We are so excited to bring you our first edition of Behind the Bridge, where we will get to know one of our Bridge Team members. In our first edition, we’ll spotlight Fred Neurohr, our CEO. Fred has played an important role in leading us, starting from when we were just a group of (mostly) strangers meeting on Zoom figuring out our goals. He’s been a constant light and we are looking forward to sharing some of his story with you.
Why Greater Cincinnati and why the Bridge? What brought you here, what made you stay here, and why are you invested in our community?
My family and I have been members of the Cincinnati community for almost 20 years (my wife is a lifelong resident), and we are truly a family of helpers and organizers. The September 11th attacks on my hometown of New York inspired a new way to live life – I was running a Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Fordham University in the Bronx at the time – my team and I were suddenly thrust into a situation where we had to navigate that horrible day and the weeks and months that followed as a team: me, two social workers, a handful of student volunteers, and a dozen teenage boys (on the waitlist to be matched with a mentor). While we all put the pieces back together, as it were, I found myself in my new home of Cincinnati less than two years later.
I go home to New York several times a year and, while I’m always happy to be there, it’s always great to come home to Cincinnati. There’s just something about the absence of the hustle-bustle, being able to let your guard down and exhale (to an extent; let’s not get naïve or anything) in Cincinnati – if I’m honest with myself, I don’t know if I ever had “the elbows” needed to thrive in New York City, but I’m certain I can put those elbows away here in Cincinnati. Most of the time, anyway.
What’s it like being the CEO of a brand new nonprofit? What kind of things do you do?
Being a CEO still doesn’t sound real to me and I’m really happy to contribute to The Bridge’s mission and vision. When you’re not a practitioner or provider like the rest of this great team, there are only a few other ways to contribute, and one of them is the Executive Director. A lot of what I do for The Bridge dovetails with my natural skills – honed in the NYC Boroughs: schmoozing and being a blabbermouth. It’s like the old saying, “you can always tell a New Yorker, but you can never tell a New Yorker anything.” That means I’m always talking about what we can do, what we should do; I’m always looking for new ideas, new partners and get us moving on those possibilities.
What’s been one of your favorite memories so far at the Bridge?
One of my favorite memories of The Bridge so far was one of our first – if not the first – in-person meeting of the team in my backyard (sans Lindsay in Colorado). Between Dr. Heasley’s baked goods, our old dog Mookie being a goofball, and just kicking back with everyone is something I’ll never forget. I don’t recall getting much actual work done that day, but I think everyone was okay with that. A close second was watching our Renee Loftspring having her very first taste of Indian food and the unbridled culinary enthusiasm that followed!
Where do you see The Bridge in 5-10 years? How about 20?
I was inspired by my visit to Turnstone in Fort Wayne, IN, and their giant adaptive sports complex – the sheer size and versatility of the place, all its offerings, all the heart and achievement that goes down within their four walls- that’s something special to behold, and something I’d love to help bring about in Cincinnati. I mean, sure, baby steps, but I’m certain that The Bridge will grow to be the premier adaptive sports organization in the region before very long: it’s my sincere belief that we will bring about a sports complex like Turnstone that is both about adaptive sports and inclusive sports, where people of all abilities participate together.
Okay, ending with an important one: what’s one of your favorite restaurants in the area?
This is a tricky one! Having grown up in the Little India section of Queens, I really love Maya Indian Cuisine in West Price Hill. I’m also a HUGE fan of my Sicilian brother Nick Pietoso and his glorious restaurant Nicola’s in OTR - I would have the yellow pepper soup at his son’s place Via Vite in Fountain Square every day if no one stopped me! And, if you don’t try the Bread Bar’s focaccia, salads, and cannoli, you’re doing your taste buds a serious disservice.