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.

Winners of the Cincinnati 2013 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service

CINCINNATI, OH (Jan. 29, 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 The Eisen Agency, Duke Energy Center, Spectrum Global, and Prestige AV & Creative Services.

At an awards recognition program held at the Duke Energy Center on January 24, 2013, 14 organizations and individuals were unveiled as Pillar Award winners in five distinct categories and participated in a series of discussions about the tie between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. This year’s winners were:

Pillar Award for Community Service
• dunnhumbyUSA
• Focus Solutions Inc.
• KDM P.O.P. Solutions Group
• Messer Construction Co.
• PowerNet Global
• Systems Evolution Inc.
• The Hillman Group
• The Sheakley Group
• Union Savings Bank/Guardian Savings Bank

Medical Mutual SHARE Award
• Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc.

Executive Director of the Year Award
• Ellen Katz, president & CEO, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
• Barbara Gould, advisory board member, Talbert House

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
• Thomas Keckeis, CEO, Messer Construction

“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.

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 to set up a community outreach program for your company

Jonathan Theders, president, Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc.

Businesses give back to the community for many reasons: social responsibility, brand enhancement or just because it feels good. For Clark-Theders Insurance Agency, community involvement is all these things, but it’s also a key to attracting star employees and keeping them engaged.

“For me and my predecessors, doing community service as a teenager was something you usually did when you were in trouble,” says Jonathan Theders, president of Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc. “Now, community service hours are often part of the high school curriculum. It’s much more societal. I was just talking to a recruiter of the younger generation — Generation Y and younger, the millennials — and how a company interacts with the community and its presence on social media are the two top criteria for how they choose an employer.”

Smart Business spoke with Theders about how to set up a community outreach program.

How do you decide what kind of community service program to create?

When we started our CTIA Cares program, we looked at it from two perspectives. First, you have to determine what to give. You can give time or money, or both. Your company may be so lean that you can’t give time to your employees, so you just write the check. Other people can’t write the check, but they can give the time to their employees to volunteer once a week, or once a month or once a year.

From there, there are two ways to go. Do you want your program to have one mission, focused on one initiative like The United Way or American Cancer Society? If you put all your resources toward one initiative you can have a big financial or physical impact on that organization.

Or, do you want each employee to have the opportunity to give to something that is personal to him or her? For instance, if you love the arts, you may want to pour your energy into the arts. The person sitting next to you may want to pour his or her heart into animal rescue. You won’t have as grand an impact, but it will be a more personalized impact.

At Clark-Theders, we chose the individual route, but neither is right nor wrong. Using our example, the CTIA Cares program gives each employee 30 hours a year to donate to nonprofits of his or her choice. Then, we focus our efforts on quarterly service projects in four different service areas to help the community, in addition to the hours given individually.

How do you make that work with your business?

If they do their volunteering on the weekends, we comp them time during the week. If they do it during the week, we allow them that time off. Realizing we still have a business to run, employees must fill out a document stating how many hours they will work and when. Human Resources then has to sign off on it because our company has to be staffed appropriately, and the charity signs off that they worked the time. Also, it is a great way to gauge your community impact. For us, our only criterion is that their chosen charity organization must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

What are the benefits from a business perspective?

You can gain increased revenue and customer loyalty. The company’s involvement in the community drives brand awareness. People who see you as good stewards of the community are more likely to do business with you.

There are also personal gains for your employees, from improved interpersonal skills and self-esteem to better knowledge of social issues. I have seen the positive experiences it has had on our team over the years, which has also impacted our workplace culture. Our clients, co-workers and the community are very appreciative and take notice of our program. It was a great business decision that continues to reap rewards.

Jonathan Theders is president at Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc. Reach him at (513) 779-2800 or [email protected] Connect with him on LinkedIn at

Insights Business Insurance is brought to you by Clark-Theders Insurance Agency Inc.

The 2012 Pillar Award for Community Service

The Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service, presented by Smart Business, honors businesses of all types and sizes that make outstanding contribution to their community. Its purpose is to encourage a charitable enviroment, recognize creative efforts that make a difference and demonstrate the ties between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

This year’s winners will be honored at a special banquet on December 5 at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility in Westlake, OH.

Take a look at how these kind and selfless individuals and companies do what they do:

An introductory letter from Rick Chiricosta, President and CEO, Medical Mutual

Pillar Award for Community Service finalists:


ArcelorMittal Cleveland

BlueBridge Networks

Brand Muscle, Inc.

