Ellen Burts-Cooper, senior managing partner of personal and professional development training firm Improve Consulting and Training Group LLC, makes giving back a priority for her staff. Employees are required to contribute to the community in at least one of the following three ways: a minimum of four volunteer hours; a financial or material donation; or use of their skills to help, such as offering project assistance.

Their efforts make a big impact, including the building of the Kaboom Playground for Imagine Cleveland Schools in 2012, and providing leadership training for more than 1,000 students annually.

Burts-Cooper holds the company to the same standard as a whole. Improve Consulting and Training Group offers either pro bono or at least a 50 percent discount to numerous nonprofit clients, including National Black MBA Association Cleveland and National, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Foundation, Girl Scouts of Northeastern Ohio, Cleveland Metroparks, Center for Families and Children, Cleveland Public Library, YWCA Greater Cleveland and many more.

Revenue generated from youth development services is donated back into the community in the form of scholarships, internships, school supplies, college application fee and computers.

The company contributed $25,000 to the Cleveland Foundation to establish the Bagby Palmer Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2011 and gave $5,000 in additional scholarships that year. A $1,000 donation was also made to the National Urban League. In 2012, contributions to additional scholarships rose to $8,000, and the organization donated more than $16,000 in supplies to local nonprofits. Corporate financial contributions for 2011 and 2012 totaled $42,000.

Improve Consulting and Training Group’s efforts on an employee and company level ensure Northeast Ohio continues to be a great place for people and organizations to flourish.


How to reach: Improve Consulting and Training Group, (216) 539-8737 or www.improveconsulting.biz

Published in Akron/Canton

Daniel P. Walsh Jr., president of the Greater Cleveland Region of Huntington National Bank, shows dedication to helping those in need and improving the region — both within and outside of the company. Leading by example, he has encouraged employee, company and community involvement in numerous philanthropic efforts.

Under his leadership, Huntington has made a $500,000 commitment to the launch of Global Cleveland, to be paid over a five-year period. Walsh serves as treasurer for the organization, which focuses on regional economic development through actively attracting newcomers and welcoming and connecting them within the community.

Working toward the same goal, Walsh has been instrumental in providing a loaned executive to Team NEO to further efforts to bring more business to Greater Cleveland. Huntington also recently committed $2 million to the launch of ECDI in Cleveland — funding microenterprise throughout the region.

On an individual level, company employees get involved in various community service efforts, including donating school supplies through the Salvation Army and volunteering for the Salvation Army’s 10,000 Scoop Challenge. In 2011, employees contributed more than 870 hours of financial education — and are on pace to nearly double that in 2012.

Outside of Huntington, Walsh serves as board chair for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and co-chair for the 2012-2013 United Way Pledge drive. In 2012, he co-chaired the Red Cross Ball and served on the Harvest for Hunger Kitchen Cabinet.

He also serves on the following boards:  Greater Cleveland Partnership (chair, Government Affairs Committee); United Way of Greater Cleveland (co-chair of the 2012 Annual Campaign), Cuyahoga Community College Foundation, Positively Cleveland (vice chair), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Playhouse Square, ideastream and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission (co-chair, 2011 Sports Awards).


How to reach: Huntington National Bank, (216) 515-6205 or www.huntington.com

Published in Akron/Canton

The local branch of Home Instead Senior Care — a health service organization dedicated to providing personalized quality private duty homecare to seniors in Northeast Ohio — takes its work to heart. The seniors it serves are not seen as clients — they’re overlooked community members.

The company, led by President Therese Glorioso, extends its dedication to enhancing the quality of life seniors in the community to its philanthropy work. Its “Be A Santa To A Senior” lauched in 2004, provides holiday gifts and needed companionship to lonely and indigent seniors in eight Northeast Ohio counties. The number of those helped has increased from 186 seniors at the start of the program to more than 2,500 served in 2011.

The organization plans for this event year-round. The program begins with community partners who place holiday trees in their stores or place of business. The more than 50 locations include BJ Wholesale Club, multiple local Chambers of Commerce, Walmart and Giant Eagle stores, Key Bank and more. Home Instead Senior Care then works with local nonprofit organizations and other groups that work closely with the elderly to identify candidates for the program.

Those identified get their names and needs decorated onto ornaments for the trees in merchant stores. Shoppers can then purchase and place the needed items in collection bins. Volunteers collect, wrap and deliver the presents, providing companionship to many without during a time when holiday warmth is most needed.

Home Instead Senior Care’s corporate financial commitment to the “Be A Santa To A Senior” in 2011 was approximately $30,000. This includes purchasing printing supplies, trees, decorations, wrapping materials and remaining gift items on the list of presents for seniors, as well as providing staff time — which totaled more than 1,500 volunteer hours.


How to reach: Home Instead Senior Care, (440) 734-7441 or www.homeinstead.com

Published in Akron/Canton

When Dennis Allen assumed the CEO role at Hattie Larlham 24 years ago, the organization provided services to 180 families and operated on an annual budget of $7 million. Allen’s leadership techniques in that time have substantially grown the scope of the organization, both in the types of services it provides and in the number of people it serves.

