2021 Pillar Award for Community Service – Northeast Ohio

Medical Mutual and our co-founding partner, Smart Business, welcome you to the 24th annual Pillar Awards for Community Service. The Pillar Awards recognize organizations and their employees that are truly connecting with their communities through their time, commitment and giving, whether it be volunteering, charitable giving, pro bono work and more.

As we all continue to face the challenges of a global pandemic, this year’s honorees demonstrate that businesses go beyond the world of commerce and are truly invested community members. As neighbors helping neighbors, they are creating ties that bind communities together.

Medical Mutual, like many of this year’s honorees, makes commitment to community part of our culture. This year has presented new challenges to our communities, but we have worked to face them. Our efforts include immunization education and advocacy, and working with partners to make COVID-19 vaccines more available to underserved populations. These efforts went hand in hand with our continuing work to address health disparities and our commitment to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion, both within our company and beyond its walls.

One of the annual Pillar Awards is a recognition given to a company whose employees best illustrate the values of Medical Mutual’s own SHARE program. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate. Medical Mutual employees are at the heart of our SHARE program, which is a cornerstone of our community giving efforts. Through the dedication and generosity of our employees, the program coordinated dozens of events to support nonprofit and community groups this past year. It’s an important way that Medical Mutual connects to our communities.

All of this year’s Pillar Award honorees demonstrate that connectedness to community. We are pleased to join Smart Business to honor these companies, because we know that when we work together, we can create communities whose members have a greater opportunity to thrive and prosper.

On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, congratulations to all our 2021 Pillar Award honorees.

Rick Chiricosta, Chairman, president and CEO, Medical Mutual

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pillar Award Honorees

 

Akron RubberDucks
Jim Pfander, general manager

After hiring a community relations coordinator in mid-February, the Akron RubberDucks have done whatever it can to give back to the community that it says has done so much to support the organization. The Akron RubberDucks have volunteered for several organizations around the Greater Akron area, including The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, Ben Curtis Family Foundation, One of a Kind Pet Rescue, Salvation Army, Akron Marathon, and Haven of Rest Ministries.

A majority of the organization’s front office personnel has contributed and volunteered multiple hours to the community, helping these nonprofits by packing and moving product and preparing meals for families in need, and doing whatever else is needed.

Additionally, the Akron RubberDucks Corporate Care Program is designed to assist children in need while also cultivating relationships with local businesses and organizations. The effort involves reaching out to businesses in the Akron/Canton area to support this program by underwriting the cost of tickets donated to Akron-area children and their families who otherwise cannot afford to attend a RubberDucks baseball game.

The goal of the Akron RubberDucks’ is to continue to participate in volunteer opportunities at least twice a month. With the team in the off-season, the organization looks forward to contributing even more. The Akron RubberDucks has such admiration for these area nonprofits and everyone volunteering to make a difference, and pledges to do whatever it can to help make a difference itself. ●

 

Citymark Capital
Daniel Walsh, CEO

For decades, Dan Walsh’s big-hearted involvement in the community has left a large, lasting imprint — on sports to the arts to rock and roll and on the businesses he has led. At Citymark Capital, the private equity firm he founded in 2015, it’s unmistakable that compassion and philanthropy are embedded in the culture and shape how the firm does business.

Mirroring Walsh’s commitment to community service, Citymark translates this philosophy to its business in any market it enters. Not only does the firm invest in institutional-quality apartments in major markets, it works to improve living experiences and create attractive homes for residents, adding value in the communities.

Widely regarded for being a humanitarian and leader in both in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, Walsh has spent his entire career investing his time and resources to make an exponential impact that spans many organizations.

Boards on which he currently serves or previously served include the Cleveland Foundation, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Destination Cleveland, United Way of Greater Cleveland, Playhouse Square; Ideastream and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. He also was a mayoral appointee on the Group Plan Commission, which oversaw the redevelopment of Public Square, and helped launch Global Cleveland. In addition, he is a past board chair of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.

These broad efforts have resulted in numerous awards, including the Humanitarian Award from the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio. ●

 

Cleveland Whiskey
Tom Lix, CEO

Cleveland Whiskey’s mission statement is a simple one: “Every day, make good whiskey and do the right thing.”

