Phyllis W. Smale Award

Cincinnati Parks Foundation presents the Phyllis W. Smale Award each year at the annual Hats Off Luncheon and recognizes outstanding achievement, inspiring leadership, exemplary service and creative vision in many areas related to horticulture and city beautification.

About Phyllis W. Smale

Phyllis W. Smale was at heart a gardener, but she was a visionary one, a strategist of her time who didn’t stop with her own plantings.  She felt the parkways and highways that surround all of us were missed opportunities when it came to plant life.  She envisioned plantings that would soften the ubiquitous seas of concrete in our midst.

Phyllis had built up extensive gardens at her own home over her adult life, learning more and more over time. Her gardens included many specimens, including daylilies.  When Ft. Washington Way was being reconstructed, she had a vision of daylilies like her own lining the borders of the highway.  In fact, she patiently spent time transplanting daylilies from her own garden to space along Ft. Washington Way with the help of her husband, John.

One of her passions was getting individuals and companies to donate to and take care of green spaces near their workplaces and in their communities.  She both raised and donated funds for businesses to create small pockets of plant life throughout the city.  Examples of her efforts include the beautification of Wulsin Triangle at the corner of Madison Road and Observatory Avenue and plantings at the intersection of Columbia Parkway, William Howard Taft Road and Torrence Parkway. She also provided inspiration for the gardens and green space surrounding Procter and Gamble’s downtown headquarters.  There is even a small garden on Fountain Square dedicated to her efforts.

Phyllis was honored posthumously for her many contributions in the greening of the community at the Cincinnati Parks Foundation first Hats Off Luncheon in 2007.  John Smale accepted the award in her honor.

Award Recipients

Jay Andress – 2018

Cincinnati Parks Foundation proudly recognizes Jay Andress as the 2018 Phyllis W. Smale Award recipient, whose passion for creating an “urban
linear park” to give city residents opportunities for recreation and solitude spurred a social media grassroots campaign and not-for-profit organization to advance a vision for Wasson Way. This 7.6-mile hiking and biking trail on converted railroad tracks, will, when completed, run through 10 local communities from Avondale to Mariemont, directly impacting more than 100,000 residents living within one mile of the trail. It will also provide access to many other trail networks. Wasson Way’s first phase, a .6-mile segment, broke ground in November 2017.

Marian J. Lindberg – 2017

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to posthumously honor the legacy of Marian J. Lindberg, former President of the Cincinnati Board of Park Commissioners, with the Phyllis W. Smale Award. A fierce support of Cincinnati Parks, Marian served as a commissioner for 23 years.

She and her husband, the late Charles D. Lindberg, shared a special fondness for California Woods Nature Preserve, and in honor of their tireless commitment to Cincinnati Parks, the California Woods education center was named the Marian & Charles D. Lindberg Nature Center. To promote philanthropic support for Cincinnati Parks, Marian and Charles, along with several other park advocates, established Cincinnati Parks Foundation in 1995.

We will forever remain indebted to her devotion and for our world-class urban parks system and for having the vision to create the organization that we so proudly represent.

Cincinnati Parks – 2016

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is to honor the Cincinnati Park Board and staff for going above (and well beyond!) their civic responsibilities in developing, designing, building and maintaining the city’s riverfront – making it into a dynamic destination corridor. Through the generosity and dedication of many, 45 acres of wasted land along our historic downtown riverfront has now been transformed into our glorious new John G. and Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park. The Park welcomes over 1.1 million visitors annually and pumps tens of millions of dollars into our local economy.

3CDC – 2015

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). As of the 2015 Hats Off Luncheon, the work of the 3CDC Board of Directors resulted in $843 million invested in Cincinnati. 3CDC has spent the past 10+ years improving the development and fiances of our Queen City and inspired others to do the same. Under the leadership of President & CEO, Stephen Leeper, 3CDC has successfully revitalized Cincinnati’s Center City, most notably Downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine.

Although 3CDC has many admirable goals and objectives, Cincinnati Parks Foundation selected the organization as the 2015 recipient of Smale Award based on its demonstrated success in creating great civic spaces, preserving historic structures and improving streetscapes. 3CDC and its projects have been recognized by locally and nationally, including the following in 2014:

  • Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati (AFC) 2014 Apple Award
  • 21c Cincinnati was named to Travel & Leisure’s 2014 “It List of Best New Hotels”
  • Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) 2014 Rehabilitation Award for the rehabilitation of Hummel Building
  • Washington Park was named one of 5 finalists in the 2014 ULI Urban Open Space Awards

One of 3CDC’s newest projects, Washington Park, was re-opened in 2012 and quickly regained its status as one of the most prominent and beautiful Cincinnati Parks.

Brewster Rhoads – 2014

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor Brewster Rhoads, Executive Director of Green Umbrella, the sustainability alliance for the region around Cincinnati. Green Umbrella unites over 200 businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and educational institutions in an effort to make greater Cincinnati one of the top 10 most green and sustainable metro areas in the United States by 2020.

