He’s a GE engineer by day and an artist with lights on weekends. She’s a former opera singer who is still teaching voice lessons at age 102. Every day, we live and work next to ordinary people who do extraordinary things – and we may not even know about it.

Photography by David Sorcher

Mia Carruthers

Age 19, Hyde Park


Day job: Singer/song writer

Most Interesting because … Carruthers, a 2009 graduate of the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, was one of the breakout stars of the MTV show Taking the Stage, which is produced by Cincinnati native Nick Lachey. She plays guitar, piano and alto saxophone and writes her own music and lyrics.

How did you get into it? “I’ve always been in music,” Carruthers said. “There wasn’t one defining moment. It’s always been a part of my life, and as I grew older it consumed more and more of my time.”

What do you get out of it? “Music is my life’s passion,” she said. “The fact that I can do it for a living is phenomenal. It’s literally a dream come true. I thought about it every day for as long as I can remember. I can’t believe you can make money from it.”

What you might not know about her: She was a competitive gymnast from age 2-11, working out of the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy. Carruthers was in the pre-Olympic training program working toward the 2008 Olympics or a college scholarship. At age 11, she suffered a shoulder injury and decided to drop the sport instead of undergoing surgery.

Worth noting: Dan Carruthers, Mia’s father, recorded three albums with Jackbone, a band from Zanesville, Ohio. Mia’s band, Mia and the Retros, played locally last summer. Their first big out-of-state gig was at the University of North Carolina Dance Marathon on Feb. 19-20, benefiting North Carolina Children’s Hospital. The band has an album, “We Will Grow,” that is available on iTunes. Taking the Stage started its second season on MTV in January, and though no longer at SCPA, Carruthers remains a secondary character on the show. She has been contacted by fans on Twitter, Facebook or MySpace from as far away as Venezuela, Germany, France, Japan and Iceland.

Rabbi Abie Ingber
Age 59, Loveland

Day job: Founding director of Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University.

Most interesting because … Rabbi Ingber is known as the “Jesuit Rabbi.” He says, “When people find out I am at Xavier, right away they try to figure out, ‘I didn’t know Jesuits had rabbis.’”

How did you get into it? “After three decades as executive director of Hillel (Jewish Center) at UC, I asked myself, ‘What do you really want to do?’ I talked to my friends at Xavier and they said sure, let’s try it. This is a second career and also a continuation of what I’ve done.”

What do you get out of it? “I’ve done my share of filling the vessel by teaching. Now I am lighting fires in young people in the richest, most diverse community imaginable.”

What you might not know: “I have had an opportunity to be with Pope Benedict XVI, and I met the Dalai Lama. I snuck into the bedroom with John and Yoko Lennon in 1969 when they recorded Give Peace a Chance. I have had a charmed life.”

Worth noting: “If you live your life in a complete way, you will have more than this to tell your children. I learn more from my students than I ever contribute to them.”

Bob Herzog
Age 35, Bridgetown

Day job: Traffic guy, Good Morning Cincinnati, WKRC News 12.

Most Interesting because … “I guess they ran out of real interesting people and they are drawing names from a hat,” Herzog laughs. He does that a lot. Almost as much as he makes other people laugh. “I like to think that once in awhile I help people smile in the morning,’’ he says. At 5:45 on Friday mornings, he does Dance Party Friday, often showcasing his famous Sprinkler Dance (see picture). “I dance in my West Side Cincinnati sort of way.” He also does a regular feature called The Cooler, which is “The goofiest story of the week we can find.’’ And he acts in Chidren’s Theater. “I was the Genie in Aladin. I still have blue makeup in my ears to prove it.”

How did you get into it? “The first time I was up in front of a crowd was in my third-grade Christmas play. I got to say, ‘Ummm, that waffle sure was good.’ And I was hooked, even way back then.”

What do you get out of it? “I enjoy telling a story. For me, a big part is that I get to give some really important information people really need, but I also get to make people laugh. Who gets to do that?”

What you might not know about him: He’s a big fan of the 1980s rock band Huey Lewis and the News (Hip to be Square). Few know he’s also a lawyer. And, “When I’m doing my thing I am really extroverted, but in a social setting I am very shy. I was a very shy kid.”

Worth noting: Herzog is already looking forward to participating in the next Children’s Theater season, especially a repeat of the successful Holiday Follies next Christmas.

Eric Deters
Age 46, Independence, Ky.

Day job: Lawyer

Most interesting because … When he’s not battling in court to win high-profile, headline-making cases, Deters is a part-time talk-show host on WLW and an author, including his latest book on Bill Cunningham, the WLW host he often replaces. He also owns and runs an Independence, Ky. restaurant, Bulldog’s Roadhouse, after his nickname – the Bulldog. Whew. And he also recently fought a police officer in a mixed martial arts cage match for charity.

