2021 Pillar Award for Community Service – Greater Cincinnati

On behalf of everyone at Medical Mutual and our co-founding partner, Smart Business, we welcome you to the 11th 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. ●

Rick Chiricosta
Chairman, president and CEO, Medical Mutual


Pillar Award Honorees


Rob Cybulski, CEO
Finit recognizes the importance of supporting its local communities during the COVID-19 crisis. In keeping with its philosophy of helping others, Finit is fully supporting its Finit Advocacy and Matching Gift donations. When many companies have suspended these programs, Finit has committed to continuing these programs throughout 2020.
Finit solicits suggestions from its staff to find organizations to make charitable donations to. It hopes to make more of an impact directing corporate giving to organizations that impact and/or resonate with employees.
In addition, it supports organizations through:

  • A matching gift program. The Finit Matching Gift Program provides an opportunity for Finit to support employees in their commitment to charity. Finit matches up to $500 per year, per employee, and will match monetary donations to any charitable organization with a Department of Treasury 501(c)3 public charity status.
  • Prizes and employee events. The company encourages opportunities for employees to compete, including a “Finit Feud” game and a Fall Decorating Contest. All prizes are awarded as a donation to the charity of their choice.
  • Finit volunteerism. Each year, Finit offers employees an opportunity to donate “sweat equity” to organizations that impact their lives in meaningful ways. Employees donate their time both individually and through corporate volunteerism programs.
  • Adopt A Class. Cincinnati Adopt A Class facilitates personal, sustained connections between those in the business community and students from pre-K through eighth grade. Adopters from local businesses and community groups work in local schools, mentoring students to improve academics, build relationships, and elevate social skills. ●


Journey Steel, Inc.
Barb Smith, President
Founded in 2009, Journey Steel is one of the few certified minority- and women-owned steel fabrication and erection companies in the nation. With more than 60 years’ combined experience in the construction industry, founders Barb Smith and Tom Garten understand the need to support and provide resources to both diversify and bring youth to the skilled trades.
The company’s corporate responsibility is to “Build and Support Dreams,” and in 2016, it founded Soaring Impact. Partnering with the Boys and Girls Club, the goal is to provide a career path for inner-city youth across Cincinnati as a means to support themselves and their families. The program provides courses including ironworking, blueprint reading, soft skills and personal finance, with the goal of giving students the ability to have a viable career, earn good salaries, improve the community and build strong business roots.
Journey Steel engages upcoming high school seniors in a full-time summer program, which transitions into a two-day employment week during the school year, supporting students’ needs year round, ensuring they graduate from high school and affording them the opportunity to enter the workforce and begin their career to success.
As a result, Local 44 Ironworks has benefited from Soaring Impact. It has helped bring young, diverse apprentices into a union hall that previously had a small percentage of diversity and an average apprentice age of 28.
Students who graduate from the program gain a career path of their choice, with the support of Journey Steel for life. The company is committed to investing in Soaring Impact for years to come. ●

KDM POP Solutions Group
Bob Kissel, CEO
KDM POP Solutions Group is a second-generation, family owned, privately held company headquartered in Cincinnati with almost 250 team members nationwide.
Providing outstanding service to customers, employees and the community is a core value for KDM. Its service efforts are employee-led and supported from the top down. KDM has a strong history of exceptional corporate citizenship and a culture of giving. Its leadership believes in taking care of the team internally, so they are empowered to serve others externally.
KDM has supported the local community by hosting events and fundraisers, volunteering and through financial contributions.
Projects include:

  • DePaul Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program, which makes high-quality, college prep education possible for students with economic need. Through the Corporate Work Study Program, all students contribute to the cost of their education by working five full days each month.
  • Adopt A Class Foundation, which supports a group mentoring program that connects businesses with students, inspiring a corporate culture of teamwork, hope and a future vision of what is possible. KDM employees visited a class of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Parker Woods Montessori school during the 2019-2020 school year for one hour each month. Today, KDM is in conversation with Adopt A Class about sponsoring a classroom for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Three Make-A-Wish fundraisers in 2019, to support the annual Once in a Lifetime Gala.
  • KDM employees provided Christmas gifts to 15 families in the Princeton School District. In 2020, they held a Thanksgiving clothing and food drive. ●


