Medical Mutual and Smart Business welcome you to the Pillar Awards for Community Service. Celebrating its silver anniversary, for the past 25 years, the Pillar Awards have spotlighted organizations and individuals making a difference in Ohio’s communities. These groups and employees connect with their communities through volunteering, charitable giving, pro bono work and more.
As Medical Mutual’s new President and CEO, I’m proud to lead an organization that is known for its integrity and service. Like this year’s Pillar Award honorees, Medical Mutual is deeply committed to service in the community. The company works to improve the physical, financial and mental health of people across Ohio. That includes focusing on the social determinants of health — factors like education, housing, transportation and access to food, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. All play a critical role in a person’s well-being.
A cornerstone to Medical Mutual’s community support is our SHARE program. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate. Medical Mutual’s SHARE employee volunteers supported dozens of events with nonprofit and community groups in 2022. It’s an important way that Medical Mutual gives back to our communities, and one of the annual Pillar Awards recognizes a company whose employees best illustrate the values of the program.
All of this year’s Pillar Award recipients demonstrate an immense commitment to their communities. Medical Mutual is pleased to join Smart Business in honoring these organizations and individuals.
On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, congratulations to all the 2022 Pillar Award honorees. ●
Pillar Award Honorees
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel company in North America and a leading supplier of automotive-grade steel. With ongoing initiatives to reduce waste, improve water conservation and reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2030, the company promises to become North America’s leader in steelmaking sustainability.
Under the leadership of Chairman, President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves, Cleveland-Cliffs strives to be a responsible corporate citizen and partner in addressing community needs. The Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation was established in 1962 and has been a dedicated resource for charitable giving over the past 60 years. The foundation’s mission is to positively impact communities where Cleveland-Cliffs operates by investing in nonprofit organizations that enhance educational opportunities, protect and improve the environment, promote human health and support vibrant communities.
Recently, the foundation responded to the food insecurity crisis that has affected millions of households due to the pandemic by committing more than $1 million to food distribution organizations in communities where it operates. Collaborating with 44 organizations in over 35 locations, it provided support for an estimated 10 million meals.
In November, Cleveland-Cliffs and the Cleveland Cavaliers launched their “Bigger Than Basketball” Community Tour that will visit five Ohio communities during the 2022-23 NBA season. The initiative focuses on teaming up with local agencies to address specific needs, such as clothing, food security and recreation. Each visit will include youth basketball clinics and appearances from the Cavs entertainment teams. ●
Community service is embedded within the culture of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, led by President and CEO Loretta J. Mester. Since the institution’s founding more than 100 years ago, improving local communities has been at the heart of its work. In fact, many employees report they were attracted to the Cleveland Fed for its well-known dedication to the public good.
As the bank conducts the nation’s monetary policy, its crucial mission is to help all Americans share in the prosperity of the U.S. economy. With a focus on workforce development, housing and small business, the Cleveland Fed community development team listens to and learns from community members, conducts and shares pertinent research and convenes organizations to help inform policy, decision-making and investments.
The team also contributes to “Community Conditions,” a section of the Cleveland Fed’s chapter in the Fed’s Beige Book that collects anecdotal information from nonprofit and community leaders serving low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Cleveland Fed offers employees 16 hours of annual paid leave to volunteer for community activities that align with its mission. Through Fed it Forward, the bank’s umbrella program for volunteerism, hundreds of employees have participated in activities in key focus areas of community and workforce development and education. Additionally, employees’ longstanding support of United Way reflects an understanding of the crucial services nonprofit organizations deliver to people in local communities.
This fall, Cleveland Fed raised more than $280,000 for its annual United Way fundraising campaign, roughly $280 per employee. ●
Gallagher has a strong belief in community service. Led by Area President David Kempton, team members are active on local boards and proudly volunteer hundreds of hours supporting dozens of local charities and organizations. Gallagher’s core values of community service and giving back are at the forefront of its corporate culture.
