Celebrating Visionaries Award – Ohio

  1. Ohio Awards

On November 4, 2011, six dynamic men and women will be honored at “Celebrating Visionaries” – a high energy gala & awards program presented by the Columbus Young Professionals Club to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Dr. Brian Kaspar, Medical Researcher Visionary of the Year, 2010

Dr. Brian Kaspar is a Principal Investigator at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an Associate Professor with Ohio State University. Dr. Kaspar leads a laboratory that studies neurological and neuromuscular disorders.

He was trained at The University of California-San Diego and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Dr. Kaspar’s research has been published in a number of high-impact and prestigious journals, including: Science, Nature Biotechnology, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Dr. Kaspar has a vision for developing a new way to deliver drugs and therapies to the brain and spinal cord to treat serious neurological and neuromuscular diseases such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – also known as Lou Gehrig ’s disease. Delivering drugs and therapies to the brain and spinal cord has been a significant challenge to researchers and clinicians. The blood-brain barrier prevents most therapies from ever reaching the brain and makes it very difficult to get a drug to the area where a problem may be occurring. Dr. Kaspar and his team have been working for years on various ways to move a drug or therapy past the blood-brain barrier. And although progress was gradually being made, the efficiency of the approaches was still inadequate.

But a set of experiments that began in 2008 completely changed everything. Dr. Kaspar’s research group discovered a gene therapy that delivered the therapies past the blood-brain barrier and directly targeted the neurons. When this approach was applied to a mouse model of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the disease was reversed and the animals lived a near normal lifespan.

This new work published by Dr. Kaspar and his team, which is giving significant hope for SMA patients, is now moving towards human clinical trials. The findings of crossing the blood-brain barrier to deliver a therapy to the brain and spinal cord opens the door for treating many neurological disorders and could potentially impact millions of lives.

Dr. David Sabgir Founder, “Just Walk – A Walk with a Doc” People’s Choice Award, 2010

Dr. David Sabgir is a board-certified cardiologist with Mount Carmel Cardiovascular Specialists and a renowned health and wellness expert. He is recognized for taking a unique, common sense approach to health care that resonates with his patients.

Dr. Sabgir has a vision for keeping people active and motivated about their health in between doctor visits. In 2005 he created “Just Walk – A Walk With a Doc”, a free weekly fitness program. Every Saturday morning, Dr. Sabgir meets with as many as 240 walkers at Highbanks Metro Park in Delaware, while some of his colleagues lead walks at five other Columbus locations. More than 20 local physicians currently participate in the program in Central Ohio.

In addition to walking, the doctors answer health-related questions in these relaxed, non-intimidating environments. Free beverages, blood pressure checks, medical advice and give-aways are part of every scheduled walk. Dr. Sabgir believes the walks help patients see physicians in a different light and opens the door to more authentic and productive discussions about their health concerns.

Earlier this year, 80 Columbus-area physicians attended an informational session about “Just Walk – A Walk with a Doc” and many of them have plans to lead walks at new sites.

The program, which recently secured major sponsorship support through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has also spread to hospitals and medical facilities in other major cities, including: Cleveland, Miami, Little Rock, and Denver.

Sabgir’s “Just Walk – A Walk with a Doc” program has been nationally featured in U.S. News and World Report, Cooking Light, Walk Magazine, and Travel Host. Dr. Sagbir serves an expert to print and broadcast media on multiple topics, including: exercise, diet, causes of fatigue, blood pressure, and alcohol consumption.

Jeni Britton Bauer Founder & President of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Ice cream artist Jeni Britton-Bauer is the founder and President of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. She opened her first of five Central Ohio locations in 2002 and has plans in the works for two additional stores.

Her cutting edge ice cream creations have garnered the attention and accolades of culinary critics on both coasts and have led to a Food and Wine Tastemaker Award in 2005, an appearance on the Food Network show “Roker on the Road” and numerous magazine articles. “The Best Thing I Ever Tasted,” another Food Network program, recently featured Queen City Cayenne – one of Jeni’s signature ice creams.

Jeni has a vision for helping change the Ohio dairy industry and has incorporated that into her business model at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. She is sensitive to the challenges that small dairy farmers face in competing with large, corporate-owned dairies.

Her passion for creating artisan ice cream positioned her to support local dairy farmers and bring attention to their struggles. She has been particularly outspoken about what she calls the dairy industry’s unfair treatment of small farmers who produce products through grass-fed methods.

All of the selections offered by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream are made from milk produced by grass-fed cows from 12 small, family-owned, independent dairy farms in Ohio. But her concern and commitment to small farmers has extended beyond just dairy product producers.

