On behalf of everyone at Medical Mutual and our co-founding partner, Smart Business, we welcome you to the 12th annual Pillar Award for Community Service.
The Pillar Awards recognize companies whose employees have gone above and beyond to invest their time and resources in supporting our community.
Last year at this time, no one thought a global pandemic would alter the world as it has. Medical Mutual, like you, had to react and adapt quickly. And like this year’s award winners, in the face of unprecedented turmoil and change, we held fast to the belief that we have a responsibility to support our neighbors in need throughout Ohio.
We are proud of the ways our company and our employees have dedicated resources to provide relief through the pandemic, but it is truly an honor to be in the company of such outstanding organizations that exemplified community commitment — organizations that gave back in remarkable ways through charitable giving, volunteering, pro bono support and more. We are pleased to join Smart Business in honoring the exceptional contributions these businesses have made, because we know that a united business community is far greater than the sum of its parts.
Clearly, this past year of unexpected change has not dampened our spirit of community. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s no challenge we, as a community, can’t overcome. We are all in this together.
On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, we congratulate all our 2021 Pillar Award recipients.
Chairman, president and CEO, Medical Mutual
Pillar Award honorees
Air Force One Inc.
Greg Guy, CEO
Although the past 12 months have been filled with many unknowns, one thing that remained a constant was Air Force One CEO Greg Guy’s commitment to positively impacting the community. The company’s many programs allow it to serve communities throughout Ohio, which proved to be especially important in the face of a pandemic when there has been a much greater need for additional support.
The Air Force One Service to Others philanthropic program was created to support activities that enhance and serve communities in which employees live and work, and address the issues that impact quality of life. The program allows employees to take up to three paid days off per year to support nonprofit community service work of their choosing. Employees have logged thousands of hours through this program, and even during the pandemic, they were urged to serve organizations that needed help.
In addition, the Air Force One Community Foundation, created in 2013, is dedicated to giving back. Each year, a predetermined percentage of profits is donated to the foundation and distributed to nonprofits across Ohio.
Guy has continuously provided community and client support outside of the organization and was able to direct support internally during the pandemic. The company created the AFO Associate Relief Fund to help employees through a difficult time by making funds available to those experiencing financial hardship. Grants were approved to pay for necessary personal and living expenses incurred due to COVID-19. ●
Rick Malir, Founder & CEO
City Barbeque has always been committed to community service — a commitment that could have faltered given the events of the past year. But rather than give up in the face of a global pandemic, the company — led by founder and CEO Rick Malir — elected to find new and innovative ways to give back.
In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, the company wanted to show its gratitude to the doctors, nurses, medical personnel and hospital staff putting themselves on the front lines, fighting around the clock to save lives. To thank them, City Barbeque implemented Healthcare Heroes. For $5, guests could help provide a sandwich and two sides to a medical worker. Funds raised were pooled to feed a whole team, unit, or shift, with catering teams bringing barbeque to hospitals.
It has also resumed its fundraiser program, which it paused in the uncertain first days of the pandemic. City Barbeque restaurant teams have thrown themselves back into the swing of fundraisers, in which 20 percent of revenue is given to a community partner. And its employee assistance fund, City Cares, was established in 2018 and is funded by the company and individual donations from the team to help employees with unforeseen hardships.
City Barbeque also raises funds each year for a number of organizations, including the Resurrecting Lives Foundation and the FFA. Its commitment to serving others could have lost momentum this year, but instead, City Barbeque has held tight to its guiding principles, supporting the communities it serves in every way possible. ●
Columbus Crew SC
Tim Bezbatchenko, President & general manager
Last spring, Haslam Sports Group founders Dee and Jimmy Haslam, on behalf of the Haslam family, pledged $1.5 million to COVID-19 relief funds throughout Ohio. Through their Haslam 3 Foundation, the Haslams earmarked funds for the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund and the Columbus Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund.
KIPP Columbus, part of a national network of free, open enrollment, college-preparatory public schools, and a long-standing partner of Columbus Crew SC, was one of many aid recipients.
In addition, the Columbus Crew SC Foundation partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting and Columbus Rec and Parks to install two new mini-pitches in the Columbus community. The project was fully funded by the Crew SC Foundation.
