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Xavier Magazine

Female Athletes First

Before a girl emerges as an Olympic medalist, hall of famer or record-breaking champion, she has to start somewhere. And her first step is almost as important as the one she takes across the finish line, says Margaret Hofmann. That’s why Hofmann is making sure those steps are taken with care and guided by proper training.

Hofmann, who earned a Master of Education in 1985, created FemaleAtheletesFirst.com, an online resource dedicated to training girls for athleticism and not for appearance.

Through the site, visitors can find advice from experts on conditioning programs designed just for women, guidance for functional training, online coaching support, information on improving performance, enhancing training and preventing injuries.

“As a coach, I realized that some girls and their parents don’t know how to get started or what kind of conditioning training they should be on,” she says. “It’s just a matter of getting the information to these girls—as well as their coaches and parents—so they can find out what they need to do to compete effectively and safely.”

A lot of girls are sustaining greater rates of injury because they don’t strength-train to prepare for their sport-specific training, says Hofmann. While they may strength-train in the summer, they don’t do it consistently. “That’s due in part to some of these gender-related stereotypes,” she says, “like telling girls that they need to stay petite and muscle makes them look big and bulky. If they have the proper strength-training, they are actually protecting their body.”

Now that the site is off and running at a steady pace, Hofmann is setting her sights on the global arena. “I want our site to be the go-to site for this information and make an impact on female athletes across the globe. I just want to make a difference in their career and help them find a rewarding experience, enjoy a sport-focused career and live a healthy life. That’s what it’s all about.”

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Xavier Magazine

Family of the Year

Dora George strives to keep her family, other people and communities thriving. She has been honored for all three efforts. A recipient of a master’s degree in criminal justice in 1980, George has worked in social services more than 30 years. She is a therapist at The Crossroads Center in Cincinnati, where she was honored in 2007 with the Dr. Gunter Grupp Clinician Excellence Award for her work with people suffering mental health problems and other issues.

Besides her full-time job, George volunteers on three community service projects in the Madisonville neighborhood. She helps organize job fairs, links ex-offenders with church mentors and works with juvenile court to help first-time, non-violent offenders. In 2007 she was presented the Nefertiti Award by The Cincinnati Herald newspaper for outstanding community service. In 2008, George and her family received the Family of the Year Award at the Midwest Regional Black Family Reunion.

“Caring for people has always been something that just seems to come naturally to me,” she says. “A lot of it is based on my upbringing as a child in a household where values were instilled in me.” George’s professional background is a combination of work in social service, criminal justice and mental health. “All of them go hand in hand in my work,” she says. George facilitates a 10-person mental health group three hours a day, five days a week. “It can be chaotic,” she says, but it also can produce success stories.

“One client I had was diagnosed with schizophrenia and he had been in the system awhile and lost contact with his family,” says George. “While he was in treatment, his dad in Baltimore located him in our program. We worked to get him to Baltimore to live with his father and his family. We always want broken families reunified. And this particular breakthrough was significant because this client hadn’t had any contact with his dad for more than 10 years.”

George has also conquered challenges in her personal life, as symbolized by the Family of the Year Award. “I am a divorced mother with two daughters and two granddaughters,” she says. “The award came about because one of my daughters wrote about all the things I do. It’s important for me to model appropriate behavior in my household for my daughters and granddaughters. I show them a good work ethic, I make sure I know the people they’re seeing and the places they’re going, and I help them find the love of God.”

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Xavier Magazine

Clearing the Air

When Congress needs information on the environment, John Stephenson’s phone starts ringing. Clean air, clean water, toxic chemicals, safe drinking water, hazardous waste cleanup, climate change. You name it. If it’s in the environmental protection realm, Stephenson gets the call.

Stephenson is director of natural resources and environmental issues for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress that has firmly established itself as independent and non-partisan in the world of dependant and partisan politics, due largely to the work of people like Stephenson.

“My work—my reports and testimony—results in recommendations to Congress and federal agencies for improving the nation’s environmental laws and programs,” he says.

Stephenson earned his MBA from Xavier in 1983—with an accounting concentration—which he combines with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Purdue University to create reports that are not only factually thorough but also complete in their understanding of both the business and private sectors. He also occasionally finds himself in the hot seat, sitting at a table in front of a panel of Congressional committee members testifying about his findings.

While being questioned by members of Congress can be nerve-wracking, everything he does undergoes multi-level reviews and checks to make sure it is factually correct. “We guard our reputation for independent, fact-based work carefully because without it we are just like any of the hundreds of special interest, trade association and lobby organizations that proliferate in D.C.,” he says. “There are a very few truly independent organizations that provided unbiased analysis in D.C. and GAO is revered as the gold standard.

