United for our communities

The Pillar Award for Community Service was developed by Smart Business and Medical Mutual to honor businesses and individuals dedicated to making Northeast Ohio a better place to live. The program is designed to demonstrate the tie between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds and showcase best practices. 

Medical Mutual, along with co-founding partner Smart Business, is proud to present the 22nd annual Pillar Awards for Community Service. The Pillar Awards recognize organizations making a difference in their communities — organizations that give back in so many ways through volunteering, charitable giving, pro bono support and more. Our honorees prove that businesses can spark positive change. 

At Medical Mutual, we believe we have a responsibility to support the local communities throughout Ohio where we live and work. We also believe in honoring the exceptional contributions businesses make, because we know that when it comes to improving the health and well-being of our state, a united business community is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Medical Mutual’s SHARE program is vital to our organization’s community giving effort. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate. Our employees did all those things and more through this year’s SHARE program, coordinating more than 50 events in support of nonprofits and community agencies and volunteering more than 6,000 hours. Given the program’s importance, one of the Pillar Awards that will be presented honors a company whose employees best reflect the values of Medical Mutual’s SHARE program. 

We are privileged to be in the company of extraordinary organizations that uplift their communities. Together, we’re building a stronger, healthier and more vibrant Ohio.  

On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, we congratulate all of our 2019 Pillar Award recipients.


Rick Chiricosta
Chairman, president and CEO
Medical Mutual of Ohio


The Medical Mutual Pillar Awards will take place on December 5, 2019 at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility.


Pillar Award honorees

Aladdin’s Eatery
Fady Chamoun, Founder and CEO

Fady Chamoun arrived in the U.S. from Lebanon in 1972, with a dream of opening a restaurant featuring healthy Lebanese fare. 

In 1994, he and his wife, Sally, opened the first Aladdin’s Eatery in Lakewood and have since expanded to encompass a chain of nearly 40 franchised restaurants throughout the Midwest and Southeast. As founder and CEO, Chamoun continues to lead Aladdin’s in evolving its menu to cater to guests’ increasing awareness of health and nutrition.

Despite his success, Chamoun hasn’t forgotten his roots as an immigrant with no one to help him start his life in a new country. He’s nurtured a passion for helping others in their own journeys to success and maintains tight relationships with the communities in which his franchises operate. Each Aladdin’s location offers gift card or food donations to nonprofit organizations, while Aladdin’s corporate participates in and sponsors events and projects for Chamoun’s church, St. Maron Parish of Northern Ohio.

Chamoun gives back personally, as well, serving as an active board member and on the finance committee for St. Maron Parish and as a board member for the Cleveland Clinic. He supports patients by donating quarterly and by initiating a partnership through a yearlong donation campaign with all of his Aladdin’s Eatery locations in Northern Ohio to benefit children at the Cleveland Clinic and to give hope and provide relief to them and their families.


Apex Dermatology
Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga, CEO

Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga founded Apex Dermatology in 2011 with one goal — to close the gap and provide access to care for patients needing dermatology and skin cancer services in Northeast Ohio. Over the past eight years, he has delivered on that purpose, expanding to seven locations employing more than 100 people. 

Garcia-Zuazaga — who’s cured more than 20,000 skin cancer patients over the course of his career — actively seeks to expand access to patient care, both through his independent practice and through philanthropic efforts. He’s pioneered company programs including the SpotCheck program, which guarantees same-day appointments to anybody with a new or changing skin lesion and provides free skin cancer screenings and skin health education across Northeast Ohio.

Engaging his team at Apex in his mission to transform lives through healthy skin, Garcia-Zuazaga — who previously served as a U.S. Marine flight surgeon — has also launched the Apex Purple Heart Project to provide complimentary laser scar revision services to qualified wounded veterans to aid them in re-entering the workforce. His company also operates the innovative Acne Specialty Clinic, which has a mental health/depression screening tool that helps identify patients at risk for developing depression due to acne.

By growing his team, optimizing services and engaging Apex philanthropically in local community efforts, Garcia-Zuazaga has grown his practice as one of the premier dermatology groups in the region — and aids in getting patients in need to treatment early.


