2015 Pillar Awards: Honoring greatness in the name of outstanding community service

Nonprofit Executive Directors of the Year Awards

Do unto others

MiMi Chamberlin is devoted to the mission of assisting others

cin_pa_MiMiChamberlinMiMi Chamberlin
Executive director
Churches Active in Northside (CAIN)


Assisting more than 3,000 individuals with approximately 7,000 types of emergency services in one year alone is no small feat. But MiMi Chamberlin rises to the challenge.

As the executive director of Churches Active in Northside (CAIN), Chamberlin, her staff and budget have grown to be able to provide food and clothing for approximately 400 households each month. CAIN is a neighborhood-based food pantry, with specialties in emergency assistance, housing for homeless women and other human services.

Through her 14 years as executive director, Chamberlin has led CAIN through several periods of significant transitions. Under her leadership, CAIN has seen growth in fundraising for its expanding services and an increase in volunteers.

This year, CAIN acquired Grace Place Catholic Worker Community, which provides transitional housing for homeless women and children in crisis for up to one year until they can get back on their feet. Staffed by three live-in co-leaders and eight to 10 volunteers, Grace Place cares for five women and 12 children.

Taking over responsibility for Grace Place meant taking on a whole new type of program and managing a second location in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Chamberlin found a way to continue without disruption and expanded services for CAIN’s guests.

Chamberlin is working to incorporate the neighboring building and possibly launching a Women In Ministry program. It would offer graduate students a venue to pursue a vocation in community service and/or ministry. Three local universities have expressed interest in the idea.

Making a difference

Darlene Kamine is a driving force behind improving Cincinnati area schools

cin_pa_DarleneKamineDarlene Kamine
Executive director
Community Learning Center Institute


Education is a passion for Darlene Kamine, executive director of Community Learning Center Institute, an offshoot of Cincinnati Public Schools Community Learning Centers. These outlets serve as community hubs that promote academic excellence and provide recreational, educational, social, health, civic and cultural opportunities for students, their families and the community.

Prior to founding the organization, Kamine was a juvenile court magistrate. She is also the founder of ProKids, a guardian ad litem program for abused and dependent children in the child welfare system.

Through this experience, she is able to bring her unique perspective to help drive the community learning centers to provide the programs and services that students, families and communities need to be successful.

In 2009, Kamine founded Community Learning Center Institute to continue to support and promote this approach to academic reform and community revitalization. Knowing that there was not new money to create Community Learning Centers, Kamine based the model on realigning services that already exist in the community and co-locating them in schools. The mission is to support academic achievement, revitalize neighborhoods and increase return on investment in public schools.

Kamine is the driving force of the nonprofit agency, the work of which has led to the formation of Alliance for Community and Educational Success, a committee led by a Cincinnati city councilman and the Cincinnati School Board president. Not only is this work impacting the entire city, it is making an impact nationally, as leaders from around the country have come to Cincinnati to explore the model.

A refuge of support

How Arlene Nolan helps the city’s homeless

cin_pa_ArleneNolanArlene Nolan
Executive director
Drop Inn Center


Arlene Nolan, executive director of Drop Inn Center, follows the principles of servant leadership and sets an example of respect and trust. She promotes healthy teamwork and empowers both staff and residents. She is not afraid to make hard choices when necessary as she continually seeks to improve DIC, its operations and its strategy.

Recently, Nolan implemented a strategic planning process to structure the work plans for the future. To complete the process, key members of the staff came together with the board to complete objectives, goals, strategies and actions. Progress against the plan is being tracked and reported.

In addition to her internal efforts, Nolan works tirelessly to collaborate with community stakeholders. She has negotiated and planned for both the new men’s and women’s shelters. DIC has also improved services by renewing partnerships with other organizations as well as establishing new relationships.

Through Nolan’s tenure, perception of the center has improved from being viewed as a “warehouse” to that of a shelter dedicated to creating positive outcomes.

DIC is Cincinnati’s largest homeless shelter that feeds, clothes and shelters 222 people each day. Donations of time, talent and treasure are necessary to keep it functioning. Over the past year, 90,000 meals were served through the Feed the Need program. The program asks volunteers to cook and serve a meal to homeless residents to help reduce feeding costs for the center.

Nolan’s dedication and resolve to help those in need continues to allow DIC to thrive and grow.

Personal touch

Santa J. Ono brings well-received rapport to the University of Cincinnati community

cin_pa_SantaOnoSanta J. Ono, Ph.D.
University of Cincinnati


In the realm of higher education there is an immeasurable pressure on university presidents to wear many hats. They must make fun appearances at campus events yet lead with poise in times of challenge.

As the face of the University of Cincinnati, Santa J. Ono, Ph.D., bears the pressure and wears the hats with grace and gusto. His active Facebook and Twitter accounts document appearances in his trademark bow tie, demonstrating his outgoing and relatable persona.

Since his arrival at UC four years ago and his appointment to president two years ago, Ono has created a positive, ripple effect. Under his leadership, UC has reached unprecedented heights of enrollment, academic preparedness of students, fundraising, research and school rankings.

But it is Ono’s personal touch to his leadership style that stands out. During the last two budget cycles, Ono selflessly turned down scheduled pay increases in order to direct more funding toward scholarships.

When it was revealed that Ono intended to sell the president’s official university residence in order to create more scholarship opportunities, many throughout the UC family were greatly moved by his gesture of humility.

As UC prepares for its bicentennial celebration in 2019, Ono is thinking beyond the expected festivities and more about how to usher in UC’s progress and sustainable impact for future Bearcats. Ono continues to inspire students, alumni, faculty and employees to own a sense of pride and passion for UC.