Daytonian of the Week: Alexis Larsen

Chances are, no matter what Dayton social function you attend from galas to festivals to happy hours, you’ll run into Alexis Larsen.

Though she's not a Dayton native, Larsen has completely immersed herself in the Gem City scene since she started at Wright State University in 1994. Lucky for her, her day job as external affairs director for the Dayton Art Institute allows her to plan (and then celebrate at) some of the museum's biggest events, including Art Ball and the upcoming Oktoberfest.

In the middle of putting the finishing touches on Oktoberfest — one of Dayton’s biggest festivals of the year and the museum’s biggest fundraiser — our Daytonian of the Week let us learn a bit more about her.

What do you do in Dayton?

Alexis Larsen: I am the External Affairs Director for The Dayton Art Institute. I'm responsible for the marketing and public relations, guest services, membership and work with the development team under the supervision of Director and CEO Michael R. Roediger to fund raise for the museum. I'm also responsible for the museum's large events, Art Ball and Oktoberfest — happening Sept. 25, 26 and 27!

In addition, I sideline as a writer and food critic for the Dayton Daily News and Cox Media Group Ohio. Sometimes you will even catch my byline here on I also do freelance graphic design and marketing and am on several committees, so I definitely keep very busy!

When I’m not working, I spend time with my husband, David Schweitzer, or my wonderful friends or family. My brother and his four kids are in the area and my parents retired to Dayton from Philadelphia and love it as much as we do.

How did you get to Dayton?

I was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Florida and moved to Cincinnati for middle school and high school. I went to Indian Hill High School (Go Braves!) and played many Dayton area teams in field hockey.

I moved to Dayton in 1994 for college at Wright State and never left. It’s not so much that I fell in love, but it quietly wooed me with amazing people, incredible job opportunities and one wonderful adventure after another.

What do you love about life in Dayton?

AL: I live like a queen in Dayton. It's a smaller city with big city amenities and an incredible cost of living.

Living in downtown really is an embarrassment of riches. There is so much to do and see, and with the new Link Dayton Bike Share it's gotten even more convenient. On top of that, the people in Dayton are the coolest. It's like I'm living the theme song from Cheers: "sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name … where they're always glad you came." It's hard to go anywhere downtown where I don't know someone and that is such a warm, wonderful feeling.

Life in Dayton is not too big and not too small, it’s just right. It’s a town where you can afford to innovate, be a business owner and live your dreams like you wouldn’t be able to in a larger town. Dayton is a can-do kind of town and I’m a can-do kind of girl.

If you could change or improve one thing about Dayton, what would it be?

AL: Its self-esteem. Dayton has so much going for it and so much happening, but it suffers from a lack of touting all that it has to offer people. Sometimes I think the people living here don't believe in their town like they should. This is a city where you won't be swallowed up. It's a city where you can establish yourself and be someone. It's a place where you can be connected and build a much fuller, richer life because of it.

It’s funny because many times the people I meet who love Dayton the most are not from here. Dayton rocks, and I’m just hoping there is more awareness around what a gem the Gem City really is.

What is your go-to food/drink event or restaurant in Dayton?

AL: I love everything from an elegant dinner at the Winds Café to tacos and margaritas at Elsa's. We are blessed to have a nice selection of places to dine at in Dayton and we have many excellent chefs. For drinks I would say we have one of the best Bourbon bars in the country with The Century Bar. That's always going to be one of my recommendations for a cocktail.

What do you wish people knew more about in Dayton?

AL: I wish more people knew and took advantage of the number of cultural opportunities that are out there. We have a world-class art museum, symphony, opera company, ballet, performing arts center…and when you look at the statistics, there is only a small group in town taking advantage of that. Life is so much richer with the arts; I wish more people in Dayton would explore these wonderful opportunities that exist close to home.

I think Lisa Grigsby explained this really well and that I've been saying it for a long time: Dayton is a hub to many huge, awesome places. So many amazing cities and places are easily accessible if you live in Dayton, and with the Dayton International Airport, it's not difficult to get to other parts of the country relatively quickly. The cost of living here and the location makes it really easy to travel.

If you have never been to Dayton History at Carillon Park you need to add it to the list. It's like our little Greenfield Village with historic structures and exhibits documenting the history of Dayton and its people from 1796 to present day.

Who are some other Daytonians that you think are making a particular great impact on our city?

AL: The list is way too long. At the museum alone, I would name our director, Michael R. Roediger, our entire board of trustees, our 64 amazing associate board members, our incredible staff and volunteers. These are all people working to sustain and strengthen a historic museum in Dayton that is committed to enriching lives and serving the community by creating meaningful experiences with art.

I think there are people like this in every company, non-profit, city government, etc. that deserve our thanks for what they create and do every day in our city.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

AL: I want my choice to be based in reality of something that could be possible, so I would say omnilinguilism. The ability to understand and speak any form of language would be a super cool superpower.

Give us a fun fact about you.

I'm a member of the Dayton Sister Cities Committee. Did you know that Dayton has five sister cities?

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