Columbus Crew SC — winners of the 2020 MLS championship and led by President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko — also:
- Hosted the NC4K Back to School Bash, which provided school supplies and backpacks to pediatric cancer families via a drive-through event
- Partnered with Columbia Gas to assist Columbus Recreation and Parks with beautification tasks in Schiller Park
- Hosted a Halloween drive-through event, in which participants collected candy and donated gloves and hats to the Boys and Girls Club Columbus
- Took part in a Ronald McDonald House Season Kick-Off Dinner Celebration, at which staff and players provided dinner to families at the Ronald McDonald House Columbus. The Nordecke supporters group also provided handmade blankets that were donated to the house.
- Attended youth clinics throughout Columbus ●
Goldfish Swim School- Dublin, Westerville, Lewis Center
Lisa Armitage, Owner
Every day, on average, three children drown in the U.S.
To address that risk, in 2014, Lisa Armitage and her husband, Steve, opened the first Central Ohio location of Goldfish Swim School in Dublin; locations in Westerville and Lewis Center followed. Since then, the organization has reached thousands of children and families in its facilities and thousands more through its community outreach programs.
Goldfish strives to reach as many families as possible to spread water safety awareness. During the COVID-19 shutdown, its team has provided free online resources, including water safety educational activity sheets, a video series teaching children safety, swimming tips and age-appropriate workouts, and virtual water safety information.
Goldfish Swim School provides free 30-minute water safety programs to area preschools, elementary schools, parent groups, scout troops and other community-based organizations, and has visited over 36,000 students in Central Ohio. In addition, it has expanded its water safety program to help children with disabilities, hosting swim camps in conjunction with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio.
The ownership team at Goldfish Swim School Dublin, Westerville and Lewis Center encourages staff and the families they serve to become partners in service initiatives. In November, Goldfish staff and member families collect nonperishable goods to donate to food pantries and provide Thanksgiving meal boxes for families. In December, efforts focus on the Sweet Dreams and Stories initiative, providing pajamas and books to at-risk children. ●
Andrew Meslow, CEO
Through volunteerism, leadership, product donations and direct financial support, L Brands has advanced the missions of hundreds of organizations in Central Ohio and beyond that align with its philanthropic focus areas: health and wellness, empowerment of women, nurturing and mentoring children, improving education, and diversity and inclusion.
L Brands, headed by CEO Andrew Meslow, has provided significant financial support to more than 800 nonprofits through the L Brands Foundation. And while the majority of support benefits the Central Ohio region, the company established L Brands/Mast Cares in response to the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami, and associates around the world have volunteered hours and donated money to international charitable initiatives.
Getting involved makes a difference, and the company’s associates proved this by rolling up their sleeves to help nonprofits; in 2019; associates donated more than 10,000 hours. The company makes it easy for associates to get involved through its partnership with Besa, which connects them to group volunteer opportunities that are in alignment with L Brands’ philanthropic focus areas. The company also has more than 100 business leaders who serve on nonprofit boards through its Community Connections program.
L Brands also supports the community through product donations, including hand soaps and sanitizers to first responders, health care institutions and other community partners. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has continued its long history of supporting its communities during times of crisis, and since March 2020 has made significant donations to the American Red Cross and Feeding America to aid in pandemic relief. ●
PENZONE Salons + Spas
Debbie Penzone, President & CEO
For over half a century, team members at PENZONE Salons + Spas have offered their time, talented hands and caring hearts to a multitude of philanthropic organizations in Central Ohio. During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, it recognized that the need to support the community is greater now than ever.
It got creative with its usual philanthropic efforts throughout 2020 to uphold its commitment to paying it forward. Although PENZONE Salons + Spas supports many organizations throughout Central Ohio, it is a strong advocate for causes that empower and support women and children. Annually, it supports the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Luncheon, of which President and CEO Debbie Penzone was the first chair. In addition to cash sponsorship, the company provides a booth that offers a styling station and lip bar.
- It has strong ties with the YWCA, supporting its mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. This year, its donation came at a time when the company was creating its own Diversity + Inclusion initiative.
