John J. Frank Jr. , who will be inducted as a Great Living Cincinnatian in February 2019 by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
“I will never lose my passion for helping others,” says Frank of his lifelong commitment to the multiple philanthropic causes he holds dear, including child poverty, diversity and inclusion and mental health.
Frank’s passion for service was sparked by his father, John J. Frank, who continuously motivated him to volunteer for different organizations, as well as his maternal grandmother, Florence Rosenthal, who worked as the director of a home for mentally ill children.
After graduating from Harvard in 1954 and serving as a special agent for the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps, Frank returned to Cincinnati to join the family business and start a career in the commercial real estate industry a few years later.
Frank has two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter and 10 grandchildren. He has been married to his wife, Susan, for 21 years. “She has such a positive attitude about life, is so passionate about helping people in need and making this a better world, and is so supportive of me, that she has been one of the most important role models in my life.”
His family’s background inspired much of his early volunteer work with the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Cincinnati chapter, as well as the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, the Jewish Vocational Service, Rockdale Temple, the United Jewish Cemeteries and the Jewish Community Relations Council. His great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Germany and France in the mid-1800s to escape anti-Semitism.
Frank then moved on to play key roles in multiple civic action organizations. Under his leadership, the Cincinnatus Association created the Greater Cincinnati Commitment (GCC), patterned after the Birmingham (Alabama) Pledge to disavow racism. He served the Alliance for Regional Transit, Downtown Cincinnati Inc., and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
He is also passionate about initiatives that support local youth and mental health efforts. Over the years, he has worked extensively with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association (both locally and nationally), the Boys Hope/Girls Hope of Greater Cincinnati, Winners Walk Tall, the Cincinnatus Leader to Leader Program, the Hamilton County Mental Health Board and the Children’s Psychiatric Center.
At age 85, Frank is still actively serving the Cincinnati community. In addition to sitting on the board and executive committee of Excel Development, an organization that provides housing for the mentally disabled, he volunteers at Hays-Porter School in the West End and meets regularly with the principal at Withrow University High School in Hyde Park. He also continues to be involved on the board of the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center and the inclusion panel of the Cincinnatus Association. for which he helps plan the Donald and Marian Spencer Spirit of America Awards dinner recognizing companies and nonprofits promoting diversity and inclusion efforts in the region.
Frank believes being a good leader means “listening to the people you lead. It also means working very hard, but not neglecting your family, and spending time to give back to the community and mankind.”
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