Through the establishment of the Gallagher Ohio Employee Giving Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Cleveland Foundation, team members provide financial support to nonprofit organizations throughout Northern Ohio. Additionally, Gallagher sponsors and regularly participates in the Cleveland-based Business Volunteers Unlimited “Ask the Expert” program. Its team of specialists donates their time and knowledge to support the nonprofit community through 60-minute, one-on-one meetings that provide opportunities for local organizations to ask questions or glean practical takeaways.
At Gallagher, team members take great pride in building a socially and ethically responsible company that strives to do the right thing for its customers, colleagues and communities. To honor this commitment, Kempton creates opportunities for employees to do their part to better the world around them. Your Cause, an online portal, enables employees to track volunteer hours and donations to eligible charities. Contributions of over $50 are matched by the corporate office, doubling support to organizations meaningful to them. Over half of local employees participate in their workplace giving programs, and many are active on local nonprofit or city council boards.
Simply put, it’s about being a good corporate citizen — “The Gallagher Way.” ●
Ground Works Land Design is Northeast Ohio’s premier residential and commercial landscape and design company focused on customer satisfaction. The award-winning, full-service company specializes in creating and maintaining unique and unparalleled dramatic outdoor living spaces. The team is carving a new lane in the landscape industry with professional client services at its forefront. Founded in 2009 by Tony Nasrallah, founder and president, Ground Works was built on four core values: relationships, excellence, integrity and reputation. Valuing the support of his hometown Cleveland community, Nasrallah has partnered with multiple local organizations to give back over $300,000.
In 2019, Nasrallah created a volunteer-based committee to launch the company’s first annual golf outing, “Ground Works Out Drives Alzheimer’s.” That year, it raised $24,000 and was awarded Rookie of the Year and Top Corporate fundraiser by the Cleveland Alzheimer’s Association. It has since raised over $112,000 for Alzheimer’s research and programming. Although the coronavirus pandemic paused the golf outing in 2020, it was held at Avon Oaks Country Club last year and raised over $35,000. This year, total giving surpassed the six-figure mark when committee members presented a check to the Cleveland Alzheimer’s Association for $53,233.
Volunteers are inspired to give by Nasrallah’s mother, living in her 60s with 24-hour care. Plans are now in the works for next summer’s event, and attendees can expect a high-caliber, 18-hole scramble in support of a common cause. ●
For more than 75 years, JOANN has inspired creativity in the hearts, hands and minds of its customers. From a single storefront in Cleveland to the nation’s category leader in sewing and fabrics, and one of the fastest-growing competitors in the arts and crafts industry, JOANN has grown to include 855 stores across 49 states and a robust e-commerce business.
Since 2018, JOANN has partnered with Susan G. Komen in their mission to fund breast cancer research, treatment and advocacy. With support from Wade Miquelon, CEO, and corporate leaders, JOANN teamed with Komen in 2021 to launch a groundbreaking in-store customer donation campaign that drew on employees’ passion for the cause.
Building on previous years’ success, JOANN implemented new corporate wellness objectives focused on breast health and volunteerism. Engagement opportunities were simple, turnkey and fun. Stores competed against one another to be named top fundraiser, celebrated the campaign with Pink Spirit Days and participated in local MORE THAN PINK Walks.
Thanks to employees’ enthusiasm and commitment, JOANN stores raised over $847,100 — a more than 800 percent increase over 2020. Beyond customer donations, employees helped raise additional monies, generating more than $901,700 in giving to Komen in 2021.
With JOANN’s support, Komen has been able to meet the most urgent needs of the breast cancer community through the Patient Care Center, drafted policy at the state and national level to fuel systemic change, and funded research grants to the best and the brightest. Together, they are making a meaningful impact in the search for a cure. ●
MAI Capital Management, LLC, was founded on three pillars: taking care of clients, taking care of each other and taking care of the communities they serve. Rick Buoncore, managing partner, established these pillars and continues to work daily to embed them into the culture of MAI and the lives of those who work there.