For the Cleveland-based distillery, “Doing the right thing” is highlighted by the company’s partnership with the Cleveland Clinic during the pandemic. Cleveland Whiskey produced hand sanitizer for more than 52,000 front-line health care workers in the Clinic system. All the sanitizer was donated — Cleveland Whiskey did not make a dime. Protecting the community was what was needed, and it also allowed the company to keep doing meaningful work with no layoffs or furloughs.

As it ramped up production of sanitizer, it shifted some of its whiskey production and expanded production and distribution to regional police, fire, emergency medical services and nursing homes. Along the way, it gained additional partners in the initiative, including many other small distillers, box and bottle companies, trucking firms and even large CPG firms.

Superior Beverage sent the distillery thousands of gallons of beer that it could distill, and Red Eagle Distillery in Geneva sent 550 gallons of high-proof alcohol that could be used for sanitizer right away. Cleveland Whiskey also got help from MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy Growth Network, which sourced 50,000 bottles to use in the project. That support helped the company create sanitizer kits with gallon jugs, smaller refill bottles and spouts that were distributed to servicepeople and those on the front lines who desperately needed it.

Cleveland Whiskey values its community and saw the work it did donating hand sanitizer as simply the right thing to do. ●

 

Incept
Sam Falletta, CEO

Each year, Incept strives to make a difference in the lives of others. The company commits up to 10 percent of its yearly earnings to local, national and multinational charitable organizations that provide goods and services to people in need around the globe. These donations of time and money are evaluated and distributed by a committee called Incept Gives, a small group of Incept employees who are passionate about making a difference in the world.

Since the creation of Incept Gives in 2010, the company has contributed over $600,000 to causes they are passionate about. In the last year alone, the company donated more than $100,000.

Incept Gives Hope, a division of the Incept Gives committee, makes direct donations locally and globally to nonprofit organizations that improve overall quality of life. The company also sponsors events that enhance the vitality of neighborhoods, celebrate community success and support local charities.

Incept Gives Help is focused on company employees, which could mean sponsoring staff so that they can make an impact by supporting a charity’s walk, gaming event or lemonade stand, or it could mean providing relief to an employee who is experiencing a devastating life event — an unexpected medical issues, a home fire, or the loss of an immediate family member. The goal is to make sure team members know they have support when it’s needed. For example, many employees and their families were directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Incept Gives Help donated over $15,000 to support its team during this difficult time. ●

 

Kenston High School
Tom Gabram, principal

Since 2016, the Kenston High School Bomber Bash Club, along with support of school administrators and parents, has volunteered and raised over $40,000 for the programs of A Kid Again, a Northern Ohio nonprofit serving critically ill children and their families.

The concept of the first few fundraisers the Kenston students focused on were “lock-ins.” Not only did they have to stay awake all night, but they could not sit down, either. To keep them awake and on their feet, activities like games, inflatables, dancing and more were planned in the high school gymnasium, with plenty of snacks to keep them going. The “lock in” fundraiser continued with over 214 students in attendance raising money.

When the 2020 pandemic hit, the “lock in” fundraiser was no longer possible. But the Kenston kids pivoted, and planned and created a safe outdoor golf fundraiser at Tanglewood in 2020, with 144 in attendance which was a sellout. The event sold out this year, as well.

The students have formed a bond with each other and learned valuable skills, but they also formed bonds with the families of A Kid Again. Students have also volunteered at many A Kid Again adventures through the years, such as Cedar Point, the annual holiday party, Soap Box Derby, office support and more.

They have enjoyed getting to know the A Kid Again children and their families by helping check families in, creating crafts and playing games with the children, helping the organizations with social media and photos, and so much more. ●

 

MAI Capital Management
Rick Buoncore, managing partner

The leadership style of Rick Buoncore, managing partner of MAI Capital Management, is captured in the registered investment adviser’s mission statement that he and his colleagues set for the firm. It’s a joint commitment to care for clients, for colleagues and for the community. This approach is reflected in everything MAI and its associates do. The vision unites members of the firm and yields an organization that is clear in its shared goals and commitment to one another.

The MAI team’s positive energy and collective desire to get involved is a product of Buoncore’s enthusiasm and encouragement — he consistently motivates his colleagues to volunteer for and donate to organizations that are meaningful to them and helps support their causes through company sponsorships. In 2020, MAI made donations to more than 100 local and national charities.

