Arts Admin alumna Kathy Wade wins Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio

Wade is one of eight winners recognized for their impact and leadership in Ohio's creative sector

UC College-Conservatory of Music alumna Kathy Wade (MA Arts Administration, '81) is one of eight arts leaders to receive a 2023 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. In recognition of their impactful and visionary leadership in Ohio’s creative sector and their sustained dedication to promoting artistic excellence, awardees will be honored during the Ohio Art Council’s ceremony on May 17, 2023.

Wade is a successful business owner, producer, writer, entrepreneur and award-winning jazz vocalist with more than four decades of involvement with the arts, performance and community-building. The Ohio Arts Council recognized her decades of work in the field of arts administration. Janelle Gelfand of the Cincinnati Business Courier recently featured Wade after she won the award; read the full story online.

Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio winner, Kathy Wade.

Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio winner, Kathy Wade.

In 1992, Wade and her late husband, Dan Jenkins, founded Learning Through Art, Inc., to bring together everything she was already doing to serve the community through performance and education. Today, the nonprofit organization provides arts programming and hosts events, including craft festivals for kids, jazz concerts and the three-time Emmy-winning "Books Alive! For Kids® Virtual Adventures." Since its inception, the organization has served more than one million people of all ages and backgrounds through its community arts and educational programming.

“We touch families, particularly with the literacy program,” she told the Cincinnati Business Courier. “We engage kids to read, because if you read, you can succeed.”

A Cincinnati native and graduate of Withrow High School, Wade’s parents introduced her to jazz at an early age. She holds a BA in sociology from Edgecliff College, which later merged with Xavier University, and an MA in arts administration from CCM. A trailblazer, she was one of the first graduates of the institution’s arts administration program and the first Black woman to do so. Her experiences in the program and career as a performer led her to create “A Black Anthology of Music,” an educational performance presentation that explores the history of jazz.  

Throughout her academic and business pursuits, Wade — whose family has called Ohio home for five generations — has maintained an active career as a performer in the Buckeye state and around the world. She’s been a featured guest with the Cincinnati Pops and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, sung in New York City’s premiere jazz clubs, and opened for such legendary performers as Dionne Warwick, Kenny G, Whitney Houston and more. Since the 1980s, she has served as a Cultural and Jazz Ambassador to Cincinnati’s Sisters Cities, which include Munich, Germany; Kharkiv, Ukraine; and Nancy, France.

Since its beginning in 1971, the Governor's Awards has recognized individuals and organizations who have been vital to the growth and development of Ohio's cultural resources. One of the most prestigious arts events in Ohio, the Governor's Awards showcases and celebrates exceptional Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts leaders and patrons, and business support of the arts. Governor's Awards recipients are honored at a luncheon ceremony in Columbus, where they are presented with the only arts award in the state that is conferred by the governor. Each award winner receives an original piece of artwork created specifically for the event by an Ohio artist and the opportunity to share their story with other arts supporters statewide. This year winners will receive an original artwork by painter Brian Robinson of Dover. Learn more about the awards.

Featured image at the top: Kathy Wade. Photo/Leigh Taylor for ACBJ

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