door openers. We have so many amazing people that fit into those categories and we all work together to make a difference. At one of our events this past month, I had an out-of-town guest say, "The room was exhilarating, every person in that room owned a piece of PRG." That made me cry. That is the truth. We say #thepowerofWE, we couldn't do it without each person in this community that makes us successful.”
💗What are the biggest positives and biggest challenges of being the president of PRG?
“The biggest positive is to see this family come together. To see our pink trucks, bagels, pink beer, home city ice, donuts, radio and TV stations. The list goes on and on. They come together to make a difference. They know every $8 raised serves one meal. The families we serve are so grateful and mean so much to us, as we get to know them and we "get" to share their journey, both the highs and the lows, they change our lives and perspective. The biggest challenge is sitting beside a young mom with days left to live and watching her look at her children fully recognizing she won't see them grow up. These moms are what keep us going. They live every day to the fullest. They don't sweat the small stuff. They don't give up. Knowing them is the biggest blessing of all.”
💗Can you tell me a few of your favorite moments that you’ve experienced while being the president of PRG?
“In 2013, we served 10,250 meals, in 2017, we served 70,000 meals. This year we will be close to 100,000 meals. We know cancer isn't prejudiced or biased. We are so grateful we serve everyone regardless of socioeconomic status. One of my favorite moments was at our Survivors breakfast at The Greene. We had over 100 survivors and their caregivers that have received our services. To hear their stories and how it helped them get through was truly amazing. Another favorite was at Austin Landing’s New Years Eve Party. It was a cold night, and a young lady and her family came on a party bus. They were celebrating the end of treatment, and they were so excited to come and support PRG. They said the fireworks and celebration were just for them. I said ‘yes,’ 2,000 people celebrating the gift of living, it doesn't get much better than that.”
💗 What is special about the people in the PRG family?
“We don't use that term lightly. What family really means: It means the people who accept you no matter who you are, where there's no hatred or judgment. The love of a family should be unconditional, and everyone should try their best to provide all they can for the people in their family, emotionally and financially. That is what PRG is. We are a group of people that come together for a common cause and really "show up" for others in our community fighting to get through. We don't just TALK about cancer, we TAKE ON cancer. Over half of the people we serve have metastatic cancer; they will be on treatment the rest of their lives. We are there with them through it all.”
💗How well do you think the Dayton-area has embraced your nonprofit?
“Dayton has embraced PRG more than you can imagine. Look around and you can see how they show the love. At this point, we have served our donors, employees, aunts, sisters or friends. Dayton continues to come around PRG and show us unconditional love, just as family will do. Dayton, we wouldn't be who we are without you.”
💗What are you favorite go-to spots in the Dayton-area? Do you have a place that you think is a hidden gem?
“I have so many go-to spots in Dayton. I love this city. I love Coldwater, north of Dayton, Coco's, Blueberry Caf, Submarine House and the Dublin Pub. The Dublin Pub is a perfect example of family. We got to know and love their Suzie when she went through the battle, now they love and support PRG any way they can. Dayton, you are my people. There is no place like home, you are my family. I am so grateful.”
Mikee Huber is a Department of Defense contract worker with an eye for art.
Over the years, Mikee has become a fixture in the Dayton art scene.
We caught up with our latest Daytonian of the Week.
Is your birth name Michael? How did you get the name?
My birth name is pronounced Michelle and my dad spelled it like Michael. My name is NOT Michael, it’s just spelled that way. My family and doctors calls me Michelle, friends and everyone else calls me Mikee. My dad really liked the actress Michael Learned, who is most known for playing John-Boy’s mother on “The Waltons,” and later for the Wesson Cooking Oil commercials.
My dad picked my sister’s name, Consuela, from another TV show.
What do you do?
By day, I work for Sabel Systems, a Department of Defense contractor at Wright-Patterson AFB. I provide visual communications (graphics) support and have worked in this line of work for over 23 years, for different employers at WPAFB.
What is your alter ego?
By night I am a visual artist with many artistic outlets. My creative obsession for the past four years has been oil based mix media paintings I create with my hands and non-traditional tools such as tongue depressors, eye droppers, and tooth picks. I do not use a paint brush. I am excited about the new location for my studio at 903 N. Keowee, below The Dayton Printmakers Cooperative. It is much larger than my previous space, has high ceilings, large windows and is on the ground floor. Everyone is invited.
How do you describe Dayton to people who have never been here?
