Dynamic organizations shape this month’s issue

At the National Aviary, where growth is influencing some interesting and new things, an emotional connection is paramount.

Executive Director Cheryl Tracy told me that when visitors can get close to the birds, it helps with the Aviary’s mission of inspiring people to have a respect for nature through an appreciation of birds.

Experiences like participating in a lorikeet feeding, where participants have a cup of nectar, go into the exhibit and the lorikeets will fly down and eat out of their hand help set the organization apart.

Another emotional connection comes from the novelty of a baby sloth surrounded by hundreds of birds. Or, live birds flying through the atrium of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

The Aviary also does a number of programs with underprivileged schools, like One Northside, which aims to bring its environmental education to every Northside second grader.

“We’re beginning to embark on another program with some of the city schools as well. It’s a way to bridge the surrounding neighborhoods with the cultural assets that exist in the city,” Tracy says.

You can learn more about this and other fascinating stories in this month’s Uniquely Pittsburgh.

While the National Aviary isn’t officially part of our Who to Watch list, the centerpiece of this issue, it’s certainly one of the many dynamic organizations that make Pittsburgh such an exciting place to live.

The list is also just a sampling of the people or projects that are driving positive momentum in Pittsburgh’s growth and development. In fact, when I reached out to some of my contacts to ask for suggestions, I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response — and how little repetition there was.

You may have been sad to flip the calendar, and say goodbye to the Penguins Stanley Cup year, but our Who to Watch list spotlights some of the great things that are in store for 2017.

Collaboration highlighted in Who to Watch list

Columbus continues to outdo itself, from winning the Smart City Challenge to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 16-game win streak that ignited even the hearts of causal hockey fans.

With new development and public/private partnerships the hallmark of many community initiatives, it’s an exciting time to be living and working in Central Ohio.

In this month’s issue, we share our thoughts on the leaders we expect to play a pivotal role in shaping the new year with our Who to Watch list. This sampling of the people or projects that are driving positive momentum in Columbus’ growth and development are an exciting group.

At the same time, I got to know Lynnette Cook, executive director of Community Research Partners for our Building Stronger Communities feature. If you’ve never heard of the nonprofit, you’re not alone. But you will have heard of their work.

Just like many of the people and organizations on our Who to Watch list, CRP was formed from a partnership. The United Way of Central Ohio, the City of Columbus, Franklin County and The Ohio State University all appoint members to CRP’s board.

Because so much of the work that they do is jointly funded across the community, they wanted to create an entity that could speak to those needs, and Cook says that’s how CRP was formed.

“It is a great thing in my experience because it means I have all four of them at the table at least at some point to talk about their common interests,” she says. “And they at least once a year, and often more than that, will talk among themselves, even without staff in the room, around the issues they are facing and the upcoming projects, in terms of research they think they need to have done.

“I think that’s a real benefit to the community that they try to coordinate like that.”

When you read over the Who to Watch list, don’t forget to look for all of the joint partnerships that are mentioned, just like CRP’s. This strength of Columbus is something that I see again and again — and it certainly helps drive the region’s economic development.

Pull back and see the big picture of your life

Leaving a legacy is something a lot of business owners starting thinking about as they mature in their careers — and discussing — when I talk to them about management challenges.

It’s actually good to hear that building wealth may not be the first consideration. Yes, it’s nice, but building something that will stand long after you’ve moved on is a much more permanent legacy.

Building business legacy

In this month’s issue, we’ve highlighted western Pennsylvania companies that have stood the test of time. I know this isn’t a comprehensive list, but it is a good snapshot.

Some common themes that emerged from these businesses, which have been around for 50 or more years, are an ability to adapt and listen. Many of these companies make completely different products and provide completely different services than when they first started. Some have diversified, and others have move into entirely new lines of business.

And at this point, part of their culture is pride in that longevity. After everything that has changed, they, and their employees, can proudly say, “We are still here.”

Our Uniquely Pittsburgh, which highlights Lawrenceville, examines another kind of legacy. This revitalized neighborhood has built on its roots and blossomed into a place where people want to live, work and play.

See the big picture

All this legacy talk makes me wonder about what legacy I’ll leave with my own life, which is a particularly potent thought around New Year’s resolution time.

You don’t have to found a company or business dynasty to leave a legacy. But it is good to sometimes think about the bigger picture, and what kind of permanent impression you can leave on the world.

We all want to make our mark, and we can certainly do that in different ways. So, as we kick off a new year, take a little time and consider: What are you building that will stand long after you’ve moved on?

The Medical Mutual 2017 Pillar Award for Community Service, Central Ohio

Medical Mutual along with Smart Business, our co-founding Pillar Award partner, presents the eighth annual Pillar Awards for Community Service.

The Pillar Awards honor organizations of all types and sizes that make outstanding contributions to their communities. For nearly a decade we have recognized companies and their employees who have gone above and beyond to invest time and resources to strengthen the relationship between for-profits and nonprofits.

At Medical Mutual, we recognize that companies are only as great as their employees. We are committed to improving Columbus and the communities we serve and strive to continually live up to that responsibility in everything we do.

I’d like to congratulate this year’s recipients for their outstanding service and dedication and for helping to improve the quality of life for the residents of Central Ohio. This is truly what the Pillar Awards are all about.

One of the Pillar Awards that will be presented tonight is a special honor given to a company whose employees best exemplify the values of Medical Mutual’s own employee SHARE Committee.