How did you get into it? “I always trace it back to grade school. I loved to read history and biographies, and I learned the founding fathers were lawyers, but also did a lot of different things. My father was a lawyer who also did a lot of different things. So when I was 13, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.” Deters launched his talk-radio hobby while being interviewed about his controversial court cases by Cunningham.

What do you get out of it? “It’s excitement. When I’m in court, it’s excitement. When I’m on the radio and I nail a topic or a phone call, and I know I have just made a whole bunch of people think, laugh or get fired up, that’s invigorating.”

What you might not know about him: “You know, everyone hears the Bulldog name, but what they don’t know is that I am absolutely a big softie. I am tender to my children beyond belief. I cry at movies.”

Worth noting: Deters’ latest project is another Bulldog’s Roadhouse Sports Bar & Grill at Newport on the Levee. His book about Cunningham is Willie: Radio’s Great American. Deters lost the cage match, making his record against cops 0-1 ... outside the courtroom.

Gloria McConnaghy

Age 73, Clifton

Day job: Owner and manager, The Little Mahatma Shop

Most Interesting because … McConnaghy owns the unique jewelry and folk-art shop The Little Mahatma in the Gateway Quarter of Over-the-Rhine. She’s been vending her bangles and baubles for almost 21 years after inspirational overseas travel.

How did you get into it? “Before opening the shop, I worked in public health education, traveling the world,” McConnaghy says. “I have lived in South America, the South Pacific and Asia, and spent a year in Bhutan. The people are lovely, but they just live such hard lives. Now I bring the art I’ve seen in my travels to my shop here.”

What do you get out of it? “I get a lot of enjoyment out of it because it’s a creative business, and I’m an artist,” she says. “I think Cincinnati is a fabulous place.”

What you might not know about her: She was previously a student at the Art Academy, and her work has been featured at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Carnegie.

Worth noting: McConnaghy chose the Gateway Quarter of Over-the-Rhine for her shop (it was previously in Clifton and on Main Street downtown) because she loves the area. “I was a public health nurse down here in the 70s, and I just love how it’s so up-and-coming,” she says.

Dr. Scott Sayre

Age 56, Indian Hill

Day job: Dentist

Most interesting because … Sayre is a pilot for the first civilian, aerobatic, formation flight group. Lima Lima Flight Team is the civilian version of Thunderbirds. “I perform at air shows both military and civilian around the country. I have a wonderful wife and two amazing grown daughters. With the support from my family I am able to achieve some of my dreams.”

How did you get into it? “I am an Eagle Scout and many of the things I do today I credit to the values I learned from that program. I began flying when I was 15 years old. My friend and I earned the money for flight lessons by mowing grass. My Father and uncles were WWII Naval aviators, which motivated me to fly.’’

What do you get out of it? “I have always felt the importance of giving back. I am the Chief of Dental Services at the 445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson AFB. I not only get to keep our country ‘at the ready’ but I also go on missions throughout the world. I am able to impact people’s lives on a very personal level, through their health.”

What you might not know about him: Sayre is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Worth noting: Sayre owns the Avionics Shop at Lunken Airport. He has owned various aircraft since the mid 1980’s and bought an old T-34 Air Force trainer in 1995. “Close aerobatic formation flight is probably the most challenging thing I have ever done.”

Susan Albert

Age 44, Loveland

Day job: Stafford Jewelers, Kenwood

Most interesting because … Her friends tell her, “If it doesn’t sparkle or purr, you’re not interested.” Albert is all about diamonds and bling – and dogs and cats. When she’s not selling fine jewelry, she takes care of 600 cats and 50 dogs at Save the Animals Foundation shelter, 4011 Red Bank Road, where she is on the board of directors.

How did you get into it? “I loved animals ever since I was a kid. I’ve been a volunteer at the shelter for 13 years, and once I got started, I got hooked.”

What do you get out of it? “The payoff is love. It’s so rewarding to see animals come in, not always in the greatest shape, and then see them get a home after all the care and attention they get. It’s beyond rewarding. I couldn’t live without this place. It’s my balance in the world.”

What you might not know: She also calls bingo on Friday nights at Raffles in Blue Ash, where bingo nights on Tuesdays and Fridays raise 20 percent of the foundation’s $600,000 annual budget. The shelter has no paid staffers, only volunteers, and it has a 100 percent no-kill policy. She also takes care of two colonies of feral cats along the Loveland Bike Trail. “We do trap, neuter and return, but it’s not easy.”