- Each year, it supports the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure; it typically provides a Gold cash sponsorship, has a presence in the expo area and supports breast cancer survivors at Hope Village.
- PENZONE partners with Dress for Success, supporting its mission of empowering women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and life. ●
Shannon Skaggs, President
Quantum Health partners with nonprofit organizations that focus on improving the health, wellness and vibrancy of the Columbus community.
Quantum Health is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of LifeCare Alliance’s annual gala, Big Wheels, sending employees to the event to inspire them to support LifeCare Alliance’s programs — like Meals-on-Wheels — beyond the event. Quantum Health believes in the Meals-on-Wheels program so much that it purchased a delivery van to help reach more individuals.
Quantum has had a long philanthropic relationship with local and national organizations and believes so strongly in giving back that it grants team members five days off, with pay, per year to volunteer with a philanthropic organization. And if an employee wishes to participate in a nonprofit organization’s event, Quantum Health contributes $100 in support of the employee’s efforts.
In 2020, the company best exemplified employee-driven community service, philanthropy and volunteerism by continuing to encourage employees to be involved in the Central Ohio community. While many companies discontinued or paused their Meals-on-Wheels routes, Quantum continued its route. That ensured there was no disruption in services on the days that Quantum employees volunteer and allowed LifeCare Alliance to focus route recruitment efforts elsewhere.
Through employee-driven efforts, Quantum Health also donated personal care items to LifeCare Alliance’s Groceries-to-Go Pantry, which serves individuals who are low-income and living with active cancer. After donating to LifeCare Alliance before coronavirus swept Central Ohio, Quantum provided another grant to cover the increase in demand of its health and nutrition services. ●
Tom Walker, President & CEO
Rev1 Ventures is a unique investor start-up studio that helps startups scale and corporates innovate. It offers much more than funding — it provides the guidance, connections and space they need to bring their ideas to market.
Entrepreneurs working to get their startup to the next level don’t have to go it alone. A strategic partnership with Rev1 helps connect them to the talent, customers, space and funding they need, when they need it.
Led by President and CEO Tom Walker, Rev1 Ventures deploys a company-building approach to supporting and investing in startups, putting thought, energy and planning into expanding the capabilities of the founding team and helping to build a successful company from day one.
Rev1 also helps corporates engage with the startups that matter to their companies, providing:
- Exposure, analyzing more than 1,000 technologies a year and funding more than 100 companies
- Access, working together to source, connect and engage with qualified and strategically aligned early and growth stage companies
- Support, offering the knowledge and experience to identify and execute priority opportunities
- Results, helping companies meet their corporate innovation goals while building corporatewide competencies
Finally, Rev1 Ventures works with investors, positioning Columbus as the Midwest’s hub for startup growth. Its portfolio leverages its investor startup studio, giving startup companies a stronger foundation. Clients have access to corporate connections, top talent, a mentoring network, innovation space and a continuum of capital. Its companies have attracted co-investment from 26 states and nine countries. ●
Sylvia A. Garrett & Associates Agency LLC
Sylvia Garrett, President & CEO
From the inception of Sylvia A. Garrett & Associates Agency LLC, its commitment to the community has been unwavering. The agency’s social action statement has been consistent — to return a minimum of 10 percent of its profits to the community. Over the past 10 years, the company and its carrier partners have reinvested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Central Ohio community.
This commitment is evidenced in the company’s passion for positive change as it works alongside its community partners. In the last 12 months, led by President and CEO Sylvia Garrett, SAG has sponsored or contributed to:
- The graduation of Women’s Transition Class at Dress for Success, in which women who mentored with professionals for over 12 months worked to transition from economically challenged environments
- Spiceteria, an online gathering of women of taste community that supports empowering women
- The YWCA Family Shelter; with fashion designer Keama Garrett, donated over 200 protective, washable, reusable masks
- EnVision Proven Success, an organization that provides knowledge and resources that empower women to improve their quality of life
- Role Model Magazine, a media company that empowers young girls
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Columbus
- Alumnae Inc., a national service sorority
The Sylvia A. Garrett & Associates Agency is honored to have served its customers and community for over 50 years. It is committed to funding impactful nonprofits and sponsoring meaningful events that uplift and empower its Central Ohio neighbors.