This approach is reflected in everything MAI associates do in and out of the office and unites colleagues in a shared vision to lend a helping hand. In 2022, MAI has contributed over $300,000 in donations and sponsorships from a corporate level, not including the many individual employee contributions to causes they value.
MAI team members and leaders are actively engaged in various boards, charities and organizations. Buoncore leads the charge, serving on the Board of Directors for Playhouse Square and as Chairman Emeritus of First Tee of Cleveland. He previously served on the Board of Achievement Centers for Children and was Co-Chair of the Notre Dame Campaign of Caring. Additionally, Buoncore sits on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Greater Cleveland, where he previously served as Head of the Strategic Planning Committee and contributed to ending the cycle of poverty in Greater Cleveland.
In addition to MAI’s dedication to external community service, the firm fosters internal programs that empower young professionals, women in the industry and other diverse groups. The desire to do good for others is the foundation of MAI and will continue as the firm reaches new levels of growth and success. ●
A 102-year-old family business founded and always based in Cleveland, Millcraft carries a proud legacy of civic engagement. Each of four generations of company leadership has placed their personal stamp of support on causes near to their hearts.
President and CEO Travis Mlakar continues to fulfill the company’s century-long commitment to meaningfully impacting surrounding communities. Millcraft has contributed to numerous local organizations. Others represent one-time donations to meet an immediate need — for example, the donation of 100,000 KN95 masks to United Way of Greater Stark.
In 2021, Millcraft partnered with LAND Studio to restore the “Life is Sharing the Same Park Bench” mural on the Superior Building in Cleveland. The studio discovered that Millcraft was one of the original corporate partners of the iconic mural, commissioned in 1969 by Mayor Carl Stokes. Led by grandfather and then President Stuart McKinney, Millcraft contributed paper to print 1,000 limited-edition commemorative posters. A half-century later, Mlakar could not have been happier to lead a matching fund sponsorship drive to renovate the mural and surrounding park — once again contributing paper to print commemorative posters and postcards of the original artwork.
Millcraft’s Buy & Give office paper purchasing program is designed to unite and empower employees and customers to make a meaningful impact on local business communities. Mlakar created the program concept, which generates donations from the sale of copy paper. For every carton of Buy & Give-branded copy paper purchased, $1 is donated to a designated Buy & Give nonprofit. ●
Park Place Technologies President and CEO Chris Adams has joined more than 500 business leaders in calling on U.S. state governments and education leaders to update the K-12 curriculum so that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science. Organized by Code.org and led in Ohio by tech leader OhioX, the call to action is supported by leaders and founders of tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon, CEOs across multiple business sectors, and national education organizations including the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and Khan Academy.
This and larger STEM efforts have long been a part of Park Place’s company culture and philanthropic focus. The U.S. currently has 700,000 open computing jobs, yet just five percent of high school students study computer science each year. Adams and his team understand the importance of investing in computer science education and will continue to advocate for STEM locally, nationally and globally.
Park Place and Ireland-based STEM non-profit I Wish have partnered since 2019, jointly initiating an ongoing intern program that sends two Irish STEM students to the U.S. every summer for a two-week internship at Park Place’s Global Headquarters in Cleveland and Operations Centre in Boston.
The company recently launched a laptop donation program, TechForGood, and has donated hundreds of refurbished laptops to students who have limited or no access to technology.
Additionally, Park Place has provided CEO and company matches to 2022 fundraising efforts such as the United Way, Ukrainian War Relief and Hurricane Ian Relief through the American Red Cross. ●
Supporting the communities where customers and employee partners live and work is a top priority for Union Home Mortgage Corp. Giving back and helping those less fortunate are tenets that are integral to their organizational culture.
President and CEO Bill Cosgrove established the Union Home Mortgage Foundation in 2015, designed to equip families with tools and resources to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded over $1 million in support of nonprofits through programs in four main pillar areas: financial literacy, career readiness, education and housing.