Mesa Industries, Inc.
Tim Nymberg, CEO
Mesa Industries Inc. is a small, family-owned manufacturing company and WBENC and WOSB certified woman-owned business based in Cincinnati, with about 40 local employees.
Mesa has a long history of community service and involvement. In recent years, the company and its employees have served at and donated to St. Joseph Orphanage, Ronald McDonald House, the Cincinnati Zoo, Project Frontlines and Circle Tail. In addition, they organized a neighborhood litter cleanup, hosted a manufacturing day for students and provided tours for Cub Scouts.
This year, the pandemic has made it difficult to find ways to give back. Organizations are not accepting volunteers and some were shut down. Employees are subject to health and safety rules, with some working remotely, and it’s been a challenging year financially. As a result, much of the company’s effort was focused on its employees and their families, supporting them through remote work, medical concerns, and school and daycare crises.
However, Mesa still found ways to reach out. It organized a pandemic-friendly project to provide Ronald McDonald House with 100 takeaway bags for residents. Employees divided into teams to complete four mini-projects. One bought supplies, two decorated bags and filled them with food, and one delivered the bags. Employees were excited to meet this need, allowing residents to focus on their children’s medical needs.
In addition, even though Mesa employees can’t visit St. Joseph Orphanage in person this year, it took up a collection for donations to help kids who may not otherwise receive a holiday gift. ●

Phillips Edison & Co.
Bob Myers, COO
Phillips Edison & Co., an internally managed REIT, is one of the nation’s largest owners and operators of grocery-anchored shopping centers. Through its vertically integrated operating platform, it manages a portfolio of 309 properties, including 283 wholly owned properties comprising approximately 31.7 million square feet across 31 states.
While Phillips Edison owns and operates real estate, it is more than a real estate company; it is part of a community. Every property it owns and/or operates is in a neighborhood. Its centers don’t just provide goods and services to that community — they are an integral part of it. Its team has long embraced its place in the communities in which they live and work, and acted upon their obligations to be good corporate citizens.
The company strives to be locally smart, understanding and responding to the needs of each neighborhood, spends time volunteering as a group and individually, and is always looking for new ways to create a positive impact. One way it does this is through PECO Community Partnership, an associate-led initiative dedicated to encouraging community involvement and connecting associates to causes important to them.
The committee focuses on two main objectives: planning and executing a series of quarterly volunteer events and fulfilling donation requests submitted by individual associates. Both these objectives provide associates at every level and in different locations with an opportunity to participate.
In 2019, its team donated over 744 hours of community service time, participating in 20 community volunteer and fundraising events across the United States. ●

Alli Stevens, CEO
Powernet and its employees place community service at the forefront of everything they do. When they bring a new product to market, they ask how they can use it to make a real difference in the community.
This has been Powernet’s philosophy year after year, driving its involvement in the community. It contributes high-end technology, such as tablets and Wi-Fi, to low-income communities and to nonprofit groups working to create better outcomes for members of the community who are less fortunate than others. The company’s goal is to erase the digital divide by giving community members an opportunity to experience what their peers take for granted as everyday commodities. Its philosophy isn’t just to give back to organizations and communities but to make an impact that will be felt for many years to come.
Wi-Fi donations give citizens living in low-income communities the ability to access the internet to apply for jobs, pay bills and do schoolwork. This has helped many residents with day-to-day tasks and will continue to do so as Powernet has completed expansions to the Wi-Fi network over the past year, allowing it to provide hundreds more families with free Wi-Fi. And when its products can’t make a difference, it uses financial donations to deliver valuable support to both community and national organizations that drive change in the areas they serve.
Through community service, Powernet gains an identity that is representative of its core values that play an integral part in its daily activities. ●

