The American Heart Association heads to the workplace to create healthy cultures


The American Heart Association has set a goal to decrease death from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent, while also improving the heart health of all Americans by 20 percent by 2020.

The Fit-Friendly Worksite program is one of many programs the association has implemented to meet people where they are, in an effort to create a culture where the healthy choice is the easy choice, says Jennifer Scheehle, executive director of the Columbus metro area.

Since 2007, this program — designed to be a catalyst for positive change — has been one of the association’s most successful worksite initiatives. More than 3,000 worksites, representing nearly 10 million employees have been recognized for their outstanding efforts in prioritizing the health and wellness of their employees.

“This year, 101 Central Ohio employers have been recognized as Fit-Friendly — 13 at the Platinum level and 88 at the Gold level,” Scheehle says.

“The American Heart Association is committed to improving and extending the lives of every individual, and the Fit-Friendly program allows businesses to implement solutions that make a difference in people’s health where and how they need it — ultimately driving results to the 2020 Impact Goal,” she says.

Smart Business spoke with Scheehle about the Fit-Friendly program in Central Ohio.

SB: Can you tell me a little about how the Fit-Friendly program works?

JS: The Fit-Friendly Worksite program recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees by creating a culture of physical activity and wellness within the workplace.

The American Heart Association offers resources, materials, consultation and support to interested companies, and upon achieving specified goals, the worksite submits an application for recognition. A volunteer review panel reviews the application for recognition status and companies are then recognized at the Gold, Silver or Platinum level, with additional opportunity to receive the Worksite Innovation Award or Community Innovation Award.

SB: Why are worksite wellness programs so important today?

JS: Adult Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work, and many are in sedentary careers.

With obesity costing American businesses $12.7 billion per year in medical expenses and $225.8 billion in health-related productivity losses, any program that increases physical activity of employees will impact the employers’ bottom line as well as improve the health of its employees.

SB: How is the American Heart Association’s program different? What’s the benefit for employers and employees?

JS: Many executives have shared that creating and encouraging an environment of health and wellness isn’t always easy and can’t be done alone. This is where the American Heart Association has stepped in to serve as a resource with the Fit-Friendly Worksite program.

Studies suggest that implementing a worksite physical activity program and promoting a culture of activity will help worksites increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, lower turnover and reduce health care costs.

Specifically studies show:

  • Fitness programs have reduced employer health care costs by 20 to 55 percent.
  • Reducing just one health risk increases a person’s productivity on the job by 9 percent and reduces absenteeism by 2 percent.
  • For every dollar the average company spends on its worksite wellness program, it receives an average net benefit of $3.40 to $7.88.
  • At worksites with physical activity programs, employers have:
    • Reduced short-term sick leave by 6 to 32 percent.
    • Increased productivity by 2 to 52 percent.

SB: Have you made changes to the Fit-Friendly program, or learned some lessons about how to increase the ROI?

JS: Recently the American Heart Association developed a new Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit, as well as revamped its smoke-free policies — both of which are being taken into consideration as recognition criteria continues to be evaluated.

With this evaluation, recognition criteria will likely become more specific in these regards, all to further drive the results employers see in their bottom line, as well as the benefits employees see in their overall heart health.

VIDEO, PHOTOS: Medical Mutual 2015 Pillar Awards for Community Service

On Jan. 29, more than 300 guests attended the Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service event at The Ohio Statehouse. The award honors businesses of all types and sizes that make outstanding contributions to their community.

If you were there, or even if you weren’t, check out our video and photo gallery recap of the event, and see who you know.

Also, here’s a photo gallery of more than 100 pictures from the event, posted on our Facebook page.

And in case you missed it, a breakdown of the 2015 winners, as well as some videos where you can meet the nominees.

For more information about the Pillar Awards and our other Smart Business events, visit our events page.

Kelly Borth: Communication plans are key to a successful merger or acquisition

Kelly Borth, CEO and chief strategy officer, Greencrest

Kelly Borth, CEO and chief strategy officer, Greencrest

A merger or acquisition is a sensitive process for all parties involved. Misinformation can abound, egos can be bruised, and business relationships can be damaged. One major cause of problems for companies entering a merger or acquisition is rumors and misconceptions that are allowed to run rampant through all levels of employees and stakeholders, as well as communities surrounding the businesses.

Employees, customers, vendors, community members and other key audiences hold specific interests in every company. To facilitate a smooth transition, companies must provide clear and concise information about the merger or acquisition to all stakeholders.

Implementing a transparent communications program ensures that all interested parties understand exactly how the deal will affect them. Without transparency, stakeholders begin to lose confidence. Flawless response time and a defined communication strategy are crucial to effectively ease any concerns.

Precise planning and messaging

Companies must prepare to beat fast-paced rumors months ahead of a merger or acquisition becoming imminent — especially with the speed information travels in today’s tech-savvy world.

Nothing is worse than having your employees find out about a major change in their company from an outside acquaintance. Why didn’t anyone at work inform them? Will they lose their jobs? These concerns should be addressed long before the rumor mill kicks into action. This takes proactive planning.

Initiating a proactive strategy will uncover communication considerations impacted by a merger or acquisition such as employee, key customer, investor, vendor and media announcement strategies, the company name, updating or merging of websites, and a host of other things.

“Key messages” that contain useful and comprehensive information should be prepared well ahead of time, with planned face-to-face meetings with those most affected by the deal, a detailed implementation timeline, and a plan for 11th-hour changes are essential to create a smooth transition process.

Internal communications

When announcing a merger or acquisition, it is imperative to provide accurate information and to avoid making promises that cannot be kept. If management takes the time to discuss the deal’s benefits and drawbacks, employees are more likely to respond positively instead of resisting change.

Employees expect straightforward and honest information about what the deal means for them. Anticipate questions that may arise and have a solid answer for each. Regular updates should be communicated through management, question-and-answer sessions, staff meetings and company news vehicles. The announcement to your staff must be a top priority — even ahead of key clients. But if planned properly, the announcement can hit all stakeholders within a matter of moments.

