Christine Neitzke
President, co-founder
The Dragonfly Foundation

On the wings of hope

Christine Neitzke co-founded The Dragonfly Foundation to give support to ill youngsters 

Seeing a need for families and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to receive more support for young cancer and blood disorder patients, Christine Neitzke and her friend Ria Davidson founded The Dragonfly Foundation in August 2010. They have been working closely with the hospital, its staff, patients and families ever since to bring support and encouragement at times when it is needed most.

Christine and Jim Neitzke’s youngest son Matt was diagnosed with stage 3A Hodgkin’s lymphoma in February 2010. They almost lost him twice due to medical complications. During this time, the Neitzkes were fortunate to have the support of family, friends and community. Davidson, Christine’s friend for more than 20 years, was one of the people who helped the family through this time.

“We were fortunate,” said Christine. “We had people who dedicated themselves to making Matt and our family smile. We know that other kids and families are not as lucky.”

Thus, The Dragonfly Foundation was launched.

“Our multiple weekly, ongoing events also help us build relationships between families that enables them to support one another as they experience the horrors of treatment, the after effects of medications, the post-traumatic stress and the anxiety of reoccurrence that continually challenges patients and their families,” she says.

“While a number of nonprofit organizations support efforts of finding a cure, The Dragonfly Foundation is completely focused on providing C.A.R.E. (Caring, Community and Awareness that Results in better Emotional health). This is what we call ‘The Dragonfly Difference.’” ●

Greater Cincinnati SCORE Board of Directors
Mike Martin

SCORE-ing points

Mike Martin and his board members steer volunteers to help mentor business clients 

If there ever needs to be an example of entrepreneurial teamwork, the Executive Board of Directors of Greater Cincinnati SCORE will fill the bill. Led by Chair/President Mike Martin, the board is responsible for the operations and directing of more than 100 volunteers who provide free mentoring and educational seminars to eligible business clients in 19 counties in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.

Most of the board members have been with SCORE for five years or longer: Jim Stahly, Gordon Daniels, Mike Tarren, Tom Moon, Dennis Murphy, Rick Johnston, Scott Stoeling, Michael Mulligan, Gregory Spontak, Paul Holzschuher, Bob Wiwi, William Haman and Mary Jane Good.

The members are responsible for the chapter receiving SCORE’s National Runner-up Award for fiscal year 2012. The chapter has won the top award once and has been runner-up five times in the last 10 years. The board members are responsible for the chapter being ranked in the top five nationally in every possible category for the last five years.

Two of SCORE Cincinnati’s clients achieved national recognition recently as they were awarded 2013 SCORE Outstanding Woman-Owned Small Business and 2013 SCORE Outstanding Non-Profit.

SCORE’s assistance to local businesses enabled them to create more than 350 new jobs in Greater Cincinnati last year. ● 

Stan Ross
Co-founder and executive director
Positive Influence Team

From at-risk to keeping the faith

Stan Ross and the Positive Influence Team work to guide youth away from violence 

Stan Ross leads the Positive Influence Team much like a quarterback leads his players on the gridiron. After all, he was the first African-American quarterback for Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati.

The Positive Influence Team was founded in 2011 to engage and connect with at-risk youth and young adults to help transition them toward a positive and fulfilling lifestyle. Ross created a Process of Transformation that includes the vital steps of building trust with members while fostering transformational relationships rooted in a sincere and caring spirit — and a sense of teamwork.

The Positive Influence Team works with clients from a strengths-based approach and is committed to never lose faith in the clients’ inner power to succeed and move forward.

Ross has been involved for years in a mission to reduce violence. His earlier efforts include creating the Cincinnati Youth Street Worker program and being the outreach director at the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence.

Along with members of the Positive Influence Team, Ross developed the Real Gunz Anti-Violence Program, which addresses the realities behind the domestication, programming, beliefs, thinking, attitudes, feelings and behaviors associated with violence.

“With Stan, there were no expectations, except that he wanted to get to know me, build a relationship, and he was an influencer. It was more of his influence and the way he was living his life, that made me want to be like him,” says Dante Ingram, a former at-risk young man who turned his life around and is now a positive influence coach with the Positive Influence Team. ●

Published in Cincinnati

Great companies, great employees, work for the greater good of Greater Cincinnati

Medical Mutual, along with our co-founding Pillar Award partner Smart Business, welcomes you to the annual Pillar Awards.

We are honoring an outstanding group of companies and organizations of varying sizes.

While this year’s diverse group of honorees may be different in many ways, one thing that they all have in common is their commitment to strengthening the bond between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

It occurred to us many years ago that few things are more meaningful and important than investing time and resources in supporting our community, and we felt the need to honor companies and their employees who have gone above and beyond the call. While support and direction come from management, companies are only as great as their employees.

For that reason, we are quite proud to present the Medical Mutual SHARE Award. This unique award was founded to recognize companies whose employees best exemplify the ideals of Medical Mutual’s own employee SHARE Committee. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate and is the heart and soul of Medical Mutual’s charitable giving effort.

The SHARE committee, comprised of Medical Mutual employee volunteers, helps coordinate more than two dozen community events involving nearly half of the company’s 2,500 employees.

On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, we congratulate all our 2014 Pillar Award recipients. ●

Rick Chiricosta
Chairman, president and CEO
Medical Mutual



Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award (to be announced Jan. 23)


Nonprofit Board Executive Awards
Rick Chouteau, Adopt A Class Foundation
Dennis Barron, Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries

Executive Directors of the Year
Christine Neitzke, The Dragonfly Foundation
Executive Board of Directors, led by Mike Martin, Greater Cincinnati SCORE
Stan Ross, Positive Influence Team


AdvancePierre Foods
Centric Consulting
JANCOA Janitorial Services Inc.
Paycor Inc.
Powernet Global
PricewaterhouseCoopers LP
The Hillman Group



Published in Cincinnati

This year, we celebrate the 15th annual Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service program — Smart Business’ initiative that recognizes the symbiotic relationship between the for-profit and nonprofit communities.

Most people are relatively humble about their philanthropy. It’s a personal issue, and they’ve been taught it is not good taste to boast about how much money they give to a specific cause or the countless hours they spend volunteering for an organization.

Discussing philanthropy, especially when it comes to thinking about how business and nonprofits work together, however, is a good thing.

When we co-founded the Pillar Award in 1998 with Medical Mutual of Ohio, our organizations had three common goals: honor and reward companies that have made a commitment to community service, encourage other companies to get involved with the community, and identify and share creative ideas that companies of all sizes can use to make the community a better place to live and work.

It’s safe to say that the program has lived up to its lofty promises.

Along the way, we added a fourth goal — give back to the community ourselves. We established The Pillar Fund, tied it into the existing program and began distributing grants to regional nonprofits.

Together with our partners, we have been humbled to read more than 1,000 nominations over this decade and a half and honor more than 100 organizations and individuals who best exemplify what happens when we band together to strengthen our communities — we make a difference in people’s lives.

As you read about this year’s finalists, please consider the following ways in which you can give back:

Find your cause. Align your giving or volunteerism with something you personally believe in or care about; something that fits with what your company does or something close to your employees’ hearts.

Get involved. Writing a check is nice, but lending vital manpower can be just as impactful. Organizations such as Business Volunteers Unlimited provide lists of available group projects that regional nonprofits need to have accomplished.

Make a difference. When you get involved in something you care in, this is what happens. And better yet, not only will you impact others’ lives, but you will find that you’ve changed your own. 

Dustin Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business Network Inc.

Published in Akron/Canton