Worth noting: The shelter needs help. It needs a new roof for $36,000; it needs families to adopt animals (the shelter is open for adoptions on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.); and it needs volunteers. Anyone interested can call (513) 561-7823.

Dawn Woods

Age 42, Fairfield 

Day job: Director of Marketing for HealthSpan, a PPO network and wellness company in Springdale.

Most interesting because … By night, Woods is a singer and songwriter for The Dawn Woods Band, which performs R&B and jazz at the Sidebar in Covington and other local venues. Woods has three albums: Imagine, I Feel Alive and Strong, and has also performed abroad. She hopes to distribute her music with the help of Birch Street Music, a consulting company whose head executive has previously worked with Beyoncé and other top recording artists. She’ll be collaborating in songwriting and production with her long-time friends and Cincinnati natives, Angelo Ray and Eddie Hedges (a founding member of Blessid Union of Souls). The new music is scheduled for release this summer. Woods also has her own record label, LaDaGeMS Media and Marketing LLC, and she continues her voice studies at the Toedtman School of Music here in Cincinnati.

How did you get into it? “Basically, it started when I was 5,” she says of her singing. “A lot of people in church started asking me to do solos, and it’s just never stopped.”

What do you get out of it? Woods has a passion for music and a self-described “zest for life” that drives her forward in her various projects. “I try to do work for things where I’m connected to the mission or purpose,” she says.

What you might not know about her: Woods loves salsa dancing and is active in Midwest Latino, which hosts Global Fusion Parties each Thursday at the Havana Martini Club. She is also on the board of the Tom Geiger Guest House.

Worth noting: Woods plans to re-launch her own line of body products, “Inspiration by Dawn,” including oils, lotions and scented candles, after her next recording session. 

Heather Tenney

Age 38, Florence, Ky. 

Day job: Senior editor, cincysavers.com

Most Interesting because … Wanna know how to get the most for your money at a store? That’s where Tenney comes in. She’s better known as Little Miss Know It All or the Coupon Queen. Tenney shows people how to use coupons, sales and store promotions to spend as little as possible. She teaches monthly coupon classes, speaks at local businesses, does in-home parties and also has her own web site, www.littlemissknowitall.net.

How did you get into it? “I never intended to be Cincinnati’s savings expert,” she says. “I was a stay-at-home mom who learned the secrets of saving money and loved telling everyone I know. Next thing I knew The Enquirer called, then TV showed up, and then Q102 and 94.9 Re-wind invited me in to talk weekly. It took on a life of its own. Don’t get me wrong, I love every single second of it. I just never planned it or set out some business plan to be Little Miss Know it All.”

What do you get out of it? “I get the fun of seeing people live better for less money,” she says. “I get to help people. That really is my deal. I love that I’ve helped people survive lost jobs, avoid foreclosure or just live better on less money.”

What you might not know about her: She is a Lay Pastor, licensed through the Vineyard Christian Church in Florence. She has coordinated mission trips to Guatemala and Mozambique through Vineyard.

Worth noting: She’s met President Clinton (he even told her a joke). Rachael Ray’s show taped a segment at her home, which has yet to air. She says her parents were hippies, leading to an extensive knowledge about Woodstock.

Robin Arthur

Age 46, Miami Heights 

Day job: Chief of Psychology and Managing Director of Sibcy House at Lindner Center of HOPE, a free-standing mental health hospital in Mason, Ohio.

Most interesting because … She was a member of the clinical team that founded the Lindner Center of HOPE. She’s also a former ballet dancer with experience in business and organizational psychology. She has performed with the Cincinnati Ballet; serves as an executive coach to professionals; co-founded TweenPlace Alliance to offer leadership education to adolescent youth; and has trained the Cincinnati Police Department in mental health issues. “My past training as a professional ballet dancer provided me with self-discipline, perseverance, creativity, and belief in dreams. Those are traits I count on every day.”

How did you get into it? “When I saw a new mental health hospital was to be built in my hometown, and it would be holistic in its approach, I knew that matched with my belief in being healthy in body, mind and spirit. I wrote a letter to the CEO, Dr. Paul Keck, asking to help in any way he needed. After a meeting, he asked me to be part of the team that built the hospital. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

What do you get out of it? “It is a privilege and ultimate reward to help patients achieve a healthier and joy-filled life.”

What you might not know about her: “I have great pride in Cincinnati and being a University of Cincinnati graduate. I have been a student at UC since age 8, when I started training at CCM. I received my undergraduate from UC, I am on faculty and I am finishing my MBA at UC. My incredible, supportive husband and our four children support me continuing to pursue all of my dreams. And I meditate every day and do yoga four days a week to balance my body, mind and spirit.”