SHARE, which stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate, is the heart and soul of Medical Mutual’s charitable giving effort. The SHARE Committee helps coordinate more than two-dozen community events every year, involving nearly half of the company’s 2,400 employees.

It’s truly an honor to be in the company of such outstanding organizations that exemplify the theme of “improving the communities we serve” by encouraging a charitable environment and directly supporting the communities in which they live and work.

On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, we congratulate all our 2017 Pillar Award recipients.

neo_pa_rickchiricosta_2016Rick Chiricosta
Chairman, president and CEO
Medical Mutual of Ohio

 

 

 

Pillar Award

col_pa_katefinleyBelle Communications

Kate Finley, CEO | www.thinkbelle.com

Belle Communications has worked with Central Ohio anti-human trafficking organization Freedom a la Cart, pro bono, since spring of 2014. Founder and CEO Kate Finley and her team have donated more than $125,000 in agency time to support Freedom a la Cart in its mission to empower survivors of human trafficking.

As a testament to this work, Freedom a la Cart’s Eat Up! Columbus campaign raised more than $200,000 in donations at two events from 2014-2015. All funds directly support resources and workforce development for survivors of human trafficking.

This year, Finley further increased her involvement by serving as the committee chair for Eat Up! Columbus, leading a team of 75 committee volunteers and overseeing the strategy and program for the 300-person event, which will take place March 11, 2017.

This commitment involves the entire agency, with various members of the Belle Communications team providing support in the areas of media relations, social media strategy, community relations and administration.

Finley and other members of the Belle Communications team also contribute their time to champion the field of public relations and support professional development within the industry. For example, they serve as guest lecturers for The Ohio State University within the Strategic Communication Department and Public Relations Student Society of America events.

Giving back was built into the agency’s culture from the beginning, with Finley taking on Freedom a la Cart as a pro bono client less than one year after founding Belle Communications.
Back to top

Big Lots

col_pa_davidcampisiDavid Campisi, president and CEO | www.biglots.com

Big Lots is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of families and children struggling with poverty. To achieve this, it gives time, money and other resources to nonprofits and community programs throughout the U.S., with significant efforts dedicated to Central Ohio.

In 2015, 656 Ohio-based associates volunteered more than 1,500 hours. Associates also planted and maintained a 17-bed community garden in west Columbus. The estimated 2,000 pounds of produce were donated to the LSS Westside Food Pantry through the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

In spring of 2015, Big Lots strengthened its philanthropy by launching the Big Lots Foundation, which prioritizes four mission-aligned giving areas: health care, hunger, housing and education. The foundation especially supports organizations and programs in these areas that positively impact the lives of women and children.

In the foundation’s first year, the company raised more than $2 million from its vendor community to support Big Lots charities. In the same timeframe, 39 Big Lots associates raised more than $40,000 to support Pelotonia and cancer research. That momentum built in 2016, as associates raised over $157,000 to support Pelotonia, with 72 riders and 11 virtual riders.

The Big Lots Foundation also raises money through national point-of-sale donation campaigns. In one such campaign, Big Lots customers and associates raised $2.2 million to support Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

In addition, Big Lots supports the community through food donations. In the past 12 months, Big Lots donated more than 7 million pounds of food to Feeding America, which brings its total contribution to more than 50 million pounds of food for Feeding America.
Back to top

Columbus City Schools Office of Student Mentoring Initiatives

col_pa_dangoodDan Good, Ph.D., Superintendent/CEO | www.ccsoh.us

Columbus City Schools is the largest district in Ohio with an enrollment of nearly 52,000 students in 109 schools. The student body speaks over 100 languages and 89 percent of CCS students come from families impacted by poverty.

To better address the socio-emotional needs of students, Dan Good, Ph.D., superintendent/CEO, established the Office of Student Mentoring Initiatives in November 2015.

The vision is to ensure each CCS student is paired with a mentor to support them in the development and attainment of high school graduation and post-graduation goals. OSMI seeks to accomplish this by strengthening existing, developing new and aligning all school-based mentorship programs.

In its first year, OSMI introduced two pilot programs:

  • My Brother’s Keeper School Success Mentor Initiative, piloted with sixth graders at three schools with a focus on eliminating chronic absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason, which for CCS is 18 or more days. This program served nearly 120 students, and rates of absenteeism dropped from nearly 6 to more than 10 percentage points.
  • The Senior Mentorship Program was implemented to provide off-track seniors with mentors. Nearly 70 students were served across five schools, and by the end of summer 2016 all but 12 graduated.

This school year, OSMI’s goal is to serve 1,000 students. The MBK program is being expanded to also serve ninth graders at 19 high schools. The SMP will serve seniors at all 21 CCS high schools.
Back to top

Nationwide

col_pa_stephensrasmussenStephen S. Rasmussen, CEO | www.nationwide.com

From associates volunteering at local food banks to donating money through the United Way, Nationwide embeds philanthropy, workplace giving and volunteerism into its culture.

The Nationwide Foundation has committed more than $355 million, since 2000, to nonprofits across the country that work to meet crucial needs in communities with a significant presence of Nationwide associates.

In 2016, the foundation’s $1.5 million gift to Feeding America was shared with 22 food banks where associates live and work. Nationwide executives also serve on food bank boards. In Central Ohio, Nationwide’s support of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank represents about 43 percent of the Columbus community’s Operation Feed campaign revenue and 16.5 percent of the food bank’s volunteers.