The UHM Foundation hosts opportunities to involve partners in their communities. Partners receive paid time off to volunteer at a nonprofit that they are passionate about. The company also offers an annual Intern Day of Service for their L.E.A.D. summer interns to go into the community and give back. Through these events, UHM has supported impactful organizations such as Volunteers of America, Cleveland Kids Book Bank, Cleveland Metroparks, Shoes and Clothes for Kids, Seeds of Literacy, and Reach Out and Read.
The foundation hosts annual school supply and holiday food drives, donating to organizations nationwide. It also offers direct services to families through two signature programs centered around financial literacy and career readiness for young adults, providing helpful tools to prepare for life’s unexpected changes.
Additionally, UHM honors its partners for their outstanding community service. Each year, the company selects five recipients of their Partner Impact Award, commending their commitment to their local community. Along with the award, each winner receives a $2,000 grant for their charity of choice. ●
Under the leadership of Vishnu Chandran, CEO, Wild Republic produces stuffed animals and wildlife-related toys for children while building a world filled with compassion and responsibility. A devotion to the highest quality materials and strictest safety requirements has earned the international toy company a reputation for having exemplary products that exceed industry standards.
Committed to nature and conservation, Wild Republic proactively strives to be as environmentally friendly and ethically responsible as possible. Team members work to preserve natural resources and minimize deforestation from creation to consumption.
“Message from the Planet,” the company’s newest plush collection, is made from 100 percent recycled materials, including the first-to-market recycled plastic eyes in a plush toy. Printed with conservation quotes, the product line exemplifies the company’s commitment to “giving a voice to the voiceless” animals worldwide.
Wild Republic strives to secure a future for the planet’s diverse wild animals. To reach this goal, they support numerous animal rescue organizations, international and local shelters, zoos and toy banks. Their Global Green Team newsletter highlights the company’s ongoing sustainability and empowerment initiatives.
The company’s corporate social responsibility strategy includes a “Promise to the Planet” to lessen its carbon footprint by reducing, reusing and sourcing sustainable products. Chandran and his team have converted production processes to eliminate single-use plastics in favor of biodegradable packaging and incorporated phthalate-free, non-toxic materials.
Wild Republic’s ongoing mission is to foster an environment where nature inspires children to preserve and protect their planet for future generations. ●
Medical Mutual Share Award
Since 1976, Oatey has provided reliable, high-quality products for the residential and commercial plumbing industries, with a commitment to delivering quality, building trust and improving lives. Today, the company operates a comprehensive manufacturing and distribution network to supply thousands of products for professional builders, contractors, engineers and do-it-yourself consumers worldwide.
At Oatey Co., supporting the communities where employees live and work is foundational to how it operates. An essential tenet of the corporate success is to improve lives through community involvement, philanthropy and volunteerism.
Through its 100-year tenure as a Cleveland family-owned business, Oatey’s philanthropic impact has continued to grow. Under the leadership of Neal Restivo, CEO, service initiatives include large-scale company efforts, associate-led events and business programs that connect the company to the community in new and meaningful ways. Each year, a commitment to core causes expands while partnering with new and unique groups extends their impact. This past year was no exception, as its award-winning, ambitious community service efforts have had the largest impact to date.
A core component of Oatey’s company culture is its involvement with The Cleveland Clinic’s VeloSano Bike to Cure. The company has been a proud supporter of the event since it began in 2014. In 2021, Team Oatey was honored to receive VeloSano’s All In award, given annually in recognition of exceptional efforts and contributions. This year, Team Oatey included more than 180 individuals from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico participating as riders, volunteers or virtual riders. The company exceeded its 2022 fundraising goal of $200,000, ultimately raising more than $243,000.
Oatey provides opportunities for associates to donate their time to the community in meaningful ways. As COVID-19 restrictions lessened, the company has been able to reinstate opportunities for volunteerism efforts. The sustainability group, The Planeteers, recently hosted a Cleveland Metroparks cleanup, during which Oatey associates restored fencing surrounding the Necklace Marina. Associates also participated in this year’s American Red Cross Sound the Alarm event, installing free smoke alarms in Garfield Heights while promoting fire safety awareness and education to the at-risk community.