External communications

You may want to meet with key clients in person. A global announcement can be distributed via email within minutes of a staff announcement to not only clients but also other interested parties. A personal letter can always follow. But don’t stop there. Be sure to reinforce the benefits of the merger in all communication going forward.

Vendors will also be concerned about how the transaction will affect contracts, tax and credit information. A post-announcement letter can address these concerns and include any changes to important information.

Print and electronic media outlets are powerful tools and should be used accordingly. One designated spokesperson should be available at all times to speak to reporters. Communicating with key media outlets during a merger or acquisition offers a means for publicizing a company’s name change and launching new market and/or services announcements.

The perfect mix for internal and external communication plans involves implementing communications quickly, utilizing all available communication routes and delivering consistent, clear and accurate messages. Companies that make communications plans a priority during a merger or acquisition will emerge from the process as an organization that stakeholders, employees and the media can trust. ●

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, [email protected], @brandpro or for more information, visit

2013 POWER 100: Central Ohio leaders who make things happen

By Mark Scott, Dennis Seeds, Gregory Jones, Laura Green, Erik Cassano and Pete Fehrenbach

(Numbers in parentheses are 2012 rankings.)

When you look over this year’s Power 100 list, there are 10 new faces, 90 familiar faces and a good bit of movement. That’s not to say that the Smart Business Columbus editors could only find 10 rising stars in the power landscape, but the stable of influential leaders of Central Ohio had a full year of ups and some downs, some wins and losses, and a general sense that economic conditions are improving.

As the years go on, perhaps most would rather forget they are aging, but not so with cities. Columbusmarked its 200th birthday in 2012. Ty Marsh headed the planning committee forColumbus’ party, which included exhibitions and educational programs honored the city’s founding as well as more than 40 events, including the “Red, White and Boom” fireworks celebration.

Eric Fingerhut, already well-known in Greater Cleveland as a legislator as well as chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, is now helping a train a new crop of science and technology leaders as vice president, education and STEM learning, for the Battelle Memorial Institute.

New addition Tom Lennox is the founder of theColumbus- based nonprofit organization that plans and promotes an annual bike tour of the same name, Pelatonia, which sends all of its proceeds to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

As for politicians new to the list, we add one — Andrew Ginther, president of Columbus City Council, who has worked closely with Mayor Michael Coleman to bolsterColumbus’ image with tourists and conventions. He’s chaired council’s finance and economic development committee and supports building safe and strong neighborhoods, too.

Many of the other influential leaders have also been busy in 2012 creating new jobs, growing their businesses and making positive contributions to Central Ohio. They’ve not been standing still. They’ll be in their roles until it is time for the changing of the guard. And that’s part of the evolving landscape the editors hope you will see as you look at the most influential business, civic and political leaders for 2013.

1. Les Wexner
chairman and CEO, Limited Brands Inc. (1)

Wexner will mark an impressive milepost in 2013 — his 50th year of running The Limited. From opening his first Limited store in 1963 in the Kingsdale Shopping Center in Upper Arlington with first-year sales of $160,000, to leading what today has become a $10 billion business, Wexner, 75, is enthusiastic as ever about growing his business and philanthropy efforts. In recognition of a $100 million pledge from his family and the Limited Brands Foundation, The Ohio State University renamed the Wexner Medical Center in his honor. This was the largest such single gift the university had ever received.

Wexner announced in June that he was stepping down as a trustee at OSU after serving 18 years, including several years as chairman of the board.

2. John F. Wolfe
publisher, Columbus Dispatch; chairman and CEO, Dispatch Publishing Co. (3)

Wolfe was given a special recognition award in September from the Associated Press Society of Ohio for “exemplary service to print journalism.” Given to “those who surpass their peers in their dedication and accomplishments,” the honor adds to the Dispatch’s influence on delivering the news. The newspaper was named best newspaper among Ohio’s largest papers and was named the best website. Dispatch staffers won 39 other awards in the annual AP competition honoring work done in 2011.

3. Michael Coleman
mayor, Columbus (2)

When a New York Times Magazine article in September detailed the economic recovery steps that Ohio has been taking, the author noted that Coleman had been mayor for 12 years and “can probably keep the job for life if he wants to.” But that’s just one reason why he tops our list this year.

Coleman continues his efforts to improve the economic strength of Central Ohio and played an important role in ending the gridlock that stalled the Hollywood Casino Columbus project.

He also created a new taxpayer-funded nonprofit development group, the Columbus Next Generation Development Corp., to encourage development in the city’s most needy areas. A similar group folded three years ago after being $4 million in debt. Not to be left out, the Columbus City Schools also received attention from Coleman. He announced an effort to assess and improve the schools and named former Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut to advise the city in the program.

4. John Kasich
governor, Ohio (5)

From May to July, Ohio added more jobs than every state but California. In just two years in office, Kasich has helped create more than 120,000 new jobs in the state. It’s all part of a gradual turnaround fueled by several factors, including Kasich’s pro-business policies. Kasich gave Mark Kvamme and JobsOhio credit for the 120,000 jobs, but that claim has been clouded by questions of constitutionality that have held up JobsOhio’s deal with the state for liquor department profits as a dedicated source of spending money for the next 25 years. Kasich has actively pursued various revenue streams for the state, including leasing the Ohio Turnpike. He also supports the use of compressed natural gas in state vehicles to create a market for fuel that energy companies are starting to extract from Ohio’s Utica shale.

5. Steve Rasmussen
CEO, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. (4)

Nationwide spent much of 2012 recovering from the $582 million lost in 2011 on storm claims and investments, but it was able to make a major acquisition — Harleysville Mutual Insurance Co. and Harleysville Group Inc., an $834 million deal.

Rasmussen says the transaction sets Nationwide apart from the competition as a top independent agency partner in the United States while maintaining its strong commitment to agency partners. Rasmussen and his wife, Cindy, were named co-chairs for the 2012 United Way of Central Ohio campaign, which has a goal of raising $52.55 million.

