The honor roll - 2011 Pillar Award nominees Featured

7:01pm EDT November 30, 2011


The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

Richard Browdie, president and CEO

Browdie has headed The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging for nine years. The not-for-profit organization aims to advance the health, independence and dignity of older adults by raising the standards for quality care. This is accomplished through the Eldercare Services Institute, Margaret Blenkner Research Institute and Katz Policy Institute.

Boy Scouts of America

Barry J. Norris, scout executive

Norris leads the Boy Scouts of America scouting effort in northern Ohio for more than 20,000 young boys and male teens. Under his leadership, the Greater Cleveland Council has become one of the top councils in the country. The most recent Good Scout Luncheon, the council’s premier annual fundraiser, had record attendance and money raised.

Canton Christian Home

Tom Strobl, executive director

Strobl has led Canton Christian Home, a continued care and skilled nursing facility, at a time when the new state budget has reduced revenue to nursing homes. By cutting costs and establishing a performance-based bonus system, Strobl has created a strategic plan to maintain Canton Christian’s quality care to its residents.

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Natalie Ronayne, executive director

Ronayne has led the Cleveland Botanical Garden as executive director since 2007. As part of a five-year strategic plan to further the organization’s mission and promote success, the organization is focused on expanding and enhancing opportunities to enjoy and learn about plants, as well as improving the vitality of the local community and urban environment.

Cleveland Furniture Bank

Thomas Gaghan, executive director

Gaghan brought more than 30 years of experience in human resources and operations management to the Cleveland Furniture Bank, using his operationally oriented skills to create a business model that is largely self-sustaining, generating funds through an adjacent thrift store. The charity serves more than 300 agencies, 3,000 families and as many as 10,000 individuals each year.

Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

Bernard P. Henri, executive director

For more than 20 years, Henri has used his training in speech pathology to lead the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center. Among his many accomplishments is CHSC’s close partnership with Case Western Reserve University. The organization provides first-year training for the university’s master’s-level speech pathology students. Henri has been directly involved in training, faculty recruitment and search committees.

Cleveland Zoological Society

Elizabeth T. Fowler, executive director

During more than a decade of leadership, Fowler has lead the Cleveland Zoological Society in its efforts to advance the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, raising significant support for education, conservation and capital improvements as well as creating awareness of the zoo as a major civic asset in the region.

Cornucopia Inc. (dba Nature's Bin)

Scott Duennes, executive director

Duennes has been the executive director of Cornucopia Inc. (dba Nature's Bin), an organization providing work adjustment training for people with disabilities, for 25 years. He has ensured Cornucopia has been continuously CARF accredited since 1989. Over the years, Duennes has worked with county and state agencies in providing vocational services to more than 3,000 individuals with disabilities.

Creative Education Institute Inc.

Carole Richards, president and executive director

Richards has led the Creative Education Institute Inc. in reducing illiteracy for nearly 20 years. Recognizing the needs of children with learning disabilities and learning differences, she started the Academic Fun & Fitness Camp in 2002. The camp has grown from 15 campers to about 50, with Richards personally reviewing applications, test results and individualized education programs.

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum

Wendy Zucal, executive director

Zucal has been executive director of the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum since its opening in 1989. She’s led staff and volunteers to raise more than $5 million for six major phases of restoration and expansion, doubling the Depot’s exhibit space. She’s engaged more than 600 volunteers who contributed 7,000 hours annually and has grown the museum staff to 35.

Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center

Linda Dooley Johanek, CEO

Dooley Johanek was a key leader in the merger that created the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, which has enhanced services, increased availability and saved funds for the organization. Dooley Johanek created a new model to address child abuse and domestic violence that recognizes a continuum of abuse and victimization from young children through the elderly.

Friends of the Henn Mansion Inc.