Enzoco Homes dba Handyman and a Hammer for Our Troops

GE Capital Retail Bank

Home Instead Senior Care

Huntington National Bank

Improve Consulting & Training Group, LLC

InfoCision Management Corporation

Majestic Steel USA

Nordson Corporation Foundation

Olympic Steel, Inc.

PartsSource, LLC

PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP

Sequoia Financial Group, LLC

Smith Medical Transportation Systems, Inc.

SS&G, Inc.

University Hospitals

Nonprofit Board Executives Of The Year:

Debby Zanglin, Guidestone

Tom Laird, Jr., ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland

Doug Weintraub, Jump Start

Mike Crislip, New Directions, Inc. & Crossroads

Rea & Associates Nonprofit Executive Directors Of The Year:

Mary Alice Frank, American Red Cross

Kathleen Crowther, Cleveland Restoration Society

Steve Friedman, Ph.D., Cleveland Sight Center

Elizabeth Fowler, Cleveland Zoological Society

Kathryn Kazol, Emerald Development Economic Network & Eden, Inc.

Dennis Allen, Hattie Larlham

Youth Supporter Of Philanthropy:

Cal DiJulius & Taylor Banc, All Kids Relay for Life Team

Tara Coury, The Safe House


A list of our fine sponsors


How Dan Doyle Jr. leads a business model at Dex Imaging that puts profits toward people

Dan Doyle Jr., co-founder, president and CEO, Dex Imaging Inc.

Dan Doyle Jr. wanted his father to be a partner in his new business venture. So naturally, he brought the proposal to the breakfast table. One morning, over egg whites, he thoughtfully laid out his plan, all the while preparing for the possibility of a tough sell. What he wasn’t prepared for though were Dan Doyle Sr.’s terms.

“In order to get him out of retirement, he made me commit a third of our profits to local not-for-profits,” says Doyle, co-founder, president and CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Dex Imaging Inc. “He didn’t take a paycheck. That’s what he wanted.”

Doyle knew giving away a third of the company’s profits would be a tall order to fill. But he also felt confident that with his and his father’s expertise in the office imaging industry — Doyle Sr. sold a previous business for $3.5 billion — they could build Dex Imaging into a high-growth document imaging dealership.

So he accepted his father’s terms. In fact, he took it a step further, agreeing to distribute another third of top line profits back to the company’s noncommissioned employees.

After all, “It’s not easy to negotiate with your father,” Doyle says.

Since the duo co-founded Dex in 2002, they’ve successfully fulfilled their commitment to giving two-thirds of its profits to employees and local not-for-profits. And in the meantime, they’ve still managed to grow the business from $1 million to $100 million in revenue, spreading its footprint to 24 locations across five states and 560 employees.

Here’s how Doyle keeps Dex Imaging profitable while taking care of its employees and the community.

Make it more than money

Starting out, it was pretty easy for Dex Imaging to meet financial commitments to employees and not-for-profits, Doyle says. For one, the company had just 14 employees. But also, Doyle and his father had been involved in the Tampa community and done business there for some time. The area’s recent struggles motivated them to take on a bigger role with Dex.

“It was during a time when the banks were getting all rolled up and moving to Charlotte County in the Bay Area as well as other areas in Florida,” Doyle says. “So Tampa banks used to support all the not-for-profits, and that kind of diminished as the banks moved their headquarters.”

However, as they opened new offices in other cities, not everyone understood the giving back philosophy and its significance for the organization. Profit-sharing was an easy concept for people to grasp. But Doyle wanted the community involvement to be equally valued by employee and the company culture.

“In the beginning, people kind of questioned us,” Doyle says.

“What our management learned is it’s easy to sit there and say, ‘Yes,’ and find people and not-for-profits that are looking for money. But then we would quiz them on ‘OK, well why did we support this cause?’”

To connect people to the why, Doyle asks each branch of the company to choose which not-for-profit they want to support with the third of their profits. And recognizing that every branch operates somewhat differently, he also leaves how they decide up to them.

Some offices meet weekly to discuss organizations they’re interested in supporting, while others get together monthly or quarterly to talk about their plans and criteria.

“We don’t dictate how we should do it and how they should look at each not-for-profit,” Doyle says. “I just want to know that they’re involved with it, they understand it and that they’re willing to commit themselves to it.”

