Each year, Webb School of Knoxville hosts several events to recognize and honor the achievements and contributions of its alumni. Spartan graduates are an integral part of the Webb School legacy, and the school is extremely proud to celebrate their accomplishments.
For 2021, Webb has named Class of 1977 alumna Susan Buonocore Zaunbrecher as the recipient of its Distinguished Alumnus/na Award. The honor is among the highest bestowed upon a member of the school’s alumni community and is presented annually to a Spartan alumnus/na whose business or professional accomplishments and service to others exemplify the goals of Webb School in the spirit of its motto, Principes Non Homines - Leaders Not Men.
Zaunbrecher is an Executive Vice President and the Chief Legal Officer of Fifth Third Bancorp and Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. Fifth Third is the 11th largest commercial bank in the United States. At Fifth Third, she manages the legal and communications departments, consisting of over 110 employees. She also serves on the 12-member Enterprise Committee, which drives the company’s strategy and operations. A member of Fifth Third’s inaugural Executive Diversity Leadership Committee, Zaunbrecher is also the executive sponsor of the Women’s Executive Business Resource Group.
Prior to joining Fifth Third, Zaunbrecher was a partner with the law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, where she practiced for over 28 years after graduating from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. At Dinsmore, she led the corporate department while maintaining a busy corporate and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) practice. Her specialty was providing legal services to financial institutions, including Fifth Third. Zaunbrecher served on the firm’s Board of Directors for 17 years and was the first woman member of the Board’s Executive Committee as well as the first woman department chair at the firm. In addition, she chaired the firm’s Recruiting Committee and Diversity Committee for several years.
A graduate of Tulane University where she completed her bachelor’s degree in art history, Zaunbrecher is the Chair of the Alpaugh Family Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati. She is also a member on numerous not-for-profit boards, including: Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, REDI Cincinnati (real estate development arm of the Chamber of Commerce), Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio, Queen City Club, and Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum.
In 2018, Zaunbrecher was named a University of Cincinnati College of Law Distinguished Alumna. She was also selected by Best Lawyers in America as the 2017 Lawyer of the Year in Cincinnati in Securities, and is listed as a Best Lawyer in Banking, Finance, Securities, and M&A. Her other accolades include 2016 YWCA Career Woman of Achievement selection, Girl Scout Woman of Distinction, and recognition by the National Diversity Council as one of Ohio’s “Most Powerful & Influential Women.” In addition, Zaunbrecher was named a recipient of Webb’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2017.
Zaunbrecher returned to campus, August 26, to receive Webb’s Distinguished Alumnus/na Award and to speak with Lower and Middle School students at their morning assemblies, and later with the Upper School during Chapel. Zaunbrecher shared how her experiences and her teachers at Webb helped build a foundation for her to succeed in college, law school, and her career. She also noted how her teachers at Webb took a genuine interest in her learning and well-being, which was instrumental in guiding her on her life’s path. Having built a successful career marked by a series of firsts in executive leadership, Zaunbrecher also offered her perspectives on character, leadership, integrity, and the importance of adaptability.