Total Quality Logistics
Corey Drushal, CEO
The leadership at Total Quality Logistics is most proud of the company’s ability to get behind employees’ giving efforts in unique ways that complement the culture. For example, it has a unique partnership with one of its longest-standing nonprofit partners, Big Brothers Big Sisters. TQL pays for employee outings with “littles” up to $50 per month, and it created a matching grant to the organization over three years. However, due to the pandemic and its impact on fundraising, TQL released all of the funds to the organization to ensure continuity of service to the children it aids.
In addition, TQL Cares has an employee-driven community service and charitable giving initiative to further teamwork outside the office and make a positive impact on communities where employees live and work. Last year, TQL Cares donated to more than 2,800 charities through its employee choice giving program, volunteer-based giving, team-matching grants and sponsorships.
The company, led by CEO Corey Drushal, empowers employees to become community leaders by supporting the causes they are passionate about, resulting in more dollars, time and resources being invested back into those who need it. This resulted in 81 percent of employees participating in giving back to the community in 2020.
In addition, the company provides a 50 percent match of employees’ donations to a 501(c)3 nonprofit of their choice, with a cap of $500 per employee per year, and donates $10 an hour for every hour TQL employees volunteer with a nonprofit. ●

Towne Properties
Neil Bortz, Partner
Since 1961, Towne Properties has created “Great Places to Live, Work, Shop, and Play®.” In addition to notable achievements and awards in the property management and development industry, Partner and Founder Neil Bortz is consistently recognized for his efforts to create better communities, not just in building value through quality housing, retail and recreational spaces but in partnering with and supporting organizations that bring positive impact to the communities Towne Properties is located in.
Bortz has encouraged a spirit of giving, including working with ArtsWave, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, A Kid Again and Adopt A Class. Towne Properties associates pledge personal donations and give their time for activities with local schoolchildren.
The company also works closely with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising funds for the annual Light the Night Walk. As the top corporate fundraiser nearly every year for more than a decade, it is proud that nearly all funds raised come from the direct efforts of associates through bake sales, penny wars, raffles, selling homemade lunch buffet items, carnivals and a Silent Disco.
The company also works with the GCNKAA Outreach program. Its local Apartment Association Outreach program supplies apartment residents with backpacks stuffed with school supplies, emergency rent assistance and college scholarships. Funds are raised through various events, with the largest being the Night Out for Outreach. Towne Properties actively participates in this annual event and provides numerous volunteers to help with events, stuff backpacks and deliver hot lunches during the summer. ●

Turner Construction Co.
David Spaulding, Vice President & General Manager
Community engagement and corporate citizenship are essential components of the work Turner Construction Co. does throughout the year. With David Spaulding as vice president and general manager, Turner Construction provides and promotes opportunities for employees to get involved with organizations that ignite their passions.
From fundraising events and sponsorships to hands-on volunteerism, the company touches many Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky nonprofits. In addition to the ongoing outreach and service, Turner invests in the community with two designated days each year for all employees to participate in a community-wide volunteer blitz — Paint the Town Blue in December, and Founder’s Day in May, which celebrates Founder Henry C. Turner whose mission was to be known as a community builder. This year was especially challenging due to COVID-19, and Turner responded in a variety of ways to support in the relief effort across the region, including donations of Personal Protective Equipment to health care workers who sacrifice so much to combat the virus.
Turner has focused heavily on taking a stand against racism and hate. Among actions such as required anti-racism training, hiring two equity and inclusion directors and conducting an equity audit of the entire organization, it has empowered employees to donate to select social justice nonprofit organizations through its internal Give Back site, committing to match donations up to $500 per contributor.
Turner has also updated its subcontractor contract language to prohibit bias-motivated or discriminatory behavior on its project sites as part of its continued effort to maintain safe, inclusive and welcoming environments on its job sites and in its offices. ●

Zumbiel Packaging
Thomas Zumbiel, Owner
Paper and packaging companies around the globe are taking a stand against COVID-19. Together, they are producing and donating sorely needed face shields to equip first responders and medical personnel. And they are doing it in a creative way.
FiberShield.org, founded by Ed Zumbiel, president of Zumbiel Packaging, based in Hebron, Kentucky, and Andreas Keller, principal and managing director of Pawi, based in Switzerland, is an international coalition tackling the virus through paper and philanthropy. It started with a conference call on an unrelated matter, when they saw the need to address the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment in terms of face shields.
Both were working individually on the problem and decided to join forces. Zumbiel had seen a story about people making 3D printed shields and turning out 5,000 a day. He thought they could make something functional, and faster — several thousand an hour. And by adding the production capacity of Zumbiel and Pawi to 50 or so additional packaging companies, they knew the industry could make a huge dent in the PPE shortage.
They created FiberShield.org to enlist their fellow industry brethren in producing shields and getting PPE widely distributed throughout the world. Zumbiel and Pawi donated the technical specs for their companies’ face shield designs on the website. They are offering their patent-pending designs royalty free through 2020 to any company willing to donate the first 100,000 single-use shields they produce to medical professionals and first responders, with a goal of getting at least 10 million face shields quickly donated. ●