Another initiative is Make Safe Happen. The No. 1 cause of childhood deaths is preventable accidents, so Nationwide created a website (makesafehappen.com) that provides information and actions people can take.

Nationwide associates donate about 15,000 units of blood a year in nearly two-dozen locations, and Central Ohio associates contribute approximately 5 percent of the local blood supply.

Other causes that Nationwide supports with time and money include American Red Cross disaster relief programs, United Way and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

By partnering with VolunteerMatch, Nationwide makes it easy for associates to connect with organizations that suit their interests. In 2015, associates logged nearly 115,000 volunteer hours. Through the Nationwide Volunteer Network, associates can earn paid time off and a $100 grant for their organization for every 25 hours of volunteer service (up to two per year).
Back to top

PMM Agency

kimberlyblackwellKimberly A. Blackwell, CEO | www.experiencepmm.com

PMM Agency’s company-wide culture of servitude and giving back includes organized volunteer activities with area organizations and social responsibility through office-wide sustainability efforts and earned credentials, such GreenSpot. This City of Columbus initiative is a place where people can go to learn about living and working greener, and commit to doing it in their homes, businesses and communities.

In addition, members of PMM — a nationally award-winning agency that has earned a reputation as a trusted brand manager — are affiliated with local organizations like the Columbus Urban League, Dress for Success Columbus and YWCA Columbus.

Grateful in the journey, CEO Kimberly A. Blackwell subscribes to the belief “to whom much is given, much is required.” Blackwell’s companies include PMM Agency, PMM Productions, PMM Promotions, PMM Elite and PMM Media.

She leads from governance positions, serving as a board member and trustee for affiliates of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, YWCA Columbus, the Columbus Urban League, King Arts Complex and the Center for Healthy Families.

In 2017, Blackwell will serve as chair the American Heart Association Great Rivers, “Go Red for Women” campaign. She is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a network of the nation’s most influential African-American executives; the Women Presidents’ Organization; and lifetime member of the National Black MBA Association®.

PMM also annually contributes, gratis, to the production of the Columbus Urban League’s annual Equal Opportunity Empowerment Day Luncheon. PMM provides the design, programming and outreach and engagement of this signature event to raise money for the civic organization’s programming.
Back to top

Sophisticated Systems Inc.

col_pa_dwightsmithDwight E. Smith, CEO and founder | www.ssicom.com

Sophisticated Systems Inc. has, since its inception, fostered a culture that invites and inspires employees to give back to their community.

Within the last year, the SSI employees have coordinated or participated in initiatives for Central Ohio organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Salvation Army, Junior Achievement, I Know I Can, the Homeless Families Foundation, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Pelotonia and the American Heart Association.

The employees have read to second grade Columbus City School students about the importance of a college education. They have helped children experience the magic of the holidays through collecting and donating toys. They have helped shape tomorrow’s leaders through mentoring. They have raised awareness and funds to save lives by preventing heart disease, stroke and cancer and more.

To give another example, in 2015, the SSI team stepped up to coordinate healthy lunch and learns, office walking activities and engaged associates and their families in the annual Central Ohio Heart Walk. SSI engaged 17 walkers and raised more than $5,000 in support of the walk and the mission of the American Heart Association.

In addition, SSI also supported roughly 20 nonprofit clients through in-kind donations in the form of discounted services to the tune of nearly $82,000 in 2015.

CEO Dwight E. Smith founded SSI on the principals by which he lives — ethics, integrity, excellence, respect and commitment, which includes commitment to clients, partners, vendors and community.

Smith also founded two nonprofits: Thanks Be to God Foundation and My Special World.
Back to top

The Champion Companies

col_pa_brianyeagercol_pa_michelleyeagerBrian Yeager, president and CEO | Michelle Yeager-Thornton, co-founder and COO | www.thechampioncompanies.com

Giving back to a community that has given so much to The Champion Companies is something that is very important to Brian Yeager, president and CEO, and Michelle Yeager-Thornton, co-founder and COO.

In 2014, the company created the Champion Cares Foundation to support people within the community who are in need with the help of Champion’s business partners, residents and team members. The foundation has chosen to partner with three local organizations — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, the YWCA Family Center and Children’s Hunger Alliance — that each focus on providing basic needs to people in need in Central Ohio.

In order to raise awareness and money for the foundation and its benefactors, Champion hosts an annual golf outing. Team members volunteer their time to plan, design, set up and work the event each year. So far, the golf invitational has raised more than $235,000 for charity. Last year, Champion raised $100,000.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio Bowl For Kids’ Sake event, the Champion Cares Golf Invitational and serving meals and volunteering in the Employment Resource Center at the YWCA Family Center have provided Champion’s employees the opportunity to get involved and give back. It also allows the company’s team members to have fun together outside of the workplace.

The company has organized internal contests surrounding these events to urge involvement and challenge employees to raise money. The result has fostered friendly competition and team bonding, all while supporting charitable organizations.
Back to top

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® Columbus

col_pa_gailkelleyGail Kelley, CEO | www.twomenandatruck.com/locations/oh/columbus

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® believes in being part of the community and helping through several different causes. By providing trucks and movers, they’ve been able to impact thousands of families in the community.

Each year TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® Columbus, owned by CEO Gail Kelley, gives back to mothers in need through the company’s national charity campaign, Movers for Moms®. The campaign collects items for mothers living in domestic abuse and homeless shelters that are delivered each Mother’s Day. In recent years, they’ve collected over 2,000 items for My Sister’s Place. They partnered with various childcare centers and chambers of commerce to help collect the essential care items.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® also has donated moving services and transportation to Son Ministries, Project Help Clothing Ministry, the American Red Cross, The Ohio State University Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens and the First Community Church. These nonprofits have come to rely on equivalent value of thousands of dollars of moving services.

