Retired Administrator, Iddings Foundation
From the successful reincarnation of the Victory Theatre to the amazing survival of the Dayton Arcade, many of Dayton’s most cherished landmarks owe their existence today to Maribeth Graham.
“Maribeth is the living version of the Margaret Mead quote: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has,’ said her nominator. ”If she had not been around in 1975 when friends were talking about what would replace the old musty Victory movie theatre, chances are we would not have a rebirth of the Victoria Theatre, because unlike the rest of us, Maribeth did something. She joined the chorus of those singing “Let’s Save the Victory!”
Graham helped found the Victoria Theatre Association, serving as its president from 1997-1979 and continuing on its Board until 1987. It was Maribeth’s influence again that helped save the Dayton Arcade from becoming a victim of downtown urban renewal. She was part of the trio forming Friends of the Dayton Arcade in 2007. A Charter Board member of the Lincoln Society of Dayton, she helped lead the charge to place a statue of Abraham Lincoln where he now stands on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.
“Her vision has made a difference in a great number of Dayton organizations,” said her nominator. “As Administrator of the Iddings Foundation, scores of organizations—including YWCA Dayton and its girls programming—have benefited from Maribeth’s foresight, her creative intelligence, and her energetic and effective leadership.”
A Sustaining member of the Junior League of Dayton, Graham received its initial Sally Riffle Award for Innovative Leadership in 2012. A past teacher, she served for 19 years on the West Carrollton School Board, making her the longest-serving female board member at that time. She was inducted into the West Carrollton Educational Hall of Fame. She has served as a voting and now life trustee of the Ohio Wesleyan University Board of Trustees, her alma mater, for 37 years. She was a Founding Trustee of Antioch University Midwest, formerly Antioch McGregor, and served over 10 years until this body was disbanded.
A past president of the Dayton Council on World Affairs, in the late 80’s, following a Citizens Diplomat trip to the (then) Soviet Union, she organized both a month long series of programs, “Soviet Spring”, and prior to the end of the Cold War, several New Year’s Eve “Candlefloats for Peace”, firmly believing that building knowledge and respect for history and education can be an effective way to eliminate racism, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.