MAI created a Young Professionals group with the purpose of educating employees on the importance of supporting their community. This group has worked with Business Volunteers Unlimited to identify opportunities for employees to join nonprofit boards and to help with community projects.

MAI also established a Women’s Network in 2019 that strives to build relationships with and create opportunities for women both inside and outside the firm. Within the network, a Volunteering & Community Service committee is focused on supporting nonprofit organizations that serve women in need.
In July, the committee partnered with Project Beauty Share to donate beauty items to charities that support women and families overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness and poverty. ●

 

Malco Products Inc.
Seth Glauberman, president

Malco Products Inc., through its employees and customers, donates hundreds of product mixes to various organizations throughout the world. From product credit given to customers for organizations they support, to donating raffle items to charities that are near and dear to employees, Malco supports an environment of giving.

Malco invests its dollars, time and voice to have the greatest impact possible for the community. During the pandemic, the company began to produce disinfectant cleaner that it donated to various organizations, including more than 200 cases of hand sanitizer to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, and gave a cash donation of over $4,000, representing a percentage of the company’s hand sanitizer sales.

The company encourages and supports opportunities for employees to help the community, offers a variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the year and maintains an open-door policy for employees to request donations to organizations they are passionate about.

Many of the company’s employees participate in volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Whether it is donating school supplies to “Stuff the Bus,” cleaning up garden beds at local nonprofits or supporting various causes they are passionate about, Malco employees give back. It is not unusual for the company’s conference room to be full of employees sorting through donations, stuffing bags for causes, or supporting each other to improve the community and world.

Malco will continue to foster an environment that supports employees and their families looking to give back with their dollars, voice, time, or all of the above, because it feels good to do good. ●

 

Oatey Co.
Neal Restivo, CEO

At Oatey Co., supporting its community and having a positive impact in Northeast Ohio is fundamental to the organization. One of the efforts the company is most passionate about is Cleveland Clinic’s annual VeloSano flagship fundraising event, Bike to cure. As a sponsor for the event each year, Oatey drives significant engagement from its associate base, which has propelled Team Oatey to be among the top five fundraisers in recent years. In addition to local team members, some associates travel from across the country to participate in the event, while others around the country participate as virtual riders. Oatey sponsors a rest stop each year, staffed by Oatey associates and their family members who volunteer to cheer on riders and provide support throughout the day.

Oatey also has a number of internal programs that support the communities in which it operates. To help associates maximize their personal charitable contributions and to provide flexibility, Oatey’s Associate Matching Gift Program matches eligible associates’ charitable gifts up to $1,000 per year to a pre-approved list of eligible charities, which are identified in the major markets in which Oatey operates.

Among the charities for which donations will be matched is Oatey’s own Oatey Helping Oatey emergency relief fund. Through Oatey Helping Oatey, full-time associates experiencing qualified disasters or hardships can apply for tax-free grants to help them get through hard times. Oatey associates can contribute to the fund and receive a tax benefit for their donation the same as any public 501(c)(3) charity. ●

 

Qualcare LLC dba Home Instead
Therese Zdesar, RN, CEO and president

QualCare, LLC dba Home Instead is a health service organization dedicated to providing personalized quality private duty homecare to seniors. The company’s “Be a Santa to a Senior Program” this year celebrates 17 years of community service. In 2004, Home Instead Senior Care collected gifts for 186 seniors. Since then the program has grown significantly.

This program showcases best practices in the tie between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds in volunteerism and overall community impact. In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, the program was needed more than ever. Be A Santa to a Senior Program in 2020 collected gifts for over 600 local seniors in need in Lake, Geauga and Portage Counties, and the corporate financial commitment to this program this past year was approximately $25,000.

Even as a result of changes in the economy meant many organizations saw charitable contributions decrease over the past few years, Home Instead Senior Care has seen significant growth in this important community service program and is committed to the continued expansion of the Be A Santa to a Senior Program.