6. Ron Pizzuti
chairman and CEO, The Pizzuti Cos. (6)

A collection of contemporary art owned by Pizzuti is being housed in a new 20,000-square-foot building on North Park Street. But that’s not all Pizzuti, who was ranked by ARTnews magazine as among the world’s top 200 art collectors, has in mind for the Short North site. Construction has begun for a new public parking garage, Class A office building and boutique hotel, to be called The Joseph.

7. E. Gordon Gee
president, The Ohio State University (7)

Called “Ohio’s best politician” by Gov. Kasich, Gee, finds himself involved in yet another effort — to develop a new funding formula for the state’s colleges and universities. Gee was also reappointed to the board of directors for JobsOhio, the Kasich administration’s economic development arm. But Gee, 68, came under fire as Ohio State has spent $64,000 since 2007 on bow ties, bow tie cookies and O-H and bow tie pins for Gee and others to distribute as was revealed in a Dayton Daily News story. In his defense, supporters said university presidents, such as Gee, should spend more time and energy fundraising to compensate for the decline in government support for higher education.

8. Don Casto
partner, Casto (8)

As one of the investors in improvements to LeVeque Tower, Casto received $4 million in July in property-tax breaks for the location to continue over the next 10 years, with an additional $2 million for streetscape improvements around the tower. This includes areas on Broad Street, Front Street and the adjacent alleys. The project also received $5 million worth of Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits through the Ohio Department of Development. Casto also began work on Secur-It building in downtown’s RiverSouth district after several years of speculation on the former Adler Building’s future.

9. Tanny Crane
president and CEO, Crane Group (9)

Crane, noted for her support and encouragement of the Columbus community, gave $1 million to the Southern Gateway neighborhood for revitalization and redevelopment. The contribution, in recognition of the plastic company’s 65th anniversary, will help renovate the closed Reeb Elementary School into a neighborhood center, which will offer social programming and house the South Side Learning Center. Earlier in the fall, Crane sold one of its biggest companies, its TimberTech decking division, to Scranton, Pa.-based CPG International Inc.

10. Dr. Steve Allen
CEO, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (17)

Nationwide Children’s Hospital celebrated the opening of its new $430 million, 293-bed inpatient hospital, the center of its massive expansion project, with a black tie gala that raised $3.8 million for pediatric research, but that wasn’t the only news last year. Under the direction of Allen, the hospital was listed on U.S. News & World Report’s annual honor roll for the first time in its history, recognized as one of the nation’s best pediatric centers. The hospital ranked eighth on this prestigious list. Nationwide Children’s also made the magazine’s overall best hospitals list, marking the seventh year in a row on that list.

11. Steve Steinour
chairman, president and CEO, Huntington Bancshares Inc. (11)

Steinour, a cheerleader for Central Ohio’s recent recovery from the recession, touted the region’s successes on CNBC and Bloomberg TV — and he didn’t have to look far for proof. Huntington racked up significant gains in 2012. Huntington is seeing its strategy to attract new customers and get them into several bank products at once pay off. The bank has committed $1 million over the next three years to help the Columbus Urban League energize economic growth and create jobs in Columbus’ urban core.

12. David Blom
president and CEO, OhioHealth (13)

Blom’s $3.02 million in deferred compensation for 2012, along with base salary and benefits topped the $2.3 million earned by Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. OhioHealth noted the figure won’t be recurring, but it’s an example of Blom’s clout in the region and his ability to meet performance targets. In April, OhioHealth and the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine signed an agreement for OhioHealth to partner with Heritage College at a new Dublin extension campus.

13. Larry James
partner, Crabbe, Brown & James (12)

James, fresh off his defense of OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor for NCAA violations, helped defend linebacker Storm Klein on misdemeanor domestic violence and assault charges. Klein pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, was put on 18 months’ probation and was suspended for two games. The alleged victim recanted her story, and after Klein’s guilty plea, coach Urban Meyer reinstated him to the team. Larry and his wife, Donna, received the prestigious American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award. He also received the Distinguished Alumni Award by Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. James was also selected by the King Arts Complex as one of the 24 Living Legends in Central Ohio.

14. Alex Shumate
managing partner, Squire, Sanders and Dempsey LLC (10)

Gov. Kasich appointed Shumate in June to serve the remainder of the term of Les Wexner, who had resigned from the board of trustees at Ohio State. Shumate served previously on the board from 1989-1998 and from 2006-2012, including a term as chairman of the board from 1997-98 and as vice chairman from 2011-2012. Shumate has been consistently selected by his peers for the annual Best Lawyers in America listing and as an Ohio Super Lawyer.

15. Jay Schottenstein
chairman, Schottenstein Management, American Eagle, Retail Ventures, DSW (16)

Schottenstein, chairman of American Eagle Outfitters, took over as executive chairman of the company in 2012 to devote time to groom its new CEO, Robert Hanson. For his work with Hanson, he received an annual base salary of $500,000, performance incentives potentially worth up to $1 million and additional company stock. Schottenstein has been chairman since 1992 and had been CEO for 10 years. A Los Angeles real estate investor with ties to Columbus purchased a large piece of Schottenstein Property Group’s industrial portfolio in Central Ohio. Hackman Capital bought 12 flex office-warehouse properties and 32 warehouse and distribution centers.

16. Curtis Moody
president and CEO, Moody-Nolan Inc. (20)

Moody-Nolan clinched a big win when it secured a contract to design the expansion of CenturyLink’s headquarters in Monroe, La. The $60 million project will be designed at Moody-Nolan’s facilities in Columbus and calls for a technology center, parking garage and cafeteria. Among other recent additions to the firm’s portfolio are Columbus Commons, the Downtown Hilton and the 17-story cancer and critical-care tower that, once completed, will anchor Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center as the tallest building on campus.

17. Donna James
managing director, Lardon and Associates LLC (14)

The Center for Healthy Families, which James founded in 2007, marked its fifth year in operation. As a former teen parent herself, James became a Fortune 500 corporate executive, a director for five corporate boards and a leader in the Central Ohio community. She continues to chair the National Women’s Business Council to which President Obama appointed her.