Medical Mutual Share Award


Health Carousel
Bill DeVille, CEO
In 2020, the higher purpose of Health Carousel — to improve lives and make health care work better — has been seen and felt more than ever, both in the work its employees do every day staffing health care professionals when and where they are needed most, and in its philanthropic work to support its communities.
Health Carousel’s #HCGivesBack program encompasses four main areas of giving back: philanthropy, diversity and inclusion, employee well-being and recognition. The company understands its responsibility to ensure its operating practices, as well as initiatives, are ethical, legal, profitable and make it a good corporate citizen through contributing resources to local and global communities.
Its approach to philanthropy and charitable giving is as unique as its employees, who are passionate about giving back in the communities in which they live, work and play. Health Carousel’s leaders and employees infuse the organization’s values of teamwork, integrity, excellence and service into support for communities through:

  • Charitable giving.
  • Corporate sponsorships.
  • In-kind donations.
  • Employee volunteerism.
  • Board service.
  • Sustainability.

In the era of COVID-19, the company has embraced the digital universe, and its team has curated impactful virtual experiences for employees. This year, it committed to increasing its ability to give back to its communities. It made it easier for employees and community members to give back when, where and how they are able to.
This spring, it introduced its investment in POINT, a mobile app for volunteering and donations. Health Carousel’s decision to provide the POINT app to every employee and its communities allows it to apply the concept of its digital vision to its social impact strategy to provide employees with the best digital resources and have an even bigger impact on communities.
Through the app, employees personalize their HCGivesBack experience by finding causes, organizations and events they care about. They can also donate, create custom events and so much more.
In 2020, Health Carousel leaders and employees have:

  • Participated in 28 nonprofit events.
  • Worked with 32 nonprofit partners across the U.S.
  • Completed 650-plus community service hours.

Health Carousel’s initiatives embody its higher purpose to improve lives and make health care work better. But its employees also drive its impact, and the causes they are passionate about reflect their diverse backgrounds and experiences. In 2020, employees and leaders virtually shared education, spread awareness, donated money and supplies, made masks, donated blood, read, painted, walked and golfed in the name of philanthropy. ●

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Awards


Sandra “Sandy” Hughes
Board Secretary for Social Venture Partners International, and Past board chair for SVP Cincinnati
Sandra “Sandy” Hughes’ philosophy of philanthropy is giving of her time, talents and treasure to the benefit of the Greater Cincinnati community. This philosophy fits perfectly with the mission of Social Venture Partners (SVP), Cincinnati’s home for engaged philanthropists.
Hughes has held various leadership roles within SVP Cincinnati since 2011, including board chair, pro-temp executive director, and board secretary. Together with her SVP colleagues, she partners with nonprofit organizations on the frontlines, increasing their capacity and sustainability to do more for the communities they serve. This means working on the system to improve it with help from those working in the system. For example, she and SVP-C partner with MORTAR (entrepreneurship hub for people of color) and Women Helping Women (preventing gender-based violence and empowering survivors) to strengthen their capacity for expansion of services in Greater Cincinnati.
Each year, after a rigorous application process, 25 nonprofits are coached by SVP partners like Hughes to pitch their organization and compete for judged prizes in a public showcase. Nonprofits can use the skills and connections they gain for significant fundraising and social media exposure, multiplying the benefit of the event.
As an engaged philanthropist, Hughes believes the organization cannot simply move money. Instead, it must use its influence and resources to change philanthropy and unlock the region’s shared future potential. Hughes bridges her international and local SVP roles to bring best practices to the Greater Cincinnati community, and vice versa. ●