Home Instead reached out to the community in 2020 to serve in other ways. During the pandemic shut down, Home Instead began homemade card and penpal programs to help support lonely seniors at home and connect them with local community youth. Home Instead also volunteered and worked with local offices on aging to connect and provide all local seniors with free food and medication delivery to keep seniors safe at home. ●

 

Rocket Mortgage
John Wargo, senior vice president

The mission of Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Companies (which includes Rocket Mortgage), is to support inclusive, thriving and resilient communities by making data-driven investments in housing, employment and public life. Between 2010 and 2020, the Rock Family of companies has contributed more than $200 million to community organizations and programming, and has volunteered 816,228 hours nationwide.

The Rocket Community Fund, Gilbert Family Foundation and thousands of team members across the Rock Family of Companies showed an outpouring of support to communities through the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the establishment of a matching fundraising campaign for team members in Detroit, Cleveland, Phoenix, Charlotte and other cities. The campaign raised over $622,000 in just over a month to support critical relief nonprofits across the U.S.

The Rocket Community Fund, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Cleveland Foundation recently launched “Neighbor to Neighbor,” designed to help bridge Cleveland’s digital divide and connect residents to critical housing resources that will support lasting housing stability. The door-to-door canvassing effort works through local Community Development Corporations (CDCs) to educate residents on programs they may be eligible for, as well as ask questions to understand the gaps that exist due to a lack of resources or programming. Based on these conversations, Neighbor to Neighbor partners and residents will work toward co-developing lasting, sustainable programs that provide long-term solutions to intractable issues.

The joint $1.35 million commitment between the Cleveland Foundation and Rocket Community Fund is launching with five pilot CDCs, then will expand to 11 CDCs in 2022. ●

 

Medical Mutual Share Award

Metisentry
Scott Wolf, president

Metisentry solves complex business problems by building and growing Software as a Service (SaaS) products. Through a combination of software product development and cloud services it helps customers change the way people do business. Since 2006, it has been empowering businesses to create efficiency through technology and achieve success.

The company strives to be active in the local community and to support and work with local businesses. Metisentry realizes the importance of being involved in the community, especially from a philanthropic perspective. As a small business with limited resources, it has discovered it can have a greater impact by involving other local businesses in its efforts.

For example, it has a tradition of supporting the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank with an annual food drive. In years past, it collected, on average, 75 pounds of food. Then it reached out to other businesses in its office building to join its effort. By spearheading this initiative, it more than doubled the donation to the foodbank last year. In addition, several Metisentry executives hold positions on community boards that are involved in things such as vocational technology education, and coaching and mentoring students to help them find employment and enter the workforce.

Activating unused spaces in downtown Akron is also important to Metisentry, as in its founding sponsorship of the Nantucket Summer Concert Series in partnership with Downtown Akron Partnership. And in 2016, it started a “field trips” program for its team. Led by its office administrative team, the program seeks to engage team members and introduce them to different parts of downtown and some of the great amenities.

It also does after-hours trips to promote the idea of staying downtown after work and showing what the nightlife can be like, helping employees stay involved in their community by continually supporting their neighbors as individual team members return to patronize those businesses. It continues to reach out to other local businesses that have expressed an interest in starting their own field trips programs.

Metisentry has joined with the Downtown Akron Partnership Green and Clean project to help make downtown Akron more vibrant and beautiful. Team members pick up trash, pull weeds, sweep and do other general cleanup. This year, Metisentry put its own twist on this project by beautifying the Maiden Lane walkway in front of its office with chalk art.

In addition, staff regularly attend meetings with other local businesses that Downtown Akron Partnership hosts, allowing the company to further its efforts by engaging with other businesses to help promote and build a vibrant, valuable downtown. This level of activity and engagement wouldn’t be possible without the support of Founder Marling Engle, whose entrepreneurial spirit, leadership and dedication to the Akron community lends to the success of the team. ●

 

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award

Bill Priemer
Board chair, Business Volunteers Unlimited

Bill Priemer has been the board chair of business Volunteers Unlimited since June 2019 after serving nearly six years as a board member. Priemer, CEO of Hyland, was asked by a colleague to join the board, and he knew immediately what a large responsibility it would be. Despite the challenge, he has been a coalition builder from the very start of his service.

He is a service master, serving on boards of all sizes, getting fledgling boards up and running. His love of community service permeates through Hyland with days of service, paid time off for service days and a huge community engagement footprint.