BlueBridge Networks
Kevin Goodman, Managing director, partner

Standing true to the principles on which the total technology solutions provider was founded, Managing Director and Partner Kevin Goodman leads BlueBridge Networks in a focus on reinforcing the strength of its local community. BlueBridge offers support to organizations that embody the value of improving quality of life in the region, spanning workforce development, research, recovery and recreation and leisure. The organization does this as a whole — providing charitable support for nonprofit organizations such as Recovery Resources and the Cleveland Museum of Art — as well as on an individual employee basis, with associates lending their time and talent to various boards and causes.

Goodman leads his team by example, demonstrating servant leadership as a member of the board of the nonprofit Regional Information Technology Engagement, helping to close the gap between the low supply and high demand for IT workers in Northeast Ohio. He also serves on the Jobs Ohio, City of Cleveland/Cuyahoga Workforce Development Board and has led BlueBridge to serve as the marquee sponsor for Cleveland Play House’s matinee program for schoolchildren, paying homage to the Cleveland arts scene that served as a powerful landscape during his youth.

Formulating a model of giving, Goodman has built a thriving company on the values of passion, stewardship, dedication and efficacy — values that resonate with its customers and the community at large. This has garnered the business a reputation for IT excellence and for active participation in education, innovation and research in the region.


Bober Markey Fedorovich
Richard Fedorovich, Managing partner and CEO

Richard Fedorovich has championed civic engagement at his firm, Bober Markey Fedorovich (BMF) — one of the largest independent CPA and business advisory firms in Northeast Ohio — on both a business and personal level since he was named managing partner in 1996. And while it may not be unusual to see a CPA firm involved in “good for business” community boards and fundraising committees, BFM’s efforts stand out as a result of Fedorovich’s authentic dedication and commitment to improving the lives of those in his community.

Fedorovich believes that for anyone to thrive as an individual, and for the firm to thrive, the surrounding community must thrive, as well. Leading by example, he’s often the first to volunteer time and resources in support of firm-led initiatives and serves on numerous boards throughout the region. In this way, he’s made certain that firm employees don’t just participate in but embrace its philanthropic endeavors. BFM employee volunteerism reaches deep into the community, engaging with more than 70 community organizations each year.

Dozens of the firm’s employees donate their time at top leadership levels among dozens of nonprofits, with commitments involving thousands of hours of community service. These efforts constitute a significant commitment of energy, resources and valuable time — with Fedorovich’s full support and encouragement. In 2018 alone, more than 2,800 hours of volunteer time was donated and more than $160,000 was raised by individual staff and firm donations combined.


Cleveland Jewish Publication Co.
Kevin S. Adelstein, President, publisher and CEO

As the only independent source of Jewish news and commentary serving Northeast Ohio, the Cleveland Jewish Publication Co. (CJPC) is home to five magazines that reach and serve both the region’s Jewish community of 80,800 and its 4.3 million residents at large. 

To further drive its mission to provide a public service to connect and empower local Jewish residents, the publishing organization hosts its signature community event, the CJN 18 Difference Makers awards, to honor and celebrate individuals making invaluable contributions for the betterment of the Jewish community.

Led by President, Publisher and CEO Kevin S. Adelstein, the CJPS is making important contributions outside of these core offerings, investing time, resources and funds into various aspects of the Cleveland Jewish Community. It regularly sponsors events for organizations such as Friendship Circle of Cleveland, Facing History and National Council of Jewish Women, and produces community events with local and national news personalities and celebrities. Most recently, in 2019, the CJPC co-sponsored a free community meal for federal government workers and their families who were affected by the government shutdown.

This commitment to community is instilled throughout the organization from the top down. Adelstein demonstrates servant leadership as treasurer on the executive board for the American Jewish Press Association and as a board member of the Press Club of Cleveland, the Different Needz Foundation and Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio. Managing Editor Bob Jacob also serves on the executive board for the American Jewish Press Association as secretary.


Giant Eagle
Laura Karet, CEO

When the board of directors of Giant Eagle named Laura Karet as the company’s new CEO in 2011 — succeeding her father, who had served as CEO of the family-owned company since 1980 — she didn’t just take on a legacy corporate excellence for the grocery chain. She also took on a legacy of philanthropic commitment to the communities Giant Eagle serves.

