Medical Mutual and Smart Business welcome you to the Pillar Awards for Community Service. Celebrating its silver anniversary, for the past 14 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 2023 Pillar Award honorees. ●
Pillar Award Honorees
Deborah Andrews joined the Agility Partners team nearly four years ago after a night of networking and dinner with co-founder and CEO Alan Kutasy and Co-founder Rob Moyer. At the time, they were still determining what title she would hold with the then-startup IT recruiting organization.
Still, Andrews was excited to hit the ground running with a focus on the back end and people satisfaction.
As Agility Partners and its consulting arm, Impower.ai, grew, Andrews took on the role of director of People Operations. She now leads a team of streams, including talent acquisition, training and development, consultant success and marketing. Her passions closely align with Agility Partners’ belief in giving back to the Columbus community that has given so much to them.
Andrews has always been passionate about supporting cancer research, including participating in and fundraising for Pelotonia. In pring 2021, she spearheaded Team Agility Partners, a Pelotonia team of riders and challengers, and hosted a Lunch and Learn for the organization to discover how to get involved and support the urgent cause. That year, three riders and four challengers raised a record $10,000.
Andrews also helps organize and execute quarterly service projects. Over the past four years, teams have contributed more than 1,000 hours of volunteerism for local organizations, including Dress for Success, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Franklinton Farms, HEART Food Pantry, Ronald McDonald House Charities – Central Ohio, Clintonville Community Gardens, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The Hardy Center. Andrews’ drive to build partnerships and support her community is evident day in and day out. ●
As one of the largest electric energy companies in the U.S., American Electric Power (AEP) supplies electricity to millions of homes and businesses.
The company works together with its customers and communities to create the future of energy — listening, going beyond customers’ expectations and developing innovative solutions to build a boundless future. AEP leaders are continually energized by team members’ passions and drive to make a difference in their communities.
Under the leadership of President and CEO Nicholas Akins, AEP has played a transformational role in weaving a vital safety net across Central Ohio at a time when consistent support has had tremendous impact. In partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the 1466 United Way campaign is one of the most robust in the region and raises over $1 million annually to reinvest in neighboring communities.
The 10th president in the company’s 100-year history, Akins is in his 11th year as CEO. He continues to have a “roll up our sleeves” attitude, and his commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism has inspired countless others. In 2021, AEP and the AEP Foundation provided $35.1 million in contributions and grants to nonprofit organizations that target housing, food insecurity, education, public health, the arts and other areas of focus where support is needed.
Akins and his wife, Donna, have also contributed a substantial amount during his time as CEO, creating a culture of giving that will remain part of their legacy as he plans his upcoming retirement. ●
Since Bailey Cavalieri LCC’s founding in 2003, the firm has delivered on its commitment to investing in its clients and the community. Not only does it actively support impactful organizations in Franklin County, its attorneys, paralegals and staff members are equally committed to giving back.
Founding member Dan Bailey has been an integral part of the firm’s commitment to philanthropy. Bailey supports numerous nonprofits with his time and talents, including United Way of Central Ohio. For many years, he was a visionary member of United Way’s Campaign Cabinet and a champion of its work. His dedication to supporting the community is palpable throughout and directly impacts the culture of giving that Bailey Cavalieri has established over the past 20 years.
The firm has contributed more than $2.1 million to United Way and other local nonprofit organizations through its annual workplace campaign, supported by more than half of its employees.
Under the leadership of Robert Dunn, managing partner, Bailey Cavalieri has maintained a strong culture of giving throughout the pandemic, even as many other workplace campaigns have struggled. In addition to annual campaign support, the firm has contributed an additional $300,000 in direct corporate support to local nonprofits over the past 10 years.
In 2021, Bailey Cavalieri made $1,000 gifts to any nonprofit of an employee’s choice across its team. In June 2022, it was honored with a Corporate Citizenship award from Columbus Business First for its work with Lutheran Social Services, IMPACT Community Action and United Way. ●
Under the leadership of Jane Abell, executive chairwoman of the board and chief purpose officer, Donatos gives back to the communities it serves each day.