She has built her growing ice cream empire around her quest to use the freshest ingredients and to support small Ohio farms of all types. This led to her being named the Chef-Chair of the local chapter of the Chef’s Collaborative – an organization dedicated to encouraging chefs and farmers to work together to create markets for local food products.

Jeni, who would someday like to own her own organic dairy farm, is currently writing a cookbook that will feature profiles of Ohio farmers.

Walker EvansFounder, Columbus Underground & Metropreneur

Walker Evans has a vision for using social media as a catalyst for sparking community engagement, small business economic development, and neighborhood revitalization in and around Columbus.

Walker is the founder of two popular social media websites: Columbus Underground and Metropreneur. With over 3 million hits per month, Columbus Underground is actively drawing young professionals and others to events, independent shops and restaurants, and nightlife offerings in neighborhoods like the Short North and the Arena District.

Metropreneur, which was launched on August 3, 2010, primarily focuses on the small business and entrepreneurial community. Similar in format to Columbus Underground, the site features regular news updates, small business profiles and interactive user-driven content.

It also has a “Local Resource Database” that contains over 100 individual organizations and companies that provide different types of assistance to entrepreneurs, including: financial services organizations, marketing firms, social media consultants, local government programs, retail opportunities, and more.

The forums on Walker’s sites host eclectic discussions about people, places, events and issues of all sorts. Walker enjoys seeing the message boards used as a “grassroots brain trust” by civic leaders.

When good ideas emerge through online conversations, they have an opportunity to take root because other posters often have the resources to bring them to fruition. Walker looks forward to having these types of online interactions and outcomes become stronger and more influential as the resources continue to grow.

Walker plays a active role in civic discussion, speaking at events hosted by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce

Elizabeth Lessner President & CEO of Betty’s Family of Restaurants andPrincipal Owner of Eartha, Ltd.

Elizabeth Lessner is the President and CEO of Betty’s Family of Restaurants, which includes: Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits, The Surly Girl Saloon, Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails, and Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace. She is also a principal owner of Eartha, Limited – an environmental consulting firm dedicated to helping restaurants compost and recycle.

Elizabeth has a vision for demonstrating that “green,” eco-friendly initiatives and waste-reduction programs are possible and economical within the restaurant industry. Her four Columbus-based restaurants are working on becoming a “zero-waste” restaurant group by the end of 2011. Elizabeth and her employees recycle, reuse and compost just about everything.

All four of Elizabeth’s restaurants use energy efficient lighting and recycle cardboard, glass and aluminum. Corn-plastic containers or recycled paper is used for to-go orders. Composting table scraps was by far the biggest challenge because Elizabeth had trouble finding a hauler that could meet the unique needs of a food service establishment.

But she effectively solved that problem by becoming a majority partner of Eartha, the first locally and independently-owned and operated recycling and hauling service. Eartha’s smaller trucks, fueled by vegetable oil used in Elizabeth’s restaurants, are able to navigate the narrow alleys of Downtown Columbus.

Elizabeth’s restaurants have received local, regional and national attention for their green initiatives and creative food. In addition to her focus on protecting the environment, Elizabeth is a social entrepreneur who is actively engaged in downtown development and community affairs.

She serves as Chairwoman of the Board and past president of the Central Ohio Restaurant Association. Responsible small business ownership, community-building, mentoring and social entrepreneurship among Elizabeth’s passions.

Tad Dritz Founder, Green Columbus

Tad Dritz has a vision for sustainable living and wants to actively engage Central Ohioans in environmental causes. So he founded Green Columbus, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable living through online forums that raise public awareness and encourage civic action.

Tad also hosts Green Drinks, a monthly networking event for local environmentalists. Participants are an eclectic mix of young urban professionals, college students and concerned suburbanites. Well over 1,000 people are on the Green Drinks e-mail list. Topics of discussion range from green architecture to energy efficiency.

Tad spearheaded the re-birth of Earth Day in Central Ohio four years ago. During the two-day event held this year, thousands of trees were planted, thousands of bags of garbage were removed from neighborhoods and parks, tons of tires were recycled, and raised planting beds were built throughout Columbus. In total, nearly 4,000 volunteers participated in the service projects and celebration, making the event the largest of its kind anywhere in the world.

Other elements of the 2010 Earth Day event included an “Up-cycled Fashion Show” a “Clean Out Your Basement Day,” and a faith-based initiative that engaged organized religious groups of all faiths to participate in environmental stewardship.

Tad serves on Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s Green Team and his environmental efforts have been recognized with a SWACO Emerald Award. He has also received accolades from The Ohio Environmental Council and others groups.

Environmental concern is a primary focus in other areas of Tad’s professional life. One particular passion is his work with early stage “clean tech” companies to raise funds and assist them in bringing sustainable ideas to fruition. Tad has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Natural Resources and the Environment from the University of Michigan, as well as a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Ohio University.

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