Dayton is large enough for anyone to get involved in the community, yet small enough to feel like your support matters. Dayton is still small enough to run into people you know, and I love how my different circles of friends intersect at times that even surprise me. It's rare that we go somewhere and don't see someone we know.
What do you love about life in Dayton?
There is always something to do, and we don’t have time to go to everything we would like to attend. The festivals and events are great; something for everyone to enjoy. The people of Dayton are great! I’ve met many people through volunteering, young professional groups, festivals and other outings. Midwesterners are friendly, welcoming people, and the people of Dayton reaffirms that.
What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
Hmmm, it's hard to pick just one perfect date. We love going to dinner downtown and watching a performance at the Schuster Center, especially when we know one of our friends are performing. Another option for our perfect date would be hiking and then getting wine afterwards. We met through a local hiking club, so hiking will always be special to us. We even completed the TVT Challenge twice together during the annual event, 31.4 miles one year and 27.5 the next year.
What would you change about Dayton?
I would love to change the sometimes negative perception many in the suburbs have about downtown. I've walked friends around downtown giving them a “tour,” showing them so many cool places such as The Neon, the great restaurants, Riverscape, and many historical places, and I feel it changed some perceptions. Getting out and walking around a city is a great way to learn where more places are versus driving and only seeing a few of the places.
What should people know about Dayton?
Our MetroParks and arts scene are fabulous. We are a community of innovators, creatives and doers with a historical legacy that inspires us today and into the future. Dayton is going through a resurrection with all the new buildings, businesses, public art, etc. I tell my friends they need to see all of the changes taking place downtown.
What are your hopes for the arts community in Dayton?
Dayton has a great arts community, with something for everyone to enjoy that only continues to grow. I hope even more people come to Dayton to experience the Dayton arts scene. People can choose from a variety of events at Yellow Cab; boutique galleries such as the Edward A. Dixon Gallery and Gallery 510; special exhibits at the Dayton Visual Arts Center and Dayton Society of Artists; artist communities such as the Front Street Building Company and the new Market at the Park, formerly Crane Studios Market; plays at community theaters; large scale performances through the Victoria Theatre Association; the Dayton Art Institute; performances at local bars and the new Levitt Pavilion to name only a few. I’m excited for the new location of my art studio, 903 N. Keowee, located below the Dayton Printmakers Cooperative.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
I hope the growth and positive changes taking place downtown spread into the surrounding neighborhoods. Downtown is going through a building and redevelopment boom, I would love to see some of that energy spread out of the central business district and into the neighborhoods.
Comedian Amy Schumer is following pop singer Rihanna’s lead in not participating in Super Bowl LIII.
In a Friday post on Instagram, Schumer said she has decided to turn down any offers to participate in commercials for the Feb. 3 game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The move, she said, was in support of the “take-a-knee” protests by NFL players that was started in 2016 by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, ESPN reported. Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.
“Hitting the NFL with the advertisers is the only way to really hurt them,” Schumer wrote. “I know opposing the NFL is like opposing the NRA. Very tough, but don’t you want to be proud of how you’re living?
Earlier this week, Rihanna turned down an offer to headline the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show as a way to support Kaepernick.
In 2016, Schumer appeared with Seth Rogen in a politically-themed Bud Light ad, "Raise One to Right Now," during Super Bowl 50, ESPN reported.
In her Instagram post, Schumer said she hoped Maroon 5, set to headline the halftime show at Super Bowl LIII, will reconsider and withdraw.
She also suggested that white NFL players should join black players by taking a knee.
“Why not kneel next to your brothers?” Schumer wrote. “Otherwise, how are you not complicit?”
Kaepernick was released by the 49ers after the 2016 season and hasn’t played since.
He filed a grievance against the NFL and team owners last year, accusing them of conspiring to keep him from playing in the league.
A Nike ad campaign featuring Kaepernick as the face of the athletic retail giant’s “Just Do It” 30th anniversary has sparked debate, controversy and boycotts.
Schumer was arrested Oct. 4 during a protest in Washington against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, CNN reported.
It was not clear if Schumer was approached to appear in an ad to run during Super Bowl LIII, ESPN reported.
Terry Welker, FAIA, approaches work with the hope that once completed, the space cannot be imagined without the artwork he’s created.
An accomplished artist living and working in Kettering, Welker is a sculptor and architect who has used his talents to “animate space with sculpture” around the Dayton-area in stunning ways. Welker has even been elevated to the College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects.