Members of Oatey’s senior leadership team serve on local nonprofit boards. The company also supports associates who contribute and volunteer within the community. For example, their Associate Matching Gift Program matches gifts up to $1,000 annually to a pre-approved list of eligible charities, furthering positive change throughout Northeast Ohio. ●
Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Awards
Julie Billiart Schools are Catholic schools serving children in kindergarten through eighth grade who have a diagnosis of mild-to-moderate autism, ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety or other learning or social differences. The first school opened in 1954 in Lyndhurst, and to serve more children and families, JB opened schools in Akron in 2017 and Westlake in 202; a fourth school is scheduled to open in Brecksville in 2024. The network of private, co-educational day schools serves bright and curious children from more than 40 school districts throughout Northeast Ohio.
David Roush serves as vice chair of the board of directors and chairs the Strategic Growth Committee. Roush has been integral to the schools’ expansion, helping develop growth strategies and driving an entrepreneurial mindset. His passion began when his son attended and benefitted from the education there and has remained constant since he joined the board in 2012.
Prior to his board involvement, Roush served as a member of JB’s Sunflower Society and an active member of the Advisory and Long-Range Planning Committees. When the decision to expand JB was made, his experience and understanding of entrepreneurship helped create a path that included growth and long-term financial sustainability.
With a passion for the mission and a willingness to take calculated risks, Roush has been instrumental in JB’s strategic growth. Once a single school serving 132 children, JB will grow to 528 students with the opening of the Brecksville campus. ●
For over two decades, Patrick Pastore has been an invaluable member of the United Way of Greater Cleveland volunteer family through his financial support, dedicated service and unwavering advocacy.
He and his wife, Julie, have continued growing support of United Way and are members of the Philanthropist Society. While many people give their treasure, Pastore epitomizes the three T’s, giving of his time and talent, as well. He has served on the board of directors since 2013 and supported United Way in additional leadership positions.
When asked to co-chair the 2013-14 United Way Annual Campaign alongside Terry Stewart and Ira Kaplan, he enthusiastically agreed to lead fundraising efforts in celebration of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 100th anniversary. Thanks to the three leaders’ vision and guidance, the organization raised $40.6 million during the centennial campaign.
Pastore has been actively involved with the Public Policy and Marketing and Brand Strategy Committees and chairs the Resource Development Committee. When asked why he is so involved, he always responds that he appreciates United Way’s impact on the lives of community members who need help and adds that the staff’s commitment to the mission is infectious.
His leadership, knowledge and experience have proven crucial to the successful development of solicitations with major gift donors, especially as virtual meetings have become the new norm. Dedicated to improving the lives of all individuals, his leadership has profoundly impacted United Way and the surrounding Cleveland community. ●
Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
MAI Capital Management was founded on three pillars: Taking care of clients, taking care of each other and taking care of the communities they serve. Rick Buoncore, managing partner, established these pillars, and continues to work daily to embed them into the culture of MAI and the lives of those who work there.
This approach is reflected in everything MAI associates do in and out of the office and the vision unites members of the firm and yields an organization that is clear in its shared goals and commitment to one another and its surrounding communities. In 2022, MAI has contributed over $300,000 in donations and sponsorships from a corporate level, not including the many individual employee contributions to causes they value.
Buoncore’s leadership encourages employees to lend a helping hand to their communities in any way they can. In 2022, MAI contributed over $300,000 in donations and sponsorships from a corporate level, not including the many contributions that employees made to their communities daily. Its team members and leaders are actively engaged in various boards, charities and organizations across their communities, each of which have various impacts to the causes our associates are passionate about.
When it comes to living out this motto outside of the office, Buoncore leads the charge. He spends time actively giving back within the community, serving on the board of directors for Playhouse Square and is chairman emeritus of First Tee of Cleveland. He previously served on the board of Achievement Centers for Children and was co-chair of the Notre Dame Campaign of Caring. Additionally, Buoncore sits on the board of directors for United Way of Greater Cleveland, where he previously served as head of the strategic planning committee and contributed to ending the cycle of poverty in Greater Cleveland.