Jean Reilly, president

Reilly attended a 1996 meeting advocating saving the Henn Mansion, a 1923 historic residence owned by the city of Euclid. Forming the Friends of the Henn Mansion Inc., this group raised money to complete more than $800,000 in renovations. It leases the mansion, subleasing the second floor to a local nonprofit and opening the first floor to short-term business and community rentals.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation — Northeast Ohio Chapter

Laura Chalker, executive director

Chalker solicited input from board members of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Northeast Ohio Chapter to develop a five-part strategic plan, honing chapter operations and focus. This move re-energized chapter participation, cut costs and jumpstarted fundraising. Both annual JDRF walks bring in more than $1 million, while the annual gala raises an average of $350,000 a year.

Hattie Larlham

Dennis Allen, CEO

Allen has led Hattie Larlham, a nonprofit that provides services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, for 23 years. Since he started in 1988, he has grown the number served from 180 families to 1,500 individuals. Allen also guided the organization’s transition from an annual budget of $7 million to one of $32 million.

MedWish International

Tish Dahlby, executive director

Dahlby has transformed MedWish International into an international leader in the recovering, repurposing and redistribution of medical supplies and equipment in order to provide humanitarian aid in developing countries and reduce solid waste. Over the past five years, the organization has recovered 2.2 million pounds of medical surplus from more than 50 hospitals in the United States.

New Avenues to Independence Inc.

Thomas M. Lewins, executive director

Lewins has served as executive director of New Avenues to Independence Inc., a nonprofit multiservice organization primarily focused on services and supports for individuals with disabilities, for 24 years. Among his many accomplishments, he has grown the number of people served from 80 to more than 600, expanding into multiple counties and creating a volunteer program utilizing more than 400 volunteers.

The Nord Center

William D. Bierie, president and CEO

The Nord Center is a provider of comprehensive behavioral health care services. Among Bierie’s initiatives to strengthen the organization was the creation of Edible Delights Café in June 2011. This social enterprise is run by volunteers and trainees from the Nord Vocational Industries Food Service Skills Training Program, providing hands-on experience as well as funds for Nord programs.


Scot Rourke, president and CEO

Rourke’s vision for creating OneCommunity, a broadband and Internet provider, was to build a strong network in Northeast Ohio to give the region a competitive economic advantage that would also contribute to better health, education and government while encouraging interaction and collaboration among civic leaders. He has since attracted $150 million in investment in the region.

Saint Joseph Academy

Mary Ann Corrigan-Davis, president

Beginning her work with Saint Joseph Academy — the only all-girls Catholic high school in the city of Cleveland — in 2006 as the first president, Corrigan-Davis has applied her previous business experience to better the school. Under her leadership, it has enjoyed financial strength, operational surpluses, growing philanthropic support and increased contributions to its endowment fund.

Tuesday Musical Association

Barbara Feld, executive director

Feld has furthered the Tuesday Musical Association’s mission — to provide a premier concert series, a comprehensive educational and scholarship program and performing and listening opportunities — for more than 20 years. One of Feld’s initiatives is a partnership with the Akron Art Museum to present FUZE!, a three-concert series of avant-garde classical music.

Village Food Project

Barbara F. Harrell, executive director

The Village Food Project is a project that gathers the community to minister to neighbors in cancer crisis by providing nutritious and healthy meals. Volunteer teens cook under adult supervision, while middle-school students help tend to an organic garden. Under Harrell’s leadership, a team of 150 volunteers has served more than 1,600 meals since February 2011.

West Side Catholic Center

Aaron Marinelli, board president

Marinelli began his work with the West Side Catholic Center — whose mission is to provide basic needs and programming to help individuals become self-sufficient — as a volunteer high school student, volunteering on his lunch hour or after school. He joined the board in 2007 and has served in numerous capacities, playing important roles in location and service expansions.


Art Therapy Studio

James R. Graham, board president

Graham drove Art Therapy Studio’s strategic planning process, which included focusing the organization’s mission — to enhance the quality of life for children and adults affected by spinal cord injury, brain trauma, stroke and multiple sclerosis through the therapeutic use of art. In 2010, the company’s art therapists worked with more than 1,800 clients during more than 5,700 sessions.