Welker is the son of a USAF Master Sergeant and was born at Fort Cambell, Ky., before his father chose WPAFB to work and retire. He brought his family to Dayton for good. Today, Welker lives in Kettering, working from his studio and constructing commissioned artwork throughout the region.
“I met the love of my life, Sandy, a lifelong Daytonian, in high school. After 42 years of marriage, two sons and two grandsons, she still makes me feel like a 17 year old,” Welker said.
Perhaps most notably in the past year, Welker’s piece, Fractal Rain, was installed as the centerpiece of the new Dayton Metro Library Downtown. It’s a sight to behold that requires numerous visits to the library to appreciate its beauty.
Terry Welker is our Daytonian of the Week.
Dayton.com: How did you find your way to being an artist? Have you always considered yourself artistic?
👨🎨Welker: I look at my life as a tapestry. It’s the best analogy I can find to explain the rich mix of passions in my life that include family, friends, community, architecture and art. Art is the most consistent and dominant thread in my life’s tapestry. As a child, drawing was the only way to keep me quiet in church; as a teen it consumed me. I was an oddity living in the world of year-round sports and art. In high school, I earned date money by drawing portraits.
To be more direct, I guess I never concerned myself with the question about whether I was artistic or not; it’s like breathing, a natural automatic life process. Today, I call myself an architect and sculptor since I live in both worlds with substantial overlap.
After high school, I actually began my formal education in fine art at Wright State University but gravitated toward architecture via Sinclair and eventually received two degrees in architecture at the University of Cincinnati. I think this is why I eventually turned toward sculpture instead of painting.
Dayton.com: Does any of your inspiration for your projects come from living in Dayton?
👨🎨Welker: “My sculptures are always a response to time and place. While I’m always experimenting, most of the work that people see is the result of a commission, tailored to create a meaningful memorable sense of place. I don’t attempt to mimic forms, but rather respond to my personal memory of forms and colors from nature. For example, Fractal Rain was a direct response to my own childhood memory of a gathering storm — an Air Force brat in Nebraska — and a reference to Dayton’s own flood history as well as particular works from the Dayton Art Institute collection.
Dayton.com: How does it feel when you visit local fixtures where your art is a focal point?
👨🎨Welker: “I love returning to places where my work is an enduring part of a creating a new memory for others. I always try to make an installation in such a way that when it’s complete, it would be hard to imagine the place without it. Revisiting these places becomes an affirmation of those choices, and I always learn something and come away with new ideas.”
Dayton.com: If you met someone who has never been to Dayton, what are some of the highlights you would tell them?
👨🎨Welker: “After someone hears of the usual published landmarks, I love pointing out the extraordinary in the ordinary. Dense, chaotic urban places, quiet places and cultural utopias. Certainly, The Contemporary (DVAC), the Dayton Art Institute, Rosewood Arts Centre and my own studio act as second homes for me, but I’m most interested in the vernacular. Rather than measuring our city by comparing it to other cities, I believe in looking inward to find those things that make Dayton unique and special. Locally owned restaurants, the Oregon District, Metroparks, Kettering parks, Kettering mid-century modern architecture, microbreweries, the Century, are all examples of the vest pocket utopias I love. I like discovering beautiful hidden places like Woodland Fen and the myriad of tiny parks and paths in our region. The best way to really see a place is to slow down and sketch it.”
Dayton.com: Is Dayton a good city to live in as an artist? What do you like about our arts community?
👨🎨Welker: “Dayton is a fantastic city for artists! First, The Contemporary (DVAC) with its hundreds of members, programs and exhibitions is a world-class support system for artists. The educational network for artists of any age or stage is profound. And the financial opportunities via galleries and public art commissions like the Dayton Metro Libraries or Kettering’s percent-for-art funding create genuine livelihoods for artists. It’s an exhaustive list.”
Dayton.com: What are you up to when you're not working on a project? What are some of your favorite spots in Dayton to frequent?
👨🎨Welker: “Well, there’s never a time that I’m not working or chasing a project. But, I love to start my day at a locally owned coffee house like Epic or Ghostlight. When I can take a deserved evening break, living in the moment, hanging out with friends and family at The Century is my fave vest pocket utopia. All the new Dayton Metro Libraries are my fave quiet places.”
One thing is for sure: Erica Hubler knows how to walk the walk.
Hubler is one of the driving forces behind the Dayton Area Wright Dunbar Inc. The Wright Dunbar Business District is the home of the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame.
