Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
Dwight E. Smith, CEO, Sophisticated Systems Inc.
Governing committee, The Columbus Foundation
Dwight E. Smith is committed to helping others. Currently in his fifth year of a seven-year term on The Columbus Foundation’s governing committee, Smith is deeply engaged in the foundation’s community initiatives. His passion for good and rapport as a civic leader have made him an instrumental force in furthering the foundation’s mission: to strengthen and improve our community for the benefit of all its residents.
Many governing committee members serve in ways above and beyond the standard committee obligations. Some serve on additional nonprofit boards; others step up to become engaged community advocates; and a handful have even worked with the foundation and other nonprofits to develop innovative programs that respond directly to community need. Not one to be overwhelmed by opportunities to do good, Smith has done all three.
In 2016, Smith established My Special Word, a program to inspire young people to explore their values and goals through positive words. Implemented through a network of partner nonprofits and financed through a fund Smith established at the foundation, each participant receives a wristband to remind them of their word, their identity and the person they want to become. Since the program’s inception, over 10,000 children have participated.
Smith’s service is more than typical board leadership. Upon encountering need, he responds with innovation, generosity and heart.
He is also the founder and CEO of Sophisticated Systems Inc.
Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year Awards
Catherine Harper Lee, founder and executive director
Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center
It took dedication and persistence for Catherine Harper Lee, a survivor of sexual violence, to see her abuser incarcerated. But at least 15 additional children paid the price for the system’s failure. They were sexually abused by the same offender within the three-year period after Lee reported her abuse to justice officials.
After Lee told her story on “America’s Most Wanted,” she received hundreds of calls from victims across the country. Her case wasn’t an isolated incident.
In 2000, she started the Justice League out of her dining room with no funding. Working cases one-by-one and demonstrating the dire need, she began to gain support. In 2003, she officially launched the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, one of the first organizations and the only one in Ohio where crime victims can report and receive assistance to resolve victims’ rights violations.
Today, it has two offices, 10 employees, including Lee as executive director, and 12 volunteers. The Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center has been recognized for its innovative life-changing work at a local, state and national level.
In 2016, the organization launched the Victims’ Rights Toolkit, an intuitive online resource for crime victims and advocates that explains specific rights in layman’s terms for each stage of the process: hospital, investigation, prosecution and post-conviction. After Lee spoke at a national conference in August 2017, 22 states requested assistance to develop their own toolkit.
Lisa Hinkelman, Ph.D., founder and executive director
Ruling Our eXperiences Inc. (ROX)
In 2006, Lisa Hinkelman, Ph.D., a professor of counseling at The Ohio State University, began a research study to address the challenges that adolescent girls face: drops in self-esteem and confidence, navigating difficult friendships and relationships, dealing with unhealthy dating interactions and sexual violence, planning for their future and developing effective leadership skills.
With a team of professionals and graduate students, she sought to determine what actually creates knowledge and behavioral changes in girls so they can live healthy, independent, productive and violence-free.
ROX or Ruling Our eXperiences the research project became ROX the nonprofit in 2011 when Hinkelman took a leap of faith to translate her vision into a structure that she hoped would grow and develop. Hinkelman, founder and executive director, and the ROX team created a sustainable and scalable model. ROX trains and licenses professional school counselors, social workers and educators in its curriculum. More than 160 facilitators implemented ROX in their school and nearly 2,000 girls across the country were in ROX programs this past school year.
Recognizing a lack of representative data and well-established statistics on the thoughts, behaviors, attitudes and perceptions of girls, Hinkelman also set out to conduct the country’s largest survey with girls. The Girls’ Index: New Insights into the Complex World of Today’s Girls, released in October 2017, details findings from surveys with nearly 11,000 girls.
Medical Mutual SHARE Award
Land-Grant Brewing Co.
Adam Benner, president
Community stewardship and involvement is a priority at Land-Grant Brewing Co. In its three years as a company, Land-Grant has donated more than $62,000 to people and organizations. It also tries to make its events zero-waste, diverting compost and recycling as much as possible.
Land-Grant employees often develop individual community involvement with the full backing of the company. Sustainability Manager Vincent Valentino, President Adam Benner and Community Partnership Manager Jackie Kemble have spoken or will speak at state and national conferences on sustainable brewing practices, encouraging community involvement and building community through philanthropy. In addition, Land-Grant donates mentorship hours to aspiring breweries and other companies that want to fit charitable giving into a budget in creative and sustainable ways.
Land-Grant supported over 100 organizations in 2017 through its Community Happy Hour, where 20 percent of proceeds go to a nonprofit. It also has dedicated beers to raise money and awareness, such as One Goal One Rye’d for Pelotonia.
Land-Grant focuses on its home neighborhood, Franklinton, encouraging long-term community sustainability by supporting nonprofits such as Franklinton Farms and the Homeless Families Foundation, hiring local artists to paint a mural and donating 900 hours to pick up litter.
In 2014, when Land-Grant’s facade was vandalized, the company designed a T-shirt that depicted the vandalism and donated all proceeds, $4,000, to the Gladden Community House and Harmony Project.