'Nothing happens by being a spectator.' Delores Hargrove-Young named 2024 Great Living Cincinnatian

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber has announced the four individuals who will be honored as Great Living Cincinnatians.

Great Living Cincinnatians are recognized for their business and civic attainment on a local, state, national or international level; leadership; awareness of the needs of others, and distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization.

The 2024 honorees, who will join the previous 171 awardees named since 1967, are: John Barrett, Sally Duffy, Donna Salyers, and Dolores Hargrove Young.

Delores Hargrove-Young
Delores Hargrove-Young

Helping other people is hardwired into Delores Hargrove-Young’s DNA. From the very beginning, the vice chairwoman of d.e. Foxx & Associates, Inc., was an example of offering assistance to those who needed it.

Her beginnings were humble. She grew up in Jacksonville, Florida – “we called it Southeast Georgia,” she said – with her brother and parents. Her mother was a homemaker, her father a blue-collar worker, and they learned that abundance wasn’t necessary for generosity. She wasn’t aware of her economic status until visiting family told her otherwise.

“I thought, ‘How could we be poor when my parents were always helping other people?’ ” Hargrove-Young said.

Eager to take on the world, Hargrove-Young’s first professional role was as an activities director for a geriatric program. It was here she learned even more deeply the value of generosity.

“I absolutely loved (it) because the senior citizens loved you unconditionally,” she said. “They were always glad to see me. It’s a good feeling when you know that you’re helping people and they’re so glad to see you when you actually show up.”

Hargrove-Young’s next career move was to State Farm.

“I was on such a fast track,” Hargrove-Young said. “I had been there for seven years and had six promotions, and I really had decided what the next step was going to be for me at State Farm. I had some great mentors that were helping me to achieve that.”

But fate intervened. In 1986, her former husband took a job in Cincinnati, and Hargrove-Young and their three children followed suit – reluctantly.

“Neither I nor our daughters were excited at the time about the move, for different reasons,” she said. “I had mapped out my career at State Farm, and our daughters did not want to be uprooted from their friends. Our son, our middle child, had been in Cincinnati for two months with his dad before we arrived. He was the only one that was excited.”

Initially, her plan entailed continuing in the insurance business. Upon leaving State Farm as a senior claims representative, the company provided a glowing recommendation, and she was hired over the phone by a local insurance company and told to report to work on Monday.

“I showed up, in my blue suit, white blouse and little tie, because that was the appropriate attire back in the day for women, to find out the job had been filled,” Hargrove-Young said. “Imagine my surprise, since I spoke with the recruiter Friday afternoon. I later realized that no one knew I was Black.”

She didn’t let that dampen her spirits for long.

“What it taught me was that people can set barriers for you,” Hargrove-Young said. “However, God sometimes closes a door because He has something better for you. If I had taken that job, if it had worked out, I would have missed a major blessing.”

A conversation with Dave Foxx, founder of d.e. Foxx & Associates and formerly of Procter & Gamble, led to that blessing. That same year she moved to Cincinnati, she became president and COO of one of d.e. Foxx’s brands, XLC Services, a managed service provider. She started out in a 2,500 square foot office on Winton Road.

“I remember calling myself to make sure the phone worked,” Hargrove-Young said.

More than 30 years later, she has helped grow the company, now located on W. 9th Street, to its current roster of 1,800 employees. Under her leadership, XLC won a variety of prestigious awards, including the Eli Lilly & Company Supplier of the Year, two-time winner of the P&G Minority Supplier of the Year, Cincinnati USA Supplier Diversity Circle of Excellence, and the African American Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.

“We have been able to grow our business based on the excellent service that we provide to our customer,” she said. “We encourage our customers to give us the good, the bad, and the ugly. We provide a service and our motto is, ‘Improving all we touch.’ ”

She is the immediate past chair of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation board. Other past chair roles include chairing the Go-Red Annual Luncheon; co-chairing the American Heart Association Circle of Red; and the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. She serves on several other boards, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; 7 Principles Foundation, Inc.l Lindner Executive Cabinet for the Carl H. Lindner College of Business; Inspiring Service; and as secretary for the Sister Accord Foundation. She belongs to the Queen City Chapter of The Links Incorporated. She has received numerous awards, a sample of which include: the 2015 Girls Scouts of Western Ohio Women of Distinction Award; 2018 Boy Scouts of America Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award; and the 2019 Women’s Alliance Inc. Jewel of the Community and Metropolitan Award. In 2020, she was named an Enquirer Woman of the Year. In 2022, she received the Northern Kentucky University Lincoln Award.

Her thoughts as she adds Great Living Cincinnatian to that impressive roster?

“It is difficult to articulate what receiving this award means to me,” said Hargrove-Young. “I find that I am still in disbelief. I am both humbled and honored by this award. I never in a million years thought I would be a Great Living Cincinnatian. I stand on the shoulders of current and former recipients.”

3 questions with Delores Hargrove-Young

What advice do you have for the next generation of Cincinnatians? 

Be intentional! Nothing happens by being a spectator. When you are in the room where things are happening, and you are sitting at the table with key influencers, don’t squander the opportunity. Remember, you are not just there to only carry your own paper, because you are carrying the paper for those not as fortunate, and the next generation. Once in the room you have a voice, so be intentional. Representation matters, so represent.

Do you have a motto or creed by which you live your life? 

I have a few principles that I live by daily. 1) Treat people better than you want to be treated. 2) Each one teaches one. 3) It is our responsibility to mentor the next generation and set them up for success. My hope is that all of these principles will translate into the next generation setting up the next for success and so on.

Who has been an inspirational figure in your life? 

That is a difficult question to answer, because I have had so many in my personal and professional life. My parents encouraged me to be the best version of myself. As a good friend said to his daughter, "Perfection is not required; however, mediocrity is not acceptable." My three children, four grandchildren, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, forever sisters and brothers-in-laws, sister friends, baby girls, and little brothers. I have been pleased to have a circle of family and friends who have cheered me on. The inspirational figures in my life are not necessarily world-famous people; they are my people.

This article was provided by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. The 2024 Great Living Cincinnatians will be honored at the chamber's 2024 annual dinner – Legacy & Promise: A Celebration of Leadership – at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Chamber names Delores Hargrove-Young 2024 Great Living Cincinnatian