It has also partnered with and contributed to a number of organizations focused on youth development, the arts, community and economic empowerment, and wellness. ●
The Pizzuti Companies
Ronald A. Pizzuti, Chairman & CEO
Ron Pizzuti, founder of The Pizzuti Companies, was recently asked, “Does Pizzuti find charity-minded people to hire, or does the company produce charity-minded people?” His answer was simple: “I think it’s both.”
The company, led in both development and philanthropy by Ron and his wife, Ann, has been a valuable partner to United Way of Central Ohio. Joel Pizzuti, now leading the company, has endorsed its culture of supporting United Way.
Its uncompromising commitment to excellence and long-standing dedication to people, purpose and design has inspired its projects and builds. It has inspired people and displayed the true spirit of community. The Pizzuti Companies has been exceptional in its creative methods of event fundraising, support of a new platform for volunteerism and implementation of an incentive for employee volunteering.
It has been a traditional partner in its United Way campaign, running a payroll deduction campaign, but has developed new and creative methods to raise funds, keeping the partnership fresh and maintaining the spirit and momentum. The company’s “Spaghetti Tower” competition pits employees against each other to build the tallest tower from spaghetti and marshmallows. “Trash Can Pong on the Roof” creates a giant replica of a pong board using garbage cans and a basketball. The organization rounds out its campaign week with a Kahoot Quiz competition, a percentage of Happy Hour at The Joseph and an online silent auction.
Last year, it. announced that employees volunteering at United Way-funded partners could earn a PTO day for every 24 hours of volunteerism. ●
K. Zulene Adams, CEO
Each quarter, the staff of Z Promotions gathers together and volunteers time to a local organization. As its values state, the company tries to be involved and give time and service to organizations to make a difference in the local and global environment. These events also allow staff to relax and build their friendship outside of the office.
Z Promotions — led by CEO K. Zulene Adams — also encourages staff to volunteer outside of work hours. Every staff member has a different passion, and the company works to learn about those passions, ways to make a difference and opportunities to support staff while they are helping. Current projects include helping sex trafficking victims, youth sports teams and cancer/leukemia survivor support. Assistance comes in the way of sponsorship, time off to volunteer and donation of items for care packages.
Each staff member is unique, and so are their passion projects. Z Promotions embraces the uniqueness and challenges the staff to be the best they can be.
Supported organizations include:
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley
- National Minority Supplier Development Council, Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council
- National Association of Women Business Owners, NAWBO Columbus
- Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce
- Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce
- American Marketing Association, AMA Columbus Chapter
- Central Ohio African American Chamber of Commerce ●
Medical Mutual Share Award
John Ammendola, President & CEO
In 2020, Grange Insurance and its associates doubled last year’s financial contributions, providing financial support to 100 nonprofits. Its multifaceted community relations program includes financial support, volunteerism, nonprofit board participation, in-kind donations and rent-free use of its event space.
Grange Insurance — led by President and CEO John Ammendola — strives to improve the social and economic vitality of the communities its employees live in and serve. As an insurance company with deep roots in Columbus, it has always had a strong commitment of giving back. It continually seeks ways to create opportunities in areas it serves because it believes that, beyond providing peace of mind and protection during life’s unexpected events, it can help build healthy and vibrant communities. It is incredibly proud that its community investment continues to grow, especially during COVID-19, as it primarily supports 501(c)(3) organizations focused on health and human services, education, arts and community enrichment programs.
Its more than 1,200 associates are crucial to the company’s philanthropic efforts, going above and beyond. Each year, they contribute financially, volunteer, serve on nonprofit boards and more. Grange honors associates’ commitment to service by offering paid volunteer time off and matching financial gifts through the Grange Insurance Gives Foundation. These efforts fuel economic prosperity, improve lives and create sustainable solutions that will continue to change lives for years to come.
