PROFILE: Get the Scoop on UC's Newest Trustee
Meet Sandra Heimann, UC's newest trustee.
Date: 3/24/2003 8:00:00 AMEarly in her career, Sandra Heimann proved that she could dish it out – ice cream that is.
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Dottie Stover
And ever since, she’s more than proved she can take it – challenges that is.
Heimann, the newest member of UC’s Board of Trustees, recalled the first job she held when she was 16: Working behind the counter of a United Dairy Farmers convenience store in Norwood. In 1959, she served up ice cream, made malts, and sold bread, eggs and daily staples in the first convenience store founded by business leader Carl Lindner and his family.
Those duties changed after her early days at UDF. Heimann remembers, “One day, they needed someone to type a contract because the Lindners were seeking to branch out their holdings. I volunteered.” Shortly after that, she began spending her working hours in the UDF office about the store.
As the Lindners expanded their business holdings to include banks, savings & loans, insurance, publications, and the even the Cincinnati Reds, Heimann’s can-do attitude led her to a variety of positions in Corporate and Civic Relations, Trading Securities and Corporate Secretary. Today, she’s Vice President of American Financial Corporation and Great American Insurance Company and a former director of American Financial Enterprises.
“I’m all about my career,” states Heimann. In fact, after graduating Norwood High School in 1961, she opted to work full-time with the Lindners rather than head for college though she later took evening business classes at UC for many years. In fact, she met her husband, Bob, while they both waited in line to register for classes in 1967. Her choice to work rather than go to college full-time was for the best, she states. Heimann maintains, “It was the best decision I could have made. I had a unique opportunity to receive a fabulous [real-world] education. We all learned together in the business…I’ve had an incredible array of experiences in many different industries, all within American Financial. I’ve always loved my work….”
And though she didn’t pursue a traditional education-before-work track herself, Heimann is a big booster of education. “Education has and will make this country great,” she affirms. And that’s why she’s agreed to serve on UC’s Board of Trustees, with her term extending to 2012.
It’s also why Heimann was instrumental in starting the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program in UC’s College of Business Administration in 1997. The program aims at training the area’s best young business minds by combining a demanding business curriculum with cooperative education experience, intensive study abroad, and other options, all designed to graduate future business leaders for the region. Heimann and her husband sponsor several Honors-PLUS students through merit scholarships.
They do so because Heimann says she wants to “selfishly” share in the success of students’ lives, adding, “I meet young people at the university, and they are so very bright. I love to follow their progress. They are enthusiastic with many lofty dreams and ideas. They grow in sophistication and maturity in Honors-PLUS. They are our future and why I’m so interested, excited and enthused.”
Norm Baker, head of Honors-PLUS at UC, refers to Heimann as his mentor, adding, “She is the behind-the-scenes person I called whenever I’ve needed advice or needed encouragement.”
That’s easy to believe since Heimann readily admits, “I was born with drive. The more involved I am, the more excited I get about my projects.” And those projects are many. Apart from her support for UC, Heimann has led many other area organizations, including Hospice of Cincinnati and the Drake Planetarium in Norwood. She says that her work with these organizations has taught her so much: “Most importantly, don’t let the negatives stop you. If you believe in something, persevere and find solutions.”
She explained, “Cincinnati’s hospice was the second in the nation at its inception. People didn’t understand the concept. We had so many doors slammed in our faces during its infancy. We had no funds, no facilities and no medical reimbursement for patients. But, today, Hospice has a beautiful new facility in Blue Ash and has become universally accepted idea.”
When the Drake Planetarium in Norwood, which serves about 35,000 tri-state schoolchildren each year, faced funding challenges, Heimann and fellow planetarium directors created a new organization that removed the funding burden from the Norwood school system. She states, “It would have been easy to give up, but because we remained optimistic and worked hard, we now offer science education that includes not only astronomy, but a ‘Lego Land’ offering architectural, engineering and physics programming. In all of life and in business, there are challenges every day, but tackling those challenges brings rewards of accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s why I work.”
That attitude is what Heimann plans to bring just that attitude to her role as a UC Board member. She’ll attend her first Board meeting on April 1, and she says that her first priority is to learn more about the university.
While Heimann attended UC and her husband and daughter earned degrees here and while she and her husband also set up a chair in molecular science at UC for the study of diseases including Alzheimer’s and Juvenile Diabetes, Heimann still says that she faces a steep learning curve. Describing UC as a complex, complicated organization, she said, “It’s come so far in the past two decades. This university is a gem for our city. I would like to contribute in a small way to its continuing success. There have been so many changes that my first responsibility as a new trustee is to learn its current needs and their priorities. That’s the challenge I’m taking on right now.”