Prior to his position with Green Umbrella, Brewster served as the Southwest Ohio Regional Director for Governor Ted Strickland.

A native to Philadelphia, Brewster participated in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 and has been an environmental advocate and political strategist ever since. A graduate of Williams College, he worked as a community organizer in Western Massachusetts; the director of the Coalition for a New Foreign Policy in Washington, D.C.; the director of the Cincinnati office of Ohio Citizen Action and manager of over 150 campaigns for ballot issues and candidates throughout the greater Cincinnati region.

Brewster lives in Mt. Washington with his wife, Ann, an attorney specializing in whistle-blower law. Their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, lives in London, England, where she is working on her PhD in international human rights law. Their youngest daughter, Caroline, teaches English in Yangon, Myanmar.

Brewster is the founder and chair of the Ohio River Paddlefest and an avid kayaker.

PNC Bank, presented to Kay Geiger – 2013

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor PNC with the Phyllis Smale Award. PNC’s corporate citizenship has greatly benefited our city by providing leadership, service and vision in support of the beautification of our city and riverfront. For decades, PNC has provided resources to seed ideas, foster development initiatives and encourage leadership in nonprofit organizations where imagination and determination are at work enhancing people’s lives everyday.

PNC has been instrumental in the development of Smale Riverfront Park and have been a long-standing partner of the Cincinnati Park Board, Cincinnati Parks Foundation and the Women’s Committee of Smale Riverfront Park. Among America’s top financial institutions, no company has done more to energize the “green cause” than PNC. They have constructed more new “green” buildings than any other company and are the first U.S. bank to apply green building standards to all newly constructed or renovated retail branch offices. They have done amazing things for the Cincinnati Community.

Cathy Moon – 2012

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor Cathy Moon who is one of Cincinnati’s most loyal volunteers. For over 40 years, Cathy has volunteered for the Cincinnati Parks. Her commitment to the Parks goes back much further than the beginning of the Foundation. In 1974, she started as a tour guide at Krohn Conservatory. Since then, she has devoted herself to our City’s parks.

Cathy manages the Friends of Krohn which cultivates support for Krohn. An avid gardener, she has adopted two garden beds in Ault Park that she plants annually with stunning tropical flowers. She has committed her passion, skills and time to improving the rich beauty of our city.

Anne M. Zaring – 2011

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor Anne M. Zaring for her devotion to many organizations she has touched over the last 40 years. She has served on over 17 boards and has been a founding member of the White Blossom Festival, The Woman’s Capital Club, and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. Numerous committees have benefited from Anne’s help and knowledge.

Her awards don’t begin with the Phyllis W. Smale Award. She has been honored by the Bridges for a Just Community. She is a Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year honoree, a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Cincinnatian of the Year, as well as an honoree of Speaking of Women’s Health. Her tireless efforts have greatly impacted our community and we are forever grateful for the work she has accomplished.

Marjorie Motch – 2010 

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor Marjorie Motch for her leadership for more than 20 organizations on the local, national and international level. She is a passionate advocate for greenspace in our community. She served as the first president of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation Board of Trustees. She co-chaired the UC greenspace renovation, raising funds to create a beautiful park-like setting that was formerly a parking lot.

Marjorie has selflessly worked to better our community and knows the importance of giving back. She has volunteered and served for over 20 efforts. She has earned the respect and admiration of people around the world. Our city is a better place because of her hard work and dedication.

Elizabeth Asbury Stone – 2009

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor Elizabeth Asbury Stone for her outstanding achievement, inspiring leadership, exemplary service and creative vision in many areas related to horticulture. “Lib” has had much involvement in the beautification of our beloved city. Her dedication to volunteerism spans more than 40 years as she has selflessly served our city’s parks, children, public radio and arts. She is an inspiration to others and we thank her for all she has done for Cincinnati.

Marjorie H. Rauh – 2008

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor Marjorie H. Rauh for her leadership and creative vision in horticulture as well as advocacy for keeping the gardens of Cincinnati beautiful. She served as director of the Civic Garden Center, determined to bring gardening to the inner city by developing the Neighborhood Gardens program. She was a board member of the Hillside Trust, which has helped preserve our hillsides.

She was involved in the revitalization of the library of Parham School and spearheaded the outdoor training and learning center at Camp Joy. She has committed over 50 years of service to the community and has continually put her passion and efforts into the parks of Cincinnati.

Phyllis W. Smale – 2007

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is pleased to honor Phyllis W. Smale, who had such a true passion for natural beauty. In developing her own gardens, she sought advice from experts and experimented with every type of plant. With loving support from her husband, John, she expanded her interest to the community with the recognition of small areas needing attention. Her initial effort was Wulsin Triangle on Madison Road. She then broadened her scope and concentrated on beautifying areas such as Central Parkway, Columbia Parkway and Fifth Street.

Her influence is seen in the gardens fronting the P&G headquarters where corporate offices are enhanced by green space. We salute her vision, energy and accomplishments and continue to enjoy the legacy of her passion and efforts. In John Smale’s own words about his wife – “if there was ever an enthusiastic park and tree person, it was she.”