Dave Wallace
Immediate Past Board Chairperson, PreventionFIRST!
Dave Wallace served as PreventionFIRST! Board of Trustees chair for FY19 and FY20.
As past board chair, he now serves on the FY21 Executive Committee of the substance prevention organization, the mission of which is to promote healthy behaviors by sparking and sustaining community change. He is also a member of the FY21 Development Committee. As a professional, Wallace is a staff attorney with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Court, where he has served for over 30 years.
An effective board chair understands the organization, knows the role of a chair, manages the board structure, manages meetings well and maintains a productive relationship with the CEO. Wallace does all of this and more. He truly wants to make his home community of Madeira and the Greater Cincinnati region a better place to live. He embodies the concept of community servant.
He arrived at the organization with a rich history of volunteering and knowledge of board governance. Wallace forward thinks about what needs to be accomplished in meetings and the future direction of the organization.
He suggested that PreventionFIRST! apply for a PPP loan when the uncertainty of COVID-19 impacted it and its potential future funding. Board members look up to Wallace to learn about the basic responsibilities of a nonprofit board and what their role is as a member. PreventionFIRST! has had its share of situations that needed true leadership, and he has never backed down, carrying situations to resolution, even when they were uncomfortable. ●

Rhonda Whitaker Hurtt
Board Executive, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Rhonda Whitaker Hurtt has served on the board of directors of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce for more than 15 years. During her time as board chair for the 2017-18 fiscal year, she spearheaded the launch of GROW NKY, a comprehensive workforce development and talent strategy program. She initially led the initiative for the chamber with key workforce partners and continues to serve on the steering committee as the immediate past chair.
In her professional life, she is vice president of community relations and economic development for Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky, where she oversees economic development efforts and leads a team that engages with local government officials and community leaders on matters related to Duke Energy and its customers and communities.
Hurtt is extremely active in community and business organizations, currently serving on the boards of directors of ArtsWave, REDI Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. (Tri-ED), Northern Kentucky Education Council and the Catalytic Funding Corp. of Northern Kentucky. She is a member of the Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and previously served on the board of directors of the Tri-ED Foundation, including a term as chair; Covington Business Council; and Covington Business Council Foundation, including a term as chair.
She has been active with United Way regional fundraising campaigns in Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Middletown, Ohio, and chaired the Northern Kentucky campaign in 2011. ●

Philanthropist of the Year


Carri Chandler
Vice President, St. Elizabeth Foundation, St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Carri Chandler is vice president of the St. Elizabeth Foundation, where she leads a team of staff and volunteers dedicated to inspiring and connecting its generous community with St. Elizabeth programs and projects improving the health of family, friends and neighbors.
The St. Elizabeth Foundation builds a path between the people of the community and the care they depend on. The organization was founded on strong community principles, with grass-roots values that haven’t changes to this day.
Chandler brings to her role at St. Elizabeth Foundation more than 18 years of external affairs experience from Toyota’s Engineering & Manufacturing headquarters, responsible for regional and national initiatives in media, government and community relations for Toyota’s 14 North American manufacturing plants. Most notably, she concluded Toyota’s operations on a high note with visioning for Ignite Institute, a regional STEAM Academy now educating 1,000 students, focusing on team-building and problem-solving strategies.
Chandler’s first assignment was to rebuild the team and re-energize the volunteer base to raise funds for the St. Elizabeth Cancer Center, the most ambitious goal in the foundation’s 30-year history. She was a member of the Business Courier’s 2003 class of Forty Under 40, is a graduate of Leadership Northern Kentucky, past chair of the Class of 2006, and was honored by the organization as a “Leaders of Distinction” in 2014. She is a Leadership Kentucky graduate and was honored by Northern Kentucky Young Professionals with the Legend award.
She serves on several boards, including Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kids Voting, ArtsWave, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Foundation and Leadership Kentucky. Additionally, Chandler chaired the United Way Northern Kentucky cabinet for the 100th anniversary campaign and serves on the health care campaign cabinet.
Since 1999, she has served on the board of Kids Voting Northern Kentucky, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to generating interest in the voting process to increase turnout. She co-chaired the 2020 ArtsWave Northern Kentucky campaign and now serves on the ArtsWave board. Following seven years on the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Ambassador Council and twice chair of the council’s wildly popular “ZooLaLa” event, she now serves on the zoo’s foundation board.
Chandler, a native of Elkhart, Ind., received a bachelor’s degree in journalism/public relations from Ball State University in 1992. She studied Political Science in Vienna, Austria. ●