The Hall of Fame located on the sidewalks on both sides of West Third Street between Shannon and Broadway Streets and on Williams Street will celebrate its latest class during a luncheon Thursday, Sept. 27 at Sinclair Community College in downtown Dayton.
Tickets are no longer available for the event.
The 2018 honorees are: Hannah Beachler, Major General George R. Crook, Dr. Richard A. DeWall, Robert C. Koepnick, Dayton police Sgt. Lucius J. Rice, police officer Dora Burton Rice and Julia Reichert.
We caught up with Hubler, Dayton.com’s latest Daytonian of the Week.
Q: What do you do?
A: I am the Real Estate Manager for CityWide Development. I’m currently managing Wright Dunbar, Inc.
Q: Why is the Walk of Fame something you are passionate about?
A: The Walk of Fame recognizes all of the great thinkers and doers from the Dayton Region. It’s important to celebrate our greatest assets, which are our residents, neighbors and the people who work here.
Q: How do you describe Dayton to people who have never been here?
A: I always tell them about our awesome parks, our independent restaurants, our rich history and historic districts. Dayton is a great city, but it’s small enough that you’ll run into someone you know anywhere you go.
Q: What do you love about life in Dayton?
A: I love that I can be anywhere in 15 minutes. That I can get a great dinner and enjoy music, theater or pop into an art exhibit or sit in a quiet beautiful park.
Q: What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
A: I love our parks! So I’d say that I’d get a Pine Club burger and onion rings and sit up at the Lookout at Woodland.
>> RELATED: The ultimate guide to the best burgers in Dayton
>> Bucket List: View Dayton from the cemetery
Q: Where do you go for a great time?
A: I’m a foodie! I love all the independent restaurants. I always have a great time in the Oregon.
>> RELATED: Here is what is going on in the Oregon District
Q: What would you change about Dayton?
A: The perception. There are good and bad things happening in every city. I wish that more people would focus on the good.
Q: What should people know about Dayton?
A: What makes Dayton great are the people! Just when you think times are changing and the world seems scary…someone will go out of their way to help you or a stranger will smile and say “hello.” It’s all the little things that make Dayton great.
>> RELATED: Get off Dayton’s back
Q: What are your hopes for Wright Dunbar?
A: That Wright Dunbar will continue to grow and become the vibrant historic district it’s meant to be. Wright Dunbar is at a tipping point! There are so many things “just about to happen” if just one of those things happen the rest will fall into place.
Q: What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
A: Development takes time. Downtown is booming right now and the edge neighborhoods will start to reap the benefits. I believe those outside edges will also start to see redevelopment & reuse. We’re reinventing ourselves as a city.
This weekend is chock-full of festivals, notably the Dayton Greek Festival, which is celebrating its 60th year. We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to not only highlight the festival, but one important woman who keeps things running.
Debra “Deb” Pulos has been involved with the festival or church for over three decades. Her role as Public Relations Coordinator ensures that the public knows all about the festival’s specialties (food!), the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s parishioners and much more.
Get to know what keeps Pulos involved in the festival — and what she loves most about the Gem City.
Since you’re not a Dayton native, what brought you to the area?
I’m a Chicago gal, born and raised there. Meeting my husband of 33 years, Chris Pulos at the age of 18 in college is what brought me to Dayton.
How did you get involved in the now 60-year-old Greek Fest in Dayton?
Honestly, it was just expected of me. Once you are a member of our parish, I think it is a “given” that working at the festival every year is something you do. My children worked and danced all of their lives. Both live in Northern Ohio right now, but so many of our children have grown up dancing, and continue on in the young adult and adult group dancers.
Can you share with us what your duties/roles/work look like as the public relations chairwoman for the festival?
My job is to share all aspects of our festival with people of the great city of Dayton and surrounding areas. I try to look at different angles every year, perhaps letting people in on what it takes to put this great festival together, or sharing stories of lifelong parishioners who have helped the festival evolve.
What inspires you to continue Greek traditions through food, faith and celebration in Dayton?
It’s the people that I call my family and friends who inspire me. It’s my mother and father in law who worked diligently for this parish. It’s watching generation after generation do what it takes to share all aspects of our faith and heritage with everyone.
What are some of your favorite foods to eat at the festival?
That’s a tough question. I love our salads and chicken gyros! Our dressing is homemade and is wonderful. Our pastries are amazing and handmade by generations of women in our parish, and they must all be tired.
What is it about Dayton that interested you both in staying here permanently?