Today, Hattie Larlham serves more than 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities, and the annual budget has grown to $32 million. The growth Hattie Larlham has experienced under Allen’s leadership is largely a result of his forward-thinking nature.

Due to Allen’s ability to look ahead, the need has emerged for more meaningful socialization opportunities in adulthood to empower people with developmental disabilities to live productive, fulfilling lives. So Allen created social enterprises to provide vocational training and meaningful employment for this underemployed and otherwise marginalized section of the population.

In this model, employees with developmental disabilities work under the guidance of professional job coaches who help them to learn the skills they need to eventually gain employment in the general workforce. Hattie Larlham social enterprise businesses operate in the same way a for-profit, consumer-facing business functions, but any profits are reinvested into the business to allow it to grow.

Hattie Larlham began its journey to employ people with disabilities in October 2006 by hiring six people with developmental disabilities. Today, the program employs more than 200 people with developmental disabilities across four major Hattie Larlham brands.

In 2011, Hattie Larlham celebrated its 50th anniversary. Thanks to the leadership of Allen, Hattie Larlham is poised to continue to be a leader in the care of people with developmental disabilities for the next 50 years.

How to reach: Hattie Larlham, (330) 274-2272 or www.hattielarlham.org

Published in Akron/Canton

Formerly the Berea Children’s Home, Guidestone Ohio has spent the past several years engaged in a rebranding effort to better reflect the services and support the organization provides to its clients — numbering about 12,000 children and families.

Since July 2009, Debby Zanglin has been at the center of the effort when she was named chairman of the organization’s brand task force committee. Along with other leaders, Zanglin successfully helped to spearhead a number of tasks aimed at determining whether a name change was in order.

Among other initiatives, Zanglin helped to spur a collaborative effort with the board of directors to raise private dollars to fund the rebranding project, in addition to securing a $120,000 gift from the St. Luke’s Foundation. She also helped conduct market and branding research, provided oversight with multiple stakeholders involved in the project and was instrumental in trademarking the Guidestone name.

Zanglin met challenges along the way, and her skilled leadership never allowed the rebranding effort to stray off course.

In May 2011, the organization anticipated taking on a previously selected name, but research uncovered an unfortunate roadblock. Another organization that provides similar services had already taken the proposed name. Zanglin reacted quickly to the setback, working with the staff and board of directors to pursue a different name. This past January, the board approved the Guidestone name.

The launch of the new brand and name has generated an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. Under its new name, Guidestone is able to shed a long-held community image centered on the belief that the organization is only located in Berea, and only provides services on a live-in basis. Clients outside of Berea, and outside of Cuyahoga County, began to feel more engaged in the organization’s work and the mission of the organization in the community.


How to reach: Guidestone Ohio, (440) 967-4497 or www.guidestoneohio.org

Published in Akron/Canton

GE Capital Retail Bank in Canton makes giving back to the community a priority — and so does its employees. In addition to nearly $94,000 in corporate financial contributions to various community organizations and nonprofits, GE employees raised and donated more than $79,000 themselves to the Annual United Way campaign drive and Junior Achievement of Northeast Ohio’s Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser.

Employees also put in more than 2,600 volunteer hours with various organizations including the Akron/Canton Food Bank, the CANAPI Center in Akron, March of Dimes and the Canton/Summit Neighborhood Greenhouse, among others.

The bank, led by site leader Kathy Stanton, makes a particular effort with Junior Achievement. GE Capital strongly supported JA’s Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser, with more than 100 employees putting in 125 hours to raise money to teach JA classes — which give young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future and make smart academic and economic choices.

Between volunteerism donations and corporate financial matching donations, GE Capital Retail Bank contributed more than $12,300 to JA’s cause.

GE further supported the organization by participating in a cooperative effort with JA, Walsh University and Alliance/Massillon/GlenOak High Schools to provide Personal Finance Education Day in October. More than 100 GE employees taught five core financial education classes, a career fair and an interview readiness class to more than 1,000 area high school students, resulting in more than 1,000 GE volunteer hours spent on the project. GE corporate financial donations — totaling $21,000 — played a major role in making the program possible.


How to reach: GE Capital Retail Bank, (330) 433-5819 or www.gogecapital.com

Published in Akron/Canton

Enzo Perfetto is grateful for the opportunities he received from his father that enabled him to be the successful businessman that he is today. It is largely because of that strong upbringing and the things that he has achieved in his life that Perfetto feels such a calling to find ways to give back to his community.

Perfetto has become a mentor to students who want to learn more about the construction industry at Cuyahoga Valley Career Center. He felt that most colleges don’t offer the skills in heating and cooling systems and electrical processes that students need to excel in the homebuilding arena. So he set out to build a foundation and lay the groundwork for students to gain those kinds of skills.

The result is a summer camp that brings together students in grades seven through nine for 30 hours over a one-week period. They learn about using power tools and get a much-needed base level of knowledge that can put them in a better position to find success in the industry.

