The Ohio Region was formed in 1987 following two years of planning and organizational efforts. In 1985 Rod Risley, newly named Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, asked Dr. Mary Navarro to work with him to form a region in Ohio. At the time, there were sixteen chapters in the state. Dr. Navarro, with long and extensive experience in Phi Theta Kappa at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, agreed to work to build a region and bring the sixteen chapters together as an organization.

image of Ohio regional meeting

During the first year of this planning cycle, the first annual meeting was held at Central Ohio Technical College, and Alpha Theta Sigma of Shawnee State Community College served as host for the event. In 1986, the second annual meeting was held at Lorain County Community College, and the host chapter was Phi Pi from that college. Billy Wilson from Headquarters attended and conducted workshops helping student members, advisors, and alumni to work through the criteria to meet the requirements for establishing a Phi Theta Kappa Region. The annual meeting worked to write a constitution and by-laws for the proposed region.

In the fall of 1987 Alpha Lambda Eta of Edison State Community College in Piqua hosted the first Regional Convention. The new constitution and by-laws were presented, and officers were elected. Donations from several chapters established the first regional treasury. The region was active from the start, adding new chapters on a regular basis, but the treasury's growth was slow and in 1990 the region voted to increase region dues to assist in the work of the Ohio Region of Phi Theta Kappa.

In these early years, few advisors expressed an interest either in serving on a regional advisory council or attending regional meetings. Consequently, the officers restructured the executive board of the region. The region was divided into six districts, each representing a fairly equal number of chapters. Each district then nominated one student district representative to serve that district on the executive board. The idea was to strengthen and support the chapters in the region by giving each district an equal voice in the region's policies and actions and to offer new student leadership opportunities. The district representatives, like regional officers, were elected at the regional convention each year, serving a one-year term of office.

Several years after the region was formed, Ohio initiated its first Leadership Conference. Alpha Nu Lambda, at Clark State Community College in Springfield, hosted the first Leadership Conference with support from International Headquarters. Ohio altered its annual calendar, holding a leadership conference in the fall and the regional convention in the spring. When International Headquarters restructured its annual convention awards, they gave each region three Honors Institute Scholarships. Under the leadership of the Ohio President, Tim McIntire, the region's executive committee met in Springfield, with Alpha Nu Lambda serving as host for the event, and revised the regions' awards system. The region now established three meetings a year, with Leadership in the fall, an Honors Institute in winter, and the regional convention in spring. Host chapters for each event would receive one of the three Honors Institute Scholarships provided by International Headquarters.

During this formative period Dr. Navarro, with the assistance of Mike Watson from Headquarters, began pursuing and establishing transfer scholarships for Phi Theta Kappans to four-year institutions. These efforts paid off quickly as transfer scholarships were offered by Bowling Green State University, the University of Dayton, Wittenberg University, Xavier University, and the University of Toledo. (A more complete, current list can be found on the website.)

In 1995 the Ohio and Indiana Regions became sister regions and agreed to support mutual goals and efforts of each region. This includes fundraising activities, international election campaigns, visits between regions, and sharing experiences and expertise.

image of Ohio regional meeting

In 1995 Dr. Navarro announced she was going to step down as Regional Coordinator and following a search by Headquarters via the Region, Dr. John C. Kesler from Lakeland Community College was selected as the Interim Coordinator. In 1996 following his year as Interim Coordinator, Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters confirmed his selection as Coordinator for the Ohio Region. In 2003 Dr. Kesler announced his resignation as Regional Coordinator and Cindy Carbone from Washington State Community College was appointed Regional Coordinator.

In 1996-97 the Ohio Region introduced the All Ohio Academic Team program in the Region. Under the leadership of the Region's Presidential Ambassador, Dr. Ralph Doty of Lakeland Community College, the Ohio Region in partnership with the OACC – Ohio Association of Community Colleges - hosted its first All Ohio Academic Team event where $15,000 in scholarships was presented to Ohio’s best and brightest college students.

In 1998, following a year and a half study, the Ohio Region restructured its by-laws and calendar to bring it closer to the International calendar. The calendar for region events changed as did part of the awards system. In 1998 at the international convention in Nashville, the Ohio Region was presented with the Milestone Award signifying recognition for its programming and activity. In 2005 at the international convention in Dallas, TX, the Ohio Region was presented with its second milestone award.

In 2003 at the Anaheim, CA International Convention (Good as Gold), Sandra Mahl, Beta Theta Eta Chapter, North Central State Community College, was elected Div. I International Vice-President.

In 2004 at the Minneapolis, MN International Convention (Ignite The Fire Within), Katie Fox, Nu Pi Chapter, Sinclair Community College, was elected Div. I International Vice-President.

In 2005-06 the region evaluated the district alignment and voted to re-align the district boundaries to better reflect chapter distribution and geographic travel for the district representatives.