18. John P. Beavers
partner, Bricker & Eckler (15)

Beavers specializes in counseling and representing governing boards and executives, and he wrote an article titled “A Chronology Showing the Penn State Board of Trustees Acted Appropriately,” a review of the steps taken by the school’s board following allegations of criminal sexual misconduct.

19. Curt Loveland
partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP (18)

Loveland penned an article titled, “JOBS Act: New Law Facilitates Raising Capital,” a review of how the new law makes significant changes to how businesses can raise capital. He has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of corporate law for more than 10 consecutive years and in Chambers USA in the area of corporate law/M&A.

20. Jeffrey Wadsworth
president and CEO, Battelle Memorial Institute (28)

In June, Wadsworth won the 2013 Acta Materialia Inc. Materials and Society Award, which he will receive in March. Wadsworth has authored or co-authored nearly 300 scientific papers and one book, has been granted four U.S. patents and has received numerous awards.

21. Abigail Wexner
chair,, Family Violence Coalition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (44)

As Wexner concludes her seven-year stint as chairwoman of the board of trustees at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, she can look back on a remarkable period of progress. Nationwide Children’s has appeared on U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s Best Hospitals every year since 2006 and for 2012-13 was named among the top 50 in 10 different specialties. With the June opening of a new state-of-the-art, 12-story hospital, Wexner now will turn the reins over to Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership and a Nationwide Children’s board member since 2011.

22. Michael Fiorile
president and COO, The Dispatch Printing Co. (21)

Broadcasting & Cable named Fiorile the 2012 Broadcaster of the Year. He was also named to the 2012 governing committee for the Columbus Foundation

23. Dr. Steven G. Gabbe
CEO, OSU Medical Center (22)

OSU Medical Center conducted research that showed the injection of a tiny capsule containing heat-generating cells into the abdomens of mice led those animals to burn abdominal fat and initially lose about 20 percent of belly fat after 80 days of treatment.

24. Doug Kridler
president and CEO, The Columbus Foundation (32)

Limited Brands gifted $163.4 million to The Columbus Foundation in September. The donation is believed to be the largest financial gift to a 501(c)(3) in Ohio history. Giving to the foundation reached an all-time high in 2011, with more than $249 million donated to new and existing funds and supporting donations.

25. Ty Marsh
chairman, Columbus200 (19)

Marsh left his post in 2010 as CEO of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce to head the planning committee for Columbus’ bicentennial birthday bash. More than 40 events, exhibitions and educational programs honored the city’s founding. He’s also owner of Ty Marsh Associates, a consulting firm focused on economic development.

26. Roger Geiger
Ohio executive director, National Federation of Independent Business (35)

Recent NFIB legislative victories in Ohio include the “Right to Cure” House Bill 275, legislation that allows a business to make an offer to a consumer who has filed a consumer sales practices act (CSPA) lawsuit against a business for a product or service that did not meet the expectation of the consumer, and also Senate Bill 202, the Trespasser Liability Act, which codifies Ohio’s long-existing common law protection afforded to private property owners.

27. Boyce Safford III
director, Columbus Department of Development (36)

With support from Safford, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman approved forming the Columbus Next Generation Development Corp., a nonprofit development group aimed at developing some of the poorest areas of the city.

28. Michael Dalby
president of Columbus Chamber of Commerce (38)

The chamber is placing more emphasis on the services and expertise that it can provide to businesses, Dalby says. Under his leadership, the Columbus Chamber has transformed into a business development and advocacy organization focused on expanding and retaining existing businesses.

29. James Malz
president of Columbus market, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (46)

Chase, the region’s largest private-sector employer, plans to add 350 or more employees in Central Ohio during the next five years. To accommodate its employment growth, the firm will invest more than $18 million to refurbish leased office space at two Polaris Parkway locations. When this new wave of hiring is complete, Chase will have added more than 6,000 new jobs and a million square feet of real estate in Central Ohio since its 2004 merger of Bank One and JPMorgan Chase. Last year alone, Chase added about 2,500 jobs in Central Ohio.

30. David Milenthal
co-chairman, Milenthal-DelGrosso LLC (43)

Milenthal-DelGrosso was the local sponsor for American City Business Journals’ first annual Social Madness challenge, hosted locally by Columbus Business First and sponsorsed nationally by Capital One. The company took top honors in the eHealthcare Leadership Awards.

31. Mary Taylor
Lieutenant governor, Ohio (56)

Taylor has been working to improve job creation in Ohio through her role leading CSI Ohio, the “Common Sense Initiative,” to reform Ohio’s regulatory policies. She is also serving as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. The hope is that these two assignments provide an effective launching pad to make Ohio a friendly state for creating jobs and new business.

32. Alex Fischer
president and CEO, Columbus Partnership (64)

As a leader of the Columbus 2020 economic development initiative, Fischer has already helped the organization exceed its five-year, $30-million-fundraising goal to have $30.2 million pledged. The money will be used to fund economic development efforts and comes from partnership members and 125 new investors.

He was an integral part of a two-year plan to save the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets this year. In 2012, he succeeded Abigail Wexner as the chairman of the board of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

33. Jordan Miller Jr.
president and CEO, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio (55)

Miller helped Fifth Third Bank present two $50,000 checks. One was to Janet Jackson, president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio, to fund The Neighborhood Leadership Academy. The other was presented to Homeport Housing Advisory Center to help support Homeport’s community life programs.

34. Rob Portman
U.S. senator, Ohio (25)

Portman introduced a bipartisan bill with Sen. Sherrod Brown aimed at protecting the historic integrity of the village of Zoar in Tuscarawas County as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studies ways to manage the village’s aging levee. Portman also actively supported the failed campaign of Mitt Romney throughout 2012.

35. Peter Geier
CEO, OSU Health System; COO,OSU Wexner Medical Center (24)

The center has consistently been ranked one of America’s best hospitals. Ohio State’s College of Medicine ranked 14th in the country on the 2013 U.S. News & World Report list of America’s Best Graduate Schools.