For Doyle, the main concern before committing the money is whether or not people have done their due diligence. So he likes to ask staff as each branch questions to make sure they’ve dug deeper. For example, “How many dollars end up back in the local community’s hands?” and “What support is the organization most in need of?”

“See if they can give you a little background besides just the title or the name,” Doyle says. “If they said Boys and Girls Club, do they say, ‘Oh, they help boys and girls,’ and kind of waffle on it? Or do they say, ‘They get into this particular cause and they’re finding matches, or we’re supporting the program that helps grandparents that are taking care of grandchildren because the parents are deadbeats?’”

As a leader, asking the tough questions helps employees understand their reasons for getting involved with a not-for-profit. By making them dig deeper, you encourage people to choose missions or causes that speak to them personally and will motivate them to make a bigger impact.

That’s certainly the case at Dex, where many employees give back their time to their chosen organizations beyond  the profit contribution, whether it’s serving on boards and committees, getting involved in events, or just reaching into their own pockets to support a cause, Doyle says.

“The only way to really get into it is to understand that particular organization,” he says.

“It wasn’t just that somebody sent them a letter and they agreed to it.”

It’s also a point of pride when employees see your company’s name linked to organizations they feel benefit their local communities.

“People come in with their son’s or daughter’s soccer league, asking can we sponsor that — all the way to their church or their school, to bigger events that are hosted by whatever city,” Doyle says. “And it’s pride. They see our company’s name associated with these things and people are proud of it.”

Give more to get more

Today, Dex has minimal employee turnover. But the company’s people philosophies don’t just help it retain employees. They’re also a way to attract new talent to the company.

“We know we’ve done a good job when people say, ‘Hey, are you hiring?’” Doyle says. “When we’re hiring people, we tell them the story and they’re hooked on it.”

But making big commitments to people can’t just be a story. You also have to follow through.

During the economic recession, many of Doyle’s employees wondered whether the company would stick with its commitment to distribute two-thirds of its profits to employees and their not-for-profit causes.

“In 2009, I was nervous because — especially in Florida — it wasn’t the best financial year for anybody,” Doyle says. “We’d made some commitments to some local not-for-profits. But it would have been great to have the money sitting in our bank as a reserve.”

Despite the challenges, Doyle says the decision to stick with the commitment was a no-brainer.

“I was brought up under the philosophy that the more you give, the more you get,” he says. “So it keeps your pencil sharp, but it motivates you and it pushes you.

“When we stretched ourselves when we gave a third back to employees — and actually we gave them a little more than a third because we didn’t want anybody hurt — it took everybody by surprise. And once they realized that we were sticking to that and making sure that they were receiving their checks, they realized that we were going to stick to the other third going to not-for-profits.

“It was just another one of those moments where they go to raise their head above some other companies that either went by the wayside or turned the other way.”

The key is view community giving as an investment rather than a donation, Doyle says.

“The theory behind it was if we can support our local community and make it stronger, businesses will thrive,” he says. “And if businesses thrive — our business is very dependent upon other businesses thriving — we will thrive.”

The same goes for employees. Investing a third of your profits back into your people obviously has a positive impact on employee morale. But it also gives Dex a competitive advantage. Much of the company’s business is service-related. So when its service technicians have a real vested interest in retaining customers, it creates a better experience for customers.

“Having control of their financial destiny also empowers employees to take on bigger roles in decision-making — something the company already encourages with its hands-off management style.

“So we try to push them to make a decision today,” Doyle says.

“If they think the customer is right, they should give them that credit. And don’t wait and tell the customer, ‘I’ve got to look into it. I’ll call you back.’ That’s the thing people hate the most. People hate being put off.”

To show people he walks the talk, Doyle also subscribes to the management philosophy of leading by example. He knows that employees want to be a part of companies that have leaders who look out for their best interests and the interests of their community.

Sometimes that requires stepping back, for example, when it helps to empower employees. When he sees one of his managers getting overly involved in their people’s decisions, he likes to remind them that micromanaging goes both ways.

“I always ask them if they’d like me to get more hands on,” he says. “If I feel like they might be micromanaging, I’ll say, ‘Do you want me looking at every decision you make every day? And they always say, ‘Well, no.’ And that works doesn’t it?”

Other times it’s about modeling the values he wants to instill in the organization. Doyle serves on numerous not-for-profits boards as well as committees to support causes that inspire him — showing his people that even the CEO can take time to give back.

“I’ve explained to our management that ‘Look, I’m willing to sacrifice my time and my family time to do this,’ and I expect the same from them,” he says. “But they also see what it gets back.”