“And it’s important for Congress to have an organization like GAO it can turn to and be assured that the analysis will be fact-based, unbiased and non-partisan. Both sides of the aisle have confidence of the quality of GAO.”

While stressful, Stephenson says he “truly enjoys” his work. “I feel I’m making a difference in improving the way the federal government works and providing good stewardship of the taxpayers’ dollars,” he says.

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Xavier Magazine

Blended Careers

Inez Simons Baird majored in art and minored in business, and the combination has proven to be a perfect blend for the 1991 graduate’s career. She is an art consultant. Baird and her husband started a company, Art Resource Team in 2000.
“We work with architects and design firms to put together art packages for companies, hospitals and other organizations,” she says. “We gather information from the client and look at the space and the walls and the colors. And we look at the client’s budget. We then find artwork—whether it’s originals, prints or fine art posters—that provide the best look for the space. We’re like your personal art shopper. We think about all the artists we’ve met over the years, hone in on the image that the client wants to project and negotiate costs with the artists. We work with artists so many times that we’re able to stay within a budget by negotiating.”

Baird launched her career with a low-paying, entry-level job. “The year I graduated I went to work for an art gallery in downtown Cincinnati,” she says. “They were very heavily into finding art for commercial projects. So I got a little taste of that by working there as an administrative assistant. I just got my foot in the door. It was a $5-an-hour job and it proceeded to go from there.”

Baird expanded her career in October 2008 when she and her husband opened an Art Resource Team gallery in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming. “I’ve always dreamed of having a gallery,” she says. “We decided to open the gallery because we have a love of art and we always have art sitting around waiting for projects. We promote local, regional and national artists at the gallery. The art includes everything from original paintings to photography. We also have artful gifts, creative dishware, handmade scarves and jewelry. The key is that everything is artfully done.”

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Xavier Magazine

Beyond Description

Greg LeSar’s master’s thesis was a bit unusual. After graduating from Xavier in 2004 with a liberal arts degree, he enrolled at the Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design to pursue a Master of Fine Arts. His thesis was a combination movie and rock ’n’ roll composition titled “The Self Conspiracy,” a title he picked up from a psychology class at Xavier. It is almost beyond description, and that’s the way LeSar designed it. 

“I wanted it to be very hallucinatory and psychotic and to look like the people who created it are completely crazy,” he says.

A glimpse of the project is available at www.theselfconspiracy.com, but LeSar says you have to experience it in person to get the full effect. He occasionally stages it at various venues with musicians providing a live soundtrack to a film composed of what he calls “bizarre visuals.” The movie is about a man lost in the world after the apocalypse.

“I wanted to do something that was creative, ambitious, revolutionary, highly artistic and just on the horizon of being actually possible,” he says.

LeSar says creating “The Self Conspiracy” is just the latest turn on an artistic journey that began in his hometown of Lancaster, Ohio. “I learned a lot about the world growing up in a little town on a horse farm in central Ohio,” he says. “When I was growing up, movies were the most important thing in the world to me. And they’re even more incredibly important now. As a tool of expression and a medium of information, it’s for me the highest art form.”

While a film buff, LeSar also sees his enjoyment of rock ’n’ roll as a perfect blend. “In the future of the arts, I see a merging of forms,” he says. “It creates a visceral kind of feeling that has the power to become part of you.”

So what’s next? It’s back to the books. LeSar says he’s planning to pursue a doctorate degree in the arts. “I’ve been given a lot of opportunities by professors to express myself,” he says. “Movies have always been a way for me to connect to the world, so when it was my turn, I gave it everything I had.”

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Xavier Magazine

Golf Story

Men’s golf coach Doug Steiner scans the world for great golfers, recruiting them from Canada to the Virgin Islands. But two of his most recent finds came from his own backyard—literally. This year Steiner has two of his children—daughter Lindsay, a junior, and son Doug, a freshman—playing golf at Xavier.

Recruiting them, of course, was pretty easy. Steiner is in his 21st year of coaching at Xavier, so the kids have spent their entire lives on campus. And Steiner was very familiar with their games, as they often hit the links along with younger sibling, Rachel. As one might expect from kids of a coach, their games are good. The younger Doug’s drives carry nearly 300 yards, while Lindsay was twice conference player of the year in high school.

As with any parent, Steiner says being able to coach his kids has been, well, a dream.

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