Priemer blends his love of nonprofit excellence and community engagement with his service at BVU. He currently is leading BVU through the development of the organization’s strategic plan, which aims to grow business engagements to 500 by 2023. Additionally, he co-leads development and fundraising of BVU’s Community Impact Fund in 2021, with the goal of expanding the reach of BVU’s Skill CONNECT program. Five months in, the campaign is at 44 percent to goal. His impact on the board at BVU cannot be overstated, from good governance to endowment funds raised.

After nearly three decades of connecting businesses and nonprofits in Northeast Ohio, BVU has its finger on the pulse of community engagement, volunteerism and nonprofit governance.

Its board and staff have shown incredible dedication to its mission, pulling together to keep the organization strong through the last year. ●

 

Ethan Boron
President, board of directors, Cleveland Christian Home

Ethan Boron is the problem-solving president of the Cleveland Christian Home board of directors and helped resolve two issues faced by the organization. The first was that it had a very old home in which to house up to 49 boys in need of counseling. The structure was physically failing, out of date and not the best it could be in terms of giving the boys the positive environment they desperately needed. In addition, the board lacked an operative strategic plan; the existing plan got dusted off once a year, rubber-stamped and placed back on the shelf.

Boron spent time with the strategic planning committee, listening, narrowing down problems, discussing and determining steps the board and the CEO could take. With his discussion and discovery approach, the board realized its committee structure and officer succession structure needed to be formalized and streamlined. In addition, the plan addressed issues of constant labor shortages as a guide to the CEO, not a mandate.

The new committee structure, along with a vibrant strategic plan, allowed the home to address a problem it had faced for a decade — a facility in need of major renovations. Boron’s positive attitude and listening abilities led to a beefed-up board planning committee and increased staffing for the Homes Development Department. Before Boron, the board lacked the confidence to move forward. With him, it sees ways to take actionable steps to solve the organization’s most pressing problems. ●

 

Susan Bowers
Past board chair, Community Foundation of Lorain County

Susan Bowers has devoted her career and “retirement” to helping others. As board chair of the Community Foundation of Lorain County, she led the board and staff through a strategic planning process to help strengthen the foundation’s role as a grant-maker, community convener and resource for donors and community members. Through the strategic plan, she started neighborhood community engagement work in Lorain, establishing a new Community Fellow position.

As the foundation celebrates its 40th year, Bowers has been instrumental in helping it respond to COVID-19, overseeing the $250,000 grant to Second Harvest Food Bank, the foundation’s largest grant to date. And she helped establish the Lorain County COVID-19 Emergency Fund, bringing together eight funders to streamline emergency assistance to the nonprofit community on the front lines.

In 2010, she and three friends founded 100 Women Who Care About Lorain County with a simple motto: One charity. One hour. One large sum of money. Purely local benefits. Since that time, 100 Women has given $378,000 to local charities.

Bowers also participates in committee work at First Lutheran Church in Lorain and most recently has been sewing masks for Mercy Lorain Hospital, Second Harvest Food Bank and El Centro. An RN by training, she spent more than 40 years serving others. As president of Mercy Allen Hospital, she was known for her compassion, leadership and drive to serve the community. Bowers sets a high example through her leadership, philanthropy and volunteerism in what it means to serve the community. ●

 

Philanthropist of the Year

Deborah D. Hoover
President and CEO, Burton D. Morgan Foundation

Deborah D. Hoover has been serving the Northeast Ohio community through the entrepreneurship-focused philanthropy of Burton D. Morgan Foundation since 2007 as president and CEO and, before that, as program officer. She says it has been an honor to lead and advance Burt Morgan’s vision for assisting entrepreneurs with their dreams and strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs on their journey.

In early October, she announced her departure next year from the foundation, expressing pride over what the organization has accomplished over the last two decades. It established and grew programs that propel entrepreneurs forward and fostered the entrepreneurial mindset in imaginative K-12 and university students. She has been at this work long enough to experience vicariously the joy and hard work of thousands of entrepreneurs across the region advancing ideas from concept to venture to success and celebrates the courageous entrepreneurs the foundation’s programs have bolstered over the years.

A key goal of the Morgan Foundation is to be engaged in ecosystem building for the region’s youth, collegiate and adult entrepreneurial ecosystems. It employs many tools to achieve its goals, including combining ecosystem building efforts with grantmaking and knowledge sharing. Its work is grounded in the core principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The foundation has also been a key driver of youth entrepreneurship education regionally and nationally and believes that building the entrepreneurial mindset early in life builds confidence, flexibility, resilience and team mindedness. It also funds most of the higher education institutions in Northeast Ohio as they pursue support of student and faculty entrepreneurs.

