Thank you for another great event!

Congratulations to all the winners!

A collage of images from the 2019 Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio 

On May 15, 2019, more than 700 arts supporters gathered in Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate the exemplary work of nine outstanding Ohioans. From the transformative power of the performing arts at work in prisons to meaningful design making a difference in a community, the nine 2019 Governor's Awards winners are doing amazing things in the arts throughout Ohio. Congratulations to this wonderful group of people commited to making a positive impact through their creative endeavors, and thank you to everyone who attended this year's celebration!

 The Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio is a statewide program that showcases and celebrates Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts patrons, and business support of the arts. The program is presented by the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation.

Stay up-to-date with all Governor's Awards news and announcements by following the Ohio Arts Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

WATCH: 2019 Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio Luncheon


Award Categories

ARTS ADMINISTRATION | Individual who has shown sustained, impactful, and visionary leadership of an arts organization. 

ARTS EDUCATION | Individual or organization that has made significant contributions through leadership and creativity to advance arts education in Ohio's schools and community organizations. 

ARTS PATRON | Individual, or individual or family foundation, that, over time, has sustained and enhanced the arts in their community or the state of Ohio through contributions of their time, effort, or financial resources. 

BUSINESS SUPPORT OF THE ARTS (Large) | Private or nonprofit business, government, or media with 100 or more employees that has, over time, provided extraordinary support to the arts locally, statewide, regionally, or nationally through a contribution of personnel, financial, or other resources. Nominations will be considered in both a small and large category. 

BUSINESS SUPPORT OF THE ARTS (Small) | Private or nonprofit business, government, or media with fewer than 100 employees that has, over time, provided extraordinary support to the arts locally, statewide, regionally, or nationally through a contribution of personnel, financial, or other resources. Nominations will be considered in both a small and large category. 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATION | Individual or organization that works to create or strengthen interactive arts participation among diverse community members while increasing public awareness about the role of the arts in community life. 

INDIVIDUAL ARTIST | Ohio artist whose work has made a significant impact on his or her discipline locally, statewide, regionally, or nationally. 

IRMA LAZARUS AWARD | The Irma Lazarus Award goes to individuals or organizations who have helped shape public support for the arts through their work as advocates and have brought national and international recognition to Ohio through sustained dedication to artistic excellence. 


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. The Arts Day & Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio Luncheon evolved from the Ohio Arts Council's Governor's Awards for the Arts ceremony and Ohio Arts Day, coordinated by Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation, a nonprofit arts advocacy organization. 

Contact for more information about past winners.

Meet the 2019 Governor's Awards for the Arts Winners

Oberlin (Lorain)

Phyllis GorfainPhyllis Gorfain, professor of English emerita at Oberlin College, originated Oberlin Drama at Grafton (ODAG) as a Shakespeare-centered performance program at Grafton Correctional Institution in 2012. As artistic director of ODAG, Phyllis has directed or helped direct 11 productions, five of them full or abridged Shakespeare plays.

Through Phyllis’ initiatives, donors and other volunteers provide funding, mentoring, and many other forms of support, such as financial management, web design and maintenance, sound design, and program production. ODAG thus provides a transformative space for its actors, Oberlin students, guest directors, lecturers, visiting performers, volunteers, and audiences.

Photo by Dale Preston

ARTS EDUCATION | Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
Cincinnati (Hamilton)

Ensemble Theatre CincinnatiEnsemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC) was founded in 1986 on a belief that the arts make neighborhoods thrive. For more than 30 years, ETC has built a reputation for exceptional artistic leadership and engaging community-centered programming. ETC presents some of the most exciting new plays in its region, and as a pillar in Cincinnati’s arts community, it continues to play an essential role in leading Over-the-Rhine’s thriving urban arts district.

ETC’s artistic focus is to premiere socially conscious plays that drive important community conversations and to hire professional artists who want to call Cincinnati home (for the long run). It provides theatre education programs that enrich young minds and prioritize inclusivity, diversity, and access, creating pathways to successful professional careers for the next generation of artists while growing the local talent pool.

ARTS PATRON | Sallie and Randolph Wadsworth
Cincinnati Area (Hamilton)

Sallie and Randolph "Duck" WadsworthSallie Robinson Wadsworth and Randolph “Duck” Wadsworth have made an impact on Greater Cincinnati through their legacy of philanthropic support in the visual arts, music, and theatre communities. Although Sallie passed away on Nov. 22, 2017, Duck, who taught English literature at Miami University, continues to passionately support the arts. In 2013, the Sallie Robinson Wadsworth Endowment for Exhibitions was developed as part of the Taft Museum of Art’s $12 million endowment campaign. Sallie and Duck have also supported the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Duck currently serves on the board of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and as director emeritus at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Sallie served on the boards of many organizations, including the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, and volunteered with the Special Projects Pool of the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts (now ArtsWave).

Toledo (Lucas)

Owens Corning

Owens Corning (OC) is a global market leader in the development, manufacture, and marketing of insulation, roofing, and fiberglass composite products and solutions. Based in Toledo, Ohio, for more than 80 years, OC is committed to leveraging its people and products to make the world a better place.

The company’s dedication to providing access to the arts in its home community serves as a tangible demonstration of its purpose. Through its financial support, board participation, and widespread employee volunteerism, OC is helping to build a vibrant community that is enhanced by the world-class cultural amenities and visual and performing arts organizations it supports. 

