Five notable alumni, from artists and business owners to philanthropists, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award this Friday (Sept. 20).
This year's inductees are: Betsy (Carson) Brady ('64), Pete Kadens ('96), Rustin “Polly” (Steele) Levenson ('65), Robert "Bob" Shopneck ('68), and Dr. Catherine Webb ('66).
The induction ceremony takes place at the John Lindsay Court at the Junior/Senior High School. It begins at 5 p.m. and concludes during halftime of that evening's football game, when the inductees will be introduced on the field at halftime.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes former students who have made a meaningful contribution to society, and whose accomplishments, affiliations, and careers have honored the tradition of excellence at Ottawa Hills. The award recognizes alumni who have made significant accomplishments in the following areas while maintaining high standards in personal integrity and character: an outstanding leader in his or her field; service to his or her community and humanity through local, state, national, or international organizations; and/or demonstrated exemplary accomplishments in the arts, education, government, science, business, or public service.
This is the third induction ceremony since the inaugural event in 2017. Past award recipients are Christine Brennan ('76), Dr. Craig Burkhart ('69), Russell Carson ('61), Richard DeVore ('51), John Galbraith ('41), Dr. James Geiger ('79), Roa Lynn ('55), Larry Mindel ('55), M. Scott Peeler ('89), Frederic Roberts ('79), David Staelin ('56), and Sally Stuckey ('74).
This year’s Distinguished Alumni Selection Committee was comprised of Ottawa Hills alumni, faculty, and district officials. We would like to thank the committee members for their service: Kate Backoff ('77), Jackie Berenzweig ('93), Chris Hardman, George Lathrop, Ben McMurray, Kevin Miller, Erica Silk ('89), and Judd Silverman ('74).
Betsy (Carson) Brady ’64
Betsy Brady is a well-known business leader, community advocate, philanthropist, and fundraiser in northwest Ohio. She entered Ottawa Hills Local Schools in kindergarten and received all of her early education there, graduating as valedictorian of the Class of 1964. She then attended and graduated from Smith College, where she also met her future husband Tom. They married and returned to Toledo in 1971, started a family, and it has been home ever since.
The Bradys founded Plastic Technologies, Inc., in 1985. Since then, PTI has become globally recognized within the industry for sustainable packaging innovation, supporting nearly all major consumer goods companies and more than 1,000 clients across the globe. Over time, PTI has expanded into six operating companies in northwest Ohio and Europe, with Mrs. Brady active in all of them. She is currently Chairman of the Board.
She also has been actively engaged in the community and other local businesses her entire life, taking on numerous and varied leadership positions, including as chairman of the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce in 1990 (the first woman to lead the group). She is a past (and first woman) board chair of the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA), where she remains a very active board member. Other major involvements and leadership positions include ProMedica, the University of Toledo (UT), Toledo Community Foundation, Toledo School for the Arts (TSA), Junior League of Toledo, and Boys & Girls Clubs.
The Bradys were recognized jointly as Philanthropists of the Year in 2009. Committed to education and innovation, they have endowed entrepreneurship programs at UT and several other schools, TMA’s Fund for Creative Leadership, TSA’s Music Technology studio, and most recently, the UT College of Education’s Brady Partnership Schools Program to experientially prepare early-childhood teachers for urban schools.
Mrs. Brady has received numerous leadership honors, including the Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, YWCA Milestones, Junior League’s Mary Harriman Award, and ProMedica’s Excellence in Governance Award.
Mrs. and Mr. Brady have three children: Kathy Lathrop, Cynthia Brady-Falik, and Rick Brady, and 12 wonderful grandchildren.
Pete Kadens ’96
Mr. Kadens is a dedicated philanthropist and organizational leader who seeks
to transform lives and strengthen communities. While at Ottawa Hills, he served as the class president throughout high school and as a multi-year captain of both the basketball and track teams.
He currently serves as chairman of The Kadens Family Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to closing the pervasive wealth and education gaps in the United States. He retired in August 2018 as chief executive officer of Green Thumb Industries, one of the largest publicly traded, legal cannabis operators in the country with a current market capitalization of more than $2.5 billion.
Prior to Green Thumb Industries, Mr. Kadens started SoCore Energy in 2008, one of the largest commercial solar companies in the nation. Under his leadership, SoCore expanded operations into 17 states and was named one of Chicago’s most innovative businesses by Chicago Innovation Awards. In 2013, he sold SoCore to Edison International, a Fortune 500 energy-holding company. Over his 16-year career as a chief executive, Mr. Kadens employed more than 4,000 people and created over $5 billion in shareholder value.
Mr. Kadens was awarded the “Trailblazer Chicago Award” by The Cara Program in 2019; the “Catalyst Man of the Year” by Streetwise in 2015; and the “Distinguished Alumnus for Citizenship” in 2010 by his alma mater, Bucknell University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. He also was named one of the “40 Under 40” by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2012. He was named one of the "20 People to Watch" in the Cannabis Industry in 2018 by Marijuana Business Daily.
He is a 2019 Henry Crown Fellow of The Aspen Institute, a fellowship that accepts only 20 individuals from around the world each year who have been identified as individuals who have the capacity to create ventures that solve one of society’s intractable problems.
Mr. Kadens is married to Amy (Robbins) Kadens ’99. They have three amazing kids who already understand their love and affection for their hometown. In 2018, the Kadens made a leadership gift to the Ottawa Hills Schools Foundation that is making possible the creation of the Kadens Family Fitness Center.