During the pandemic, Grange Insurance recognized the critical need to act with fierce urgency to support nonprofit partners and the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19. As a result, in May 2020, the company announced it was contributing additional funds to local nonprofits to support health and human service response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic. These COVID-19 response grants were through the Grange Insurance Gives Foundation. Grange distributed grants to several organizations in Central Ohio: the Community Shelter Board, LifeCare Alliance, St. Stephens Community House, United Way of Central Ohio and YWCA Columbus.
In addition, it granted funds to United Way Fox Cities in support of its affiliate partner Integrity Insurance, headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin. Grange identified these organizations based on established relationships and their services to most directly address the needs created by this unprecedented crisis.
Grange Insurance Gives Foundation also donated funds to those serving on the front lines of this crisis. As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, Grange will continue to align its philanthropic resources based on emerging needs, prioritizing health and human services for those impacted the most. ●
Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
Paul do Forno
Board of directors, Catholic Social Services
When COVID-19 erupted and Gov. Mike DeWine stated that important services, such as social services, must continue because so many people’s lives depend on them, Catholic Social Services (CSS) agreed 100 percent. It took steps to ensure its 13 programs still reached the 35,000 people across 23 counties it serves. It also built a new remote infrastructure and purchased a new client database, assisted by Paul do Forno, who is an integral member of CSS’ board of directors and a member of its IT Committee.
CSS kept its programs operational by moving to a remote work environment to safely continue serving vulnerable clients and reduce staff risk. But this revealed significant inadequacies in its client database. In a time when clients’ needs were increasingly complex and heightened, the inadequacy of this database threatened quality service delivery and posed unacceptable data security risks.
While CSS created workarounds to serve clients in a remote environment, the current system was not sustainable, or at the level that clients and CSS need. To respond to new COVID-19 challenges, ensure programs were operating effectively, provide staff with the support they needed, preserve data integrity and abide by privacy laws, CSS needed to invest in a new database. Do Forno led that effort.
He has been a leader in helping CSS vet, analyze, select and implement its new data management system, volunteering over 160 hours. His participation has helped steer CSS to a new technology platform that meets the needs of end-users and keeps CSS in line with ever-changing technology and security requirements. ●
Vice chairman, A Kid Again Central Ohio
Rick Ricart, president of Ricart Automotive, became involved with A Kid Again in 2017 and volunteers about 20 hours a month. He’s also donated his company’s video production and marketing team services to the organization.
But it’s the smiles from the kids that energize him and matter the most. A Kid Again provides adventures for families with a child with a life-threatening illness, and it relies heavily on volunteers and donations. Now, as vice chairman of the board, Ricart’s infectious all-in attitude has elevated the message and reach of A Kid Again.
He jumps into every initiative, event and project, ensuring every goal is met and every child is cared for. To bring attention, Ricart led a brand awareness and public knowledge campaign, using resources from Ricart Automotive and taking his production team to King’s Island for an adventure hosted by A Kid Again. Video from the event continues to be used for a video series and social campaigns.
In 2020, Ricart Automotive hosted a family-focused drive-through fundraiser in partnership with Pepsi, where families viewed princesses, superheroes, live animals, stilt walkers, construction trucks and more from their vehicles. And in 2018, Ricart Automotive launched the Giving Tuesday Telethon to bring attention to the organization, drive donations and kick off a season of giving. That same year, Ricart won the 2018 Board Member of the Year award.
When he joined the board, 715 families were enrolled. Today, 910 families are enrolled, an impact made possible thanks to Ricart and his team’s mission of driving awareness. ●
Immediate past chair, board of trustees, St. Vincent Family Center
John Samenuk, managing director and head of Shared Services for Chase Bank, has served on the board of trustees of St. Vincent Family Center for 12 years.
Samenuk most recently led the board of trustees as chair in 2019 and currently serves as immediate past chair. His skilled leadership supported St. Vincent Family Center through significant organizational growth and change in 2019, building the foundation for agency sustainability in 2020.
Samenuk’s professional knowledge and experience in economics and business operations made him an ideal board chair as the organization embarked on an agencywide IT transformation. His understanding of the financial and functional processes needed to execute a transformation provided the direction to facilitate the infrastructure renovations, process improvements and fundraising campaign to support this critical need.