In 2019, MAI established a Women’s Network that serves the purpose of creating opportunities for women both inside and outside of the firm to excel and utilize their talents and skills. Within the network, a Volunteering & Community Service Committee was formed with a focus on supporting nonprofit organizations that serve women in need.
In addition to MAI’s dedication to external community service, the firm fosters internal programs that empower young professionals, women in the industry and other diverse groups. The desire to do good for others is the foundation of MAI and will continue as the firm reaches new levels of growth and success. ●
Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year
The Fund for Our Economic Future is an alliance of more than 30 foundations, higher education institutions, community development, private sector, civic associations and government leaders who have come together to learn, lead and inspire ideas to advance an inclusive local economy.
Led by President Bethia Burke, the organization focuses on bolstering Northeast Ohio’s economy. Burke brings critical analysis to the region’s most pressing challenges, works with diverse stakeholders to find common ground and advances real solutions in job creation, preparation and access. She led the development of The Two Tomorrows initiative, a call to action that codifies a set of regional priorities to advance economic growth.
Burke joined the fund in 2010 and most recently served as vice president before being elected president in December 2019. A boomeranger, after growing up in Shaker Heights, she spent her early career in the greater Washington, D.C., area, conducting cost-risk reviews of major defense programs.
Since its founding in 2004, the fund has been at the forefront of building an unparalleled civil network to support creative development. Burke and her colleagues’ portfolio of work focuses on advancing innovation in new industries, making workforce systems work better for people, building new wealth creation models and connecting people to jobs.
With a focus on what works, what matters and what is next, the fund prioritizes long-term systemic change to increase economic growth and access to opportunity for the people of Northeast Ohio. ●
MedWish International is a nonprofit organization that saves lives and the environment by repurposing surplus medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid to people in need. Executive Director Britta Latz has been a key member of MedWish for seven years. While she has only been in her current role for a year, she has been a part of MedWish’s leadership for the duration of her tenure.
Latz has spearheaded the efforts for MedWish to become fiscally responsible and financially independent. She worked to relaunch its impactful Medical Brigades program and has grown its grant program by 366 percent, from $150,000 to $550,000. Latz’s institutional knowledge and passion for the mission make her a key advocate for MedWish. She possesses incredible attention to detail and a deep love of the organization, making her a thorough and informative leader.
MedWish partners with health care facilities to divert usable medical surplus from landfills. Staff and volunteers sort, quality check and pack donations, then match inventory of surplus medical supplies and equipment to the critical needs of the organization’s vetted recipients worldwide.
Since 1993, MedWish International has partnered with recipients in 114 countries to provide humanitarian aid to those in need. The organization aims to serve populations within medically marginalized communities both locally and internationally, supported by medical missions, clinics, hospitals and nonprofits.
Last year, program leaders worked with 141 health care partners to divert 625,780 pounds of medical surplus from landfills. ●
The LCADA Way is a private, nonprofit organization that cares for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse, mental health challenges or problem gambling.
In 2020, Dan Haight stepped into the role of president and CEO of the regional treatment agency, bringing more than 20 years of executive management experience in behavioral health organizations, finance, community collaboration, grants management and Joint Commission accreditation. His knowledge of the day-to-day operations, along with his keen insights into their financials and long-term strategy, made him the perfect person to lead the organization.
The LCADA Way’s name highlights its unique approach to recovery, centered around Leadership, Compassion, Awareness, Dedication and Advocacy. This summer, the nonprofit celebrated the opening of its new Middleburg Heights center, its organization’s first treatment and recovery center in Cuyahoga County. The LCADA Way also serves struggling individuals and their families in Lorain, Medina and Erie counties and surrounding communities.