Admit what you can do

A big concern with giving away a percentage of your company’s profits is what happens if you don’t have the money. What if I need to fund an acquisition, hire new staff or cut costs during a recession? Doyle knows these challenges all too well.

“I don’t think any of us would have predicted what happened at the end of 2008 and 2009,” Doyle says.

“The fear always is that you give away a third of your profits and that’s a third of your profits you could have had as a nest egg, just in case you do end up in a financial crisis.”

But instead of avoiding profit-sharing initiatives, Doyle simply advises businesses considering these kinds of people strategies to be realistic. Don’t overcommit.

“Obviously, the more people see your name out there supporting local causes, the more local causes come to you, which is good and bad,” he says. “You get to learn a lot about local charities that might be small that are underfunded and have a tremendous impact on our community. But it also comes to a point where you have to turn down certain not-for-profits, which is always tough.”

People involved with not-for-profits are typically pretty passionate. And obviously, you don’t want to destroy anybody’s dreams or hopes. But you also need to make sure you don’t promise more than what you can deliver.

“You have to keep in mind that there are things out of your control that might have a financial impact on your organization,” Doyle says. “We took a philosophy that we’re going to push ourselves by donating a third, and even if we give away that third, we can still survive any storm. Obviously, it’s been tested just going through 2009. So just keep that in mind. Don’t overextend yourself.”

One way the company stays accountable to its commitments is by being incredibly transparent about its financials. Three times a year, Doyle convenes all of Dex’s employees at a town-hall meeting, where he goes over the company’s financials.

By letting employees know exactly where the company stands, you show them that everyone is in it together. So the better you do as a company, the bigger impact the company can have for them and their community.

Every now and then Doyle may have a branch overcommit to a not-for-profit. But in these cases, the company has always been able to back up their donation from corporate.

How did Doyle know a third would be a doable percentage for Dex? Well, he didn’t.

“To be honest with you, that was a total crapshoot,” he says. “That was just a deal I cut with my dad.”

So how should you set your goals for community giving? Doyle suggests coming up with a figure that you can stick to as you grow. That way you’ll be able to see your company’s success pay off.

“When we started, we were very small,” Doyle says. “So the impact locally wasn’t big. Now, you look at it, and the last year, we gave away almost $4 million.”

How to reach: Dex Imaging Inc., (800) 886-2329 or


  • Connect people to the organizations they’re helping.
  • View giving back as an investment.
  • Don’t overcommit.


The Doyle File

Dan Doyle Jr.
Co-founder, president and CEO
Dex Imaging Inc.

Born: Baltimore, Md., but has lived in Florida since he was five.

Education: Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

What would you do if you weren’t doing your current job?
I would probably work in the marine industry. I love boats.

What is one part of your daily routine that you wouldn’t change?
I meet my father for breakfast every morning.  This is where the two of us have time to talk about whatever is on our minds with no disruptions.

What do you to regroup on a tough day? 
I walk the seawall behind my house with my 6-year-old son. He loves the outdoors and all living creatures and loves to talk about them.

What do you do for fun? 
I hang out with my family. My wife and I both love having our kids around. We go out for dinner every year on our anniversary with all of them. It’s just fun to spend time with them and hear what they have to say.

Where would you like to go that you’ve never been? 
I would love to go to the Galapagos Islands.

2012 Pillar Award Finalist: Todd Leebow, president, Majestic Steel USA Inc.

Todd Leebow, President, Majestic Steel USA Inc.

Community outreach is deeply engrained in the culture at Majestic Steel USA Inc., from the company’s fundraising efforts to volunteerism to its financial support for local organizations. The national distributor of prime, flat-rolled steel products has continued to engage in initiatives that make a real and lasting impact in Northeast Ohio communities each year.

Under the leadership of President Todd Leebow, Majestic Steel USA drives its mission and mantra of “We Will” by partnering with community organizations that deliver valuable services to the community such as Hunger Network, Achievement Centers for Children, the Red Cross and others.

The same goes for its corporate partners. The company partners with prominent athletic organizations that can help enhance awareness and build widespread support for local causes, such as the Browns’ Touchdown for Tots, the Cleveland Cavaliers Manufacturing Scholarship program to the Cleveland Indians Up to Bat initiative in support of Achievement Centers for Children.

Majestic Steel associates have also logged more than 1,000 combined volunteer hours in support of a wide range of community outreach initiatives, proof that the company owns the results of their efforts.