Over the past several years, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® has been a huge partner with A Kid Again. Every year the organization has a holiday party for the families they serve. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® sends two trucks and four men to transport all the gifts, decorations, supplies and prizes.

Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio also values TWO MEN AND A TRUCK’s® ongoing partnership, which includes moving services for families — that way, homeowners are able to focus their energy and efforts on preparing families for a new and exciting chapter in their lives.
Back to top

 

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award

Poe Timmons

col_pa_poetimmonsBoard member and founder
A Kid Again | www.akidagain.org

Children with life-threatening illnesses and their families need to make certain that hope continues. They need opportunities to spend quality family time in a fun-filled group activity or destination event outside the hospital.

In order to test that theory, in 1995, Poe Timmons took 178 people — kids with life-threatening illnesses and their family members — to Magic Mountain in Columbus. She put $1,400 on her credit card to cover the cost, and Adventures For Wish Kids Inc. was born.

By 2000, the organization had started serving not only families whose kids were being treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital but also those in Dayton and Cincinnati. The reach expanded to Cleveland in 2008.

With Timmons’ unwavering commitment and leadership, the organization survived the recession and was renamed A Kid Again in 2009.

Timmons has remained an incredible donor, with a family-giving history exceeding $1 million. And in 21 years, the nonprofit has held more than 450 adventures with over 200,000 attendees; raised over $25 million; has had more than 2,500 volunteers providing tens of thousands of hours of service; and formed hundreds of corporate partnerships.

Thanks to Timmons’ investment of her time, treasure, talent and heart, A Kid Again became a reality for kids and their families.

“Right from the start, Poe took me under her wing and taught me how to lead others with humility. Her extraordinary wisdom, combined with her unstoppable determination to invest, improve and empower others to succeed, immediately garnered my respect and admiration for her unmatchable leadership,” says CEO Jeffrey Damron of when he first met Timmons.
Back to top

Kathleen Warnick

col_pa_kathleenwarnickChair elect | past board member
NAWBO | Women’s Small Business Accelerator (WSBA) | Young Entrepreneurs Academy | www.nawbo.org

A successful woman business owner for more than 20 years, Kathleen Warnick knows the importance of helping other women, whether as business owners or as strong, productive, engaged members of their communities. Through her organizational and nonprofit board participation, Warnick supports organizations that promote business ownership and entrepreneurship of women and youth.

In her fourth year on the board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Warnick is currently the chair-elect of the organization, which is the voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses throughout the U.S.

As an active NAWBO board member, she visits chapters, assisting them with building strength in their membership, advocacy and business acumen. In 2017, she will take over as national chair.

Warnick was instrumental in bringing the 2016 National Women’s Business Conference to Columbus. The national conference drew attendees from 97 percent of the 60 NAWBO chapters across the country, infused over $400,000 into the Columbus economy and hosted 650 attendees.

Warnick also advocated bringing the Young Entrepreneurs Academy to the Columbus market — securing NAWBO Columbus as the 2014-2017 licensee and helping it get off the ground.

She recently concluded a three-year term with the Women’s Small Business Accelerator. Warnick led the organization in the development of sound, compliant financial policies. In addition, she introduced the organization to and sponsored the cost of its texting and donation match for its annual gala fundraising, and sponsored two scholarships for women to go through the organization’s education programs.
Back to top

 

Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year Award

Tasha Booker

col_pa_tashabookerExecutive director and vice president
City Year Columbus | www.cityyear.org/columbus

During her tenure, Executive Director Tasha Booker has engineered significant changes and advancements to City Year Columbus.

Leading a team of 12 full-time employees and 54 AmeriCorps members, Booker was instrumental in increasing City Year’s partnership and impact with the Columbus City School District.

Previously, City Year Columbus provided services to four schools — South High School, Linden McKinley STEM Academy, Mifflin High School and Livingston Elementary School. For the 2015-2016 school year, City Year added two additional schools, Trevitt Elementary and Champion Middle, both part of the East High School feeder pattern.

In the past, City Year responded as Columbus City Schools asked for help. Now, the organization is strategically focusing on the elementary and middle schools that feed into four high schools. This will hopefully have a long-term impact, following students to higher grades and providing a continuum of programming.

Thanks to Booker’s relationships and tenacity, City Year Columbus was awarded its first district funding in its 20-year history. Also, under her leadership, of the students who worked with City Year AmeriCorps members, 65 percent showed improvement in math and 72 percent showed improvement in English and language arts on end-of-year assessments.

Within the organization, Booker added structure to the advisory board; established policies for professional development stipends and flex time; and increased collaboration between departments.

As a graduate of Columbus City Schools, Booker brings a unique perspective. She embodies the City Year value of belief in the power of young people, making certain that students are given the attention and mentorship they deserve to learn and thrive.
Back to top

Bill Faith

col_pa_billfaithExecutive director
Coalition for Homelessness and Housing in Ohio | www.cohhio.org

Bill Faith has served as the Coalition for Homelessness and Housing in Ohio’s executive director since 1994. The COHHIO is one of the largest and most active of all statewide homeless and housing coalitions in the country.

The COHHIO pushes for systemic changes to benefit people in need. Its seven programs work together to help increase affordable and supportive housing and reduce homelessness in the state.

