Cincinnatians of the Year



Photography by Daniel Smyth

“When looking for Cincinnatians of the Year, we need to find people who contribute significantly to the Greater Cincinnati community,” says Melissa Newman, executive director of the Southwest Ohio Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

“Kim and Dave are the perfect choice.”

Ever since Kim and Dave Dougherty arrived in Cincinnati, they have been working to make it a better place by being involved in a number of different charities and fundraisers.

“There’s so much to love about Cincinnati,” says Kim. “It’s a great place to raise a family. The public schools are great. The private schools are great. And the people that we’ve met here have really added to our lives.”

Dave also likes the feeling of a close community of a small town but the conveniences of a major city.

“We have great institutions here,” says Dave, “like the art museum, the opera and professional sports teams.”

Dave came to Cincinnati from upstate New York to work at Procter & Gamble. Since then, he held an executive position at LensCrafters and served as CEO of Convergys.

He graduated from the University of Michigan and currently serves on the Cincinnati Art Museum Board of Trustees, is president of the Queen City Club board and on the advisory board of the University of Utah.

Originally from New Bremen, Ohio, Kim finished her undergraduate education at Bowling Green and received a master’s degree from Indiana University. Kim worked in cardiac rehabilitation and as an exercise specialist at Jewish Hospital.

The Doughertys’ youngest son, Ryan, is studying at the University of Utah. Oldest son Sean graduated from the University of Michigan and moved back to Cincinnati to work with his father at Education at Work.

“I started Education at Work in 2012,” says Dave. “It’s designed to help college students get through college more affordably and get that important work experience that can add so much to their education.”

Education at Work partners with major companies in the region to help college students earn a competitive wage doing work that is related to their field. Additionally, students earn tuition assistance based on their grade point average.

“We give qualifying students up to $6,000 a year to pay for their education on top of their wages,” says Dave. “During our most recent round of awards last December, our students’ average GPA was 3.46 and, on average, they were awarded $3,000 per semester.”

Based in Norwood and at Mount St. Joseph University in Delhi Township, Education at Work is helping almost 500 students and has assisted more than 2,500 students since 2012. Students are selected through an interview process and given a series of communication tests before they can be enrolled.

“Our plan going forward is to have locations on other major campuses throughout Cincinnati,” says Dave. “And at the same time we’re working on expanding beyond Cincy and taking it around the country expanding to the Phoenix market.”

In addition to Education at Work, the Doughertys have been involved in other charities, including running Cincinnati’s United Way campaign in 2010 and, more recently, in JDRF when Dave was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“It was sort of a shock because we are so healthy,” says Kim. “We eat well and exercise. Type 1 just happens.”

Diagnosed both in children and adults, only five percent of diabetes patients have type 1. Those people lack the insulin the body naturally produces to break down sugars and starches into the energy-providing glucose.

“In retrospect, I had a lot of symptoms,” says Dave. “Weight loss, always thirsty, blurred vision, dizziness. Kim told me to see my doctor and my blood test showed that my blood sugar was six times more than it should have been.”

Luckily for Dave, he married someone with a wellness background.

“A diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes can change with your diet,” explains Kim. “But that’s not true when it comes to Type 1. With Type 1, you have to be diligent with your carbohydrate and sugar intake. We make sure he has enough protein and we adjust the insulin intake to each meal.”

The Doughertys eat meals filled with vegetables and lean meats and avoid foods with simple carbs like white rice and white potatoes.

“Kim’s been unbelievably supportive,” says Dave. “She’s helped me understand that Type 1 diabetes is both a blessing and a curse.

“The curse is that it changes your life forever by constantly living in monitoring-mode and worrying about your health. The blessing is that it has made me much more disciplined. By being disciplined about my eating and exercise, it has spilled over to how I manage my everyday life.”

Another positive is meeting the people at JDRF.

“I’ve been becoming fast friends with the people that run the annual gala,” says Kim. “They are all so dedicated and most of them are either mothers of diabetic children or are diabetic themselves.”

The Doughertys feel the need of reaching JDRF’s goal of finding a cure for diabetes – especially for Type 1 patients.

“I can’t imagine the pressure of what it is like to have a diabetic child,” says Dave. “If your blood sugar goes too high or too low you may die. So something simple like your child going over to a sleepover can turn into an event filled with anxiety for a parent – worrying that your child may not be paying attention to what they are eating and that it could all be over.”

Last year’s JDRF gala raised $1.2 million to fund diabetes research.

“The people of Cincinnati are so passionate about fundraising and helping other people,” says Kim.

“JDRF Southwest Ohio is number one in the country among 100 other JDRF chapters for fundraising performance based on market buying power index. That’s testament to the strength of our local chapter as well as the generosity of our city. It’s a very unique aspect of Cincinnati as people have this built-in commitment.”

“The weather could be better,” laughs Kim. “But other than that, we love Cincinnati.” 

For more information about the Cincinnatians of the Year Gala, visit swojdrf.org or jdrfcincinnatian.org.