But Hoover couldn’t have accomplished all the organization has on her own. Morgan recognized that the resources he earned through sweat and bold action could help others achieve their dreams. The board and staff are committed to his vision of a robust entrepreneurial community in Northeast Ohio. And most important, she praises the organization’s strategic partners for sharing the foundation’s vision, experimenting, pivoting, spreading the lessons learned, being inclusive and navigating with good humor.

Hoover says that while the work the foundation is tackling is exciting and fun, the roadmaps are few and the days are often long and challenging. She and her staff have persevered, changed course as necessary, tried again, sometimes failed, but often succeeded. As the leader of Morgan Foundation, she has done her best to draw upon a strategic mindset but also to lead with empathy and compassion, especially critical during the pandemic.

As she takes the next step in her career, she remains committed to the power of entrepreneurship to transform lives, help people see the possible, change the trajectory of regional economies and solve vexing problems, and looks forward to continuing her service to Northeast Ohio as a dedicated ecosystem builder and entrepreneurship supporter. ●

 

Nonprofit Executive Directors of the Year

Angela Ianiro
Executive director, Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation

From a young age, Angela Ianiro was attracted to nonprofit organizations and philanthropy. After graduating from John Carroll University, she worked in the university’s development office raising money and organizing charitable events.

That positioned her to start an events business, while focusing on charitable causes. She was approached by a small group of influential business leaders hoping to grow their new organization, the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation, focused on preserving Italian heritage for future generations while making significant contributions to local charities.

For Ianiro, it was a perfect fit. Since starting in 2006 as part-time executive director, she has helped grow membership from fewer than 100 to more than 225, including some of the area’s most respected and influential business leaders with Italian lineage. This growth has enabled the foundation to enrich its endowment to $5 million to charities that support education, community activities, religion and Italian heritage.

She started reshaping the organization by securing its 501(c)3 status and restructuring it with new governance, a robust board of trustees and four active committees. Membership continues to grow at 10 percent each year, while Ianiro maintains part-time status. She believes a large part of Italian heritage is giving back the community, and philanthropy plays prominently in everything the organization does.

Ianiro maintains the foundation’s office in Little Italy in a repurposed schoolhouse occupied by artists and architects. In a few short years, she has led the charge to establishing NOIA as one of the nation’s pre-eminent conservators of Italian heritage and philanthropy. ●

 

Diane Downing
Executive director, Say Yes Cleveland

In recent decades, when Cleveland’s leaders were faced with major civic projects that were complicated and challenging, but which had to be done well, they have turned to Diane Downing. Whether it was overseeing the constriction of Browns Stadium or the management of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Downing has always come through with success.

When Say Yes Cleveland was launched in 2019, she was chosen to lead this immensely complex initiative. Say Yes Cleveland is a 25-year initiative built to improve Cleveland’s economy, neighborhoods and workforce over the coming generations by bringing together, mobilizing and targeting community resources to do two things — address postsecondary affordability by a tuition scholarship available to every eligible CMSD or partner charter school graduate to attend a public four-year or two-year institution or accredited training program, and to help students overcome the challenges associated with multigenerational poverty that leave no room for setbacks and hinder postsecondary pursuit or performance.

The organization provides students with support services to help overcome barriers and stay on track for success. This year, services are available in 69 CMSD and partner charter schools and will be offered in all CMSD and partner charter schools by 2023. Services include after-school programming, legal services, mental health services and a family support specialist in each school to connect students and families to assistance. It also provides scholarships covering the cost of college or postsecondary tuition, after federal and state grants, to every eligible graduate of CMSD or a partner charter high school for the next 25 years. ●

 

Linda Uveges
CEO, The City Mission

Linda Uveges, CEO of The City Mission, is a Cleveland native who exhibits an unwavering support and affection for the city, wishing for all who live here to flourish. She began at The City Mission as a volunteer 17 years ago and became a staff member in 2005. Since then, she has served in various roles, including security, food service, program management, COO and, since April 2021, as CEO.

