A Family’s Legacy of Giving Back to the Community

Photo provided by Thompson Hine

The ability to give thousands of dollars each year to Cincinnati charities is generous, even if the reason that money exists involves the pain of losing a father at an early age. 

 “We try to touch as many cornerstones of the city as possible with our donations,” says George B. Musekamp, an attorney with Thompson Hine, who oversees a small charitable foundation in his late father’s name.

Not so pleasant is the story of how he found himself in charge of a family foundation. His father, George J. Musekamp, passed away in 1995 at the age of 42 from heart disease. George was 13. His grandparents, George and Joan Musekamp, created the George J. Musekamp Foundation in memory of their son. And when the younger namesake came of age, he found he had inherited an endowed foundation that needed an administrator. 

“I took the reins and ran with it,” Musekamp says. “I was the oldest son and it seemed to be my responsibility. I am fortunate to have this opportunity and it’s a wonderful way to remember my father.” 

The spirit of philanthropy runs deep on all sides of Musekamp’s family. His grandfather has supported a long time family foundation and his late grandmother, Joan, was the daughter of Justin and Josephine Freud Rollman, founders of Amberley Village and the American Cancer Society chapter in Cincinnati. The George and Joan Musekamp Family Foundation helped establish the American Cancer Society’s Musekamp Family Hope Lodge, a home-away-from-home for cancer patients who travel here for treatment. Joan Musekamp was also a major benefactor of the Cincinnati Zoo, especially in supporting the world-renowned Cat Ambassador Program and the captive cheetah breeding program established by Cathryn Hilker. 

“Because of my grandmother’s involvement, I have great memories of the Zoo and the times I spent there with my father,” Musekamp says. “The Zoo is such a great place, we went there all the time when I was younger. With a daughter on the way, I look forward to creating many of the same memories with her.”

Musekamp’s devotion to the zoo continues; he is a member of the Ambassador Council, a diverse group of young professionals committed to supporting the Zoo’s mission that also hosts the annual Zoo La La event that has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Zoo initiatives. 

Musekamp is proud to be a born and bred Cincinnatian (Indian Hill High School, Miami University, University of Cincinnati College of Law). “I knew I wanted to raise my family and begin my career in Cincinnati, so I never ventured very far,” he says. And he considers it important that donations from his father’s foundation support institutions that are vital to the fabric of the city and its diversity. 

In recent years, the foundation has contributed to Starfire Council, the Cincinnati Zoo, Center for Addiction Treatment, American Cancer Society, Cincinnati Parks Foundation, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Legal Aid, Ronald McDonald House, ArtsWave, ProKids and national groups such as veterans organizations and disaster relief funds. 

“Especially with the downtown scene exploding the last few years, the foundation has turned its attention to the local arts, the Zoo, the CSO, the museums and parks,” Musekamp says.

Musekamp consults with other family members including his aunt and uncle, Helene and Eric, and younger brother, Oliver, on the foundation’s gifts. He credits the foundation’s managing partners at RiverPoint Capital Management and U.S. Bank for guidance, especially in its early days. 

Musekamp is an associate in the Business Litigation and Labor & Employment practice group in the Cincinnati office of Thompson Hine, LLP. He specializes in business and employment litigation, commercial contract disputes, trade secrets and defending employers from wrongful termination claims. Thompson Hine offers a wide variety of legal services through its more than 100 regional attorneys and seven offices throughout the country. Among its many accolades, Thompson Hine has been ranked number 1 in the category “Most innovative North American law firms 2015: New working models” for its innovation in developing SmartPaTH®, a service delivery model that incorporates project management, value-based billing, flexible staffing and process efficiency, in Financial Times North America Innovative Lawyers 2015.

“Our firm takes pride in being involved in the community,” Musekamp says. Musekamp is involved with Thompson Hine’s pro bono work for the Volunteer Lawyers Project, representing indigent defendants in landlord-tenant disputes. Although Musekamp has handled his share of litigation for high-powered landlords, he seems to relish being able to occasionally switch sides. 

“Tenants may have financial troubles, physical or mental issues or just don’t have the means to defend themselves against some landlords,” he says. “While I have found most landlords to be reasonable and law abiding, there unfortunately are a few who take advantage of those who need help the most.” 

In the meantime, Musekamp has the pleasant problem of donating money to local causes, even though he acknowledges in the scheme of things it’s not a lot of money. But he is happy to set an example and carry on a family tradition. “It’s about making Cincinnati a better place to live. There are so many new initiatives that seem to pop up every year because this is such a great town with people who care about their community.” 

Thompson Hine is located at 312 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can reach them at 513.352.6700 or visit their website at www.thompsonhine.com.