This year, the newly established Donatos Family Foundation has been impactful in supporting the company’s three philanthropic pillars of Housing, Hunger and Health. In 2022, it raised $100,000 for Habitat for Humanity, $90,000 for the Mid-Ohio Food Collective and $108,000 for Pelotonia. This spring, 42 volunteers helped build playhouses for children with Habitat for Humanity, 51 volunteers served at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective in November and team members are fundraising for Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Center. Additionally, the organization fulfills numerous requests for donations or discounts that support local events, nonprofits and organizations.
The Donatos Family Foundation stays true to the words the brand lives by, “Every piece is important,” highlighting that it values not only great pizza but also the community it takes to succeed. Intended to create synergies with franchise partners and form a permanent connection between the Donatos brand and the goodwill that it promotes, the foundation continues the legacy of being a good neighbor. The creation of a national foundation gives the brand the opportunity to impact even more people through its locations across the country.
First opened on the south side of Columbus almost 60 years ago, Donato’s culture is rooted in the values of founder Jim Grote, who started serving his famous thin crust pizza with two core principles — lead with love and treat others the way that you want to be treated. ●
GO-HR provides full-service, outsourced HR for small businesses, as well as support for HR departments of one and overextended HR departments in larger organizations. Under the leadership of President and Owner Sharon DeLay, the company also works to better its community.
The firm provides in-kind HR services to Elevate Northland, an organization supporting sustainable social and economic development in Columbus’ Northland Area. GO-HR has taken on the responsibility of setting up the organization’s employer accounts, running payroll and handling HR-related needs. When GO-HR receives referred clients, the company donates to a 501(c)(3) in the referring client’s name. Additionally, all employees annually receive 24 hours of volunteer paid time off.
Additionally, the company provide financial support, board and committee work, and in-kind services to Women’s Small Business Accelerator, with donations, table purchases at events, judging competitions; HRACO, as a board member and with sponsorships and donations; Westerville Chamber of Commerce as board members and with sponsorship and donations; NAWBO National with reduced fee HR consulting, payroll; NAWBO Columbus as a Public Policy committee participant; Conway Center for Family Business with donations, in addition to facilitating its quarterly HR roundtable providing critical HR updates for members; and Giraffe, as an Advisory Board member.
By providing their HR expertise, GO-HR offers services to organizations that might not otherwise have access. DeLay and her team believe there are many ways to give back, including financial support, volunteer time and sharing the mission and vision of local organizations through social media channels. ●
At Grange Insurance, President and CEO John Ammendola and his team believe in investing in their communities and the lives of others. In 2022, Grange and its associates provided $1.7 million in financial support to nearly 100 nonprofit organizations. For the third consecutive year, the company has almost doubled its financial contributions since 2019.
The promise of service to customers and the community continues to pass from generation to generation at Grange. The company’s nearly 90-year-old story is rooted in the heart of Columbus. Although it and its associates now reach the Midwest and Southeast, a significant portion of their philanthropy remains in Central Ohio. Team members continually seek ways to create opportunities in the geographic areas they serve because they are focused on helping build healthy and vibrant communities.
Grange Insurance Gives, the foundation that carries out the company’s social responsibility efforts, is primarily focused on social and community investments that impact health and human services, education, arts, social justice and community enrichment programs. With funding from the company and associates, the foundation responds to causes with financial contributions, board of directors’ service, in-kind print donations, volunteer time and rent-free use of its event space. Over 1,200 associates are crucial to the company’s philanthropic efforts, fueling economic prosperity, improving lives and creating sustainable solutions that will continue to change lives for years to come.
Grange also honors associate commitment to service by offering paid volunteer time off and matching financial gifts through the foundation. ●
Founded in 1976 by Irving and Melvin Schottenstein, M/I Homes has been building new homes of outstanding quality and superior design for over four decades. Guided by the drive to always “treat the customer right,” the company has fulfilled the dreams of over 140,000 homeowners and become one of the nation’s premier homebuilders.
Under the leadership of Robert “Bobby” Schottenstein, M/I Homes has also become one of Pelotonia’s most generous and innovative partners. For the past 10 years, the company has promoted Pelotonia’s mission internally to its more than 1,200 local and national associates and externally to key business partners and the communities where they live and work. During that time, associates raised more than $4 million directed to innovative cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–James.