The nonprofit, under Faith’s leadership, works to help homeless disabled individuals get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits; advocates for tenants’ rights to help stabilize rental households; provides training and technical assistance to the agencies that serve homeless individuals and families; promotes nonpartisan voting to increase civic engagement; helps facilitate the 80-county process to apply for federal homeless dollars annually; advocates at the state level on behalf of homeless youth; and offers a resource-rich annual conference.

COHHIO also responds quickly to legislation that threatens vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. It fought successfully against legislation that would allow for-profit out-of-state debt settlement companies to charge unsuspecting customers unlimited fees.

In recent years, advocacy efforts have broadened to include consumer and voter protection. For example, the nonprofit directed efforts among voting advocate groups to push back against restrictive voting laws and led efforts that resulted in budget funds for an absentee ballot application mailing to all Ohio voters in 2016.

On the national level, Faith has served as chairman of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition for six years and also as president of the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Back to top

Paula Haines

col_pa_paulahainesExecutive director
Freedom a la Cart | www.freedomalacart.org

Committed to making a difference in the lives of human trafficking survivors in Central Ohio, Paula Haines has led the way for how businesses can employ and empower survivors of human trafficking to build a new life of self-sufficiency and freedom.

In only two years, Haines founded and implemented three successful fundraisers for Freedom a la Cart: Eat Up! Columbus, Cause Cookies and Pies with Purpose. Eat Up! Columbus alone has raised more than $200,000. During these years, she first served as Freedom’s board president before stepping in as executive director in June 2016.

Her revision of Freedom’s workforce training program through mission-focused management has enabled the nonprofit to employ 30 women and supports more than 50 ladies in Franklin County’s CATCH Court founded by Judge Paul Herbert. The survivors now have access to:

  • Individual case management to establish and attain long-term personal, vocational and educational goals and plans.
  • A peer navigator, who has previously been through the program, to act as a mentor.
  • Individual therapy for mental health and substance abuse issues.
  • Educational and vocational support.
  • Life skills, enrichment classes and support groups.
  • Pro-bono legal services.
  • Dental procedures with licensed dentists.

Haines also created a business plan to expand Freedom’s catering service into a brick-and-mortar café to create more opportunity for the organization to employ more survivors and broaden outreach and advocacy efforts in Central Ohio. The model is scalable and has the potential to develop in other cities ready to employ intentional economic empowerment as a means to break cycles of exploitation.
Back to top

Ernest L. Perry Jr.

col_pa_ernestperryPresident and CEO
HandsOn Central Ohio | www.handsoncentralohio.org

Ernest L. Perry Jr. has been able to fuse mission, strategy and operating priorities into cohesive, value-driven and focused activities through his leadership at HandsOn Central Ohio, which connects people, local resources, volunteers and service organizations to opportunity.

Through its 2-1-1 hotline, HandOn links people in need with those who can help, whether it’s food, emergency shelter or assistance with other issues. It also collects information to help social and human service organizations better respond to current needs and anticipate those in the future. This data gives the community a baseline that can be a roadmap to change lives.

While food and homelessness remain two of the community’s highest needs, HandsOn has been able to deliver more than 1 million meals to over 300,000 people through its comprehensive emergency food network, and assist over 7,000 individuals and 3,000 households with shelter.

As president and CEO, Perry expanded the organization to include three director-level board members, which added two new corporate relationships, and was a catalyst for completing a strategic plan and recreating HandsOn’s mission. He also has helped increase visibility, establishing and deepening partnerships around the city.

Internally, by analyzing roles and responsibilities, he was able to establish clear career pathways, which led to the promotion of nearly 10 team members. With the clarification of roles and responsibilities, staff compensation could be reviewed, resulting in the first organization-wide base salary growth in four years.

Perry is a firm believer in collaborative efforts bringing the best results and he is on a constant quest to break down agency silos.
Back to top

 


From the hearts of our sponsors

The sponsors of the 2017 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service support the program because they believe in its mission — to recognize the critical tie between the for-profit and nonprofit communities.
Here is a little bit about each of this year’s sponsors.

 

Clark Schaefer Hackett

Philanthropy is an integral part of Clark Schaefer Hackett’s culture. Our mission is to better the lives of our clients, people and communities, and we take that to heart. By supporting and strengthening the areas where we live and work, we’re building remarkable relationships and investing in the future.

Clark Schaefer Hackett provides opportunities for our employees to participate in firm- and office-wide community service events with local nonprofit organizations. At our most recent company meeting, employees formed groups to participate in “Wheels for the World” – a team-building activity that resulted in the finished assembly of more than 60 bicycles that were then presented to young students from the Wilmington City School District.

Our employees also give back by supporting our annual United Way fundraising drive, as well as donating their time and talents on an individual basis to numerous civic, nonprofit and other community organizations.

We believe that it’s important for all organizations to look at the “triple bottom line,” and evaluate not only their financial performance, but also their environmental and social impact. By focusing on doing well and doing good, businesses can make a positive difference in our communities.

 

GREENCREST

GREENCREST exists to make a difference in the businesses we serve and to build partnerships where everyone wins. At her core, Kelly Borth, founder and president of GREENCREST and a former Kent Clapp Award honoree, has an innate, firm belief in the value of helping others — both personally and professionally. Borth instills this belief in her entire team, who know they are here to make a positive impact in the communities in which we live and work.