Family. Dayton is a great place to raise a family. My husband and I had intended to return to Chicago, but too many things kept our feet firmly planted in Dayton.
If you could change/improve one thing about Dayton, what would that be?
Dayton and the surrounding areas are growing at a rapid pace, which I love. I would like to see people feel better about venturing outside of their own neighborhoods, to especially enjoy the city.
Can you share with us a memory from the Greek Festival that really resonates with you?
My father-in-laws face when watching my children (his grandchildren) dance, up until his passing, is a wonderful memory.
What do you find most inspiring about Dayton?
The variety of people and opportunity here in Dayton is wonderful. I love that anything is attainable with hard work and vision.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Dayton?
So I love going to concerts, and we are so lucky to have the Rose and Fraze in town, and now the Levitt Pavilion. My husband is such a good sport, I think I took him to over 20 concerts last summer!
What do you see for the future of the Gem City in the coming 5 years?
I see younger people staying or returning back to Dayton. We are embracing who we are and what we are becoming. Dayton has been a wonderful place to raise my family.
The Greek Festival takes place Sept. 7-9 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, located at 500 Belmonte Park N., Dayton.
Fact: Dayton is home to the largest international festival in Ohio.
That’s just one testament to the vibrant cultural and artistic community that exists in the Gem City.
Our Daytonian of the Week this week is the woman who makes sure the organizations, events, museums and other entities that make Dayton such a hot spot for the arts get the attention and exposure they deserve. Without Lisa Hanson, Executive Director of Culture Works, new residents, tourists and employers looking for a new home might not appreciate what a treasure Dayton truly is.
“Culture Works is a nonprofit regional arts agency that provides a unified voice for all the cultural organizations and activities in the Dayton Region and promotes the good news about the amazing cultural vibrancy of our region to a national audience.”
In 2017, Hanson was named Culture Works’ newest Executive Director. Previously, Hanson was the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Ohio Executive Director and was the Ohio Arts Alliance and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts spokesperson.
Hanson and her husband moved to Dayton 23 years ago after meeting at the University of Miami in Florida, where they both earned music degrees.
“We found that the Dayton region offered an abundance of quality opportunities for our family,” Hanson said. “I am happy to say that Dayton has not disappointed! Year after year, we became more involved in the Dayton arts scene and more passionate about ensuring that the same arts experiences we have enjoyed would be available for generations to come.”
👩🎨What do you appreciate most about what the arts and culture community in Dayton has going on?
Hanson: “The Dayton Region is unique, especially for its size. Much larger communities cannot boast the number of museums and art exhibition spaces we enjoy, well-supported professional opera and theater companies, professional ballet companies, an amazing philharmonic orchestra, a world-renowned contemporary dance company and so much more! Currently, Dayton is becoming an incubator for individual artists, which is especially exciting!”
👩🎨What is the importance in a community supporting its own art and helping grow the interest in artistic or cultural related organizations and events?
Hanson: “The importance of art and culture in our society is something I began to think a lot about when my children were finding their interests and discovering their talent. Without multiple outlets, including arts education programs in our public schools, they may not have thrived during those important developmental years. Art was and still is such an important part of my life, and I can’t imagine a world where kids and future generations grow up without it ... The arts have always been a part of Dayton’s rich heritage and will be key as we grow and evolve as a community. One of the truly great things about arts and culture: it asks for engagement, not conformity. I believe that communities grow stronger when we engage in experiences that bring us together!”
👩🎨What are you up to when you are not keeping the Culture Works ship running smoothly?
Hanson: “Well, as a musician myself and the parent of artistic children, we are always involved in the arts. My husband and I still perform and have performed with the Dayton Opera Chorus, in addition to other professional performance opportunities. My husband Mark is a conductor, composer and arranger, so we are always looking for new and exciting ways to express ourselves and enrich communication through the arts with our community. We enjoy our family life very much and are heavily involved in the activities of our four children. There is always a performance or activity to attend! ... We do love working on our historic home and enjoy water sports and desire to take up biking — we just need a few more hours in the day!”
👩🎨What is something about Culture Works that every Daytonian should know?
Hanson: “Culture Works provides general operating support to 11 major arts organizations in our region. We provide scholarships and individual artist grants (in partnership with Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District). Through a single donation to Culture Works, an individual can impact the entire artistic eco-system here in the Miami Valley. Many do not know that with a donation of $85 they will receive a “Passport to the Arts” which provides buy one-get one tickets to over 80 performances for one year!”
👩🎨Any big projects you have coming up this next year? Culture Works related or just personally?