Schottenstein serves as both a longtime champion of the mission and a member of Pelotonia’s Board of Directors. His passion and leadership have enabled the Pelotonia community to raise more than $258 million for cancer research since 2009.
In 2022, the team at M/I Homes expanded its support of Pelotonia by engaging its home-building partners to construct 14 Pelotonia Benefit Homes across the nation, with a portion of proceeds from each home donated to the organization. The program was the first-of-kind for any homebuilder, and M/I Homes’ generosity has inspired countless other companies to give back in creative new ways. This past year, M/I Homes also engaged more than 120 associates from various regions as Pelotonia Riders, Challengers and Volunteers. ●
Under the leadership of President and CEO Nevin Bansal, Outreach Promos has been a consistent contributor to and supporter of numerous local nonprofits. In addition to special discounts on its services, the company regularly provides in-kind support and monetary donations to benefit various organizations and created an annual charity event, Tailgate for Charity.
Bansal is active in the community, working to enhance the environment for business and beyond. He currently serves on the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio and Small Biz Cares Boards.
Bansal is the visionary and founder of Small Biz Cares, a nonprofit focused on engaging the small business community in philanthropic efforts. He acts as chairman and executive director of the organization. Since its inception in 2018, Small Biz Cares has inspired the local business community to create positive social impact.
The organization has contributed almost $50,000 in support of local nonprofits and scholarships and provided thousands of volunteer hours and goods. Additionally, Small Biz Cares is inspiring more small business owners and teams to collaborate and get involved in philanthropy, a concept that has historically been reserved for larger companies and higher-net-worth individuals.
In 2022, Outreach Promos provided funds to help Small Biz Cares hire its first employee. In addition, the company offered resources and strategic leadership that enabled Small Biz Cares to engage the business community to raise funds for scholarships, march in PRIDE and make blankets for foster youth. Volunteer efforts also provided support for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, community strengthening and environmental organizations. ●
For over a half-century, team members at PENZONE Salons + Spas have offered their time, talented hands and caring hearts to community organizations throughout Central Ohio. Under the leadership of President and CEO Debbie Penzone, the company advocates for causes that empower and support women and children.
Recently, the PENZONE team was thrilled to make a little girl’s dreams come true. The Make-A-Wish foundation reached out to the salon team to grant the girl’s wish of a photoshoot. The salon provided a special makeover, complete with hair styling and makeup.
This year, PENZONE also began supporting Freedom a la Cart, an organization that empowers survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation to build lives of freedom and self-sufficiency. The team provided hair and makeup services to graduates of CATCH Court, one of the three primary levels of service under the Freedom a la Cart umbrella.
PENZONE’s additional philanthropic activities in 2022 include providing back-to-school haircuts for more than 80 students through the Groveport Human Needs Program; continuing to support the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, including providing funds and volunteer time for the Paint the Town Pink event; and partnering with the YMCA in support of the organization’s Girls on the Run spring and fall 5K races, including donating cash sponsorships, volunteering at the Happy Hair Booth to paint hair for the young participants and providing hair services during the Girls on the Run Sneaker Soiree; and participating in the Dress for Success “Dine. Drink. Dress” event. ●
Kara Trott helps others through difficult times — and she inspires others to do the same.
The founder and board chair of Quantum Health was determined that individuals would not have to navigate their healthcare journey alone, and in 1999, she founded Quantum Health, launching the industry of health care navigation. As a result, today, more than 2.3 million people employed by over 450 employers around the country can access a trusted partner to help with the complex world of care delivery.
Trott has ensured that giving back is part of Quantum Health’s DNA through myriad philanthropic initiatives, including supporting more than 20 nonprofits such as the American Red Cross and Fairy Goodmothers, which provides prom dresses and accessories to girls in need. In addition, it provides longtime support to the LifeCare Alliance Meals-on-Wheels program, including funds and meal delivery, and offers support to the Make-A-Wish foundation through financial contributions. It also grants associates five paid days annually to volunteer for the nonprofit of their choice and donates $100 to nonprofits on behalf of associates who volunteer there.
Trott also has a lifetime affiliation with The Ohio State University, starting with her father, Richard Trott, who graduated from the Knowlton School of Architecture and co-designed OSU’s Wexner Center for the Arts with Peter Eisenman. A 1991 graduate of the Moritz College of Law, she has endowed five OSU professorships.
