The 2021 VIA and DA award recipients with board president and head of school

 

On October 2, the Cincinnati Country Day School community celebrated Dr. Rodney Geier ’71 and Sarah Herrlinger ’90 for their professional accomplishments as well as their embodiment of the school’s commitment to service. 

Herrlinger was selected as the 2021 Distinguished Alumna, and Geier was selected as the 2021 Virtue in Action Award recipient.

Geier, a retired radiation oncologist, said that “Country Day was one of the best things that ever happened to me. You really had to work hard. The teachers were excellent, and they demanded a very high level of academic achievement.”

Herrlinger is Apple’s senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, where she leads accessibility programs and support for disability communities worldwide to ensure that Apple products, services, and workplaces are built for everyone. Herrlinger agrees that her experience with the teachers at Country Day made a difference in her life.

“I had so many phenomenal teachers who absolutely expected the best from their students,” said Herrlinger. “Because of my French education at Country Day, I have been able to actively participate in meetings in Brussels and Paris, which leaves my colleagues pleasantly surprised. Having French as a standard component of my curriculum from Montessori through senior year was hugely beneficial and something I will always cherish.”  

Through her international travels, Herrlinger has encountered a lot of people – including Country Day students.

“On a business trip in Italy I ran into a Country Day student and her mom in a hotel elevator of all places,” explained Herrlinger. “By the time we exited the elevator we had made plans for a lovely lunch together. The teenager was everything I expected from a Country Day student – she was bright, articulate, poised, and outspoken. It was so nice to realize that the school had not changed and was still preparing students for success in life beyond Country Day.”

As this year’s Distinguished Alumna, Herrlinger was honored for her groundbreaking work focused on ensuring accessibility is built into everything Apple creates.

“Sarah’s professional journey highlights the importance of a wide-ranging liberal arts education at Country Day, with a focus on leadership and life skills – where we must prepare students for careers that do not yet exist,” said Rob Zimmerman ’98, head of school. “Sarah’s job did not exist when she was a student at Country Day or even when she began working at Apple. But while Sarah may not have learned how to make iPhones accessible for visually impaired users during her tenure at Country Day, she did learn habits of mind and became a lifelong learner at Country Day.” 

Herrlinger agrees that her experiences at Country Day prepared her for her position at Apple.

“Country Day is where it all started for me with the Apple II e’s in the computer science classroom and volunteering as a sophomore at Stepping Stones,” said Herrlinger. “The faculty teach you to care, take chances, step outside of your comfort zone, and embrace opportunity. I love that Country Day continues to help students discover who they are and how they can become forces for good as future generations of dreamers and doers.”

As this year’s Virtue in Action Award recipient, Geier was recognized for his dedication, attitude, and motivation expressed through volunteer service to the community.

“Rodney is the epitome of our school’s motto – Virtue in Action,” said Zimmerman. “In fact, Rodney’s prodigious tenure at Country Day was tellingly predictive of the philanthropic life he would later embrace. His active leadership and caring nature have made Country Day and the Queen City a better place.”

Geier has held many leadership roles as a volunteer, most notably at Country Day but also with many other non-profit organizations – from serving on the school’s Board of Trustees as well as boards for Family Service Agency of Cincinnati and St. Ursula Villa to serving on the Medical Staff Executive Committee of The Christ Hospital and as Councilor of the Academy of Medicine. Geier has also been a longtime supporter of LADD, a disability-focused nonprofit that was founded by his family. 

Through it all, he is grateful for the experiences and friendships Country Day provided him. “At Country Day we were challenged; we learned diversity; we were taught to eloquently express ourselves in writing; and we were encouraged to volunteer at an early age. Added to that, my life-long best friends are former Country Day students. I went to college and then on to my residency and my career and the people who I consider ‘my people’ are my friends from Country Day. I am grateful to celebrate and share in our humanity with these people and this institution.”