Giant Eagle has been a partner with breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio for more than 20 years, providing product and financial and volunteer support for its cause. Under Karet’s leadership, the organization has continued to provide Komen with critical resources and hosts Hope Village, the gathering place for breast cancer survivors and metastatic breast cancer patients at The Race for the Cure and More Than Pink Walk. Giant Eagle’s impact over the years has been tremendous, saving Komen dollars to execute the event and providing hospitality for those who have or had breast cancer.

While Komen is its most notable philanthropic partner, the grocer also undertakes initiatives both large and small throughout the communities it operates in. Giant Eagle contributes 6.5 million meals annually across its footprint, while also supporting Harvest for Hunger locally during March. It also participates in 150 health and wellness events annually and engages with school-age children to provide education on the importance of good nutrition that will carry them into a healthy adulthood.


GPD Group
Darrin Kotecki, President

For more than 55 years, GPD Group has provided architectural, engineering and planning services to clients nationwide. Led by President Darrin Kotecki, the business continues to grow, both professionally and philanthropically.

To help achieve the latter, the business utilizes the GPD Employees’ Foundation, an employee-funded organization that accepts, reviews and awards grants to programs that benefit the education and overall quality of life for children in the communities GPD serves. Dedicated to inspiring hope, excitement and education in the lives of children, this fund has been used to purchase therapy horses at a camp for children with emotional and physical needs, sponsor swimming classes for children with autism and help high schools start a robotics team. Most recently, the fund enabled GPD staff to plan, fund and host a soap box derby “Adventure” for nonprofit A Kid Again, providing a fun-filled, cost-free event for families raising children with a life-threatening illness.

In addition to giving financial help to organizations that benefit children, the GPD team also believes that giving of staff’s time is important. The organization’s offices and individual groups complete Done-in-a-Day (DiAD) projects throughout the year, spending a day completing tasks such as mulching at the Towpath Trail in Akron, planting flowers and landscaping in Youngstown, building supplies for a summer camp in Atlanta and more. These projects are designed to give GPD employees the means and the opportunity to give back and strengthen their own communities.


Kaulig Giving
Matt Kaulig, Chairman

Founded by Matt and Lisa Kaulig, Kaulig Giving represents charitable giving and community involvement from Kaulig Companies, driven by the desire to promote the well-being of children and families. The organization has established partnerships with like-minded nonprofits and supports them with volunteer hours and financial assets, looking toward the future with hope knowing that children are the future.

Kaulig Giving partners with more than 60 nonprofit organizations to inspire young minds, support and encourage the education of young people and assist families in crafting a safe, loving environment in which they can thrive. Partners include 100 Women Strong Ohio, A Special Wish, Northeast Ohio Foundation for Patriotism (NEOPAT), ArtSpark and more.

In 2019, Kaulig Giving teamed up with Fox 8 to share its partners’ noteworthy causes and stories via Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own segments. Each month, Fox 8’s Stefani Schaefer and Kaulig Giving’s Matt Kaulig share a story about a person, cause or company in Northeast Ohio doing good work.

Dedicated to helping others, Matt and Lisa Kaulig are also the founders of and donors to Samantha’s Gift of Hope, a periodic monetary award intended to support couples struggling with infertility. Having faced infertility issues themselves before conceiving their daughter through in vitro fertilization, the Kauligs donate quarterly to families in need through Akron-based fertility clinic Reproductive Gynecology & Infertility.


Kurtz Bros Inc.
John Ziss, Executive vice president

Kurtz Bros Inc. is a fast-growing landscape supply company that has consistently reinvented itself over the past 70 years to help companies and communities divert waste streams from landfills. It then converts those waste streams into high-value landscaping, building and structural materials. Under the leadership of Executive Vice President John Ziss, the organization lives up to the slogan “We Make the Good Earth Better” through more than its products or services. It also invests in supporting its local communities.

Its wide-reaching generosity spans donations of materials and services, attendance at meetings or events, and monetary donations and sponsorships to nonprofit organizations such as A Kid Again, Joseph’s Home, Cornerstone of Hope and hundreds more, as well as churches, community groups, school initiatives, athletic boosters and sports teams. The company also opens its facilities for tours to educate the public on the importance of recycling and beneficial reuse, and provides support for local organizations taking on towpath expansion, conservancy initiatives and community growth projects.