Trott serves as a member of The Ohio State University Foundation Board and serves as vice chair of the board of trustees at Ohio Wesleyan University. ●
Since its founding in 1983, The Daimler Group has supported dozens of organizations serving Central Ohio, with a particular focus on community health, education and children with special needs.
Under the leadership of Daimler President Robert White Jr., the company has given generously to institutions, including The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), Columbus Urban League, Flying Horse Farms, KIPP Columbus, Marburn Academy, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation, New Albany Community Foundation, Ohio Cancer Research Associates, OhioHealth Foundation and the Recreation Unlimited Foundation.
In 2007, The Daimler Group decided to further advance its commitment to the community by establishing The Daimler Group Foundation of The Columbus Foundation. Since its inception, it has contributed to causes throughout the region, including significant, steady and transformational support to education- and health-focused organizations. Its financial support is bolstered by the personal giving of Daimler leaders Bob White Sr., Bob White Jr., Tom White and their families through the White Family Foundation.
Additionally, Daimler encourages team member volunteerism and regularly facilitates activities such as food and coat drives, a Holiday Wish Program in partnership with Franklin County Children Services and the Buddy Box Program of the Family Mentor Foundation.
In 2023, The Daimler Group is celebrating its 40th anniversary and reflecting on its storied history of generosity. The company’s multifaceted approach to service and passionate leadership has left an undeniable impact on the communities of Central Ohio. ●
Medical Mutual Share Award
An integral part of McKesson Corp., CoverMyMeds® helps people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives and solves medication access challenges for patients throughout every step of their journey.
Community is core to the culture at the company, as team members are always focused on where business, service and employee passions intersect, and the company has created a dynamic where people have become the heart of giving back. Under the leadership of President Kevin Kettler, employees drive their philanthropic interests, and CoverMyMeds helps accelerate their impact.
Volunteer opportunities are customized in collaboration with Besa, the Columbus-based organization that curates community service projects. The partnership has cultivated unique experiences for employees and provided them with the space to give back based on their interests.
Employees and teams can request activities through the Besa platform to participate in team building and engagement. Year-to-date, CoverMyMeds employees have contributed over 3,000 hours of volunteering.
The most successful community programming at CoverMyMeds grows through grass-roots initiatives. An example is the annual participation and fundraising for Pelotonia. This event has evolved to include live and virtual fundraisers. Marking their ninth year of support, employees raised $193,312 for cancer research in 2022, and cumulatively, CoverMyMeds has contributed over $1 million to the cause.
Another pillar event is CoverMyCommunity, a month-long competition now in its fourth year. Employees sign up as teams or individuals to volunteer as many hours as possible each August, and the winning team and individual receive a donation to a charity of their choice. The event continues to grow in participation, impact and celebration. This year, 220 employees gave over 1,500 hours to more than 100 organizations during the annual event.
Employees’ innovative ideas have developed into some of the most popular community engagement initiatives. For example, Innovation Days is an annual week-long initiative where employees identify a gap in health care and work in teams to find a solution.
During the 2021 Innovation Days competition, a group of employees tracked social determinants of health and their connection to illness, then identified local nonprofits working to address challenges related to access to services and healthy lifestyles. The team made a pitch to support the work of these nonprofits by funding their initiatives and sharing resources.
The services and engagement CoverMyMeds provides to community partners help employees invest in the neighborhoods they call home. ●
Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
John P. Brody has served as a Directions for Youth & Families (DFYF) Board member for over eight years, holding several positions during his service. DFYF is a resiliency-oriented, trauma-informed agency whose mission is to build and inspire hope and healing for youth, families and communities. The agency has been serving the most vulnerable in Central Ohio since 1899 when its predecessor, Crittenton Family Services, opened a home for unwed mothers. DFYF continues to serve those who are most in need and is an affiliate member of National Crittenton.
In 2019, Brody became chair and developed five ad hoc committees so that the board could assist in addressing challenges the agency was facing. An example of his “helping partner” mindset occurred when he stepped up to the chair position. Brody informed his for-profit employer that he would temporarily reduce his work hours to make DFYF his No. 1 priority. It was an incredible personal and professional sacrifice that highlighted his commitment to an all-in attitude. When COVID hit, he agreed to extend his term for a third year to provide stability during a time of rapid change and unprecedented stay-at-home orders.