One of their major areas of focus is Northeast Ohio’s fight against hunger. In 2012, the company collaborated with the Lake Erie Monsters to put on the Shut out Hunger initiative, for which 130 Majestic associates, family and friends volunteered and helped collect more than 1,000 food items for the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.

Majestic Steel has also served as title sponsor for the Walk for Hunger event for the last five years, raising more than $600,000 to help feed families in Greater Cleveland.

In addition to feet on the ground, Majestic Steel provides financial support to a number of community organizations. In the past year, the company’s total corporate and associate financial contributions surpassed $350,000.


How to reach: Majestic Steel USA Inc., (440) 786-2666 or

2012 Pillar Award Finalist: Robert Smith, CEO, Smith Medical Transportation Systems Inc.

Robert Smith, CEO, Smith Medical Transportation Systems Inc.

Smith Medical Transportation Systems Inc. is the corporate sponsor for the American Red Cross Muskingum Lakes Chapter’s Automated External Defibrillator program, which has so far distributed 200 AEDs. The goal is to provide a defibrillator to every location that has a fire extinguisher in the county.

“Of all the things we do, this is the most important one because it can immediately save someone’s life,” said Robert Smith, CEO of Smith Medical Transportation Systems.

Eight years ago, Smith was also instrumental in negotiating MedFlight operations to Tuscarawas County, which faced an uphill battle trying to locate the service to a rural community. The service remains in a partnership with MedFlight to provide rapid response to critically ill or injured patients.

Among the many organizations that have benefited from Smith Medical Transportation Systems’ service, in addition to the Medflight and the Muskingum Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross mentioned above, are New Philadelphia’s First Town Days community festival; Dover’s Canal Days community festival; Baltic’s Homecoming community festival; Personal and Family Counseling; Tuscarawas County 4-H Youth; and dozens of community benefit golf outings for various fundraising groups.

Smith Medical Transportation Systems’ corporate financial contributions include $25,000 to Garaway Belden Community Center, a multipurpose community center used by the Garaway School District and Sugarcreek seniors and rented privately for community functions; $25,000 to the Twin City Hospital Emergency Room renovation in Dennison; $25,000 to the Pomerene Hospital Emergency Room renovation in Millersburg; and financial contributions to various projects for Union Hospital in Dover.

Smith’s antique ambulance is often driven in local festivals and parades, and the LifeFlight helicopter is often displayed with its crew at community events. “It helps to be able to present our team members to the community during a time when they are not in crisis,” Smith says.


How to reach: Smith Medical Transportation Systems Inc., (330) 602-5180 or

2012 Pillar Award Finalist: Thomas F. Zenty III, CEO, University Hospitals

Thomas F. Zenty III, CEO, University Hospitals

Leading Clevelanders had community service at the forefront of their minds when they met a century and a half ago to establish what would become University Hospitals. But even the most civic-minded among them could scarcely have imagined the scope, impact and creativity of the community service they seeded in 1866.

With its health care network of physicians, hospitals and outpatient facilities, University Hospitals and its flagship academic medical center are renowned for producing clinical research and innovations and educating the next generation of physicians, nurses and health care professionals.

Guided by CEO Thomas F. Zenty III, University Hospitals contributed more than $267 million in services and funding to benefit its community in 2011. These benefits include nearly $140 million in free and subsidized medical care for Northeast Ohio’s neediest residents. Yet today, UH’s community impact extends far beyond its traditional role as a charity-care safety net.

UH trains tomorrow’s medical professionals. It conducts life-saving research to discover therapies and cures for society’s most vexing illnesses. It uses its resources to reach out to its communities to improve health. And University Hospitals is using its civic and economic power as an anchor institution in new ways to revitalize its community and create prosperity.

UH’s board and leadership have emerged as national leaders in local community service. This is enlightened self-interest. Promoting the most vibrant and livable region and the strongest possible economy makes Northeast Ohio more appealing to residents — who are University Hospitals’ customers — and to professionals that UH seeks to recruit and retain.

University Hospitals also sees this work as an extension of its historic civic commitment and an extension of its mission: to heal, to teach and to discover.


How to reach: University Hospitals, (216) 844-1000 or

2012 Pillar Award Finalist: Ellen Burts-Cooper, senior managing partner, Improve Consulting and Training Group LLC

Ellen Burts-Cooper, Senior Managing Partner, Improve Consulting and Training Group LLC

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