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2018 Mariemont Distinguished Alumni Selected

Updated: Jan 12, 2019

The Mariemont Alumni Association and the Mariemont School Foundation are pleased to announce the recipients of Mariemont High School’s sixth annual Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes Mariemont High School graduates of at least 10 years who have notably distinguished themselves by extraordinary contributions and/or remarkable accomplishments in their chosen career; skill, trade or business; in civic duties; in military service; in philanthropy; in volunteerism; in the arts; in the sciences; in education; in religion; or any other field, endeavor or pursuit.

The 2018 recipients are Susan Davis, class of 1982, and James Verdin, class of 1955. The sixth class of recipients was selected from nominations submitted to a committee of Mariemont School Foundation (MSF) board members.

On Friday, September 28, these truly distinguished alumni will spend the day at Mariemont High School, where they will meet the faculty, visit with students and share their stories of success. At 5:30pm, they will be featured as honored guests in the school district’s annual Homecoming Parade. Finally, the Distinguished Alumni will be formally introduced and honored before the Homecoming football game at Kusel Stadium.

Susan Davis-Ali, PhD (Susan Davis) graduated from Mariemont High School with the class of 1982. She was a class officer for two years, a loud and proud cheerleader for 4 years, and was actively involved on the yearbook staff. After an undergraduate career at Miami University, Susan furthered her education by obtaining a Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Michigan. She moved to Minnesota with her husband in 1992, and for over a decade was a successful business executive in test development. However, in 2006, Susan followed her passion and started her own e-platform leadership development and coaching company called Leadhership1 (the “her” is for the company’s focus on women’s leadership). Susan’s area of expertise is in the retention and advancement of women technologists, and she developed a program that is used with women all around the world who work for large technology companies. Susan also serves as the Chief Social Science Advisor to the Anita Borg Institute – the premier nonprofit organization serving women technologists. She published a book called How to Become Successful Without Becoming a Man and was a weekly career advice columnist for USA Today. In her “spare” time, Susan volunteers for non-profits that serve the homeless in St. Paul, MN, where she lives with her husband Jeff and their children Kate (19) and Andrew (14). She returns to Mariemont often to visit her family in her childhood home on Fieldhouse Way and she still calls Mariemont “home.”

James R. Verdin (Jim) grew up in Mariemont and graduated with the Class of 1955. He was President and CEO of The Verdin Company, a 175 year old family business located in Cincinnati. Verdin manufactures and sells bronze bells, tower and street clocks, electronic carillons and organs. Jim was instrumental in creating the Verdin Bell Foundry on Wheels for the Ohio Bicentennial. The foundry cast bells in each of Ohio’s 88 counties as a gifts to the counties. Along with church bells and clocks, Verdin creates many unique installations using bells, clocks and towers. Nationwide, Verdin is involved in projects honoring veterans and first responders with custom bells and bell towers. The bell that opens and closes the New York Stock Exchange was recently cast by Verdin in Cincinnati. Greater Cincinnati projects include the “Foot Piano” at Smale Park; the glockenspiel in Covington, KY; and the World Peace Bell in Newport, KY. In Mariemont, the clocks in front of the Mariemont Inn and atop the Parish Center are Verdin clocks. The Emery Carillon in Dogwood Park was also a Verdin project. Jim was also a founder of three Pendleton Art Centers. Cincinnati is the largest, with more than 250 working artists in the warehouse in Pendleton-OTR. Other Pendleton locations are Middletown, Ohio and Rising Sun, Indiana. He has been honored many times for his involvement in the arts, preservation, business and community. Most recently, Jim and The Verdin Company were honored by the State of Ohio for their work in honoring and hiring veterans. Jim’s daughter and family reside in Mariemont.

The Mariemont School Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the long-term success of our students and community through initiatives that enhance educational excellence in the Mariemont City School District. Your support of its Annual Fund Drive is critical to the success of the organization. For more information contact Molly Smyth, MSF Trustee, at 513-271-3316. Nominations for the sixth annual Distinguished Alumni Award will be solicited in the spring. Visit for more information.


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