Each health care facility offers services in a convenient and supportive atmosphere, helping individuals on the road to wellness and recovery. The LCADA Way is dedicated to transforming lives and providing gender and culturally appropriate behavioral health care services based on individual client needs. The goal of treatment programs is to help clients develop the support, skills and tools that will enable them to remain abstinent from substance abuse and recover from the chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease of addiction. ●
There are over 4,000 children in foster care in Greater Cleveland, and this spring, Transformations by Cleveland Angels celebrated its fourth year of walking alongside children, youth and families impacted by the foster care system. Executive Director Gretchen Dupps brings first-hand knowledge and insight to support these families. Growing up, her parents opened their home to foster children. When she learned about Austin Angels and the work of its founder and CEO Susan Ramirez, she saw an opportunity to bring the model to Cleveland. Within three months, Dupps built a board, and the small-but-determined team headed to Austin for chapter training.
Cleveland Angels launched in 2018, offering support through intentional giving, relationship building and mentorship. Dupps operates with a long-leaning strategic lens but leads day-to-day with her heart. She approaches situations with grace and understanding, is dedicated to helping children and youth in foster care reach their fullest potential.
Over 150 ongoing volunteers develop relationships and provide practical resources to help fulfill the need for holistic support for the family as they care for children and youth coping with complex trauma.
Programs and events are designed to offer normalcy – providing children with typical childhood experiences; support – easing financial and emotional pressure that milestones and holidays can bring for busy caregivers; and community — surrounding families and youth with a community of people who understand their challenges. What Dupps and her team have built will have generations of impact on the foster care Cleveland community. ●
Jeffrey Paul was a prominent hairstylist when his path changed 40 years ago when his niece, Laura, requested help with a wig that would stay securely on her head during a gymnastics competition. She had leukemia and was experiencing hair loss due to treatment. Paul, now executive director of Wigs for Kids, promised he would make a wig that would stay put. He recounts tears of joy when he accomplished his goal and watched Laura compete with confidence.
Paul began working with specialists across the U.S. to develop the best hair replacement systems. Today, the founder of Wigs for Kids helps adults experiencing hair loss and oversees the nonprofit he and his wife, Zina, founded to help children like Laura.
Wigs for Kids is a national nonprofit that has provided thousands of wigs to children and teens at no cost, helping those on whom the impact of hair loss is far more significant than a change in appearance. It can erode self-esteem and response toward treatment.
Thanks to a supportive network of hairstylists across the country, Wigs for Kids matches recipients with nearby hair stylists and provides guidance in wig maintenance. All wigs are made of human hair and closely resemble the child’s own hair color and style.
Paul continues to reach children experiencing hair loss due to medical conditions, helping them look and feel like themselves. He and his small team continue to recruit stylists throughout the U.S. and provide online training for individuals who become certified to work with recipients. ●
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Women of Color Foundation (WOCF) is a nonprofit dedicated to empowerment, training and leadership development of women and girls of all colors.
Through the years, WOCF has collaborated with local, regional and national nonprofit organizations, government agencies and academic institutions. Events are designed to elevate, motivate and inspire women and girls to understand their talent and gifts and share them with the larger community and the world.
Chairwoman and Founder Alexandria Johnson Boone is also president and CEO of the Cleveland-based GAP Communications Group. Under her leadership, GAP has gained local, regional and national recognition for its quality public relations, marketing services and signature special events. Johnson Boone is widely recognized and respected in the communications and public relations industry as the architect of the LeBron James media persona.
WOCF programs provide Black women professionals and entrepreneurs training and support to accelerate their rise to senior and executive-level positions. Johnson Boone and her WOCF team provide opportunities for individuals who identify as women of color to participate in leadership workshops, symposiums, conferences and C-Suite mentoring activities to enhance their leadership skills, creating a more inclusive culture of women in leadership.
Through WOCF’s Equity Project, participants enhance their critical thinking and soft skills. The program recognizes that there is strength in engaging participants in focused development opportunities, providing education, economic and equity training to Black women who have been marginalized or are living below the poverty level. ●