Berea Children's Home and Family Services

David Zentkovich, board chairperson

Zentkovich has been instrumental in guiding the Berea Children’s Home and Family Services through major agency initiatives including the rebranding of the organization, increasing fundraising capacities and the geographic growth of programs. The human service organization serves 13,000 children, families and adults annually.

Care For Others

Founding board of directors

Care For Others is a Christian-founded organization formed to prevent hardworking families and individuals from entering a cycle of poverty as a result of a difficult life experience or emergency through financial assistance and support services. Board members have served in staff capacities since the organization’s founding in 2006, serving nearly 300 individuals or families to date.

Christmas Box Angel of Hope Children's Memorial

Sara Ruble, founder and trustee

Following the death of her son, Ruble reached out to other bereaved parents through several initiatives. One such project was the founding of the Christmas Box Angel of Hope Children's Memorial, a healing and gathering place with personalized bricks serving as tributes to lost children. This year marked the Angel of Hope 10 Year Remembrance at the memorial.

Cleveland Clinic Community Physician Partnership and Quality Alliance

Fred M. DeGrandis, chairman

DeGrandis has worked for the Cleveland Clinic Region Hospitals in various capacities since 2003. In addition to serving on numerous nonprofit boards and establishing the Fred DeGrandis Family Fund, he was instrumental in implementing an annual systemwide employee giving campaign to support several Cleveland Clinic funds that improve the lives of employees, patients and shareholders.

Cleveland Furniture Bank

Michele Ferrara, board president

Ferrara worked with the Cleveland Furniture Bank’s executive director to reach out to area furniture retailers, the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors and the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association to secure more furniture donations to drive the organization’s goal of providing basic furniture to those in need. CFB reaches as many as 10,000 individuals in a year.

Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

David J. Abood, board secretary

Abood got involved on the board for the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center after seeing the difference the organization made for his son, diagnosed with hearing loss. His push for monetary support from the organization’s board of directors to fund its new University Circle headquarters in 2007 resulted in the largest giving from board members in the organization’s history.

Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center

Dean C. Williams, board president

Williams helped guide a merger resulting in the creation of the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, aimed at preventing child abuse and domestic violence. Elected board president, he ensured that the newly merged agency saved money while also expanding the availability of counseling, education, advocacy and outreach services to Cleveland.

Easter Seals Northern Ohio

Michael Urse, past board member

Urse held several board positions for Easter Seals Northern Ohio, including treasurer and president. Over the last 20 years, he has helped secure more than $1 million in support for the organization. He was instrumental in creating several special events to raise public awareness, generate funds to support programs for people with disabilities and recruit new donors, participants and sponsors.

Friends of the Henn Mansion Inc.

June Daugherty, founder and former board member

Daugherty founded the Friends of the Henn Mansion Inc. in 1996 to save the 1923 historic residence, owned by the city of Euclid, from being torn down. Having served as president, secretary and treasurer, she has guided the organization in raising money to complete more than $800,000 in renovations. The group continues to lease the building.

HandsOn Northeast Ohio

Terri Postel, board chair

The official Volunteer Center for Cuyahoga County Ohio and an affiliate of the HandsOn Network, HandsOn Northeast Ohio manages the volunteer experience to make it easier for both volunteers and agencies. Postel, a founding board member, has led the organization to increase the number of volunteers at projects managed by HandsOn NEO by 400 percent since its inception in 2007.


Robert C. Smith, board chair

Smith’s leadership helped guide ideastream, a not-for-profit multimedia public service organization, through an ambitious strategic plan — The Multiple Service Plan. In addition to pushing for conversion to digital television and broadcasting technology, the organization expanded from one to four channels of broadcast television and a new broadcast transmission facility was built and a website was created to host audio and video content.

Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio

Eric J. Johnson, former board chair

Johnson led the Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio, implementing a new strategic plan. One element was the creation of an executive leadership council, which brings together key business leaders from the area to provide JA with guidance on numerous topics. This has opened the door for both valuable insight and increased financial support.

Saint Martin de Porres High School

Jack Myslenski, chair of Corporate Work Study Program board

Saint Martin de Porres High School provides students of modest economic means with a college preparatory education. Myslenski has helped lead the school in providing students with an innovative curriculum and the unique Saint Martin’s Corporate Work Study Program. Since he became the CWSP chair in 2006, the program has seen a 61 percent income increase.

Southwest Community Health Foundation

Thomas P. Perciak, chairman emeritus and mayor of Strongsville

Perciak served the Southwest General Health Center for 19 years, supporting the mission of Southwest General Health Center through philanthropy. During his time as chairman, the foundation raised more than $20 million and experienced annual volunteer and donor growth. In 2009, Perciak won the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s Distinguished Philanthropist Award for the Midwest region.

Vocational Guidance Services

Lauren E. Miller, board chair

Vocational Guidance Services is a vocational rehabilitation agency serving people challenged with disabilities, poverty and other employment barriers. Each year, VGS serves nearly 5,000 individuals in 24 Ohio counties. Miller joined the board in 1999 and became chair in 2010. Serving on numerous committees, she was a leader in four strategic planning processes during the last decade.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy

William C. Mulligan, board chairman

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy, dedicated to preserving the scenic beauty, rural character and natural resources of a 14-county region in northern Ohio, has flourished despite the economic downturn. Under Mulligan’s leadership, the nonprofit increased its net assets more than 100 percent, produced budget surpluses for three consecutive years, increased staff and services by 50 percent and preserved more than 75,000 acres.


Bravo Wellness

James Pshock, founder and president

Bravo Wellness offers services to employers and business partners desiring results-based incentive programs for wellness. The company has donated more than $82,000 to various charities since its inception in 2008. Bravo further fosters a culture of service by encouraging team members to volunteer where their passions lie.

Ciuni & Panichi Inc.

Brian Marita, managing partner

Ciuni & Panichi Inc., an audit and accounting firm, has been a member of the Business Volunteers Unlimited of Cleveland for more than eight years. The company uses an employee-based volunteer committee to determine which events the firm will participate in during the upcoming year, with employees donating both time and money. The firm itself donated more than $20,000 over the past year to organizations and students.

Family Heritage Life Insurance Company of America

Howard L. Lewis, chairman and CEO

A provider of supplemental insurance products, Family Heritage Life Insurance Company of America supports numerous local, national and international charities and support organizations. Among these are Wigs for Kids, for which Family Heritage is a corporate sponsor for annual fundraisers, and the Cleveland Foodbank, for which employees raised $28,000 last year during the Annual Harvest for Hunger campaign.

Findaway World LLC

Mitch Kroll, co-founder and CEO

Findaway World LLC employees participate in two companywide fundraising events, sponsored by the company, as part of its Findaway Gives Back Program. In addition to supporting organizations through this program, employees also participate in an event called “15.” At their assigned time, monthly teams are able to use allotted funds as they wish. Many choose to make monetary and product donations.

Findley Davies Inc. — Cleveland

Rob Rogers, chairman and principal

A full-service human resource consulting firm, Findley Davies Inc. promotes a fundamental belief in community activity and service among its employees. Sixty organizations are benefiting from donations of time and money by the company’s Cleveland office. For more than 11 years, it has been a United Way of Greater Cleveland Pacesetter company.

GE Lighting

Maryrose Sylvester, president and CEO

GE Lighting houses the 10th grade of MC2STEM High School on the grounds of its world headquarters in East Cleveland. Donating more than 312 days of business time, the company provides students with a dynamic real-world learning environment. GE volunteers spend time tutoring and mentoring students, as well as deliver lab experiences and support a FIRST Robotics team.

Herschman Architects Inc.

