How Ira Sharfin promotes the mentoring of area youths

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award Finalist

Ira Sharfin
Continental Office Environments
(614) 262-5010 |

Ira Sharfin helped pioneer the Project Mentor program, which is a collaboration between the Columbus City Schools and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, in the Columbus area, and in its first year, he and his company, Continental Office Environments, enlisted 18 mentors in the program, which seeks to mentor students throughout the Columbus City School System.

That number reflects more than 20 percent of Sharfin’s in-office staff, which is one of the largest percentages of associate involvement in the program in the Columbus area — and additional staff members have joined the program in subsequent years.

In 2008, Continental Office Environments had the unique opportunity to host all of the company’s mentors and mentees from Mifflin International Middle School at the Ohio Governor’s Residence.

In addition to meeting then-Gov. Tom Strickland and his wife, the Continental team planned a special lunch that included educational activities and a tour of the residence grounds. Continental’s staff provided each child with a disposable camera to document the visit and take pictures with mentors and the governor.

After the event, Continental arranged for each student to receive a photo album with prints of his or her developed pictures, and a signature from the governor, as a keepsake.

This past year, Continental’s Project Mentor volunteer mentors saw the students in the inaugural class graduate from high school. It was a proud moment for Sharfin — who also serves as a mentor — and his staff, and it was a time to reflect on the tremendous relationships that have been created.



How Jane Grote Abell has a positive impact on every life she touches

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award Finalist

Jane Grote Abell
Donatos Pizza | (614) 416-7700

Jane Grote Abell was just a young girl when she started working in her father’s pizza shop, the first store in the company known today as Donatos Pizza. It was on Thurman Avenue, where Abell saw the way her family treated customers and learned to do the same.

It was the way she served people then, and it’s the way she serves and leads people today. Donatos provides a safe place for youngsters who are 14 or 15 years old to get a first experience in the working world. Abell ensures that it is also a great place to bring your family for pizza and a great place to call a part of your community.

“When we hire a 16-year-old, we want to make sure that that mom and dad feel good about the place that their teen is going to work,” Abell says.

It is with employees that she has the deepest interaction, and it is there where she can make the biggest impact on someone’s life. She takes the time to sit down with associates who are having a tough time outside of work and helps them work through the struggles.

Outside of the restaurant, Abell serves on numerous boards and works tirelessly to build and support programs that make a positive difference in the lives of her neighbors. It is through these efforts that she serves as a role model for girls, women and anyone who wants to be a positive influence in their community.

As Abell says, “Values aren’t the soft stuff.” They are the foundational element for everything Donatos does.

How Tammy Wharton led a successful merger of three Girls Scouts councils

Pillar Nonprofit Executive Director Finalist

Tammy Wharton
Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council Inc.
(614) 487-8101 |

Through a process that took two years to complete, one of the strongest Girl Scout councils in the country with one of the greatest percentages of girl members was formed — and Tammy Wharton was the force behind the creation.

It was shortly after she was hired that she faced the challenge of merging three Ohio councils into one — Heart of Ohio, centered in Zanesville, Heritage Trails, centered in Mansfield, and Seal of Ohio, with headquarters in Columbus.

While the structuring the council was a daunting job, Wharton recognized another challenging component: the cultural and emotional impact on staff, volunteers and girls along with resistance to the changes that would inevitably occur.

To meet this task, she kept her eye on the end goal and paid particular attention to the sensitive emotions of the organization’s stakeholders.

Since the merger nearly five years ago, Wharton has worked tirelessly to create one voice of Girl Scouting out of the 30-county district. Girl Scout participation grew by more than 3,000 girl members under her leadership, a remarkable showing among other mergers of Girl Scout councils in the U.S.

Wharton envisions a goal, commits to it, and then executes the plan while coaching staff and engaging thousands of volunteer workers to help girls see themselves as the leaders they aim to be. Her passion for the organization is contagious.

In addition, she gives back to the community through volunteer activities including the United Way, the Human Services Chamber of Franklin County, the American Red Cross and Central Ohio Diabetes Association Women’s Board.


How Tom Slemmer enhances National Church Residences’ mission for seniors

Pillar Nonprofit Executive Director Finalist

Thomas W. Slemmer
president and CEO
National Church Residences
(614) 273-3504 |

“No money, no mission.” That’s not just Tom Slemmer’s mantra; it’s the reason that National Church Residences has grown to become the nation’s largest not-for-profit owner and manager of affordable senior housing.

When Slemmer joined National Church Residences in 1975, the organization had just one senior residence and a handful of employees. Since taking the helm as president and CEO in 1988, Slemmer has directed the organization’s successful growth to more than 330 communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico, with 3,000 employees.