In addition to these corporate efforts, Kurtz Brothers supports and encourages employees’ personal efforts in giving their time, talent and resources to businesses and causes that are important to them. With its long-lasting legacy of giving back since 1948, built on the guiding principle “Plant deep roots in the communities we serve,” company leadership takes pride in supporting its associates and their communities to promote happier, healthier lives and a more sustainable Earth.


Lake Business Products
Terri Cain, President and CEO

Family owned-and operated since 1960, Lake Business Products (LBP) has provided more than high-quality document technology services and solutions to businesses in Ohio. Headquartered in Eastlake and led by President and CEO Terri Cain, the organization has continued to champion philanthropic causes locally and nationally to give back to the communities in which it has thrived.

LBP leadership fosters a positive atmosphere that is aligned with the core values of teamwork, integrity and excellence — values that are applied to supporting charitable and educational events at both the corporate and individual levels, including Habitat for Humanity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Playhouse Square Foundation, Ashtabula County Medical Center and more. A staff favorite is the LBP team’s annual effort to help at the Ronald McDonald Rise and Shine event, serving a meal to families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. When done serving, the staff sits down and enjoys the meal and conversations with the families, helping to create a secure and caring environment.

Setting an example for her team at the top, Cain participates in this and other company philanthropic initiatives. She recently spoke to students at NDCL Career Week and committed a half-million dollar pledge in support of the new West End YMCA project at Willoughby Eastlake School District’s Union Village. This year, she also led a collection drive for Big Brothers Big Sisters, various Adopt-A-Family programs and donations of local sports team tickets for fundraiser baskets and raffles, among other newer charitable efforts.


Testa Companies
Joel Testa, President and COO

Testa Companies President and COO and Testa Development CEO Joel Testa — along with his sister, Julie Testa Thomasson, president of Testa Realty and vice president of Testa Development — carries on the community-centered, philanthropic-mindset his parents, Paul and Kathie Testa, had instilled since they founded Testa Builders in 1967. In the years since, Testa Companies has grown into a brand spanning a group of family-owned businesses that work together to develop and manage some of the Midwest’s best real estate.

The Testas have created philanthropic entities and programs over their business careers, chief among them the Formerly Homeless Foundation. The organization’s goal is to provide community outreach and advocacy for those experiencing homelessness. In addition, through partnerships with Testa Companies and other area service providers, the foundation and Testa developed three permanent supportive housing developments in Ohio that have housed and provided services to several hundred homeless individuals. This initiative has been largely privately financed by the Testas and contributed to Akron reaching an astounding “Functional Zero” for veteran homelessness in 2017, meaning that every veteran in Akron either had housing or a plan to move into housing.

Other notable company philanthropic endeavors include the Testas’ recent donation of a $15 million building to Akron’s Children’s Hospital. And it created Operation Dreams Come True to bring constituents in the construction industry together to provide ADA-accessible features, additions and even new homes to those in need. Through the Testa Family Foundation, the Testas also give personally to various organizations.


Medical Mutual SHARE Award

Jarrett
Michael Jarrett, CEO and President

Transportation and logistics solutions provider Jarrett is the parent organization of Jarrett Logistics Systems, a third-party logistics company; PackShip, a white glove and final mile carrier; and Jarrett Fleet Services, a truck fleet maintenance company. Under the leadership of President and CEO Michael Jarrett, it has grown from a startup with just him and his wife — cofounder Diane Jarrett — to being recognized 14 times on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. And its growth doesn’t show any signs of slowing.

Even as the company continues to achieve new levels of success, Jarrett’s commitment to the core value of civic responsibility he’s instilled throughout his organization continues to strengthen. A key pillar of his personal moral compass, Jarrett lives up to this sense of responsibility by giving back to the community through donations of time, talents, energy and resources.

Chief among the causes he and his team serve is a year-round partnership with the Salvation Army in Northeast Ohio. During the winter holiday season, Jarrett hosts a canned food drive for team members. This past year, he upped the bar with a friendly competition within each department to increase donations. The drive resulted in more than 5,000 canned goods to feed local families in need.

In addition, from September through May, Jarrett team members can volunteer their lunch breaks to pack bagged meals for students in the Orrville and Dalton areas who have limited access to food on weekends. Jarrett team members pack and bag nearly 150 meals each month. Then in June, on Jarrett’s dedicated Civic Responsibility Day introduced in 2018, the company’s intern class spends the day at the Salvation Army, cleaning, organizing donations and doing yard work.