Mike Crislip, president

Herschman Architects Inc., a provider of architecture and engineering services, supports a variety of organizations through donations of money, services and time. Among these organizations is the Cleveland Foodbank, for which HA sponsors its signature design/build competition, Canstruction. HA has sponsored this event uninterrupted since 2003, donating about 120,000 pounds of food.

Howard & O'Brien Associates

Lauren Rich Fine, partner

Howard & O’Brien Associates is a retained executive search firm specializing in senior-level recruiting assignments. The firm has 100 percent participation from staff in community programs through volunteering, monetary contributions or participation in fundraising events. Rich Fine is particularly involved, serving on eight agency boards and three advisory boards.

Hyland Software

A.J. Hyland, president and CEO

In addition to partnering with several organizations and offering donations and sponsorships, Hyland Software encourages employees to serve on an individual basis. Hyland will match employee donations dollar for dollar to qualifying nonprofits and will match $200 for every 20 hours volunteered at a community organization, up to a certain amount.

Independence Excavating Inc.

Victor DiGeronimo Sr., chairman, and Victor DiGeronimo Jr., president

Independence Excavating Inc., a construction company, is led by the DiGeronimo family. Both the company and the DiGeronimos demonstrate a commitment to community service. Independence Excavating made nearly $114,000 in charitable contributions in 2010, while The DiGeronimo Family Foundation gave $136,000 in grants that same year.

Kaiser Permanente — Ohio Permanente Medical Group Inc.

Ronald L. Copeland, M.D., FACS, president and executive medical director

Kaiser Permanente, a nonprofit health care organization, supports numerous charitable organizations through donations of time and money. Through the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio’s thriving Communities Grants Program, the company gave more than $650,000 to community organizations in 2010. So far this year, Kaiser Permanente has awarded more than $216,000 to 17 organizations in the region.

K-D Lamp Co.

Sherry Stein-Epstein, general counsel

K-D Lamp Co., a provider of vehicular lighting, has supported school programs in Ashtabula County for decades. Employees are also active within their communities, in alignment with the company’s philosophy that helping the communities where they live and work is an integral part of their work ethic.

Main Street Gourmet

Steven L. Marks and Harvey S. Nelson, co-founders and co-CEOs

Main Street Gourmet, a manufacturer of frozen bakery products, supports a variety of organizations. An example of the company’s commitment to improving the quality of life for local citizens is its Nothing Goes to Waste Program, which incorporates donations and sales of “off-spec” products to support the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank, generating nearly $125,000 throughout the years.

Marcus Thomas LLC

Jim Nash, Managing Partner

Although Marcus Thomas LLC, a full-service integrated marketing communications agency, is involved with a variety of organizations, it has a particular relationship with Achievement Centers for Children. For years, agency staff members have donated professional expertise, time and resources in support of children with disabilities and their families.

Olympic Steel Inc.

Michael Siegal, chairman and CEO

Olympic Steel Inc., a steel service center, supports a variety of organizations at both the corporate and division level. In 2010, Olympic Steel made charitable expenditures exceeding $273,800. That same year, its multiple divisions reported numerous employee initiatives supporting more than 55 charitable causes with more than $66,800 in cash donations and more than 667 hours of volunteer service.

Paul Vanek, MD, Plastic Surgery

Paul F. Vanek Jr., M.D., FACS

Paul Vanek, MD, Plastic Surgery, a provider of plastic and reconstructive surgery, supports Project MediShare, in addition to other organizations. Vanek volunteered for a surgical mission in the wake of the Haiti earthquake as part of this project, with his practice matching medical supplies and monetary donations made by the community.

PPG Industries Inc.

Thomas J. Meyer, plant manager

PPG Industries Inc. is a manufacturer of Teslin synthetic substrate, optical monomers used for corrective lenses and designed silicas. PPG provides support to a variety of organizations. One such is the Center of Science and Industry, for which the company provided $50,000 for the Innovations in Industry exhibit in 2010. Employees also got involved in the design process.