Hanson: “This year at Culture Works, we are working on a new look and website that is reflective of our connection to arts organizations, artists, arts education, business, government and community. The website will support a new arts education portal which is designed to connect educators to arts experiences that enrich core curriculum lessons. This will be launched early 2019.
Also, we are excited to offer $40,000, in partnership with Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, in individual artist opportunity grants this year! Applications are being accepted now through October 1st through our website www.cultureworks.org.”
👩🎨Finally, what are some of your favorite Dayton spots? Restaurants, bars, parks… etc.??
Hanson: “That is difficult to narrow down! Now more than ever, we have so many great places to choose from! Of course, I love live music, so when you can enjoy a meal and/or a drink while listening to live music, it just doesn’t get any better!”
This week’s Daytonian of the Week has found a way to seamlessly combine her biggest passion with her love for the city she calls home.
Alex Keller, founder of Alex Keller Yoga, has mastered her craft and made it her mission to help Daytonians discover the joys and benefits of practicing. Pushing her students a step further, Keller often takes her classes to Dayton’s many scenic waterways — opening people up to a completely new experience.
“I have stayed in Dayton for many reasons, but first and foremost my family is here,” Keller said.
After moving to Dayton in 2004 with her family, Keller went to Wright State University for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Health.
Not only does Keller live her passion every day, she has given her time to groups in need throughout the area, including youth groups, HIV support groups and people dealing with addictions. We sat down with Keller to find out more about what motivates her to stay flexible and strive for a balanced life:
Dayton.com: What led you to practicing yoga and eventually teaching yoga?
🏄♀️Keller: My first experience with yoga was with a Yoga VHS that I got for my birthday in 2005. I used to practice ballet and competitive horseback riding, my mom had taken a yoga class and thought it might help my performance so I gave it a try. I kind of fell into teaching yoga in 2009, I was a pilates instructor at Wright State University and they needed a teacher last minute for a beginner yoga class and I said OK. Then my teaching was strictly the postures, I didn’t know anything about meditation or mindfulness until my first yoga teacher training. My yoga practice evolved into something more than just a workout. It provided me with a coping mechanism for stress while working full time and going to school full time. I wanted to share the benefits of yoga, so I created Alex Keller Yoga with the intention to bring yoga to populations that wouldn’t normally do yoga. During my master’s, I had the opportunity to partner with PHDMC and the Dayton Public Library to teach yoga over the summer to kids in Northwest Dayton. That grew into teaching HIV support groups and those suffering from drug addiction. My mission quickly became DO YOGA DAYTON, where I aspired to share yoga all over Dayton.
Dayton.com: What does yoga bring to your life? What kind of adventures has it led you to?
🏄♀️Keller: Yoga has taught me harmony in thought, speech and action. Yoga has taken me on an adventure of personal growth. I confess there was no profound change when I first started yoga, but over time, small organic alterations had a positive impact on who I am today. Yoga has helped me find my inner strength, confidence and discipline to live an authentic life. After years of a strictly asana practice, I was exposed to the yoga sutras and meditation. These were the tools that helped dig me out of my habitual patterns. I have had the opportunity to teach and witness how people’s lives have been touched by the transformative power of yoga. My yoga practice has accepted me where I am. It has been patient, and it is constantly evolving to one day unfold into its truest expression.
Dayton.com: You take yoga a step further and do it (and teach it) on the water! How is that experience different than a typical yoga experience? Should people be intimidated to try it?
🏄♀️ Keller: Yoga on a Stand Up paddle board or SUP Yoga is a fun practice with some great benefits. One of my favorite ways to exercise outside is to take my paddleboard out, find a quiet spot and yoga. Falling in the cool refreshing water is the best part. Here are 5 reasons to take your yoga practice to the water:
1. Yoga on a moving surface fires up stabilizer muscles and the core creating strength in stability in the muscles and joints.
2. Sup yoga requires focus on the poses but also the transition between them making you more mindful of your body during your practice.
3. Less is more on the paddle board. The paddle board makes simple poses more dynamic, allowing practitioners develop body awareness.
4. No practice is ever the same. Every time I go out on the paddle board, the wind, water and environment are always changing, creating a new experience with each practice.
5. It is an opportunity to experience the beauty of outside!
Dayton.com: For someone who knows nothing about the yoga community we have in our area, what is the Dayton yoga community like?