In addition to company-organized community outreach programs, Jarrett team members are encouraged to demonstrate civic responsibility within their communities by participating in independent initiatives. Michael Jarrett does so himself, dedicating time outside of his corporate philanthropic efforts to serve on boards including the Heartland Education Community Board of Trustees, the Farmers National Bank Advisory Board, the Wayne County Community Foundation Board and the University of Mount Union Board of Trustees. Underlying all of his efforts is an unwavering dedication to making a difference within Northeast Ohio communities.


Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award

Tim Clepper
President, Kaulig Companies Ltd.

Tim Clepper is president and CEO of Kaulig Companies Ltd., a single-member family office for Matt Kaulig and his direct family that operates successful verticals inside multiple industries across the country. A self-described passionate Northeast Ohioan, Clepper has been actively involved with charitable organizations in the region since the beginning of his professional career. To this day, he strives to make an impact on the community in everything he does, making his role with Kaulig Companies the perfect fit.

Clepper got his start after graduating from Kent State in 1997 with a degree in finance, establishing relationships with individuals and businesses that led to the discovery of his passion for philanthropy. Marrying that passion with his professional skill set, Clepper became both a businessman and philanthropist, creating his own not-for-profit and serving on boards for other organizations. He’s involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Northern Ohio Chapter and serves as chair and volunteers as emcee of the Good Scout Luncheon for the Boy Scouts of America. 

His nonprofit Santa PICsU serves children and families dealing with year-round stays in Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs). Through the healing power of giving, this organization strives to bring the joy of the holiday season to families in traumatic situations.

In his role with Kaulig Companies, Clepper oversees various Kaulig-branded entities, including Kaulig Charitable Giving Programs. Kaulig Giving partners with more than 60 like-minded nonprofits and supports them through the giving of time and financial assets. Focused on organizations that inspire young minds, support and encourage the education of young people and assist families in crafting a safe, loving environment in which they can thrive, Kaulig Giving is making a significant impact on the Northeast Ohio region, and highlights partners’ noteworthy causes and stories via Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own monthly segment.

In 2019, inspired by the mission of the LeBron James Family Foundation’s I PROMISE School, which takes an alternative approach to learning that immerses young people in an environment with a focus on STEM, Clepper spearheaded Kaulig Giving’s funding of the Media Lab at the I PROMISE School. This strategic alliance aligns with his overall vision for ongoing initiatives under the umbrella of the Kaulig Companies brands — to transform and improve the community and, through this, inspire future leaders.

With his deep understanding of the relationship between philanthropy and business, and the savvy to integrate this understanding into the fabric of Kaulig Companies, which operates brands throughout a wide spectrum of businesses, Clepper is well-positioned to continue making a difference through charitable leadership in the Northeast Ohio community that continues to shape and inspire him both personally and professionally.


Our Lady of the Wayside Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award

James Kacic
Chairman, Achievement Centers for Children

James Kacic has served on the board of the Achievement Centers for Children (ACC) since 2011, filling the role of chairman since 2017. Despite taking on additional responsibilities for the organization — which empowers children and adults with disabilities and their families to achieve their greatest potential — he’s also maintained his position as chair of the nonprofit’s major fundraising event, Sparkle, Shimmer & Shine.

This event raises between $450,000 and $500,000 annually for ACC programs and services. Ever-active and engaged, Kacic has strategically expanded the event committee, recruited board members into new roles and brought new sponsors and donors to the table in the seven years he’s led the event.

Kacic leads by example throughout the work he does for ACC, including serving on the committee to plan its annual golf event, leading strategic planning and bringing significant new corporate supporters into the ACC family, while elevating those relationships to the benefit of its mission. Chief among these corporate supporters is Kacic’s own company, MAI Capital Management, where he is CFO. MAI provides financial support and volunteers throughout the year, and “adopts” a family during the holidays.

While fundraising and providing resources is what one expects from a nonprofit chair, Kacic stands out for his deeply personal involvement. He participates in each of ACC’s four special events, donates to fundraisers and builds relationships with the families ACC serves. His passionate leadership has made it possible for ACC to serve more than 2,500 individuals with disabilities each year.


