One special moment in Dennis Allen’s life
changed everything for him. While
attending the University of Akron, Allen helped a young girl with special needs
achieve new heights. The feeling he got from
watching her confidence grow has remained
with him and propelled his career with Hattie
Larlham, a not-for-profit organization that
provides services for children and adults
with mental retardation and developmental
As CEO of Mantua-based Hattie Larlham,
Allen has taken it to new heights. Under his
leadership, revenue has increased fourfold.
Allen is redefining the way a philanthropic
organization can be managed. Instead of
focusing on donations and government funding, he implemented several new initiatives
for Hattie Larlham to raise its own funds. One
such initiative is training mentally handicapped people to work meaningful jobs.
This system is a win-win for Hattie Larlham and the people it helps by allowing them to
live a more normal life and share in the same
accomplishments as many in their age group.
“Today’s society has become more aware
and accepting of the needs of individuals
with disabilities,” Allen says.
That awareness has increased the demand
for services from organizations like Hattie
Larlham. Dwindling governmental support is
compounding the challenge of operating a
business “that serves society, yet requires
society’s support in return,” Allen says.
So, Allen has worked to make Hattie
Larlham into a flexible, quick-moving, entrepreneurial entity.
Entrepreneurial innovation is made possible by having a business structure that welcomes ideas and builds a path for action
based on analysis of those ideas.
That’s the basis of “vision casting,” Allen’s
businesslike view of entrepreneurial thinking. Vision casting is a flexible planning process that takes into account the overall
mission of Hattie Larlham and has significantly enhanced the sense of empowerment
with those involved in the process.
HOW TO REACH: Hattie Larlham, www.hattielarlham.org or