🏄♀️Keller: The Dayton Yoga community is huge and just continues to keep growing! If you are new to the area or want to learn more about the different styles and studios I highly recommend attending the Urban Yoga Movement this January. Classes are taught by instructors from studios all over the Dayton area. There are several different styles of yoga offered as well as lectures and meditation.
Dayton.com: What are you up to when you’re not keeping Dayton flexible?
🏄♀️Keller: When I am not teaching I am paddling, hiking, biking and adventuring in Dayton’s amazing parks and rivers.
Dayton.com: In your opinion, what are some underrated things about Dayton?
🏄♀️Keller: Dayton has an amazing outdoor community. We have the best rivers, bike trails, whitewater features and metroparks. The list goes on and on for adventure in Dayton and so many people have no idea that these things are here and free to the public.
Dayton.com: Any big projects you have coming up this next year? Yoga related or just personally?
🏄♀️Keller: I created the Urban Yoga Movement with Tom Foolery Outdoors, Dayton Ohio’s first and largest yoga conference. With the help of local sponsors including Whole Foods and Wagner Subaru, we designed this event to bring yogis and wellness enthusiasts together for a celebration of community, learning and growth. Our 4th year will the first Saturday in January 2019. I hope to see you there!
Dayton.com: Finally, what are some of your favorite Dayton spots? Restaurants, bars, parks… etc.?
🏄♀️Keller: I love all of the Metroparks! The bike trail, whitewater play feature, and lagoon make Eastwood park my favorite. For yoga, I enjoy practicing with Ranjani Powers at Yoga XTC on First Street. As for food, you really can’t go wrong in Dayton. The Oregon District is probably my favorite, as there are lots of vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants.
Heather Leppla would like you to visit our community treasure, the Dayton Art Institute.
The native Australian became the member relations manager for the DAI a year ago and is passionate about the institution.
So, what inspires Heather Leppla about her role in the community? Here’s what she said:
What’s your current job title and duties and how did that come about?
I am really lucky to serve as the member relations manager for The Dayton Art Institute. My primary responsibilities are to lead the general membership program for the museum. My favorite part of my work is the people. The DAI members have such a wonderful love, dedication and appreciation for the museum and its impact on the community. Hearing their stories and enhancing the program for them is a joy!
My transition to the museum was actually a career change. Previously I worked for a wonderful nonprofit called 4C for Children; my work with 4C was focused on providing intentional and meaningful professional development for early educators. I decided to shift my career from early childhood education into development based on an evolving interest in fundraising. I was sad to say goodbye to the education world, but thrilled to start my professional fundraising career for the museum!
Why do you think the Dayton Art Institute is important for the community?
I truly believe that art enriches people’s lives. Next year, the Dayton Art Institute will celebrate 100 years of providing innovative programming and world-class art to the entire Dayton region. The museum is the greatest storyteller in the region; with an encyclopedic collection that spans more than 5,000 years, every single person that walks through the door has the chance to connect with and experience stories from all over the world, making new memories that they will treasure forever.
It brings me so much joy to see young children engaging with the art through exciting interactives and through conversation with their caregivers. Just last week I observed two young girls talking with their grandmother about the relationship between Marianne Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt in the Yousuf Karsh exhibition that runs through Sept. 16 from the Smithsonian. They were astounded that a group of people (Daughters of the American Revolution) would not let Marianne sing. Their conversation about equality and standing up for others is an example of why the museum is so important to Dayton. Art starts conversations that create a more inclusive community and encourages people to be open to experiences and values that might be foreign to them.
If you were describing the DAI to an out-of-towner, what would you tell them?
It’s a place that will not only WOW you with its grandeur and impressive collection, it will also make you feel welcome and draw emotion from you. Everything from the people who work here to the Monet hanging in the galleries will give you a sense of wonder and belonging.
Why is it important to become a member?
Simply put, membership is the best deal in town and is a crucial funding source for the museum. If you can’t imagine Dayton without The Dayton Art Institute, then you should be a member. If you want a year of great entertainment, a place you can have fun, and a platform to learn about yourself, art and the world, then you should be a member. Membership is extremely affordable starting at just $40 a year and pays for itself within a few visits. Membership offers great discounts on the store, Leo Bistro and on events happening at the museum.
What is your favorite artwork or area of the museum? Why?
That’s a tough one. When I first started at the museum I honestly did not know a lot about art. As I have learned more and heard the stories behind certain pieces and about the artists I have gathered a bunch of favorites. If I had to choose just one I would say Alison Van Pelt’s portrait of Louise Nevelson. When I look at it I feel and think about the female experience, everything from physical beauty and intelligence to female oppression and the fight for equality. There is something profoundly captivating about the way Alison Van Pelt chose to portray Louise Nevelson.