Randy Markey
Chair, City Year Cleveland

Serving on the board for City Year Cleveland — a nonprofit that deploys AmeriCorps members into schools to ensure every student in Cleveland has the opportunity to reach his or her potential — for four years, Randy Markey assumed the role of chair in 2017. He brings to the role a strong background in strategic growth, building winning cultures and effective governance in the corporate sector, where he serves as managing partner of Capital Acceleration Partners. Markey has effectively overseen the continued growth of City Year’s footprint and impact, as well as its financial resources.

He’s been particularly instrumental in impacting City Year’s Long-Term Impact Plan to achieve notable growth. In his two years as chair of the board, the organization has added a school partnership for a total of nine Cleveland Metropolitan School District partners serving more than 3,000 students. It has increased its number of AmeriCorps members from 68 to 76 and increased its revenue. Additionally, in 2018, City Year achieved the first milestone detailed in the Long-Term Impact Plan — the completion of a neighborhood school feeder pattern in the Central neighborhood of Cleveland.

Markey takes an active role in the organization to help ensure it achieves its goals, from board recruitment and development to fundraising. He also supports City Year’s young adult AmeriCorps members, getting involved in both their personal and professional development. He also leads by example as a donor and is a founding member of City Year’s major gift program, The Red Jacket Society.


Nadine D. Head
Board commissioner, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority

For more than 20 years, Nadine D. Head has dedicated her time and energy to her community, advocating for the residents of public housing authority Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). Passionate about CMHA’s mission — to create safe, quality, affordable housing opportunities and improve the quality of life for the communities it serves — she is the organization’s board commissioner and chair of its Resident Services Committee.

Frequently completing certifications and classes to aid in her role, Head assisted in the development of CMHA’s 2018-2023 strategic plan, which serves as a roadmap to transformation and a model for innovation. She advocates to provide support and assistance for community development and economic growth, and helps lead the charge for development of resident and mixed-use projects that integrate into surrounding neighborhoods. Chief among these is Griot Village, an intergenerational housing complex for seniors raising youth.

Other notable accomplishments include chairing the Breathe Free Committee — which provided education, tools and support to residents for a smoother transition to be smoke-free — as well as securing CMHA a $3 million grant for the Jobs Plus Pilot program and being selected to pilot the White House’s ConnectHome initiative.

Dedicated to CMHA’s mission of serving families and individuals with limited incomes, Head visits all 60 CMHA developments throughout the year to actively listen to residents’ concerns. A long-standing Cuyahoga County resident, her efforts ultimately help revitalize neighborhoods within the local community, transforming lives through education, programming and social services.


Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year

Christine Bucknell
Executive Director, A Kid Again

Through cost-free, fun-filled destination events called Adventures, A Kid Again gives families raising children living with life-threatening illnesses the chance to make the child feel like just that — a kid again. The Northern Ohio Chapter was established in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2013, when Christine Bucknell joined the organization, that it fully hit its stride.

Serving today as executive director, Bucknell has grown the local chapter from serving 65 families to more than 300, making it the fastest-growing A Kid Again chapter in Ohio. She’s also seen the organization increase its hosted Adventures from three per year to seven, and built a strong partner network of like-minded local nonprofits and social workers at children’s hospitals including Cleveland Clinic Children’s and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

To support its expanding efforts, Bucknell has assembled a board of directors that includes 13 highly engaged community leaders, and together with this board has significantly grown the organization’s fundraising efforts. Under her leadership, the chapter’s annual fundraiser has grown from a small event raising $8,000 to an annual gala that generates nearly $240,000. Accordingly, the organization’s annual budget has increased, as well.

Continuing to build a strong presence and gain recognition and support for A Kid Again’s Northern Ohio Chapter, Bucknell maintains a deeply personal connection to its client base, supporting families beyond the mission statement. Her efforts have earned her Crain’s Notable Women in Nonprofit recognition.


Julie Chase-Morefield
President and CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank

Working with more than 100 partner charities, Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio acquires, gathers and distributes nutritious food to tens of thousands of people in Crawford, Erie, Huron and Lorain counties. 

Under the leadership of President and CEO Julie Chase-Morefield for the past 14 years, the organization has grown into the largest hunger-relief organization in North Central Ohio and the fourth-largest nonprofit in Lorain County.

Dedicated to continuous expansion of its capacity and reach to improve food security and overall quality of life for residents, Chase-Morefield recommended a $5.1 million building project in 2015 to triple the size of Second Harvest’s warehouse. As a result, it has increased distribution dramatically and helped earn the organization a third consecutive top-star rating with Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent evaluator of charities.