36. Linda Heasley
president and CEO, The Limited (27)

In April, Heasley delivered a lecture to students at the Savannah College of Art and Design as part of the college’s “SCAD Style” annual event.

37. John P. McConnell
chairman and CEO, Worthington Industries Inc.; majority owner, Columbus Blue Jackets (29)

Worthington Industries finished its fiscal year with flat profit and an increase in sales. Worthington reported profit of $115.6 million for the fiscal year that ended in May, up from $115.1 million, and sales of $2.5 billion, up from $2.4 billion. The Blue Jackets finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 29-46-7 record and their third consecutive last-place finish in the NHL’s Central Division.

38. John B. Gerlach Jr.
chairman, president and CEO, Lancaster Colony Corp. (34)

Lancaster Colony reported $1.13 billion in net sales for fiscal 2012, a 4 percent increase over fiscal 2011.

39. Kurt Tunnell
managing partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP (45)

In late 2011, Tunnell received the “Champion of Diversity Legal Award” from the National Diversity Council. As managing partner, Tunnell has played a key role in continuing the tradition of an organization that has a strong history of groundbreaking diversity.

40. Russell Gertmenian
managing partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (30)

Gertmenian, now in his fifth year as managing partner of the firm, was named to 2013 Best Lawyers in America list in corporate compliance law and corporate governance law.

41. Melissa Ingwersen
Central Ohio District President, Key Bank (23)

Ingwersen has been a member of the Columbus Partnership since 2004. The Columbus Partnership is a nonprofit, membership-based CEO organization with the primary goal to improve the economic vitality of the Columbus region. She has served on community boards and organizations, including the YWCA of Columbus, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Franklin University, the OSU Health Plan board and the Capitol South Urban Redevelopment Corp. board.

42. Jane Grote Abell
chair, Donatos Pizzeria LLC (52)

The Grote family made a $1 million contribution to seed the rehabilitation initiative of the Southern Gateway neighborhood’s Reeb Elementary School, which will offer social programming and house the South Side Learning Center.

43. Maureen O’Connor
chief justice, Ohio Supreme Court (33)

In a 4-3 vote, the Ohio Supreme Court voted to throw out the murder conviction of Toneisha Gunnell of Columbus, on the basis that she was unconstitutionally subjected to double jeopardy due to an improperly declared mistrial.

44. Tom Lennox
founder and CEO, Pelotonia (new)

The grassroots organization was founded in 2008 with the objective of funding cancer research. It sponsors a three-day bicycle riding “experience” that in its first four years has raised more than $42 million. All the proceeds go to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

45. Elaine Roberts
president and CEO, Port Columbus International Airport, Columbus Regional Airport Authority (48)

Port Columbus partnered with Arconas to create power units that have been retrofitted into airport seating. Additionally, more than 40 recently installed workstations provide convenient electrical and electronic connections for passengers. Port Columbus became one of the first airports in the U.S. to install PowerMats, which are wireless charging docks for electronic devices.

46. Andrew J. Ginther
council president, Columbus (new)

Ginther is working closely with Mayor Michael Coleman to bolster Columbus’ image with tourists and conventions. He’s been able to bring different groups to the table to talk about solutions that can help the city.

47. Jack Ruscilli
chairman, Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. (40)

Ruscilli associates participated in the 2012 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure in downtown Columbus raising $1,000 for cancer research. Three bowling teams from the company raised more than $5,000 for the 2012 Bowl for Kids’ Sake event, which is the largest and most important annual fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio.

48. Gene Smith
associate vice president and director of athletics, The Ohio State University (41)

Smith will serve as a member of the NCAA Division I Administration Cabinet through July 1, 2014. The group oversees and recommends membership to NCAA committees. Smith is active in the Columbus community and is a member of the board of the YMCA of Central Ohio and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Columbus and the governing board of trustees of the Lincoln Theater Association. He also is active with the Bell Center for African-American males on Ohio State’s campus, where he sponsors a mentoring program called Team Smith. On the athletic front, the hiring of Urban Meyer paved the way to a perfect 12-0 season for the football team, a great season even without a bowl berth.

49. Nancy Kramer
founder, chairman and chief culture officer, Resource Interactive (49)

The trade publication Advertising Age named Kramer one of the 100 most influential women in advertising.

50. Michael Gonsiorowski
Central Ohio regional president, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (37)

PNC announced in December that the bank would contribute another $1 million to help boost the arts in Central Ohio. Grant proposals for $20,000 or more were accepted from qualified arts organizations with the next round of grants set to be announced in June.

51. Michelle Kerr
co-founder, chairman and president, Oxford Consulting Group Inc. (57)

Oxford was named to the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing companies in 2012. And the Columbus Chapter of the National Association for Women Business Owners recognized Kerr as a finalist for the prestigious 2012 Visionary Awards.

52. Bill Ingram
CEO, White Castle Systems Inc. (58)

Ingram and his wife, Marci, recently announced a $10 million pledge to Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to establish the Marci and Bill Ingram Comprehensive Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Ingram-White Castle Foundation has also contributed $1.25 million in each of the last four years to other charitable causes in the region. On the business front, the hamburger chain announced plans to build a new frozen-food facility creating 100 permanent jobs in Vandalia.

53. Tom Katzenmeyer
senior vice president of university communications, The Ohio State University (new)

In addition to his work keeping the public informed about what’s happening at OSU, Katzenmeyer serves as chair of the city’s funding review advisory committee. He’s been another key player in the effort to drive growth throughout Columbus and is also a vice chair for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

54. Dwight Smith
founder and CEO, Sophisticated Systems Ltd. (51)

A 2012 Junior Achievement Laureate, his company recently bought Square One Technology Solutions. Square One provides managed services, virtualization and information security services for organizations in the private and public sectors throughout Central Ohio.