What project have you worked on that you are most proud of?
I am currently working on two projects that will enhance the DAI’s capacity to ensure that the museum and membership are accessible to all Dayton residents. These projects make me excited to get to work each day. Stay tuned!
Where did you grow up? Why did you decide to stay and settle in the Dayton area?
I am from a small town called Kempsey, which is located in New South Wales, Australia. Aussies are eager travelers and always up for adventure. This trait gave me the push to move to Columbus, Ohio, for a year so I could work and explore the USA. During that first year I met my now husband and made lasting friendships. It was these relationships, the opportunities that Dayton provided, and the vibrancy of American culture that took ahold of me. I will always consider Australia home but now I have been blessed with a new home in Dayton.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
I think Dayton will still have the wonderful grit and perseverance it does now but there will be more it can offer to its residents. Being a downtown Dayton resident, I get so pumped to see the yearly changes that have been happening. My husband, Phil, and I are always commenting about how exciting it is to see so many people enjoying downtown, people active in the MetroParks and getting out to experience the fantastic cultural arts and food scene.
The people! Dayton may not be the glitziest town, with the best entertainment, and coolest geographical features, but it’s the people that pack that whoa punch. When I decided to make Dayton my home I was embraced and uplifted by the people I met. Here I have found some of my best friends, encountered the kindest and most passionate people, and have expanded my family. Dayton is inspiring.
What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge?
I would say transitioning my career. It was scary to leave an industry that I had already committed a decade to. I was able to push through primarily because of my husband’s amazing support and the fantastic array of programs and groups throughout the region. If you ever want to reinvent yourself and aren’t afraid of hard work, Dayton has your back. Through the Women in Business Network, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and young professional groups such as Generation Dayton and the Junior League I have received meaningful mentorship, been accepted into two great leadership programs, grown my professional network, and have always been supported to take risks. The opportunities that Dayton provides is astounding!
What do you love about life in Dayton?
It’s SUPER affordable, there is fun to be had (you just need to know where to look sometimes), and the people are fantastic. Dayton has a beautiful charm that celebrates its history, the natural resources of the area, and supports its residents. What more can you ask for?!
What would you change about Dayton?
I would love for all Daytonians to get out to vote. I am a permanent resident, so I don’t have the option of voting, but I try to do my part by canvassing for worthy political candidates and ballot initiatives. I truly believe that Dayton can experience even more positive change, for every single Dayton resident if everyone took the time to vote and learn about the issues. It has been quite an ongoing educational experience learning the political landscape and government structure of the U.S. I have been blessed that I am surrounded by a vast number of civically and politically engaged people, particularly my husband and his family.
What should people know about Daytonians and the city?
That is a no brainer — Dayton is a hub for innovation and a home for everyone! If you have not been to places like Carillon Park, the Air Force Museum, and Dayton Visual Arts Center, you need to go ASAP. I am continually surprised by the sheer determination, inventiveness, and creativity of Daytonians. This city works hard to make Dayton a place all feel welcome and supported. Of course, there is more to be done and done better, but overall programs like Welcome Dayton, UpDayton, and Dayton Area Solar Co-ops, when combined with the wonderful people in our community, make Dayton a great place to live, play, and grow.
What superpower would you love to have?
I would love to be able to teleport myself ... like Star Trek! This would make living away from Australia no problem at all. Also, Phil and I are travel lovers, so we would be popping in and out of places across the world every day. I wish this was real!
Describe your perfect Dayton date. What would you do?
Oh this is tough as it would depend on who I am taking on a Dayton date. With my husband, I would say a perfect Dayton date would include dinner at a downtown restaurant, a stroll along RiverScape, a cocktail at one of our favorite bars, and then end the evening sitting around a firepit with our awesome neighbors and friends!
What Dayton area food do you love?
The Dayton food scene is lit! I love Siam Pad Thai, wings from Lock 27, sushi from Fusian & DLM, everything sold at Second Street Market, pizza from Wheat Penny and Old Scratch, risotto from Roost, and every menu item from Corner Kitchen. I love food!
In terms of boozy treats, you will find me sipping French 75’s or bourbon neat at Century, Cosmo’s at Wheat Penny, or Ciders from Barrel House!
Take www.k99online.com everywhere you go! Download your app below from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store:
Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!