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Honorable Mentions Featured

11:04am EDT November 20, 2003
George Chandler II
Hattie Larlham Foundation
George Chandler II, director and executive chairman of Sky Bank Financial Group and Sky Insurance, has been board president of the Hattie Larlham Foundation for 17 years. The foundation's fund-raisers allow Hattie Larlham agencies to care for children and adults with severe and profound mental retardation and medically fragile conditions.

Admired for his business sense and generosity, Chandler is committed to advocacy, charity, volunteerism and service. He is described as the kind of man who spends five hours sealing invitations to a fund-raiser to make sure they go out on time and as the embodiment of excellence in board leadership.

Katherine C. Pender
Beech Brook

Therapist Katherine Pender, president of the Beech Brook board, has spent more than 40 years sharing her professional skills and supporting this organization. Last year, Beech Brook celebrated 150 years of providing effective, innovative services for children and families in Cleveland.

Following the death of their adopted son, she and her husband, Jim, established a foundation in his memory, which supports children's organizations. The couple sponsored a Beech Brook exhibit and video at the Western Reserve Historical Society, and Pender was co-chair for Beech Brook's Hearts of Hope Gala, which surpassed its goal of raising $150,000 for the agency's adoption program.

Fred Rzepka
Cleveland Metroparks
Fred Rzepka, president and CEO of TransCon Builders, has been Cleveland Metroparks' commissioner since January 1987, making him the second-longest serving commissioner in the parks' 86-year history. His business expertise and community passion have positioned Cleveland Metroparks as a distinguished U.S. park district, which received the National Gold Medal Award in 1995 and 2001 for excellence in park and recreation administration.

Under Rzepka's leadership, Cleveland Metroparks adopted a 1995 plan to expand and enhance services to Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township. That same year, voters endorsed a $100 million, 10-year tax program for the Metroparks with 75 percent approval.

Gary S. Shamis, CPA, M.Ac.
North Coast Community Homes Inc.
SS&G managing partner Gary Shamis became involved with North Coast Community Homes 19 years ago as an outside accountant and auditor for the agency. His interest in NCCH stems, in part, from a brother with disabilities who died after years of care in an assisted living facility.

Shamis turned over his responsibilities to another firm in 1997 and joined the NCCH board. Under his trusteeship over the past six years, NCCH has doubled its number of trustees, developed new properties, initiated a volunteer program, expanded its community outreach and increased the number of contributors and size of their contributions.

Robert C. Smith
Greater Cleveland Growth Association

With his experience as chairman of the Council of Smaller Enterprises, Robert Smith brings a fresh perspective to his role as chairman of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. The president of Spero-Smith Investment Advisers Inc. is also the first Growth Association chairman to come from small business, which shows his ability to connect businesses of every size in the region.

Smith has played an important role in bringing Team Northeast Ohio to life, and during his chairmanship, the Growth Association was named "Best Chamber in the Nation" and honored with the 2002 Award of Excellence from the National Association for Membership Development.

Jerry Sue Thornton, Ph.D.
Cuyahoga Community College Foundation

Not only is Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton president of Cuyahoga Community College -- the largest community college in Ohio -- she is also the director of the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation.

Through Thornton's strong leadership, the foundation has completed its first major gifts campaign, raising more than $20 million for program development and student scholarships.

Thornton has forged partnerships with numerous local and national organizations, including National City Corp., American Greetings, NASA, The Cleveland Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support projects such as the Center for Nursing and Health Careers, High Tech Academy and Visual Communications Center of Excellence.