In 2006 at the Seattle, WA International Convention (Reach Higher), David Kerr, Alpha Rho Epsilon Chapter, Columbus State Community College, was elected Div. I International Vice-President.

image of Ohio regional meeting

In 2007 the Ohio Region celebrated its 20th Anniversary at the Ohio Region Convention, held at Edison Community College – the site of the first convention held in the region. For the first time, the region contracted with an outside keynote speaker – Coach William Yoast from “Remember the Titans” football fame. It recognized 20 past regional officers and the largest gathering of alumni members to date. The region continues to grow and prosper and the 20th Anniversary was a tribute to that success.

In 2007 at the Nashville, TN International Convention (Be the Power), Connie Myers, Alpha Rho Epsilon Chapter, Columbus State Community College, was elected Div. I International Vice-President.

In 2008 at the International Convention in Philadelphia, the Ohio Region Officer Team was recognized as a Distinguished Regional Officer Team. The following year at the 2009 international convention in Dallas, Cindy Carbone received a Distinguished Regional Coordinator Award. At the 2011 Phi Theta Kappa annual convention in Seattle, Alpha of Ohio was recognized as the Most Outstanding Regional Alumni Association.

In 2008 Alpha of Ohio, the Ohio Region’s alumni association was voted by the Ohio Region to oversee all regional fundraising. The Ohio Region logo was officially established in 2009. In 2010 Ohio Region license plates were available for purchase in the state of Ohio with $25 of the fee going to regional scholarships. This marked a historic event in Phi Theta Kappa history as the Ohio Region became the first region to have its own specialty license plate legalized through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The regional hallmark awards program was revised to reflect changes to the international program in 2010. In 2011 the regional scholarship application process was redesigned so one common application for all scholarships could be submitted.

Pictures of Cheire Barth

In 2008, the Beta Gamma Epsilon Chapter approached Ohio State Representative Scott Oelslager with a proposal for an Ohio specialty license plate dedicated to Phi Theta Kappa. He requested a co-sponsor for the bill and Ohio State Representative Jennifer Garrison, Marietta, Ohio was asked and she accepted. The Ohio Region joined together as a combined effort to collect 500 signatures required for the Bill. The Phi Theta Kappa license plate was signed by the governor to allow implementation of the logo with the effective date of February 27, 2010, per House Bill 27 in the 128th General Assembly. Per the Ohio Revised Code Section 4503.505, the Phi Theta Kappa logo license plate was implemented and release on May 28, 2010. Both Representatives Oelslager and Garrison were inducted as honorary members for their efforts by Stark State College and Washington State Community College respectively. At the Ohio Region Awards Convention in 2011, the Cherie Barth Completion Scholarship was established honoring the advisor of Beta Gamma Epsilon for her efforts in acquiring the license plate. The license plate brings in $25.00 for each plate sold funding the scholarship.

Pictures of Willie Lanier

At the 2011 regional convention keynote speaker, Willie Lanier – Pro Football Hall of Famer of the Kansas City Chiefs – announced he was endowing the Ohio Region $10,000 to start a new scholarship. The Dorothy C. Lanier Scholarship for the Ohio Region was developed with the first scholarship being given at the 2011 Leadership in Action event in July. Mr. Lanier conference called into the event to speak to attendees about the scholarship, congratulate the first recipient, and state he looked forward to working with the Ohio Region in the future.

The Ohio Region celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012 at the annual regional convention held at Central Ohio Technical College – the site of the first meeting to develop the Ohio Region twenty-seven years earlier. Twenty-two past regional officers were recognized and over forty alumni attended. Guest speakers included Coaches William Yoast and Herman Boone – from “Remember the Titans” fame – and Executive Director, Dr. Rod Risley. This was the largest convention ever held by the Ohio Region. A tribute of the region’s silver anniversary was given showcasing the growth and success of the Ohio Region and its chapters.

Picture of Cindy Carbone

In 2014 Cindy Carbone submitted her resignation to take a position at Oakland Community College in Michigan as Dean of Communication Arts and Humanities. Julie Cohara was appointed as the new regional coordinator.

At the International Convention, April 2019 the Ohio Region was awarded three Hallmarks: Three Star Region, Excellence in Chapter Engagement, and Excellence in Membership Recruitment.

In April of 2019, Julie Cohara resigned as Regional Coordinator. In May, David Sigmund of Stark State College was appointed Regional Coordinator.

In 2020, the Ohio Region Officer Team was recognized for the second time as a Distinguished Regional Officer Team. The Region went from a Three Star Region to a Five Star Region. Membership acceptance increased by 132% and the region was awarded a Hallmark for Excellence in Leadership.

The Region remained a Five Star Region in 2021 and it was awarded two Hallmarks for Excellence in Transfer Readiness and Excellence in Fellowship.

For the third year in a row, the Ohio Region was named a Five Star Region.

On December 31, 2022, Chatfield College, Beta Omicron Eta, closed its doors for good.

The Region is indebted to and wishes to thank Dr. Mary Navarro, Dr. John Kesler, Dr. Rod Risley, Ms. Cindy Carbone, and Ms. Julie Cohara for their strong, enthusiastic, and dedicated support to Phi Theta Kappa and the Ohio Region and for this history of the region.