Marysville (Union)

Ronette “Roni” Burkes-Trowsdell

Ronette “Roni” Burkes-Trowsdell previously served as warden at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio, and was recently promoted to Regional Director of Specialty Institutions. Throughout Roni’s 18-year tenure with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, it has been apparent her inner drive is fueled by her passion for people. Roni has chosen to lead and support diverse projects that aim to increase access to the arts for those who are justice-involved around the state. By offering these opportunities for creative expression, ORW is actively working to encourage community engagement between people inside and outside prison.

Roni’s involvement with the Harmony Project in Columbus and her dedication for the past 28 years to the service work of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, also exemplifies her drive to save lives. She currently serves as president-elect for the Ohio Wardens and Superintendents Association, vice president for the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, and as an advisory board member for Franklin University’s Center for Public Safety and Cybersecurity Education and Tiffin University’s Alumni Board.

Youngstown (Mahoning)

RJ ThompsonRJ Thompson is a tenured assistant professor of graphic and interactive design in the Department of Art at Youngstown State University. Parallel to his teaching, he is the principal and creative strategist for +Public, a design research-based social enterprise that focuses on cultivating community and economic development impact through the creation of branded communication platforms, creative place-making, and storytelling initiatives for communities-in-revival.

In 2015, he was one of several recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Our Town” grant for the INPLACE (“Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts & Community Engagement”) project. In 2017, RJ received a “Best of Marketing Award” from the Ohio Economic Development Association for his efforts in rebranding the City of Youngstown, Ohio, and in 2018, he was accepted into the prestigious Cohort 2 of the National Arts Marketing Project. RJ recently received a scholarship to participate in the National Arts Strategies’ “Arts & Culture Strategies Executive Program” through the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in graphic design from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2011.

Toledo (Lucas)

Leslie AdamsLeslie Adams, a signature status member of the Portrait Society of America, is an internationally recognized artist specializing in narrative art and portraiture. Her patrons include many distinguished members of private society as well as the corporate, academic, religious, cultural, judicial, and civic leaders of our day. Leslie’s works have graced the walls of the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona, Spain. Her meticulously rendered drawings and paintings have received awards in the Art Renewal Center’s International ARC Salon and from the American Society of Portrait Artists’ Foundation and Portrait Society of America, where she earned the prestigious William F. Draper Grand Prize in its International Portrait Competition.

 Her major solo exhibition, Leslie Adams, Drawn from Life, part of the Toledo Museum of Art’s 2012 Season of Portraiture, was a childhood dream fulfilled and the most significant milestone of her career since graduating from the University of Toledo and New York Academy of Art. She is represented in the permanent collections of the Toledo Museum of Art, the Ella Sharp Museum of Art, the Academy of Achievement, and numerous other institutions throughout the world.

Columbus (Franklin)

Dr. Mark Lomax IIDr. Mark Lomax II, a critically acclaimed composer, recording artist, drummer, activist, and educator, is a Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University (OSU) Artist Residency 2018 award recipient. A highly sought-after lecturer, Mark specializes in the socio-political and spiritual aspects of African-American art, music, race, and the usage of the arts to build community. Heavily influenced by his father, a pastor, and mother, a composer of gospel music, Mark was introduced to gospel and jazz at an early age and continued his study of gospel music with Dr. Raymond Wise, founder of the Center for the Gospel Arts. As a jazz musician, he has toured with the Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet and worked with notable artists such as Clark Terry, Marlon Jordan, and Azar Lawrence, among others.

Mark, also a 2017 Denison University Mellon Artist-In-Residence, holds a Doctor of Music Arts degree in composition from OSU. He is in a prestigious and elite group as one of 30 or so African American composers in the United States who have terminal degrees in classical music. His myriad experiences have allowed him to create a unique blend of styles in his music.

IRMA LAZARUS AWARD | Dayton Literary Peace Prize
Dayton (Montgomery)

Dayton Literary Peace PrizeThe Dayton Literary Peace Prize (DLPP) honors writers who use the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Launched in 2006 and recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious literary honors, it is the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States. Each year, the Prize awards $10,000 to one fiction and one nonfiction author whose work advances peace as a solution to conflict and leads readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view. Additionally, the Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award is bestowed upon a writer whose body of work reflects the Prize's mission.

Since its inception, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, principally made up of volunteers, has awarded prizes to 72 established and emerging authors from 20 countries. Through the DLPP University and Library Consortiums, presentations have reached tens of thousands of high school, college, university, and community readers, and DLPP-developed curricula based on winning books is used in Ohio high school and university classes.

About the Award Artist

Caroline RowntreeCaroline Rowntree currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, and works in her studio full time as a printmaker. She studied at Central Saint Martins School of Art in London, England. For more than 30 years, Caroline worked as a graphic designer in Montreal, New York City, and New York’s Hudson Valley and has taught in the graphics department of the State University of New York. She has exhibited in shows and galleries in Ohio, New York, and Texas.

Caroline's early work was influenced by the iconic American designs of the patchwork quilt. Her work evolved from using the surface, pattern, and forms of these cultural icons to a purer, simpler exploration of color in space. These new works are a continuation of this theme, discovering images from her photographs and constructing digital and abstract yet representational landscapes. The process will take Caroline through many stages before arriving at a finished piece. The suggestion of the natural forms of flowers, plants, and trees are paramount in her work, but most of all, color is the driving force. The prints are archival digital prints created on the computer and printed with archival inks on archival watercolor paper in editions of 25.

Learn more about Caroline at

Support and Partnerships



Ohio Channel logo                                National Endowment for the Arts logo


Buckeye Broadband


Crown Lift Trucks

Ignite Arts

Owens Corning


  CD 102.5 logo      CityScene Media Group logo   Charter Communications logo

Dispatch Media Group                 Ohio Magazine            91.3 WYSO logo


Communications Strategist
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Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation logo