As chair, Brody helped guide the agency through a capital campaign and was one of eight individuals who served on the Capital Campaign Leadership Team for a new Crittenton Community Center. Additionally, he served on the Building Committee for the project. His expertise as a lawyer has been invaluable as DFYF made its way through contracts, agreements, permits, easements, and other construction and design concerns. ●
Erin Shannon’s extraordinary impact on LifeCare Alliance spans from the boardroom to the nonprofit’s kitchens. For the past 20 years, she has contributed to the mission of LifeCare Alliance in every possible capacity, culminating in her status as newly appointed chair.
In addition to serving as chair of the board of directors, she dedicates time to volunteering and preparing Meals-on-Wheels for delivery. She chairs the Capital Campaign Steering Committee while making time to meet with potential donors alongside LifeCare Alliance’s senior vice president of pevelopment. No task that impacts LifeCare Alliance is too great or small for Shannon’s attention.
A fourth-generation member of the Ingram family, she represents a legacy of lasting impact on the work of LifeCare Alliance and a rich history of personal, family and corporate support through the Ingram-White Castle Foundation. Her mother and great-grandmother served on LifeCare Alliance’s board or the board of one of its programs, the Columbus Cancer Clinic.
Shannon’s advocacy for LifeCare Alliance has resulted in transformational support from White Castle System Inc. and the foundation; in 2021, the foundation awarded the organization a $100,000 unrestricted grant. Shannon leads by example, joining alongside White Castle team members and executives who volunteer with LifeCare Alliance several times a year. She not only supports LifeCare Alliance with her time and talent but also makes significant financial contributions each year.
Shannon’s dedication to LifeCare Alliance’s mission to Nourish the Human Spirit cannot be understated. Her support is truly part of the bedrock of the organization’s impact on the community. ●
For anyone who has had the pleasure of working with Nancy Kramer, chief evangelist for IBM Consulting and founder and former CEO of Resource/Ammirati, one of her best and most endearing qualities is her infectious laugh.
But Kramer’s dedication to and passion for her work and community are no laughing matter. A pioneer in a field dominated by men in the early 1980s, Kramer founded, developed and led a world-renowned digital marketing company, Resource/Ammirati, which IBM acquired in 2016. Her first client was an up-and-coming company called Apple.
Thanks to her thoughtful, strategic guidance, Resource’s growth cemented her as one of the best and brightest in the tech world. She has leveraged leadership skills and entrepreneurial savvy to strengthen her hometown of Columbus through financial support, civic leadership and big ideas that helped move the needle locally, nationally and internationally. Appointed to The Columbus Foundation Governing Committee in 2014, Kramer has served as both vice chairperson and chairperson, leading the nine-member volunteer committee that is so instrumental to the ongoing success and longevity of The Columbus Foundation’s work.
During her tenure, The Columbus Foundation has doubled in asset size. Kramer has also been an advocate for and supporter of The Columbus Foundation’s groundbreaking work around human-centered design and ensuring that every voice is heard when brainstorming solutions for challenges in the community. Her passion for good and rapport as a civic leader have made her an instrumental force in furthering The Columbus Foundation’s mission: To strengthen and improve the community for the benefit of all its residents. ●
Donald Brown has served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for NiSource since 2015. That same year, he joined United Way of Central Ohio’s board of trustees and quickly became a valued and trusted leader within the board and United Way’s Finance Committee.
Brown was elected as Finance Committee chair and treasurer in 2017 and served as board chair from 2019 to 2021. He is in his final term as past board chair, serves on the Executive Committee and the Nominating and Governance Committee, and continues to be a visionary strategic adviser to the United Way team. He was instrumental as a member of Strategy Task Force that developed lines of business to advance Success by Third Grade, a new countywide effort. This initiative will directly impact the many factors inhibiting student achievement, with the goal of putting all children in Central Ohio on the path to success by the end of third grade. He also championed United Way’s United for Impact campaign (formerly Knock Out Poverty), helping to raise a collective $1.1 million for human service agencies in Central Ohio since it began in 2017.