55. Emil Brolick
president and CEO, Wendy’s Co. (65)

The company has dramatically transformed its world headquarters and restaurant support center. After construction on a $17 million project is completed in early 2013, the Dublin campus will house more than 600 employees. The company also renovated the largest office building on campus and is constructing a new 75,000-square-foot office building and conference center, named for Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. Wendy’s is also in the midst of a comprehensive transformation to contemporize the brand and dramatically improve the customer experience. Consumers are responding, as evidenced by five consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales.

56. Denny Griffith
president, Columbus College of Art & Design (66)

The college now has an enrollment of more than 1,300 students from 40 states and 35 foreign countries and a 12-1 student to faculty ratio.

Griffith has also maintained a vigorous commitment to his work as an artist. His work has been included in more than 90 group and solo exhibitions domestically and abroad. He’s part of the collections at such public institutions as The Butler Institute of American Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the China Academy of Art.

57. Brian Ellis
president and COO, Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd. (67)

In September, Nationwide announced it would construct a new office building near Nationwide Arena, which will house 1,000 employees whom the company plans to relocate downtown.

58. Sandra Harbrecht
president and CEO, Paul Werth Associates (68)

Harbrecht continues to add to her extensive community involvement resume, which includes a position on the dean’s advisory council for the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State.

59. Matthew Kallner
attorney, Law Offices of Matthew G. Kallner (26)

Kallner still serves on the board for the Center for Healthy Families. He also serves on the board of directors for the Jeannie B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany.

60. Eric Fingerhut
corporate vice president, education and STEM learning, Battelle Memorial Institute (new)

The former state senator from Greater Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve education policy in Columbus. He served four years as head of the Ohio Board of Regents and is now working to inspire and train the next generation of science and technology leaders.

61. Robert Weiler Sr.
chairman, The Robert Weiler Co. (53)

Weiler is serving a three-year term on the board of trustees for the Central Ohio Transit Authority until 2014. He remains on the board of Ohio Capital Corp. for Housing as its secretary

62. Nick Akins
president and CEO, American Electric Power (new)

Akins became the sixth CEO in the company’s history in November 2011, replacing the retired Michael Morris. He serves on a number of industry-related boards, as well as boards for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

63. Cindy Hilsheimer
founder and managing principal, BeecherHill (new)

The executive search firm changed its name this year from SC Search Consultants to BeecherHill. Hilsheimer is very involved in Pelotonia and also serves as a member of the board for the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

64. Matt Habash
president and CEO, Mid-Ohio Foodbank (new)

The former Columbus city councilman presides over a network of more than 550 member agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Mid-Ohio Foodbank handles more than 40 million pounds of food each year and provides more than 100,000 meals every day to the hungry in Central Ohio.

65. Cameron Mitchell
founder and president, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants LLC (73)

In October, Cameron Mitchell Catering partnered with the Memorial Tournament to serve as the exclusive on-course hospitality caterer for the prestigious tournament hosted by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.

66. Joel Pizzuti
president, The Pizzuti Cos. (77)

A 1.4 million-square-foot business park recently opened in New Albany, and The Pizzuti Cos. built three of the park’s seven buildings. The company also announced a $59 million Pizzuti project in the Short North that includes an 11-story, 135-room boutique hotel.

67. Sheri Tackett
founder and president, Delta Energy LLC (81)

Delta Energy ranked first in the Top 100 Woman-Owned Businesses in America, Top 100 Diversity Owned Businesses in Ohio and Top 100 Privately-held Businesses in Ohio by She was also recently named to the 2012 class of the Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine.

68. Beatrice Wolper
co-founder and partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm LPA (54)

Wolper serves as the Ohio president for the International Women’s Forum and serves as a director of TB Investment Properties and Insight Bank. She is on the legal advisory board of the Columbus Foundation and a member of Central Ohio Planned Giving.

69. Michelle Heritage
executive director, Community Shelter Board (new)

She has been featured as one of the 12 Women You Should Know in Columbus and provides visible leadership in the effort to end homelessness. She serves on local, state and national boards for human services, diversity, homelessness and community research and is a key strategist in the effort to improve life in Central Ohio.

70. David Harrison
president, Columbus State Community College (70)

After several years of solid growth, the Columbus Dispatch reported that enrollment at Columbus State Community College had dropped by 16 percent last fall. Officials are blaming the enrollment decrease on the switch to semesters. More students are taking fewer credit hours, a factor that, combined with the drop in enrollment, could result in as much as a $15 million budget shortfall.

71. Janet Jackson
president and CEO, United Way of Central Ohio (75)

The United Way of Central Ohio plans to reduce funding for education programs, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Education programs make up the biggest share of its grantees, but funding would be reduced by 10 percent next year as the agency aims to stabilize allocations and make more money available for broader community work.

72. Guy Worley
president and CEO, Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capital South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. (79)

Worley has been named to a new 24-member Town and Gown Advisory Committee for the Arts. He’s also playing a key role in reshaping downtown Columbus through a number of projects that are in the works going into 2013.

73. Kenny McDonald
senior vice president, Columbus Partnership; chief economic officer, Columbus2020 (85)

McDonald spoke last summer about some of the progress that has been made creating jobs in Central Ohio. Columbus 2020 has a goal of adding 150,000 net new jobs by 2020, along with increasing personal per capita income by 30 percent and adding $8 billion of capital investment.

74. Barbara Kunz
president, Health and Life Sciences Global Business, Battelle Memorial Institute (84)

In September, Battelle unveiled a new lab that allows researchers to observe and evaluate how real-life patients and clinicians both use and interact with medical devices. The User Research Lab (uLab) is located at Battelle’s Columbus headquarters, next to its medical device development building. The uLab allows researchers to conduct usability studies, an activity that has become increasingly critical to medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers as they launch new products.

75. Neil Mortine
president and CEO, Fahlgren Mortine (74)

For the second year in a row, Bulldog Reporter, a national news source for the public relations and communications industry, named Fahlgren Mortine its gold agency of the year. The agency won in the midsize category, a step up from the small agency category in which it competed last year.