Uveges is the first woman to hold this position in The City Mission’s 110-year history and is highly sought after as a voice of authority on issues relating to homelessness in Cleveland. During her time at The City Mission, she has positively impacted residents, staff, board members and community leaders. Because of her experience in various roles, she understands the joys, struggles, barriers and triumphs of both residents and staff.

Since stepping into her new role, Uveges has worked tirelessly to create a strong and uplifting workplace culture, caring for staff and empowering them as they work to continue offering comprehensive services to residents at The City Mission. Her management techniques stem from her determination to be open, honest and transparent, a goal supported by initiatives that promote accessibility and openness among all staff at The City Mission.

Uveges has made herself available for group and one-on-one conversations with staff and remains dedicated to carving out time to ensure that everyone is heard and cared for. Every month, she hosts “Lunch with Linda,” to make herself available to answer questions and further develop relationships. ●

 

August A. Napoli
President and CEO, United Way of Greater Cleveland

Over the last five years, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s President and CEO August “Augie” Napoli, has conceived of and successfully led the organization through an unprecedented transformation. In 2016, United Way’s Board of Directors tapped this progressive philanthropic executive to be the leader and change agent that would set the organization on a new course as a stronger organization prepared to better meet the needs of a region profoundly affected by systemic poverty.

With a 100-year history, United Way possessed a singularly unique perspective on poverty through its work with hundreds of social service agencies, government officials and corporations across the community. But after careful analysis in the first six months of his tenure, Napoli knew that to continue to disrupt the cycle of poverty most effectively, United Way essentially had to change every aspect of its business model, diversifying its fundraising streams and, conversely, shifting how it invested the dollars entrusted to it by thousands of donors.

He believes that in a community where unemployment remains stubbornly high, where four in every 10 residents live in poverty, where childhood poverty in Cleveland ranks worst in the nation’s top 50 cities, it is not enough to be the bricklayer — it must also be the architect.

Through his visionary and energetic leadership, United Way of Greater Cleveland has transformed itself from simply a funding organization to one that is leading the effort against poverty as a collaborator, an advocate, a convener and an investor. ●

 

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award

Paul Hanna
Owner and president, Blue Technologies, Inc.

Blue Technologies, Inc. finds that giving back to the local community is a mutually beneficial effort, improving the well-being of others while rewarding the spirit of its workforce. It subscribes to the philosophy that to give is just as, if not more, enjoyable as it is to receive.

That conviction motivates Blue Technologies employees to contribute their time and resources to the community. Led by Owner and President Paul Hanna, every year, Blue donates more than $200,000 to charities in Northeast Ohio with the intention that its contributions will have a positive impact on the communities in which its people work and live. Nonprofits dedicated to aiding children in need are of particular focus for Blue Technologies’ philanthropic work, for they are our next generation of leaders.

Blue Technologies operates under its core philosophy, “Commitment to Excellence – EVERY DAY.” It puts this pledge in writing to its customers to guarantee complete satisfaction; however, this corporate value is carried through its employees’ everyday lives, including its philanthropic efforts. The entire staff, from ownership down, embraces a feeling of gratitude for what they have and the opportunities Blue Technologies lets them take advantage of. Its corporate mission is committed to excellence internally and externally — aiming to make a difference in the lives of others and spread good fortune.

Within the organization, Hanna has prioritized a “Commitment to Community Service” as one of Blue Technologies’ seven internal core values upon the very founding of the company in 1995. His dedication to giving back to his community — particularly in working with nonprofit organizations — hasn’t wavered in the past 20 years. He sets the example for what it means to show gratitude for one’s blessings by sharing generously with others, and he is happy to give from behind the scenes.

As Blue’s success increases, so does its giving back. Hanna pushes the team to do more, to give more, every year, striving to have each event raise more donations in gifts and dollars each year. And he doesn’t just write a check and encourage his team to participate. For example, in his support of OhioGuidestone — a foster care and family services organization that offers community-based services including mental health and residential care — he attends every gala, Christmas party and Golf Club & Classic. He’s the first one to raise his hand and get the bidding going during the Classic’s live auction, and he emphatically raises both hands when it comes to auctioning off sponsorships and encouraging the crowd to step up to the plate.

Blue Technologies also works closely with Our Lady of the Wayside and Hattie Larlham, both of which are dedicated to serving children and adults with developmental disabilities.