As an organization, GREENCREST has a strong culture and a long history of giving of our time, talent and treasure. Over the years, the professionals at GREENCREST have donated thousands of hours in service to the community through volunteer service and pro-bono initiatives sponsored by GREENCREST, which is a past Pillar Award recipient. The company continues to volunteers its time and provide pro-bono work, and contribute to the community financially through its GREENCREST Living Hope Foundation, a donor-advised fund administered by The Columbus Foundation. Established in 2007, the core mission of the foundation is to give living hope to children and individuals in the community who, due to economic challenges, might not otherwise have the resources to live to their fullest potential.

The GREENCREST Living Hope Foundation supports local charities, collaboratively chosen by the GREENCREST team, where we feel passionate that our contributions will make a difference. In addition, every GREENCREST member is involved in selecting various charitable organizations that help people who need a helping hand. Team members plan a service project that goes along with any contributions GREENCREST makes as an organization.

Since its founding, GREENCREST has demonstrated a commitment to serving the local community, a unique characteristic for a small company. We understand that we all benefit when we can live and work in a thriving, healthy community, and that we all need to do our part to leave the world a better place.

GREENCREST is proud of its history of working with other central Ohio businesses whose leaders share this passion and vision for being ambassadors for community causes. We all have the opportunity to be great role models. The  community as a whole benefits when we contribute to causes that are greater than our ourselves.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Beginning with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ownership group, led by Dan Gilbert, Jeff Cohen and Nate Forbes, giving back is a major priority for our organization. Not only is philanthropy important to our culture, we consider it our obligation and duty to do what we can to give back to the people of Northeast Ohio.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and our family of teams, the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters and AFL’s Cleveland Gladiators, are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of children and families in Northeast Ohio. Throughout the year, each team supports a full roster of community outreach initiatives that address important social issues with an emphasis on education, youth and family services, health and wellness, volunteerism and entrepreneurship.

The Cavs organization aims to set the standard for being champions in the community.

In addition, our team members understand the importance of getting involved in our community, and we offer a variety of ways throughout the year for them to do so. From donating to United Way to donating time to wrap presents for children in need at the holidays, we are proud of the effort our team members put forth to make an impact in the Cleveland community.

Our owner, Dan Gilbert, likes to say that you “do well by doing good.” We take that to heart here at The Q, and hope that others do as well. We are in a position to be able to help others, and it’s our privilege to do so.

 

Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board

At the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB), philanthropy is part of our DNA. Philanthropy and giving back to the community is part of what CSRAB does day-in and day-out.

The employees of CSRAB support a number of organizations through the State of Ohio Combined Charitable Campaign. CSRAB also ensures the Ohio Statehouse is a place where all Ohioans feel welcome to come and participate in the governance of our republic.

As a state agency, CSRAB’s philanthropic philosophy is different than a privately held corporation’s giving priorities. As an agency, our philosophy is aligned with the historical tradition of philanthropic institutions. At the same time, we strive to educate citizens on the workings of state government and hope to inspire future leaders of Ohio.

At CSRAB, employees are encouraged through the actions of Executive Director Laura P. Clemens. There is no better way to lead and inspire an organization than through active leadership from the top down. Clemens’ leadership and passion for giving is what CSRAB’s 2016 Ohio Combined Charitable Campaign had a participation rate of 90 percent.

CSRAB takes the long view as we look to engage and give back to the community. The agency feels that the best way to give back to all citizens of Ohio is to educate and inspire the future leaders of Ohio about state government and the important role the Ohio Statehouse has played in the history of this great state for more than 159 years.

 

Convero

Engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It is the result of a long-term commitment by your organization to connect with and invest in the wants and needs of your target audience.

Convero develops content marketing programs that increase engagement and performance. Our five-step process delivers detailed plans — from strategy and planning to execution and measurement — for organizations across a wide range of industries, including banking and finance, health care, higher education, manufacturing and associations.

 

Digizoom Media

We are visual storytellers who believe that creativity should arise and flourish without boundaries. Whether it’s bringing your brand, your value proposition or your organization’s culture to life, we accompany our award-winning visuals with carefully crafted scripts that support your messaging objectives, engage your audiences and inspire action. Telling your story, engaging your audience and driving results is what we do best. Your vision is our passion.

We amplify your presence by providing high quality, cutting-edge video content. We are dedicated to warm, professional standards of service, and guarantee satisfaction with our products and your experience. Our primary focus is to serve the business community through producing content engineered to expand your reach.

 

Hughie’s Event Production Services

Hughie’s Event Production Services has been Cleveland’s live-event design and production resource since 1953. Hughie’s believes in giving back to the city where it all began and the area that we’ve called home for 60 years.

Hughie’s is a full-service event production company and worldwide supplier of high-definition video projection equipment, concert quality audio systems, intelligent moving lights, staging systems, decor and more to satisfy all your presentation and special event needs.

 

Back to top

Prop up your philanthropy with the right support

Once again in January, Smart Business and Medical Mutual are recognizing the Central Ohio companies and their employees who invest time and resources into strengthening the relationship between nonprofits and for-profits.

From the bottom up

This year not only did I get to read — and write — about some great organizations, I also interviewed several people at Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Inc., the winner of the Medical Mutual SHARE Award. This award recognizes philanthropy efforts that are spearheaded by the employees, more than executives.

It’s heartwarming to learn about the changes that Budros employees have already seen under a more unified community service plan. So, be sure to check out the story.

