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Article: Mariemont High School Distinguished Alumni Recipients Announced for 2023

Mariemont High School Distinguished Alumni Recipients Announced for 2023

Distinguished Alumni Peggy Lyman Hayes and Susan Abernathy Frank

The Mariemont Alumni Association and the Mariemont School Foundation are thrilled to announce the esteemed recipients of the Mariemont High School’s prestigious Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2023. These awards are bestowed upon individuals who have shown extraordinary contributions and/or remarkable accomplishments in their chosen career, skill, civic duties, military service, philanthropy, volunteerism, the arts, sciences, education, in religion, or various other pursuits.

The 2023 awards are being presented to two remarkable women who have left an indelible mark on their respective fields. The honorees are Peggy Lyman Hayes, a proud graduate of the class of 1968, and Susan Abernethy Frank, who graduated in 1960. These exceptional individuals were chosen from a pool of nominations submitted to a committee of Mariemont School Foundation (MSF) board members. Throughout the years, the Distinguished Alumni Awards have celebrated outstanding alumni, including notable figures like Jeffrey Anderson, Marie Huenefeld, Mark Lippert, and James Verdin, among others.

On October 6th, 2023, both Peggy Lyman Hayes and Susan Abernethy Frank will return to their alma mater, Mariemont High School. During their visit, they will have the opportunity to connect with current MHS students, share their inspiring life stories, and meet current faculty members. That evening, the honorees will be featured as guests of honor in the district’s annual Homecoming Parade. The pinnacle of the event will be their formal introduction and recognition before the Homecoming football game at Kusel Stadium. They will be presented with plaques and their names and photographs will be permanently displayed on the Distinguished Alumni Wall at Mariemont High School.
About Peggy Lyman Hayes
Peggy Lyman Hayes is being honored for her extraordinary career and accomplishments in the world of dance. Her journey began in Cincinnati, where she trained at esteemed institutions like the Myrl Laurence Ballet Studio, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and Chicago’s Stone-Camryn Ballet School. Peggy’s impressive career saw her perform as a soloist with the Cincinnati Ballet, earn a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet school in New York, and dazzle audiences on Broadway in the musical “Sugar.”

Her remarkable talent led her to become a Principal Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, where she played leading roles in some of the company’s most iconic works and starred in several new ballets created specifically for her. Her storied career has seen her perform and star on some of the world’s most prestigious stages and venues: at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and its first exhibition of the treasures of Tutankhamun, The Metropolitan Opera House, the City Center in New York, and multiple Broadway theaters. She has performed for distinguished audiences at the Kennedy Center, London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which was attended by members of the royal family, and on television on several occasions for various dance specials and programs. 

Beyond her performance career, Peggy Lyman Hayes is the Regisseur for the Martha Graham Center and has staged ballets for companies all over the world such as the Dutch National Ballet, Ballet Teatro Argentino, Rome Opera Ballet, Dance Connecticut, the Sarasota Ballet, the University of Michigan, Miami City Ballet and Ballet de Lorraine (France), among others.

Additionally, she founded her own dance company, The Peggy Lyman Dance Company, and has taught dance at various institutions, including Juilliard, NYU, Barnard College, The American Dance Festival, SMU, Northwestern, the University of New Mexico, and Eastern Connecticut Concert Ballet. At NKU and University of Hartford’s Hartt School, she taught dance and also designed curriculum for their dance and theater departments. She has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hartford and serves as an Honoree Trustee on the Julius Hartt Musica Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2018, Peggy was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Peggy continues to inspire and contribute to the world of dance as both a performer on "MoveIt" DVD’s and as a master teacher of the Martha Graham Technique.

About Susan Abernethy Frank
Susan (Heil) Abernethy Frank, a graduate of Mariemont High School’s class of 1960, has left an indelible mark on the fashion and retail industry in Cincinnati. Susan’s family moved to Terrace Park in the early 1940s and she returned as an adult to raise her own children. Her remarkable career in fashion and her extraordinary volunteer efforts in the community make her a truly distinguished alumnus of Mariemont High School.

Back in the 1960s, Cincinnati was a fashion go-to destination with the top department stores attracting high-end customers from all over the Midwest. Stores like Shillito’s, McAlpin’s, Pogue’s and Gidding Jenny made a lasting impact on the retail landscape of Cincinnati, and Susan a key figure in making this happen. 

She began her career in 1964 with Shillito’s and quickly became a notable figure in the world of fashion, working as a show producer, special events coordinator, and public relations director. She retired from full time work to motherhood for a time, and later returned after years of free-lance and volunteering. Finding time to balance between family and career, Susan’s innovative work extended to youth engagement, where she initiated and managed programs to attract the younger generation to the world of fashion and especially self-improvement through classes, fashion shows and other special events. 

As the Fashion Director for Gidding Jenny, she orchestrated high-profile events with renowned designers like Ralph Lauren and Bill Blass.  She oversaw their famous Gidding Jenny Bridal Show, which attracted people from all over to attend. Susan’s work caught the eye of Neil Bortz of Towne Properties, as he was reorganizing Kenwood Towne Center, and he hired her for all marketing and PR, eventually running fashion events as well. 

In addition to her career, Susan has devoted her life to community service, volunteering with all the school district PTOs, as PTO President in Terrace Park Elementary, as a coach and statistician, scout leader, traveling to Appalachia and setting up programs with InterParish ministries, Junior League volunteer and through teaching a self-esteem program for teenage girls. Even after leaving Terrace Park, Susan became the President of the Terrace Park Historical Society.

At a city level, Susan was on the board and volunteered for various organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Wellness Community, Emmanual Community Center in OTR Elementary Schools, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the East Rowe Historic District in Newport, and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation board. She helped grow support in starting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and remains a docent at the Museum. Her dedication to mentoring and her involvement with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative are testaments to her commitment to helping others. It’s no surprise that Susan was recognized as a Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the year in 2011, one of the most prestigious awards for women the region.

Susan Abernethy Frank’s remarkable contributions to both the fashion industry and the community and Peggy Lyman Hayes’s incredible world-class dancing career make them both deserving recipients of the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The Mariemont School Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing educational excellence in the Mariemont City School District. Their Annual Fund Drive plays a crucial role in supporting the organization’s mission. For more details about the Mariemont School Foundation and the Distinguished Alumni Award, please reach out to MSF Trustees Liz Alter at 513-405-8188 or Leslie Willett at 513-259-7156. Nominations for the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award will be solicited in the spring. Visit for additional information.

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