76. Robert M. Eversole
principal, Stonehenge Partners Inc. (62)

Eversole continues to serve as a board member of Advanced Drainage Systems, as well as Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He was also a 2012 judge for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

77. Joe Alutto
executive vice president and provost, The Ohio State University (69)

Alutto will step down from his post as OSU’s exec VP and provost and become a special adviser to OSU President E. Gordon Gee on June 30. As Gee’s special adviser, Alutto will work on distance education and university advancement initiatives. He will also return to the faculty.

78. Michael Glimcher
chairman and CEO, Glimcher Realty Trust (72)

Glimcher Realty made a couple of acquisitions during 2012. The company bought a lumberyard in Malibu, Calif., and a retail center in Leawood, Kan. It was also named one of the best places to work in Ohio by the Ohio Society for Human Resource Management.

79. Bruce Hagen
regional executive and president, Dublin Methodist Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital (89)

Dublin Methodist was named one of the nation’s best hospitals by Thomson Reuters. The honor was announced in May as Dublin was recognized in the small community hospitals category.

80. Doug Morgan
attorney; bicycling advocate (83)

Morgan continues to practice law on a full-time basis, but he has taken on a new venture working for the Mt. Vernon Barn Co., making furniture from reclaimed wood found in barns and log houses. He continues to serve on the boards of Consider Biking, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Columbus Club. He was a founding board member of TechColumbus.

81. George Barrett
chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health Inc. (82)

Barrett’s company ranks No. 21 on the Fortune 500, and Barrett himself is involved with numerous boards across Central Ohio, including Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ohio Business Roundtable and the Columbus Partnership. Barrett was also named a co-chair on the mayor’s education commission to help “reimagine” the Columbus City Schools.

82. David Bianconi
founder, Bel Lago Restaurant, (88)

Bianconi has been busy with his restaurant in Westerville, which promises patrons a “casual-luxury dining” experience. The restaurant has received very positive reviews for its Italian-American cuisine and the picturesque views of the Hoover Reservoir.

83. Claus von Zychlin
president and CEO, Mount Carmel Health System (new)

Mount Carmel is the 11th-largest employer in Central Ohio with nearly 8,000 employees, more than 1,500 physicians and 1,000 volunteers. The hospital system broke ground on a $58 million project for expansion of health services in Grove City, starting with a freestanding emergency care center.

84. Craig Marshall
risk advisory partner/Columbus office managing partner, Ernst & Young LLP, Columbus office (59)

Marshall continues as a member of the boards of directors for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and the United Way of Central Ohio. He is also a member of the business council for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

85. David Meuse
principal, Stonehenge Partners Inc. (61)

Meuse sits on the governing committee of The Columbus Foundation and several other boards including Central Benefits Mutual Insurance Co., ORIX USA Corp. and The Columbus Partnership.

86. Michael Petrecca
managing partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Columbus office (60)

Petrecca is the board chair for the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts and continues to serve on the boards of the Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau/TechColumbus.

87. Tom Krouse
president and CEO, Donatos Pizza (92)

In May, Donatos was listed as the leader of the fast-casual sector for pizza restaurants with an estimated $166 million in 2011 sales. The pizza chain also hired a new vice president of marketing, filling a position that had been open for a couple of years.

88. Jon Milenthal
CEO, Milenthal-DelGrosso LLC (95)

The firm launched its new website and was honored with a national health care marketing award.

89. Yvette McGee Brown
former Justice, Ohio Supreme Court (new)

Brown became the first African-American female justice on the Ohio Supreme Court when she took office Jan. 1, 2011. While she lost in the November election, she is expected to remain active in the Columbus community through the many boards she serves on, and she will continue to serve as a role model for her pioneering spirit.

90. Larry Hilsheimer
president and COO, Nationwide Retirement Plans (39)

Top leaders have switched roles as part of the company’s plan to develop executive talent. Hilsheimer will retain oversight of Nationwide Bank while Anne Arvia will lead Nationwide Direct, Affinity and Growth Solutions, which includes Nationwide’s property- and casualty-insurance sales operations.

91. J. Richard Emens
partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm LPA; chairman and executive director, Conway Center for Family Business (63)

Emens continues to work with his team at Conway Center for Family Business to build programs that help family-run businesses succeed.

92. Robert Schottenstein
chairman, president and CEO, M/I Homes Inc. (76)

A big jump in sales helped M/I Homes report its first quarterly profit since 2009 and only its second since the beginning of 2007.

93. Robert C. White
co-founder and chairman, The Daimler Group Inc. (86)

White continues to be a devoted supporter of Flying Horse Farms, a no-fee camp for children with serious illnesses that The Daimler Group helped build in Mount Gilead.

94. John McEwan
managing partner, Deloitte LLP’s Central Ohio practice (91)

Deloitte is a major supporter of the Ohio State Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition, which provides a forum for faculty, students and entrepreneurs to win approximately $130,000 in cash and pro bono services to use as start-up funds to transform an idea into a thriving business.

95. John (Jack) Partridge
president, Columbia Gas of Ohio (94)

Partridge continues to be actively involved in the effort to conserve energy in new construction that takes place in the Central Ohio region.

96. Debra Penzone
president, Charles Penzone Family of Salons (96)

Penzone was active in the community in 2012 speaking to women about the importance of discovering their “true beauty from the inside out” and what they need to do to gain the tools to succeed in their professional careers.

97. Philip R. Smith II
office managing partner, KPMG (97)

Smith serves as the partner champion for KPMG Columbus’s Green Initiative. Under his leadership, the firm has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 25 percent in the past four years.

98. Sue Zazon
president and CEO, FirstMerit Bank, Columbus region (98)

Zazon was announced as a speaker at the 2013 Leadership Summit hosted by The Ohio State University Institute of Industrial Engineers. The event is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2013.

99. Frank Kass
chairman, Continental Real Estate Cos. (80)

The Hand Center project at Polaris took the top honors in the Best Office/Medical Project category in the annual awards presented by the Central Ohio chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

100. Robert Trafford
managing partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP (87)

Trafford had another solid year as his firm welcomed two new partners in 2012 and a number of attorneys were honored for their continued stellar performance in the courtroom.