But one thing CEO Peggy Ruhlin said really struck me. I asked her if she has been surprised about anything as Budros’ has implemented more formal processes around its philanthropy. She says that she’s been surprised how nearly every job candidate brings up Budros’ community service before the interviewer can.

It can’t be an afterthought

Millennials, and Generation X to a lesser degree, want to work for good companies. They are doing their homework upfront. For many of them, corporate philanthropy and community service are no longer a nice-to-have; they are a key part of why they apply for a job.

One of my co-workers recently told me her daughter, a millennial, is looking for a job. She’s only applying to companies with a social good component. It’s a deal breaker for her.

Anyone can add a philanthropy page to their website, but if job candidates are proactively bringing this up during their interviews, you need to make sure those claims are being consistently fulfilled.

I think more companies can take a page out of Budros’ book. Until something is formalized, measured and laid out, it’s too easy to let it slip into the background.

Corporate philanthropy and community service are a competitive advantage when it comes to hiring talent, so it’s critical that you treat it as such. It has to have the same support system as the other competitive advantages you nurture in your company’s culture.

Legacy in all its forms

Leaving a legacy is something a lot of business owners starting thinking about as they mature in their careers — and discussing — when I talk to them about management challenges.

It’s actually good to hear that building wealth may not be the first consideration. Yes, it’s nice, but building something that will stand long after you’ve moved on is a much more permanent legacy.

Building business legacy

In this month’s issue, we’ve highlighted Central Ohio companies that have stood the test of time. I know this isn’t a comprehensive list, but it is a good snapshot.

Some common themes that emerged from these businesses, which have been around for 50 or more years, are an ability to adapt and listen. Many of these companies make completely different products and provide completely different services than when they first started. Some have diversified, and others have moved into entirely new lines of business.

And at this point, part of their culture is pride in that longevity. After everything that has changed, they, and their employees, can proudly say, “We are still here.”

Our Uniquely Columbus, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at Cheryl’s, examines another kind of legacy. Founder Cheryl Krueger sold her company a decade ago, but Bob Happel, general manager and vice president at Cheryl’s who started at the business long after the sale, still mentioned that she’s responsible for building the company’s culture. (And of course it doesn’t hurt that her name is the company’s name, too.)

See the big picture

All this legacy talk makes me wonder about what legacy I’ll leave with my own life, which is a particularly potent thought around the holidays.

You don’t have to found a company or business dynasty to leave a legacy. But it is good to sometimes think about the bigger picture, and what kind of permanent impression you can leave on the world.

We all want to make our mark, and we can certainly do that in different ways. So, this holiday season, take a little time and consider: What are you building that will stand long after you’ve moved on?

Thoughts on the genesis of new ideas

Columbus’ The Topiary Park is the only known topiary interpretation of a painting — in the world. Let me say that again, in the world. So, why has it only been done once and what did it take?

First of all, it’s a lot of work to keep up. It takes all summer to trim the shrubs, even now, after the park has been around for more than 20 years.

But more importantly, it took both vision and talent to get it created in the first place. The drive came from Elaine Mason, the skill from James Mason.

This got me thinking: How often do ideas fall because they lack either execution or innovation?

Even with Topiary Park, the subject of this month’s Uniquely Columbus, the execution and innovation weren’t found in the same person.

Is this another case of the chicken and the egg? Does the drive or the talent come first? Or, maybe I’m mixing up my metaphors. Is it a matter of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Well, it’s not going anywhere without both innovation and execution.

Find the weak spot

In the business world, it often seems like companies are better at one or the other. More mature organizations can be whizzes at execution, but they’ve lost the spark that helped them grow in the first place.

In other cases, small companies are full of innovation but haven’t made the leap up in scale that a more controlled and accountable operation needs.

An idea — or successful business — needs both parts to come together, so I think the first step is figuring out which area is the one where you or your company is naturally weaker.

I know personally, execution can be my downfall — and that’s probably why I do better when a deadline is breathing down my neck. But once I realize that, I can come up with ways to bolster my weakness, such as creating an artificial deadline and holding myself to a penalty if I don’t make it.

No one person or organization is going to be equally strong in execution and innovation without a little planning and work.

One more hurdle — time

The other key to Topiary Park is something that’s out of your control — yes, I know that’s a scary thought for many business leaders — timing.

The space was abandoned, and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department was looking to do something special with it to set Columbus apart. The Masons were ready with their idea at the right time.

Often, companies create a product or service that it is too far ahead of its time so there’s no customer base. Or, they jump into a hypercompetitive market and get lost in the noise.

Yes, it’s daunting to think you could have conquered both the vision and talent, but still go nowhere because the timing is poor. But when all three come together, you can create something that’s unique and one-of-a-kind — like Topiary Park.

It starts with a little face-to-face contact

The idea of sustainable building has certainly gained ground over the past few years as companies, schools and homeowners become more and more interested in creating spaces that run more efficiently.

From geothermal wells and solar panels to compact fluorescent light bulbs or just turning off computers when not in use, everyone can do something to save energy.

And that’s why the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is so fascinating. It received all four of the most rigorous green building certifications and employs some of the best-of-the-best measures for building sustainably.

This office building, which is featured in this month’s Uniquely Pittsburgh, operates on net zero energy and water. And it serves as a case study for people throughout the region, U.S. and even the world. But, it wasn’t easy to create.

Put the players in the same room

In order to design a super high performance green building, everything that happens must be maximized, with no compromises, says Richard Piacentini, executive director of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

He says it took about two years to design the Center for Sustainable Landscapes.