Worth mentioning: She has been a speaker at regional and national conferences on a variety of topics, including women in the workplace, tweens and self esteem, parenting techniques and mental illness in the workplace.

Harry Garrison

Age 74, Western Hills

Day job: Owner of The Player Piano Shop, 611 Main St., downtown.

Most Interesting because … As an expert smoke-ring blower, Garrison was featured prominently on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1980 and in the 1997 book The Amazing Cigar. Garrison also performs magic and has more than 54 years of experience restoring all types of pianos. He remembers Cincinnati as a worldwide leader in the piano industry, formerly home to the Baldwin Piano Co., Wurlitzer, and more than a dozen smaller piano factories.

How did you get into it? “We had a man in Cincinnati who was the ‘Wizard of O’s,’” Garrison says. “I saw him when I was four years old and never forgot him. He was written up in Life magazine in 1941 in a three-page photographic essay. I was a magician for years, and I joined the American Guild of Variety Artists when I was 17 years old. The first union meeting I went to, I saw this elderly man blowing smoke rings and I knew it was the same man.” The two became good friends, and Garrison found a mentor in smoke-ring blowing. They performed together many times.

What do you get out of it? When it comes to tuning pianos, “The creative function of taking an old instrument that does not have value and coordinating the craftsmanship, skill level and material application to make it into a brand new piano again, to make it look beautiful and sound beautiful, it’s a great pleasure,” he says.

What you might not know about him: Garrison has appeared at least once on every live program on Cincinnati channels, he says, including educational TV, Nick Clooney’s show, the Ruth Lyons Show and The Bob Braun Show.

Worth noting: Garrison was featured in GQ Magazine for his smoke-ring blowing.

Paul Miller

Age 35, Park Hills, Ky.

Day job: Producer of Circus Mojo

Most Interesting because … Miller bought the closed-down Ludlow (Ky.) movie theater and is converting the 7,000-square-foot cinema into a circus training and performance venue. His goal is to teach circus arts to kids and adults and produce circus cabarets every month or two with music, singing, tight-wire acts, clowns and jugglers. “I won’t be having elephants or anything like that,” he said. “We might have a dog act every now and then.” He also plans to have a summer camp (info at www.circusmojo.com).

How did you get into it? In 1996, Miller left the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music during his senior year to attend Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey clown college in Sarasota, Fla. “The first year I applied I didn’t get in,” he said. “Two or three thousand people would apply and only 30 would get accepted.” When he finally got in, “It ended up being fantastic,” he says. Miller toured with the circus in 1996-97.

What do you get out of it? “The interaction. That really is the whole point of my work.” His shows are heavy on audience participation. Miller finds hospital visits especially rewarding.

What you might not know about him: He had small and temporary roles on soap operas As the World Turns, One Life to Live and All My Children. He has performed as “Pauly the Clown” all over the United States and in Japan and Germany. He can juggle, walk on stilts, spin plates and balance a ladder on his chin. He’s way into slapstick.

Worth noting: Miller founded CircEsteem in Chicago in 2001, “to unite youth from diverse racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds and help them build self-esteem and mutual respect through the practice of circus arts.” He does motivational speaking and team building.

Ciara Bravo

Age 12, Alexandria, Ky.

Most Interesting because … Bravo stars in Nickelodeon’s show Big Time Rush as Katie Knight, the sassy little sister to a member of an up-and-coming boy band. She has also been in short films and voiceovers, and splits her time between filming in Los Angeles and living in Alexandria.

How did you get into it? “Three years ago my mom took me to an agent after I told her I wanted to be in acting,” Bravo says. “Then I met my manager at an expo and went to California to start auditioning.”

What do you get out of it? “I like playing different people. You can act like a diva, a brat, or act sweet, and then go home and be yourself,” she says. “It’s like playing all day and then going home to rest. It also gives you skills like self-confidence and memorization. Even if you don’t end up acting later in life, they’re skills you can use in other jobs.”

What you might not know about her: Bravo and her character, Katie, are similar in that they both love being with their families, but otherwise she says they aren’t much alike. When she isn’t filming, Bravo loves riding horses, playing football with her brother, shopping, going to friends’ houses, being with her dog and cat and taking walks. Of course, she still has to fit in time for homework, too.

Worth noting: “I love living in L.A., but I get homesick sometimes,” Bravo says. Some things she misses most are family and friends, having four seasons (even the snow), Graeter’s ice cream and Dewey’s Pizza.

Helen Gerber Ramsdell
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