Brown has more than 20 years of experience in financial leadership roles in the regulated utility and consulting industries. In addition to serving on United Way of Central Ohio’s board, he is a member of the board of directors for KIPP Columbus and the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. He is also a member of the Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association and serves on the board of directors of Allstate Corp. ●
Philanthropist Of The Year Award
Under the leadership of Founder and Executive Director Zerqa Abid, MY Project USA protects and empowers American youth to reject drugs, gangs, sexual exploitation, bullying, violence and radicalization while creating opportunities to become productive citizens and strong community leaders. Abid’s generosity with her time and treasure has resulted in a thriving organization that improves the lives of thousands and serves as a second home for hundreds of youths.
Without Abid’s philanthropy, MY Project USA would not exist. Drawing on her career and experiences as a Muslim immigrant mother, she founded the organization in 2014 after hearing about local Muslim girls who ran away from parental abuse and were trafficked by a gang. Since its founding, Abid has helped MY Project USA grow to provide curriculum-based out-of-school programming focused on technology and creative arts, career and higher-education mentorship, youth leadership opportunities and the popular Hilltop Tigers Soccer Club.
Her understanding that strong youth need strong families led Abid to expand programming to include a partnership with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective. The collaboration provides families food and creates wraparound services for adults, including housing and utilities support, immigration and employment assistance, and parenting education.
Using her ties within the community, Abid has developed ongoing partnerships with other organizations, local political leaders and city departments, including the Columbus Division of Police and the Department of Recreation and Parks. She has also attracted diverse professionals to the board. Currently, Judge Sheryl K. Munson works with Abid to address systemic issues Columbus families face through the Hilltop Youth Social Justice Collaborative and MY Justice Warriors.
Thanks to Abid’s dedication, MY Project USA has served 200,000 clients in eight years. The organization has mentored 750 youth leaders, engaged 450 youth in recreation programming, helped 200 youth and adults become employed and attracted more than 4,000 youth and adult volunteers. In addition, MY Project USA has provided 4.25 million meals, 80,000 hours of community services and 25,000 household goods, and launched 35 social service projects. The organization’s volunteer contributions to the community have an estimated value of $2.3 million.
Abid has dedicated far more than full-time hours in her role as executive director without drawing a salary. She and her family provided the initial start-up capital for MY Project USA and purchased the building that became the Youth Empowerment Center, the organization’s current home. Abid continues to be driven by her faith and a deep commitment to the people in her community. ●
Nonprofit Executive Director Of The Year
Matthew Goldstein was successful in his career at Abercrombie & Fitch but the weekend calls he took as a suicide hotline volunteer crushed him.
He wanted to do more to connect with the city he loved and realized many colleagues wanted the same. However, they lacked help finding opportunities. The need was clear, and so was the desire to give, and Goldstein began dreaming up a way to build a bridge between the two. He spent many late nights at his mentor’s kitchen table strategizing.
In 2012, Goldstein left corporate America to launch Besa, a nonprofit dedicated to reimagining civic engagement by connecting people and businesses with local charities. Lift one, he believes, and you lift us all. Under his leadership, Besa has evolved from a startup with one unpaid leader to a game-changing nonprofit bettering life for tens of thousands of people each year.
Besa developed a public web portal where individuals can find and register for communitywide volunteer opportunities. There are typically more than 80 volunteer opportunities a month, and most fill to capacity. Goldstein also developed a social enterprise, Besa Promise, that enables companies to manage comprehensive philanthropic programs. Clients represent some of the city’s largest companies, including Bath & Body Works, CoverMyMeds and Crane Group.
While Besa has designed and continually upgraded innovative digital platforms to execute its community- and business-facing work, Goldstein knew the key to success would be nurturing meaningful relationships. He has diligently built partnerships with more than 130 nonprofits, working to understand the community’s ever-changing needs and finding solutions for them. ●
In his six years as President and CEO, Frederic Bertley, Ph.D., has elevated COSI’s brand across the city, nation and world.
The formidable leader of the nation’s top science center three years running (as designated by USA Today’s 10 Best), Bertley has found numerous ways to turn challenges into opportunities. He introduced The Color of Science program, highlighting the incredible contributions of women and persons of color to modern science. It is designed to promote and showcase diversity within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields while inspiring the next generation to explore the variety of opportunities available in STEM-related careers.