Nonprofit Executive Directors of the Year


John Banchy
President & CEO, The Children’s Home Cincinnati
In 2015, President and CEO John Banchy took the helm of The Children’s Home Cincinnati, the city’s most prolific nonprofit serving children and families. Since then, he has fostered a workplace climate that is people-first, mission-always oriented, and the results speak for themselves. The organization’s employee turnover rate has steadily declined, leading to a rise in revenue and an increase in the number of vulnerable and at-risk children and families it serves, more than doubling that number.
The community impact that these numbers represent is measured in lives changed and, in some cases, saved. In fiscal year 2020, it provided over 178,000 hours of services to at-risk children and families in the Greater Cincinnati community. The agency has provided care to children in 435 schools in the tri-state region and in 154 community locations.
Under Banchy’s guidance, the agency has dedicated a new, state-of-the-art campus to autism and preschool services, more than tripling the number of families who need these critical community resources that it’s able to serve. Other community impacts led by Banchy include deployment of LENA (Language Environment Analysis), technology designed to combat the “word gap” that is prevalent among developing toddlers in underserved and disadvantaged communities.
The agency also developed a Family Visitation Center that families can use when the court system has intervened for the welfare of the child. And in September, Banchy led the merger of Cincinnati Arts and Technology Studios, allowing hundreds of at-risk, high school-aged children to continue exploring rewarding careers via art and technology. ●

Alida Hart
President & CEO, IPM Food Pantry
Since becoming president and CEO of Interparish Ministry (IPM) in 2019, Alida Hart has brought strong leadership and consistency to the team. After retiring from a job at a Fortune 300 company, she immediately began to positively impact IPM with her professionalism.
Initially, her team was understaffed as the result of significant turnover. She recruited a strong, stable team of qualified individuals and began to improve upon efficiency of processes and stewardship to the community.
With a goal of increasing community awareness of IPM’s mission, Hart worked to improve the consistency of messaging and strengthen IPM’s brand. Additionally, she recognized a need in IPM’s service area to increase food access points and strengthen collaboration with other agencies, with the goal of building food security for families in need.
She connects regularly with community members and other organizations to develop new and innovative ways of distributing food to families in need throughout the eastern Cincinnati area. Hart constantly works with other nonprofits to share best practices and ensure community need is adequately addressed.
She is a champion of communication; she discovers and creates innovative ways to coordinate with IPM’s board of trustees, staff members and the local community, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. Her communication skills also support IPM as she coordinates with community groups to develop innovative ways for these organizations to become more involved with the organization through charitable giving and volunteerism. ●

Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens
President & CEO, Interact for Health
For more than 20 years, Interact for Health has been investing in grants, research, policy, education and engagement to improve health in Greater Cincinnati.
When he took over as president and CEO in 2016, Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens led the board and staff through a strategic planning process to determine how Interact for Health could have the most impact on improving the community’s health. The result was a plan that focused on reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and providing access to care via school-based health centers, with each having benchmarks set for the five-year life of the strategic plan.
Owens realized, however, that measuring progress only at the end of the plan could lead to lost time and wasted investments. Thus, he reconfigured the staff into multidisciplinary teams. Grant-making and evaluation staff work hand in hand so that goals and objectives are constantly reviewed and assessed.
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacted Interact Health’s grantees, so Owens led staff in pivoting in response to evolving health needs. He is a frequent speaker to community groups about COVID-19 and its impact on Greater Cincinnati, and Interact for Health further supported the pandemic response with funding for emergency dental care in Cincinnati and windowed face masks to organizations serving people with hearing loss.
Interact for Health used its brand and its unique position in the community to provide health education about the pandemic on issues such as masks, hand washing and social distancing. Owens also ensured that the organization stayed true to its strategic plan. ●