Perfetto, manager of Enzoco Homes, which does business as Handyman and a Hammer For Our Troops, also wanted to do something to help veterans. He met with the VA Hospital in Cleveland and learned that veterans’ benefits do not cover minor home repairs.

He is working with the Paralyzed Veterans of America to come up with future fundraising events and a program that would fill a critical need by helping to make these repairs that while minor, still need to be done.

Through both of these programs, Perfetto has found a way to honor the help he received from his father and to make a huge difference in the lives of future construction industry workers and veterans.


How to reach: Enzoco Homes, (440) 221-9613 or www.enzoco.com

Published in Akron/Canton

On July 1, 2013, Kathryn Kazol will be retiring as the founding executive director of Emerald Development & Economic Network Inc., but her legacy is an entire organization. It’s an organization capable of administering complex housing programs that serve more than 3,500 Cuyahoga County residents while remaining fiscally sound and simultaneously retaining the founding principles of treating people with dignity and respect.

Also known as EDEN, the organization provides, operates and advocates for safe, decent, affordable housing and support services for persons living with disabilities or special needs who have low incomes and may be experiencing homelessness. Starting with one group home in Cleveland Heights in 1991, EDEN now owns more than 80 properties in Cuyahoga County, operates six large-scale permanent supportive housing apartment buildings and administers housing vouchers that allow the disabled to rent from private landlords in neighborhoods of their choice.

As evidenced by the long waiting lists for EDEN housing, the organization fills a critical demand in the community. Kazol has achieved this success by using many for-profit business principles. She forecasts the economic landscape and specific program budgets.  She expands when expansion serves the mission of EDEN, fills a community demand and is fiscally sustainable. She demands accountability from herself and her staff.

Throughout her tenure she has demonstrated sound, consistent and innovative leadership within EDEN’s organization and throughout the community. On the local front and on the national level, EDEN has been cutting edge. The fact that the organization has grown and thrived through both boom and bust financial periods over two decades is a true testament to Kazol’s leadership and ability to develop a solid foundation for EDEN’s future.


How to reach: Emerald Development & Economic Network Inc., (216) 961-9690 or www.edeninc.org

Published in Akron/Canton

Since 2001, Elizabeth Fowler has been the executive director of the Cleveland Zoological Society, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to the top tier of zoos nationally. Under her leadership, the Zoo Society serves a membership of 46,500 households in Northeast Ohio, raises significant support for education, conservation and capital improvements and creates awareness of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as a major civic asset for the region.

The zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society share a mission to create compelling experiences that connect people with wildlife and inspire personal responsibility for conserving the natural world. In Fowler’s 11 years as executive director, she has doubled the society’s assets and generated consistent increases in annual operational and capital support for the zoo.

She successfully led the organization through two major capital campaigns within the last 10 years: $12 million for the African Elephant Crossing exhibit, which opened in 2011 and included $1 million for greening initiatives and a Kresge Challenge Grant. She also secured $5.5 million for the Sarah Alison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine in 2005 and the donation for the first CT scanner in any zoo in the world.

2011 proved to be a big year for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society. The successful completion of African Elephant Crossing caps nearly a decade of planning, design, fundraising and hard work. Since its opening on May 5 last year, African Elephant Crossing has delighted more than 1.3 million visitors, while providing a high-quality habitat for six elephants.

The impact of the new exhibit resonated across all programs in 2011. It helped the Cleveland Zoological Society surpass its ambitious capital campaign goal by 3 percent, earning a prestigious national challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation and helping ensure the successful launch of innovative education and conservation programs linked to the new exhibit.


How to reach: Cleveland Zoological Society, (216) 661-6500 or www.clevelandzoosociety.org

Published in Akron/Canton

Dr. Steven Friedman has shown the ability to apply for-profit business principals to a not-for-profit agency without losing focus on the mission of the organization. As the excutive director and CEO of the Cleveland Sight Center, Friedman’s approach is to build a financially strong organization that can sustain services in keeping with the mission, vision and core values.

The Cleveland Sight Center offers a wide range of services to people of all ages who are vision-impaired. Friedman has been focused on both top-line revenue and management of costs in the interest of better serving the Sight Center’s clients.

The Cleveland Sight Center’s clients are always a No. 1 priority, but Friedman has recognized the need to build a sustainable financial organization to continue the high level of service to its clients.

This business focus has resulted in the completion of a $10 million renovation that allows the organization to more efficiently deliver services to its clients. This year he increased state of Ohio partnership contracts to $2 million, up from $500,000 three years ago, helping provide innovative programs to get people with disabilities jobs.

One example is a partnership Friedman formed with InfoCision to create a call center that would aid in gaining commercial contracts and serve to employ the visually impaired. He also won a contract with Ohio Tourism and hired 14 people who are work disabled. These contracts not only employ a large number of visually impaired individuals, but they contribute to the organization’s bottom line.

In all of these efforts, he managed to increase the number of center employees who are blind or have limited vision to 20 percent of the workforce. The success of these programs allows the Sight Center to continue drawing funding from Ohio.


How to reach: Cleveland Sight Center, (216) 791-8118 or www.clevelandsightcenter.org

Published in Akron/Canton