Providence House

Natalie A. Leek-Nelson, president and CEO

Providence House is the nation's oldest crisis nursery, committed to child abuse prevention and family preservation. Programs currently support a range of services, including 24/7 residential child care for newborns to 6-year-olds in placements lasting up to 60 days, child and family case management services, educational and visitation programs for children and parents, and a 12-month after care program.

Rotary Club of Cleveland

Beverly Ghent-Skrzynski, executive director

The Rotary Club of Cleveland, an international business networking and service organization, follows the Rotary International motto of “service above self.” The organization’s structure includes four primary public service committees — community service, international service, youth service and vocational service — which support the Cleveland community through 24 distinct programs.

Sequoia Financial Group

Thomas A. Haught, president

Sequoia Financial Group and its employees make donations of time and money to various organizations. This year, the financial planning and wealth management services company solidified its position as a lead sponsor for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s 2011 Matching Gift Program, committing to match food bank donations dollar-for-dollar up o $20,000.

Sherwin-Williams Co.

Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO

The Sherwin-Williams Co. is a global leader in the manufacture, development, distribution and sale of coatings and related products. Dedicated to improving the quality of life for its employees and their communities, the Sherwin-Williams Foundation made charitable donations to more than 60 organizations in 2010, amounting to $788,438.

Skanska-Shook Construction

Matt Danis, business development manager

Skanska-Shook Construction, a joint venture created in 2000 to collaboratively pursue work in the health care and technology industries, created the Building Blocks Program in 2010. This pro bono construction training program focuses on emerging minority- and women-owned small business contractors, providing a curriculum highlighting skills and processes necessary to growth in the health care field.

Smith Medical Transportation Systems Inc.

Robert Smith, CEO

Smith Medical Transportation Systems Inc., a provider of ambulatory services, supports a variety of local organizations, including the Muskingum Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross. The company is a corporate sponsor for the chapter’s AED program, which has so far distributed 200 automated external defibrillators — all with the potential to immediately save lives.

Spirit of America Foundation

Harry L. Allen Jr., chairman

Spirit of America Foundation is a national safe boating program that teaches boys and girls in the seventh grade water safety and allows them to safely operate various watercrafts. This program offers participants the opportunity to develop self-confidence, set goals, build social skills and demonstrate responsible behavior — all while having fun.

Staffing Solutions Enterprises

SueAnn Naso, president, and Carmella Calta, CEO

Staffing Solutions Enterprises, a full-service recruitment solutions organization, has incorporated a 12-month charity campaign called the SSE Monthly Give Back Program to ensure aid is provided where it’s needed, when it’s needed. A charity is selected for each month of the year, with employees donating time, money and goods.

Tavens Packaging and Display Solutions

Dick Ames, president and CEO

In 2010, Tavens Packaging and Display Solutions donated 5,000 boxes that enabled the Cleveland Foodbank to transport 325,000 pounds of food. The company has since committed to sponsoring the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s recycling initiative and is partnering with The City Mission to host Campout Cleveland to raise money and awareness for homelessness.

Triad Communications Inc.

Rick Krochka, president

Triad Communications Inc., an advertising and marketing firm, provides pro bono services worth tens of thousands of dollars each year through its “Design4Good” program. The company takes applications from area organizations for assistance with design services ranging from marketing materials to website development. In 2011, Triad provided pro bono design services for 18 organizations.


Deborah Donley, founder and co-principal

Vocon, an architecture and interior design company, has a strong commitment to community partnerships. Recent outreach includes the donation of professional design services to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s new location and the Cleveland Sight Center’s new headquarters facility, as well as assistance in renovations to create the Rainbow Healing Garden for Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co. LPA

Alan H. Weinberg, managing partner

Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co. LPA provides comprehensive creditor representation and legal services to business and financial institutions. The company contributed nearly $90,000 to help support numerous organizations over the past year. One example is WWR’s annual fundraising campaign to support the March of Dimes through March for Babies, for which the firm raised nearly $22,000 this year.