In its inaugural year, 2019, the sold-out presentation and panel discussion highlighted the careers and lives of five Central Ohioans with expertise in a wide range of STEM careers. During the pandemic, The Color of Science went digital, with interviews including Kathy Sullivan, Ph.D., the first female American astronaut to spacewalk; 12-year-old Caleb Anderson, child prodigy and college sophomore; and a celebration of Black Comic Creators.
Also in 2019, Bertley and the COSI team launched the annual four-day COSI Science Festival in Central Ohio, with community events culminating in the day-long Big Science Celebration. The COSI team pivoted to a digital format when the pandemic restricted in-person events just weeks before the 2020 COSI Science Festival.
The virtual Science Festival continued the following year, with more online activities in 2021. In 2022, COSI returned to the original in-person model, and the community once again participated in four days of science events around Central Ohio. ●
Flying Horse Farms (FHF) is a medical specialty camp that helps children living with serious illnesses and their families heal, grow and thrive. Under the leadership of President and CEO Nichole E. Dunn, FHF’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan enhances the organization’s capabilities as a regional asset for holistic healing for children and the people who support them.
FHF has provided more than 8,000 experiences in its first decade, achieving outcomes including increased confidence, reduced stress, strengthened family interactions and improved sense of belonging. These outcomes counterbalance the compounding negative effects of social determinants of health and the growing mental health epidemic affecting many young people today.
Dunn has championed the elevation of FHF psychosocial health services by establishing mental and behavioral health conditions as primary diagnoses for the 2023 camp season. Through relationships with hospital champions and school-based partners, campers with anxiety, depression or other behavioral health diagnoses will participate in a therapeutic program designed through a trauma-informed lens, with the goal of resiliency for all.
Additionally, Dunn’s leadership has been paramount within the SeriousFun Children’s Network (SFCN), a global network of medical specialty camps. She is chair of the CEO Council and serves on the SFCN Board of Directors. Through her service, FHF is positioned as a vanguard in delivering psychosocial services, medical excellence, financial stability and a values-based approach to partnership and business.
Dunn is fiercely dedicated to the camp’s core value, “With Trust Comes Relief.” This motto is the foundation of her leadership as she builds trust with staff, board members, donors, volunteers and camper families. ●
Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
The American Electric Power (AEP) – International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 1466 United Way campaign is one of the most powerful in Central Ohio. The campaign operates as a united front across all business lines, administration, retirees and labor union affiliations. Under the leadership of President and CEO Nicholas Akins, it has come to annually raise over $1 million in employee giving throughout the region and is matched 50 percent by the AEP Foundation. As Akins plans his upcoming retirement after 11 years as CEO, United Way of Central Ohio is celebrating its partnership during his tenure and the dramatic shift in all aspects of support he has fostered.
Since 2011, when Akins became CEO, AEP’s employee engagement has been robust and year-round. His involvement in the planning and execution of such a large employee workplace campaign is proactive. He continually engages and personally endorses employees to donate and be recognized at leadership levels.
Employees have collectively raised just under $11 million to invest in Central Ohio, and five of Akins’ 11 years have set new philanthropic records. Additionally, grant dollars provided through the AEP Foundation have been transformational for programs supporting basic needs and student success.
Akins is often the first leader to ensure corporate support in the business community, leading to the creation of initiatives that include Stable Families and the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, and promoting a culture of giving has included personal contributions in the early stages of campaigns. Akins and his wife, Donna, have personally contributed a substantial amount in the past 11 years, and he has contributed to the United Way for more than four decades as an AEP employee.
In 2014, Akins began the “Nick’s Pick Three” challenge, designed to keep leadership endorsement visible and genuine throughout the year. Team members personally promote activities within the campaign timeframe, encouraging volunteerism and advocacy. Additionally, Akins’ attitude toward business and giving has inspired many internal contests, sparking good-natured competition between AEP Ohio and AEP Transmission.
Leaders might wear opponent-designed T-shirts, wash cars or make breakfasts — all in good fun while raising money in ways that celebrate employee talents. Akins has even lent his drumming talents and peer CEO band, the Power Chords, to raise money and awareness for United Way and its nonprofit partners. ●