To meet the challenges of a difficult housing environment, cuts in public funding and changes in health care policy, Slemmer has helped National Church Residences institute the business best practices and management techniques to better drive its faith-based, mission-driven organization. This includes creating a five-year strategic plan, developing measurable goals and holding each of the organization’s departments accountable for its own bottom line.

By instilling both the philosophy and the infrastructure, he continues to help the organization fund its mission successfully and look for ways to enhance its services — for example, by investing in a National Church Residences University that trains housing and health care workers.

With an effective growth strategy, National Church Residences has been able to enhance many of its offerings for seniors. Today, the organization owns and operates six continuing care retirement communities and five supportive housing communities for the formerly homeless and disabled.

Slemmer also oversaw development of a robust health care program for seniors, which added services such as adult day health, assisted living, skilled nursing homes, rehabilitation, hospice and others. Today, National Church Residences Home & Community Services serves 450 clients and National Church Residences Center for Senior Health serves 560 clients.


How Jay Jordan develops partnerships to drive the mission and purpose of OCLC

Nonprofit Executive Director Pillar Award

Jay Jordan
president and CEO
Online Computer Library Center Inc.
(614) 764-6368 |

As president and CEO of Online Computer Library Center Inc. (OCLC) — a worldwide library cooperative — Jay Jordan frequently quotes the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

To further OCLC’s “public purpose,” which is to establish, maintain and operate a computerized library network and promote the use of libraries around the globe, Jordan has focused on developing partnerships that combine the best practices of businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Since 1998, he’s overseen more than a dozen acquisitions and established more than 300 corporate partnerships to help OCLC increase the availability of library resources and reduce the rate-of-rise of library per-unit cost for libraries and their patrons. As a result, the organization has grown its OCLC WorldCat database to more than 270 million records, which it has since made available on the Internet to people everywhere around the world.

In addition to external growth, Jordan is committed to growing OCLC’s internal culture and the organization’s role in the Columbus region. From creating OCLC Center for Leadership Development to advocating workplace programs such as the OCLC Diversity Fellowship program to establishing the President’s Inclusion Council, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and Employee Resources Groups to create an actively inclusive work environment, Jordan has actively worked to make OCLC a best place to work.

Through these efforts, Jordan has helped grow OCLC’s impact within the Columbus community and within the library field.



How CompManagement focuses its giving in health, human services

Pillar Award Finalist

Mary Beth Sanford
senior vice president
CompManagement Inc.
(614) 376-5300 |

Because CompManagement Inc., a division of Sedgwick, operates in the occupational health sector, it concentrates its corporate giving and volunteer services in the areas of health and human services. CompManagement is strongly committed to the growth of business and industry in Ohio, as well as to community service.

CompManagement provides support to civic organizations, such as EPIC and several chambers of commerce across the state of Ohio. In 2010 and 2011, CompManagement contributed more than $165,000 in membership dues, event outings and financial gifts supporting chambers of commerce and civic associations.

CompManagement’s extensive community involvement demonstrates the spirit of giving that permeates the organization’s corporate culture. Examples of corporate financial contributions over the past three years include a 2011 Sedgwick holiday card project to raise awareness of and to raise funds for injured U.S. military personnel and the donation of a $25,000 Ohio-manufactured vehicle to Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital.

CompManagement has a 15-member colleague activity committee that promotes colleague interaction through office activities. The committee is self-funded; all money raised is given back to the colleagues as a prize or incentive for participation unless otherwise specified.

The colleague activity committee meets monthly to manage the company’s community service efforts, including fundraising events, blood drives, volunteer opportunities and other service activities. The group works closely with the company’s human resources department to advertise and promote volunteer activities among the company’s employees to ensure that all of CompManagement’s team members have an opportunity to be involved in a meaningful way.

How Safex Inc. contributes to the Columbus area’s health and well-being

Pillar Award Finalist

Dianne Grote Adams
Safex Inc.
(614) 890-0800 |

Safex Inc. is an environmental, health and safety consulting firm that has focused on helping companies keep their workers safe on the job for 20 years. The nature of Safex’s business is helping people and companies by keeping employees safe, injury costs low and worker production high.

Dianne Grote Adams, Safex’s president, believes in giving back to the community not only on a personal level but also as a company.

Located in Westerville, Safex strongly supports local businesses and has actively supported the Westerville Area Resource Ministry for 10 years. For nine years, Safex’s staff has delivered food to homebound individuals, and the company annually donates food to the group. In 2011, Safex donated more than 350 pounds of food, and near the end of 2012, the company was on track to exceed the 2011 total.