Chase-Morefield has also overseen the development of education and programming around healthy, nutritious food options, ensuring 95 percent of all expenses are program related. Chief among new programming was the creation of Second Harvest’s BackPack Programs, which provide nearly 5,000 children each week with food for the weekends. It also began its Farmer’s Market initiative, which brings more than 2 million pounds of locally grown produce to 20,000 families.

Leading Second Harvest to make a significant impact on 80,000 lives each year, Chase-Morefield was the first recipient of Leadership Lorain County’s Emerald Award for Inspirational Leadership in 2015 and earned Crain’s 2019 Notable Women in Nonprofit recognition.


John Litten
Executive Director, West Side Catholic Center

John Litten leads West Side Catholic Center, a Cuyahoga County social service agency and homeless shelter that offers
  food, clothing, shelter and advocacy. Beyond that, it offers a path to self-sufficiency to those in need at no charge, regardless of religious affiliation. 

In 2017, Litten was chosen from among 100 applicants to succeed the previous executive director, standing out due to his demonstrated passion, leadership, strategic thinking and ability to inspire others.

Rather than maintaining the status quo at the 40-year-old center, in his first two years, Litten has led significant change — restructuring its administration to promote a more cohesive culture, completing a building campaign and initiating a comprehensive strategic planning process. Most significantly, he oversaw the establishment of a new programming initiative and social enterprise by taking over the management of Ohio City Pizzeria. The nonprofit pizza shop, adjacent to the West Side Catholic Center campus, provides practical employment opportunities and training for the organization’s homeless clients, as well as funding to help the center fulfill its mission.

In just a few short years, Litten’s leadership has raised the center’s profile, attracted new volunteers and donors and expanded its efforts to break the cycle of poverty for clients. He’s established a strong sense of trust and collaboration with his staff, volunteers and board, sharing a long-term strategic vision that will see the West Side Catholic Center continue to expand its mission and impact lives throughout Northeast Ohio.


Philanthropist of the Year

Ray Dalton
Founder; CEO and founder, The Dalton Foundation; relink.org

Ray Dalton has a long history of starting and developing successful technology-based companies in the health care sector. Backed by a strong commitment to his faith and a belief in giving back, Dalton has used the profits from his businesses to benefit both the local community and the international health community.

To manage these efforts, Dalton formed The Dalton Foundation in 1999 to provide financial support and strategic planning services to organizations working in:

  •   Health care, both locally and around the world
  •   Addiction recovery
  •   Re-entry from incarceration 
  •   Women and children support
  •   Human trafficking

In the past 19 months, Dalton has used foundation resources to launch two programs that leverage technology to improve access to and quality of health care services around the world. Web portals reLink Global Health and reLink.org support organizations that are meeting the medical needs of vulnerable people who have very little means, if any, to obtain necessary care, medicines or treatment. Both are having an incredible impact in Ohio and in Haiti.

reLink.org functions as a fast and free searchable portal that connects patients struggling with addiction with local health care providers. This solution facilitates a search in as few as three clicks or three seconds — critical locally, in particular where the opioid epidemic has reached crisis numbers. To date, the relink.org platform lists over 7,000 Ohio providers representing approximately 35,000 unique services; in the past six months, re-entry and human trafficking resources have been added to help those in such circumstances reintegrate successfully into the community.

In late 2017, the technology behind relink.org was adapted to map the health care landscape in Haiti. The project, relinkglobalhealth.org, was launched as an online database of health care providers throughout Haiti, including locations of key diagnostic medical equipment and capacity data on organizations. To create collaboration and connectivity, The Dalton Foundation formed the Haiti Health Network and has funded health care conferences for Haitian health care professionals. After analyzing the data and working with key leaders in the northern part of Haiti, The Dalton Foundation also developed the comprehensive Medical Equipment Modernization and Standardization program to provide medical equipment to facilities throughout the region.

In addition to these large programs, The Dalton Foundation funds organizations in Ohio that are working to provide free health care, working with those struggling with addiction and helping young women escape human trafficking. Dalton’s commitment to giving back both locally and internationally is fueled by his passion to serve and to promote sustainability in the not-for-profit world.