Sunday, March 8, 1998
Judith Van Ginkel
Committed to health care and children

BY MAXINE BERKMAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

1997 Women of the Year
Judith Van Ginkel in a lab at BioStart, which develops biomedial research into commercial ventures at the University of Cincinnati.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |

No one has accused Judith Van Ginkel of wasting time. Or words. Or gestures.

Her hair drawn into a Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg twist, she looks out the window of her office in the Health Professions Building on the University of Cincinnati campus and says:

"Health care has always been an important part of my life, and I learned it very early. One of my earliest memories is going on house calls with my father (the late Jack Basman), a pediatrician in Charleston, W.Va. It's a long way from house calls to what medicine and health care have become."

Mrs. Van Ginkel has been assistant senior vice president at the UC Medical Center since 1994.

"I'm involved in a variety of disparate projects that relate to the medical center or UC," she says. "My job has to do with strategic thinking."

Her boss, Dr. Donald Harrison, UC senior vice president and provost for health affairs, says: "Judy know everyone. That's one of her strong points. She creates liaisons among people." A sampling of her responsibilities:

Helping found BioStart, a biomedical incubator for developing research into commercial ventures.

Chairing the advisory committee for GyneConcepts, a research and development company that has patented an in-home Pap testing kit.

Developing strategy for NetWellness, an electronic consumer information library.

Developing a marketing plan for the UC Women's Health Initiative, a program that is recruiting 4,000 women for national medical studies.

Serving as president of the Hoxworth Blood Center advisory board. She is Hoxworth's first female president and the only female blood bank president in the country.

Mrs. Van Ginkel is passionate about Every Child Succeeds, a regional collaborative she is chairing for United Way & Community Chest. The program will provide trained persons who meet with new mothers in their homes and connect them with community services. "Judy uses both sides of her brain," says Richard Aft, United Way president. "Her commitment to children with love and nurturing is her left-sider; her obsession with measurable outcomes is pure right-sider."

Judith Van Ginkel
  • Birthplace: Charleston, W.Va.
  • Residence: Wyoming.
  • Occupation: Assistant senior vice president at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
  • Family: Married 14 years to Dr. David Van Ginkel, a pediatrician. Children: Leigh M. Primack, a Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation development officer, and Jennifer Mooney, Time Warner Cable vice president of public affairs, both of Cincinnati. Two grandchildren.
  • Education: Bachelor of science in English and education from Ohio State University; master's in health care administration and doctorate in political science and public administration from the University of Cincinnati.
  • Best advice received: ''Be true to yourself'' (From her father, the late Jack Basman.)
  • Among her proudest accomplishments, Mrs. Van Ginkel says, was helping to turn around Drake Center Inc. in Hartwell. Hired in 1990 as Drake's development vice president, she says, "We went to work when Drake was in a dire situation, and we turned it into something that has become an important community resource - not a place to die, but to improve the way you live."

    Mrs. Van Ginkel developed strategies for passing the Drake Center tax levy in 1994 and two University Hospital - Children's Hospital Medical Center tax levys, in 1981 and 1996, that generated a total of $410 million.

    "I was lucky," she says. "My father gave me permission to succeed."

    Nevertheless, success came at the end of a long, rigorous path. Mrs. Van Ginkel was a '60s mom. When her daughters, Jennifer Mooney and Leigh Primack, were growing up, her primary role was as a mother. "As a child of 11, my parents divorced and my mother was faced with raising my sister and me as a single mother," Ms. Primack says. "She earned a Ph.D. and worked to support us in a situation that was challenging."

    Mrs. Mooney says her mother "has always paid careful attention to her roles as mother and grandmother."

    According to Mrs. Van Ginkel, granddaughters Caroline and Nora Mooney "make me playful, giggling and smiling."

    "In the final analysis," she says, "long after everything else has faded away, it's the relationships with people that matter."

    She and her husband, Dr. David Van Ginkel, travel every six months to unusual destinations, often remote and uncomfortable.

    "We are fascinated by seeing what this world looks like and how people live," she says. "Life is going by so quickly. I don't want to miss any of it."

    When advising her daughters about balancing their professional and family lives, she tells them: "Establish your priorities. You don't have to do it all, all the time, or you'll burn out."

    Then she adds: "I say that in my own life, but I can't say no."

    Juanita M. Adams | Rebecca Bechhold | Sarah Blanken | Shannon Carter
    Susan S. Friedlander | Barbara Gould | Margaret Richards | Susan Tew
    Judith Van Ginkel | Kathy Wade
    Cover | Introduction | Previous winners