Each year on Halloween, Safex’s staff dons costumes and delivers candy to the residents of Feridean Commons, a senior living community.

Safex has donated workhours to help with Habitat for Humanity in the Columbus area. In March 2012, the company’s workers donated almost 100 hours. All of Safex’s employees were encouraged to participate in the day’s activities.

In 2012, Safex helped with construction and the finishing work on two houses in Columbus’ Linden area. One of the company’s construction safety professionals donated time to conduct inspections at two Habitat for Humanity sites and provided free advice on the safety programs in force at the sites.


How Safelite AutoGlass helps shield Columbus’ needy

Pillar Finalist

Tom Feeney
president and CEO
Safelite AutoGlass
(614) 210-9000 |


A window into giving

How Safelite AutoGlass helps shield Columbus’ needy


Safelite AutoGlass has been involved in giving back to the Central Ohio community for more than two decades since the company’s corporate headquarters moved to Columbus in 1990. Safelite AutoGlass’s charitable outreach includes both financial and volunteer support.

Directed by CEO Tom Feeney, Safelite gives all its associates two paid days off to volunteer — one at an organization of their choice and one as a team or department.

The Safelite Charitable Foundation has donated almost $4 million since its inception to support organizations that support human services. The foundation was created in 2005 as the 501(c)(3) giving arm of the company, aimed at supporting organizations that promote the health and well-being of families through monetary and in-kind contributions and volunteer hours.

Among the numerous organizations that have benefited from Safelite’s generosity through the years are the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Safelite also participates in National Giving Week and presents an annual charity golf tournament.

“We are thankful for the continued support of Safelite’s leadership and employees,” says Michael Carroll, who retired in 2012 after a long term as CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus. “Their continued commitment to our communities — as demonstrated by their support of so many of our programs, including providing leadership at the board of directors level — is a great benefit to us and the people living in Central Ohio.”


How RockBridge’s commitment to generosity helps its community thrive

Pillar Award Finalist 

James T. Merkel
president and CEO
(614) 246-2400 |

RockBridge has a long history of commitment to serving its community and helping those in need. The hotel investment firm’s philosophy is that the strength and success of the community in which its employees live and work is highly dependent on the support of local businesses. As such, RockBridge prides itself on the level of involvement in and commitment to a variety of charitable causes in Central Ohio.

Through volunteer activities, financial and in-kind contributions, and board involvement, RockBridge and its employees are dedicated to helping ensure that the Central Ohio community is a place of continued prosperity and growth.

Headed by CEO James T. Merkel, RockBridge and its employees have been recognized for many contributions to the community, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio’s 2010 Milton Lewin Legacy Award, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio Corporate Partner of the Year Award, 2006, Salesian Boys & Girls Club Board Member of the Year, Ken Krebs 2005-2006, Boys & Girls Club of America Jeremiah Milbank Society, Business First Columbus Corporate Caring Award, 2004, and Business First Columbus finalist for the Corporate Caring Award, 2005 and 2006.

A good example of RockBridge’s community service is the involvement of the company and its employees in Pelotonia and the fight against cancer. In 2011, RockBridge recruited 14 riders who raised a total of $32,000 to support this cause. For 2012, with donations still coming in, RockBridge’s 68 riders have raised $130,000, making RockBridge, which has fewer than 50 employees, one of the organization’s top 12 fundraisers.

How Ken Peters has set up a culture of giving at Mettler Toledo

Pillar Award Finalist

Ken Peters
Mettler Toledo
(614) 438-4798 |

In 2011, Mettler Toledo set a generous goal of $100,000 in employee pledges for central Ohio area agencies. It exceeded that goal by raising more than $103,000 and, combined with a company match, donated a total of $207,000 to the community.

The Children’s Hunger Alliance is one community organization that the global supplier of precision instruments and services is very involved with. More than 80 employees delivered daily frozen meals, and the company delivered more than 28,000 meals in 2011 alone.

Employees also participate in various events throughout the year, such as creating kits for the Children Are Ready for Education and Success program in which Mettler Toledo sends a truck and personnel to pick up items that teach preschool children about healthy behaviors.

The kits give caregivers age-appropriate activities, including songs, recipes, games, physical activities and field trip ideas. Mettler Toledo creates an assembly line of employees to organize the donations into boxes by region and deliver them to the Children’s Hunger Alliance for distribution.

The company also participates in the United Way and has received the United Way of Central Ohio’s highest honor, the Corporate Award of Excellence.

Ken Peters, Mettler Toledo’s CEO, has created a culture of giving at the company through his personal commitment. He is heavily involved in establishing new initiatives, setting goals and implementing new ideas. He meets with campaign co-chairs regularly to discuss the campaigns and participates in many of them himself.