COVID-19 Regional Response Award


Jill Miller
President, Bethesda Inc., creator of bi3
This spring, the Greater Cincinnati region, along with the nation and world, confronted a severe public health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus. The pandemic forced community-wide shutdowns, creating an extreme economic crisis.
Recognizing that the most vulnerable members of the community — already facing health and economic disparities — would be disproportionately affected by the global pandemic, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) and United Way of Greater Cincinnati activated an unprecedented, cross-sector regional response to address critical community needs.
The newly created COVID-19 Regional Response Fund sought to leverage trusted partnerships and gain broad community engagement to provide timely support to local and regional nonprofits. It welcomed requests from local nonprofits, regardless of size, instead of solely relying on existing partnerships. The fund prioritized grant awards using an equity lens to address food insecurity, housing, medical care, and child and eldercare.
It formed a funder’s collaborative composed of the funders who contributed to the fund. Jill Miller, President of Bethesda Inc., creator of bi3, stepped up to chair the collaborative. It was challenging to get all of the funders aligned, and she was the driver of the process to get dollars to the nonprofit community, in some cases to save lives.
Those at the table included bi3, Deaconess Associations Foundation, Fifth Third Foundation, First Financial Bank, Humana Foundation, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Scripps Howard Foundation, Western & Southern Financial Group, Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trusts, Skyline Chili, Hearst Foundations and the Charles H. Dater Foundation.
Under Miller’s leadership, GCF and United Way of Greater Cincinnati formed a committee of external community representatives to review and disburse grant awards. The funding strategy was to spread resources to nonprofits with the widest reach to help as many residents as possible. Recognizing the immediacy of the need, fund leaders also moved to quickly distribute grants.
In just seven weeks, the fund exceeded its goals, raising and awarding millions of dollars in emergency relief to over 250 local nonprofit organizations serving the region’s most vulnerable individuals and families.
The impact was immediate. Highlights include:

  • 7,500 emergency food boxes delivered to seniors in need.
  • Financial support for 300 families facing economic hardship due to the pandemic.
  • Basic care items provided to child abuse victims in residential treatment.
  • Funding to support two pandemic childcare centers for essential workers.
  • Safe shelter and supplies for 40 single mothers and children.
  • Rent assistance for working families. ●


Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award


Rob Cybulski
CEO, Finit
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
This quote from Mahatma Gandhi is a perfect introduction to Finit. It aligns with its belief that it is a business focused on the service of others in order that they succeed. Serving others is not just something its people do, it is its raison d’etre. Its people live this belief each day as they engage with clients, colleagues and communities.
When Rob Cybulski and Angie Apple founded the consulting firm, every decision stemmed from the principles of people before profit and service to others. They established a culture that makes it easy for partners and employees to embrace these principles. They strive every day to help clients succeed, while working to make a positive impact on the communities where they live, work and play.
Because Finit’s business model was designed as a remote team, a targeted philanthropic effort doesn’t work. A single corporate initiative would be difficult and dilute an important facet of community service — the personal conviction and connection each staff member has with their community.
Instead, Finit’s community support model promotes individual expression, allowing individuals to support what is important to them. Its leadership believes that involvement should be voluntary, so when staff participates in a community support initiative, it’s a sincere commitment and not simply because of a corporate initiative.
Volunteer efforts, philanthropy and community service activities of Finit’s employees include:

  • Community service/volunteerism. As advocates of its communities, supportive of its team members, Finit provides charitable contribution matching, makes contributions to organizations suggested by employees and offers paid days for volunteer work.
  • Community engagement. It believes it’s important to leave a city better than it found it. Finit hosts two all-staff company meetings each year, each in a different city. A big part of this is creating opportunities for the team to engage with a community during their stay in a new city.
  • Responsible and purposeful purchasing. Finit recently found a premium item supplier whose mission is to give back. Now, when it buys branded employee gifts or client gifts, a portion of every purchase is donated to a nonprofit of its choice.
  • Compassionate leadership and support. When an employee faces unexpected difficulties, management makes an effort to ensure that employee can focus on their immediate needs rather than worrying about making ends meet during those challenging times.