Martha Shorts MacDonell

Martha Shorts MacDonell, 1952

B.A., Denison University
M.A., Bowling Green State University

Citation awarded June, 2002

Martha “Martie” Shorts MacDonell, class of 1952, is a community advocate and leader in the arts who often works through the arts to foster education, diversity, and civic advancement. She is an extraordinary example of the individual’s power to make a difference.

Martie has held leadership roles in community organizations in her hometown of Lima, Ohio, for nearly 30 years. She also serves on the board of Ohio Arts Council and formerly served on the board of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies.

In 1966, Martie was a founding member of the Council for the Arts of Greater Lima. Through that organization, she fostered artist residencies in local schools and was instrumental in the development of an Arts Magnet School program, one of whose purposes was eliminating segregation. Working through the Mizah Community Center in Lima, she helped found a childcare center for low-income women, with the goal of helping the women join the workforce. Martie was also a co-founder of the American House, a Lima cultural center that celebrates the area’s diverse ethnic heritage and industrial history.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Martie helped lead a major civic project in Lima, the Veterans Memorial Civic Convention Center. She chaired two capital campaigns for the 10-year project, which raised more than $8 million for the Center. She continues to serve on the Civic Center’s board of trustees. Her hometown has also benefited from her work to initiate an annual arts festival, to establish an urban design program, and to spearhead historic preservation.

Martie holds a master’s degree in English from Bowling Green State University and an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Ohio Northern University. Her other awards and recognitions are numerous. Last autumn, she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1981, she received the Arts Administrator Award of the Ohio Arts Council, and the Arts-in-education Award from the same body in 1981. Her other honors include the Golden Paradigm Women of Achievement Award (1991) and the Athena Award from the Lima Area Chamber of Commerce (1997).

A number of Martie’s family members are also Denisonians, including her husband, Alexander “Sandy” D. MacDonell Jr., class of 1951; her sister Barbara Shorts Forman, class of 1949; and her daughter Amy W. MacDonell, class of 1979.