Under Samenuk’s leadership, St. Vincent Family Center raised money to fund the overhaul and implementation of IT systems and infrastructure agencywide, creating a foundation for the first electronic health records system. By 2020, it had rebuilt a modernized, functional IT system that ultimately prepared it for the pandemic.
Instead of welcoming families to its facility and visiting homes and schools, it now conducts sessions with clients on a virtual platform. This unforeseen yet vital transition to telehealth required the IT infrastructure and equipment necessary to meet the mounting health needs of the community’s most vulnerable residents. Had Samenuk not led the organization through its IT Transformation Initiative in 2019, it would have been unprepared to sustain business operations in the current climate.
Philanthropist of the Year
Joshua J. Joseph, M.D., MPH, FAHA
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism,
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Joshua Joseph, M.D., MPH, FAHA, assistant professor, endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, refuses to take sole credit for the impact he has made in exercising his passion for research and population health. Yet, wherever work to eliminate health disparities related to race and discrimination occurs, he seems to be there.
Joseph’s work is best characterized as hands-on, partnership-based volunteerism. As an investigator at OSU’s Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center, he is well published in the areas of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. His biggest impact, however, has come from combining his academic work with his hundreds of hours of public and private collaborations.
When Joseph moved back to Columbus to begin his medical practice in 2016, his focus was on the chronic health issues that disproportionately plague people of color. One of the first organizations he engaged with was the African American Male Wellness Agency.
With funding from an OSU Connect and Collaborate grant, the team, including the African American Male Wellness Agency, developed a project called Black Impact 100, which works with 100 Black men to improve their cardiovascular risk factors.
Other aspects of Joseph’s community engagement include better health care engagement with minority communities and improving minority participation in research. He is working with the OSU Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences on the Community Sciences Academy, where people learn more about research and sign up to advocate in their communities for minority participation in research, so that medications developed work for everyone, not just majority populations.
With regard to addressing social determinants of health, Joseph is a crucial member of the OSU Wexner Medical Center Population Health Steering Group. He and his team are currently building out an innovative program to more effectively connect individuals to resources to address social determinants and improve overall health. Racism and discrimination are now widely considered social determinants of health, and Joseph is committed to effectively addressing racism and discrimination in health care and medical education.
Meanwhile, he remains a mainstay at health fairs and other community events to promote the importance of lifestyle behaviors — activities that drew the attention of the Columbus Education Association and led to him receiving the group’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award for distinguished service in 2019. His contributions to medicine and population health also garnered him a National Minority Quality Forum 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health Award in 2020. ●
Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year
President & CEO, YMCA of Central Ohio
As president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Ohio, Tony Collins leads the organization to nurture the potential of kids, promote healthy living and foster a sense of social responsibility.
The YMCA of Central Ohio is a critical partner to Community Shelter Board — and the entire community — in meeting the needs of people facing homelessness in Columbus and Franklin County. Collins has embraced and grown the YMCA’s focus on social justice as a critical part of its mission as it develops programs to serve the community’s most vulnerable members with the greatest needs and highest barriers to success.
It operates shelter programs for single women, single men and families and delivers rapid rehousing programs for single adults; case managers link people to resources for employment and job training, medical care, behavioral health and housing. The YMCA also operates permanent supportive housing, apartments with health care, employment and other supports for people who have a disability and have experienced long-term or repeated homelessness.
The best example of Collins’ impact has been in his efforts around the effects of the pandemic on the most vulnerable. Within days, the YMCA brought three new facilities online to assure social distancing in shelters, a herculean effort that was critical to keeping the COCID-19 virus from spreading like wildfire in homeless shelters. This effort also included adding more beds in these new facilities to ensure that anyone who needed shelter had immediate access. ●
Executive director, Ohio Association of Foodbanks
No one is a stronger or more passionate advocate for Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens than Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. The not-for-profit organization is Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, representing Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks and 3,500 member charities, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
In FY 2020, the association and its member foodbanks acquired and distributed 270 million pounds of food and grocery items, or about 225 million meals for Ohio families. Hamler-Fugitt’s dedication and unwavering leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic has been truly remarkable. At the onset, the state’s foodbanks’ volunteer base was drastically reduced as older workers sheltered at home. In addition, many had to fully restructure their operations to provide safe, drive-through distributions to maintain social distancing.