Rustin "Polly" (Steele) Levenson ’65
Mrs. Levenson is an internationally known painting conservator and author. An art history major and chemistry minor at Wellesley College, she went on to do graduate work in art conservation at Harvard University.
Her first jobs after Harvard were in Canada: first at the Canadian Conservation Institute and then at the National Gallery of Canada. She credits high school teachers Mr. Neidermeier, Mr. Kreutzfeld, and Mr. Docis with preparing her for the many science classes she took at Wellesley and Harvard and the incomparable Mr. Fontaine for teaching her enough French to work in government positions in a bilingual country.
She moved to New York in 1976 to join the Painting Conservation Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While on staff, the Met reinstalled the Italian, Dutch, and Impressionist Galleries, giving her an opportunity to treat a wide variety of works. In 1981, she opened her private conservation studio. With referrals from Met colleagues, she founded ArtCare Conservation (artcareconservation.com), and began working with museum, corporate, and private clients throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
In 1986, Mrs. Levenson opened a second studio in Miami, Florida, and recently a third in Los Angeles. Her teams of conservators treat paintings from all eras. Recent projects include the monumental “Domes of Yosemite” by Albert Bierstadt from the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in Vermont; the “Coronation of the Virgin,” a 1492 collaboration between Domenico Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli from the Bass Museum of Art; a series of 14 paintings by Donald Judd for the Judd Foundation; and numerous works by Salvador Dali for the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Having drinks in the old King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in New York would give fellow alumni an opportunity to see her studio’s work on the Maxfield Parrish mural there.
In addition to conserving paintings and supervising conservation studios, she and art historian Andrea Kirsh co-authored “Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies.” The award-winning book is used in art history courses and graduate schools. She lives in Miami with her husband, Randal, a photographer. Their three children live in Brooklyn, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut.
Robert "Bob" Shopneck ’68
Mr. Shopneck is general partner of Denver-based Pinetree Financial Partners, which he founded in 1990. He graduated from the University of Toledo with degrees in business and history while working for Sheller-Globe Corporation. After moving to Denver, he earned master’s and law degrees from the University of Denver. He quickly realized that investing in real estate and not a career in law was his chosen path. Colorado and the West allowed him “to spread my entrepreneurial wings.” He met his wife Cappy while in graduate school; the couple have two sons and this year they celebrate a 40th wedding anniversary.
His business career began through investing in small houses near the University of Denver. He parlayed those investments into building new homes; renovating apartment buildings and converting them to condominiums; buying and building mobile home parks in Florida; and other real estate investments throughout the country. As business grew, he realized that making loans on real estate also presented a great opportunity so he moved into commercial lending. Today, the private bank he founded is the largest of its kind in Colorado.
Service has always been important to him, such as when he became an Eagle Scout while in high school. As a young businessman, he joined the board of trustees of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. In recognition of his 35 years of service, he received the organization’s “Champion of Youth Award.” Mr. Shopneck made the lead gift and spearheaded fundraising to construct the Denver region’s first new club since 1964. The Robert M. Shopneck Boys & Girls Club opened in 2007 and annually serves the largest number of children of any of the Club’s branches.
In addition to the Boys & Girls Clubs, his public service includes 10 years on the board of the Yellowstone Association, the educational partner of Yellowstone National Park. He currently serves as vice chair of the board of the Western National Parks Association. In addition, he is chair of the Denver Tennis Club and recently made a lead gift for the Denver Tennis Park, a new facility in central Denver. He also has supported the University of Denver with the Shopneck Writing Center.
Dr. Catherine Webb ’66
Dr. Catherine L. Webb, MD, learned curiosity, concentration, compassion, integrity, and hard work from her teachers at Ottawa Hills as well as her parents. She graduated from Smith College with a major in geology in 1970 and tried on several “career coats” before settling on a career as a physician with the help of one of her mentors at the University of Toledo.
She graduated from the Medical College of Ohio in 1980. After hearing a lecture in medical school by a pediatric cardiologist, she became fascinated by congenital heart disease. She spent nine years in clinical training at the University of Michigan. In 1989, she joined Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s Hospital) at Northwestern University, retiring as professor emeritus in 2010. She then returned to the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center and currently works as an outreach pediatric cardiologist in Northern Michigan.
Dr. Webb is internationally known with more than 50 published peer-reviewed papers. She served more than 30 years on many American Heart Association councils and committees, and chaired the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young. She has been a journal reviewer for many medical journals and a speaker at many meetings. She has received numerous research grants, the recent focus of which is telemedicine and how it improves care to patients in outlying areas and the diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease in Third World countries.
She is a governing member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a Sustaining Fellow of the Art Institute of Chicago. She continues her membership at the Toledo Museum of Art. She has been a director-at-large of the Alumnae Association of Smith College.
Dr. Webb is grateful for an idyllic childhood in Ottawa Hills, where she ran and played outside all day long, walked home from school for lunch daily, and sadly learned that Santa Claus was really her parents on one of those lunchtime walks. She and her small class of 89 students spent 12 formative years together and, in 2016 she enjoyed with them their 50th reunion.
Dr. Webb splits her time between Chicago and Frankfort, Michigan. Her daughter, Cynthia Barton, is an architect in Brooklyn.