2013 Columbus Pillar Award Winners Unveiled

COLUMBUS, OH (Jan. 21, 2013) – Smart Business Network Inc. is pleased to announce the category winners of the 2013 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service program, presented by Smart Business and sponsored by Rea & Associates, GREENCREST, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, and Catering by Design.

At an awards recognition program held at the Ohio Statehouse January 17, 2013, 15 organizations were unveiled as Pillar Award winners in five distinct categories and participated in a series of panel discussions with TV-10’s Kristyn Hartman about the tie between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

Pillar Award for Community Service
• Cardinal Health
• Columbus Crew
• Donatos
• Fifth Third Bank
• Mettler Toledo
• RockBridge
• Safex

Medical Mutual SHARE Award
• Safelite®

Rea & Associates Executive Director of the Year Award
• Jay Jordan, president & CEO, OCLC
• Tammy Wharton, CEO, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
• Brooke Billmaier (Victoria’s Secret), St. Stephen’s Community House
• Michael J. Fiorile (The Columbus Dispatch), Columbus College of Art and Design
• Laura Warren (Limited Brands), Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
• Jane Grote Abell, chairman, Donatos
• Mark Swepston, president & CEO, Atlas Butler Heating and Cooling

“This class of honorees, combined with this year’s group of finalists, is truly inspirational,” says Dustin S. Klein, publisher of Smart Business. “They give back individually and as organizations. They get involved in causes they care about. And the nonprofit leaders have forged meaningful relationships with the for-profit companies and their executive teams to better deliver upon their missions. All told, the Pillar Award class of 2013 truly understands how to strengthen the regional communities where we all live and work.”

The Pillar Award program was founded in 1998 and honors organizations and individuals that best demonstrate a commitment to making a difference. For information on the award winners, along with profiles of the finalists for this year’s Pillar Awards, visit To receive a nomination for the 2014 awards program, or to learn more about the Pillar Awards, contact Smart Business at [email protected] or (440) 250-7026.

How Robert ‘Skip’ Weiler has made a far-reaching impact at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio

Nonprofit Board Executive Pillar Finalist

Robert “Skip” Weiler Jr.
Foundation board member and past president
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio
(614) 839-2447 |

Robert “Skip” Weiler Jr. has a long history of involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. In 1986, he became a big brother volunteer in the organization’s community-based program. Four years later, Weiler joined the organization’s board of directors, serving as board president in 1996 and 1997.

During Weiler’s tenure as president, the agency planned and initiated its first-ever capital campaign to raise funds for the building that now serves as its headquarters. Through his leadership, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio raised more than $4 million from a variety of sources, including Weiler’s family. After Weiler’s tenure on the board of directors, he became a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation, recently completing a two-year term as foundation president.

Weiler’s impact on the organization has been far-reaching. As a result of his involvement, many individuals and businesses have been introduced to Big Brothers Big Sisters and its mentoring program. Hundreds of individuals have been recruited as volunteers, resulting in significant program growth.

Under Weiler’s leadership, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio grew to be the largest in the country, outperforming Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations in communities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Today, the Central Ohio organization continues as the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters program in existence.

Weiler continues to serve on the board of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation and is a founding member of the organization’s Legacy Society. Weiler also continues to actively mentor and recruit volunteers.


How Laura Warren grew the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

Nonprofit Executive Director Award Finalist

Laura Warren
Board chair
Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council Inc.
(614) 487-8101 |

Adult volunteers of Girl Scouts of the USA provide an accepting and nurturing environment to 2.3 million girls nationwide for building character and skills for success in the real world.

Laura Warren has made great strides on behalf of this organization, successfully overseeing three councils through a two-year merger process in 2009 that created the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council Inc. In her eighth year as board chair, Warren’s efforts have helped bring about organizational efficiencies and alignment, positive culture change, and consistent quality programming to girls around the council’s 30-county jurisdiction.

The new council is now one of the strongest Girl Scout councils in the country, with one of the greatest percentages of members. While Girl Scout councils nationwide were losing membership, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council grew significantly — bringing total membership to 33,000 girls currently.

Warren has supported many successful changes in addition to the merger, including a 2010 Strategic Initiatives Concept. One initiative focused on diversity has led to an 11 percent increase in Latina volunteers, with the help of the Ohio Hispanic Coalition and Centro Esperanza.

Prior to her role as board chair, Warren served Girl Scouts in other capacities including treasurer, chair of the finance committee, chair of fund development and an executive committee member.

She also serves as a mentor and engages in various volunteer efforts outside of the Girl Scouts, including work for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. She formerly chaired Choices Eliminating Domestic Violence.


How Brooke Billmaier emerged as a great leader for St. Stephen’s Community House

Pillar nonprofit board executive finalist

Brooke Billmaier
past president
St. Stephen’s Community House
(614) 294-6437 |

It didn’t take Brooke Billmaier long to be recognized as an emerging leader on the board of trustees for St. Stephen’s Community House. The decision was immediate, and as a vote of confidence, she was named co-chair of the organization’s largest and most important fundraiser, Bravo! For the Children.

Before her leadership, the event had never broken into six-figure net profit territory. As a result of her leadership, the first year she co-chaired the event, it raised $120,000 in net proceeds. Billmaier motivated the board development committee as well as the entire board to utilize their contacts in more effective and innovative ways to increase the net profit of the event. The 2012 Bravo! For the Children event raised nearly $200,000.

When a leadership retreat had to be canceled in 2008-09 because of financial challenges, Billmaier took the initiative and developed an alternative. She called upon her HR team at Victoria’s Secret, where she is vice president of merchandise planning, to help — and soon, the St. Stephen’s staff received training as openings occurred in the corporate training sessions.

Volunteers who serve in a board position or help with Christmas Care, the food pantry or child care are now tracked, thanks to a system established during Billmaier’s tenure as president. This has helped create a 45 percent increase in repeat volunteers.

Billmaier believes the mission of the agency is the promise made when a family enters St. Stephen’s doors for help — and, “We must do all we can to keep that promise,” she says.


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.