At the same time, the demand for emergency food skyrocketed as families had nowhere else to turn, and many found themselves unemployed for the first time. Hamler-Fugitt recognized the need early, and quickly worked with foodbank members to pivot operations and support their efforts. Simultaneously, she worked with Gov. Mike DeWine to request support from the Ohio National Guard, a critical lifeline allowing foodbanks to keep their doors open.
Hamler-Fugitt has mobilized individuals and organizations around statewide campaigns and regional grassroots coalitions. She has researched, written and secured over $200 million in grants from local, state and national government sources, private foundations and religious denominations that have been used to support social welfare initiatives and anti-hunger programs. ●
President & CEO, Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD)
Under the leadership of Barbara Smoot, WELD has grown from a local organization with 170 members to a national chapter-based, award-winning 501(c)(3) organization with over 1,000 members.
When Smoot assumed leadership as the first employee and part-time executive director, WELD had roughly 1,200 people attending its programs each year, with no ability to provide scholarships to those who couldn’t afford registration fees. She was promoted to president and CEO, and WELD now has over 5,000 individuals attending its programs each year, and the national headquarters sends over 60 women on scholarship to the national leadership conference each year, in addition to scholarships provided to local chapter programs.
Smooth has built WELD into a highly diverse organization that infuses multiple elements of diversity, from the national board of directors on down to the volunteer base and guest speakers. In 2019, WELD was selected as the Columbus Business First Outstanding Diversity Organization (Micro Category). Under Smoot’s leadership, WELD launched 2020 national forums on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day and Latina Equal Pay Day and has built a coveted volunteer base.
Smoot is gracious with her connections and advocates fiercely for the advancement of women and women of color. She and WELD have created a robust series of programs designed to increase the gender and ethnic diversity on for-profit boards and government boards and commissions. The government boards and commissions program provides certification and graduates a diverse group in each cohort. ●
Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
Stephen Markovich, M.D.
President and CEO, Ohio Health
In early March, OhioHealth associates received a message from President and CEO Dr. Stephen Markovich, informing them of the severity of COVID-19 and what it not only meant for the health care system but what it meant for them as a community.
In times of crisis, communities count on OhioHealth, and the organization found itself on the front lines of the pandemic. While trying to reduce the spread and protect its patients, associates, physicians and volunteers, OhioHealth’s priority remained the safety of OhioHealth associates and the community. It continued to keep in the forefront of its thinking that COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint, and began looking at how it could help its communities during these unprecedented times.
When thinking about a collaborative effort that could truly make a difference, OhioHealth decided to partner with three other Central Ohio health care systems to collect personal protective equipment and medical supplies for the benefit of all Central Ohioans. The goal was to work together to provide a safe, convenient way to donate needed medical supplies at multiple locations, while maintaining CDC guidelines.
OhioHealth opened a supply donation warehouse specifically for PPE donations, provided oversight to coordinate donation deliveries and pickups, and added locations. To encourage donations from the community, Karen Morrison, president, OhioHealth Foundation and senior vice president, external affairs, corresponded with OhioHealth’s community partners to engage large organizations in Central Ohio to participate in collecting critical PPE for health systems and the community.
OhioHealth received a great response, which led to creating a unique supply donation email address where community members and local organizations could have easy and direct contact with OhioHealth regarding donation drop-off. Through this collaborative effort, the organization collected over 1.1 million donated items of critically needed PPE, such as face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and more, and nearly 90 percent of the donated items were able to be used to help protect frontline health care workers. In June, OhioHealth reached out to community partners to provide them with supplies donated to area hospitals in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic but that it was unable to use for its health system.
OhioHealth also worked with the YMCA and Dedicated Senior Medical Centers, a partnership between OhioHealth and ChenMed, to distribute over 4,000 OhioHealth COVID Care Packages, including hand sanitizers, masks and gloves, to families and seniors in need. OhioHealth volunteered to hand out the care packages during the YMCA produce distribution program, in partnership with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.
Ohio Health strives to always be an unwavering ally and provide as much support as it can offer. ●