“One of the most important things we did was we followed what’s called an integrated design process —from the very first day we got the entire design team together, along with a number of staff that were going to be working in the building, and we started to design the building together,” Piacentini says.

By getting all the players to sit in the same room, they were able to smartly design the building and find the best solutions.

Personal connection

This reminds me how important face-to-face contact is even in today’s mobile, high-tech society.

When Smart Business hosts events throughout the year, one of the things we hear over and over again is how valuable the networking is. Standing in front of people, looking them in the eye and connecting is still critical.

It doesn’t matter how many emails you send or phone calls you make, building relationships or working on a problem means connecting — and so often you need to be in the same room to do that.

I think sometimes we tend to forget that, especially the younger generation who can easily be found sitting at a table together, all looking at their phones. (I have, on occasion, been guilty of this, but I don’t even usually notice until I realize how nervous I get when I don’t have my phone with me.)

Businesses will always face obstacles. They will always need to work with customers or partners. And there will always be areas that can be improved upon.

But when the task seems daunting, perhaps the best way to get started is just a matter of sitting down at the same table.

What your company sells shouldn’t be a surprise

How often are people surprised by how many services or products your organization provides? Has someone ever asked “What do you do?” and when you give your quick synopsis, he or she says, “Wow, I didn’t know your company did all that.”

We always hear about branding and content marketing, but I think half the battle is making sure everyone is aware of all the pieces that make up your company.

Take Scioto Mile, the subject of this month’s Uniquely Columbus, where a misconception exists about the extent of the mile.

“When you say Scioto Mile right now, I think people immediately think of Bicentennial Park, and probably the Promenade or part of the Promenade — the part that’s focused right there between two of the downtown bridges,” says Karen Wiser, program and festival director of the Scioto Mile and the Jazz & Rib Fest.

The Scioto Mile — which, as its name suggests, is a mile long — encompasses at lot more than that central hub of activity, such as the Cultural Arts Center, the North Bank Park and the Scioto Audubon Park.

Get the word out

It takes time to have a product or service become part of the public’s consciousness. But just like when you try to learn something new, repetition is key.

There are varying opinions about whether people need to hear something seven, 10 or 20 times to remember.

What they can agree on is that people remember what they do most of all, followed by what they see and then what they hear. So if you’re trying to get the word out about a product or service you offer, it’s important to make sure you’re spreading the word visually with videos and photos.

But beyond that, you need to tell everyone. Cross-promote across your organization to existing customers. Post information around the office where clients might see it.

Instruct all your employees, even if they aren’t in sales, that they should mention your product or service when they talk to friends, family or prospective customers.

Just keep mentioning it, until it’s no longer a surprise.

Marketing is more than a department

As the leader — and often the face — of the company, marketing is part of your job description. It’s something you should work on daily, weekly and monthly, and it’s too important to leave to the marketing department.

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two — and only two — basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business,” according to a famous quote by management consultant Peter Drucker.

Every member of your executive team should be acting as a marketer. If that’s not something that they are comfortable with, then provide them training.

What your company sells shouldn’t be a surprise. Your customers — who may not have identified themselves yet — need to understand everything you offer in order to make truly informed decisions.

An artist’s perspective

You might not consider art projects and business to be similar — I certainly didn’t. But the two work together at Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen, which is a combination restaurant/public art project and the subject of this month’s Uniquely Pittsburgh.

Co-director Dawn Weleski says she balances being able to pay the staff and keep the lights on with whether the Conflict Kitchen creatively engages its audience.

“What makes a successful business and what makes a successful art project is the malleability of the enterprise — to build in a certain level of flexibility,” she says.

She and her Co-director Jon Rubin run the restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries the U.S. is in conflict with.

They also seek to spark debate and discussion. For example, during the Iranian iteration, the Conflict Kitchen asked Iranians all over the world to write part of a speech they would like President Barack Obama to deliver. Everything was complied into a final speech that was delivered by an Obama look-alike in several performances.

Don’t go too big

Over their five years in business, Weleski says they’ve learned some lessons along the way.

There are artists who try to sustain their art through a retail model or by providing a service, she says. What often happens — and this is also what happens in business — is that they think too big, too quickly.

“They have this huge idea of something that’s actually going to happen five years down the road, and they want it to magically appear,” Weleski says.

If you have a business, or if you’re depending on customers or patrons — and artists depend on patrons — pick a tool and then be responsive to your audience, she says.

If something doesn’t quite work, build in a period of time where that shifts to something else.

Weleski says the Conflict Kitchen started with a very small menu of only one or two items. That gave them the ability to shift those pieces quickly and efficiently.

“As we saw how Pittsburgh responded, then we made the menu a little larger, staffed up a little bit, maybe moved to a new location,” she says.

They implemented incremental changes as they went, which allowed the restaurant to build on its success.

Make it relevant

Another problem for artists, Weleski says, is they can overthink things. This is particularly true for socially engaged artists, which is the genre of the Conflict Kitchen.

People want to have discussions with sociologists, community planners and politicians all day to figure out how to satisfy the art project’s mission.

“The truth of the matter is that you can talk for as long as you want, and you’re going to present something, and it’s not going to be satisfactory in a lot of ways,” she says.

Instead, come up with a forum. Then, inject it in a small way and see how people respond.

Weleski says that can ensure your product is relevant to the customer — whether they are in the business world or art world. Otherwise it’s only going to be relevant to you, not to the public.