2023 Pillar Award for Community Service – Northeast Ohio


Medical Mutual and Smart Business welcome you to the Pillar Awards for Community Service. For more than two decades, the Pillar Awards have recognized organizations and individuals that are making positive impacts in their communities through volunteering, charitable giving, pro bono work and more.

At Medical Mutual, we challenge ourselves every day to “Be the Difference” — to our members, to each other and to the community. This is rooted in our refreshed mission: Uniting with our partners to help people live healthier through all stages of life. That mission drives the work we do with our nonprofit partners to improve the physical, financial and mental health of people across Ohio.

Our efforts address needed access points to care, connect community members with resources that assist in daily living and help remove the obstacles many Ohioans face, such as food insecurity, financial barriers to education and access to high-speed internet.

Steve Glass, President & CEO, Medical Mutual

Foundational to Medical Mutual’s community support is our SHARE program. Through this volunteer initiative, our employees support dozens of nonprofits and community groups across the state each year. 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.

This year’s Pillar Award recipients bring the strongest 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 the 2023 Pillar Awards honorees. ●




Pillar Award Honorees


Apex Clinical Research Center
Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga, Founder and President

Apex Clinical Research Center is a friendly, engaging and empowering local dermatology practice that aims to transform not only patients’ lives but also the community, through expert dermatology care. As a veteran and member of the Hispanic community, Founder and President Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga, M.D. understands firsthand the importance of giving back and helping those in underserved areas.


Dr. Garcia founded Apex’s Purple Heart Program to offer free scar revision to veterans injured in active duty. He understands that this opportunity can help heal more than just the skin and can go a long way toward improving confidence and happiness for deserving veterans. This program is open to applicants year-round through its website.

Apex offers free skin cancer spot checks each year in May, Melanoma Awareness month, at all 14 of its locations. This annual event provides hundreds of people with potentially life-saving screenings at no cost. Besides the annual company-wide event, Apex providers donate their time and expertise at multiple other free skin checks throughout the year.

Apex continues its commitment to promoting a healthy and active community by taking part in local events. In 2023, Apex is the presenting sponsor of Miles for Melanoma, which funds the Melanoma Research Foundation, and the Apex Dermatology Freedom 5K, which honors veterans and supports the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. It has contributed over 50 Apex baskets for fundraisers helping fellow Ohioans.

As Apex’s footprint in Northeast Ohio continues to grow, so does its desire to give back. ●


BlueBridge Networks Kevin Goodman, Managing Director

Standing true to the principles on which the company was founded, BlueBridge Networks and Managing Director Kevin Goodman remain focused on reinforcing the strength of the community in several key areas, including economic development/job creation, education, research/innovation, security and disaster recovery/business continuity.

This commitment is demonstrated through participation in a number of organizations, including the American Red Cross, where Goodman serves as a board member of the Greater Cleveland Chapter; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the Cleveland Orchestra; the City of Cleveland — Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board; the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, of which Goodman is a past member of the executive board and where he currently serves on the Business Advisory Board; and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

BlueBridge Networks, a cloud computing and data center provider, has forged lasting relationships with organizations that not only align with its principles but that also seek to strengthen the community and society. It lends its time and talents to these organizations, among others, because it believes this is its obligation as a good corporate citizen. It strives to give voice to those in situations of poverty and provide educational opportunities to affect change and support activities such as research, development, recovery and recreation, and leisure that improve the quality of life.

BlueBridge also offers support to organizations that embody its goals, doing whatever it can to enhance the lives of its neighbors and the community at large, lifting up the parts of the community that are in need. ●


Cleveland Jewish Publication Co.
Kevin S. Adelstein, President, Publisher and CEO

The mission of The Cleveland Jewish Publication Co., which was founded in October 1964, is to perform a public service to the Jewish community of Northeast Ohio by providing a quality weekly newspaper that fully presents local, national and world news of Jewish interest.

It offers commentary, interpretation and background on events of the day as a means of stimulating the concern and response vital to the fulfillment of readers’ responsibilities as Americans and Jews, enriching the cultural life both of individuals and the community through the presentation of features, articles, reviews and other material of Jewish content and interest. It also provides communication to enable members the Jewish community of Northeast Ohio to express their viewpoints on matters of Jewish interest.

Led by President, Publisher and CEO Kevin S. Adelstein, the CJPC provides the Jewish community of Northeast Ohio with an award-winning news website, relevant magazines and community events that further its mission. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2024, the CJPC has grown significantly over the past decade into multiple cities to support and engage Jewish communities with a quality, focused newspaper to inform and educate them with local, timely and relevant news, commentary and information.

The CJPC has been a media sponsor for a number of events, supporting them through news coverage, donations and staff participation. It has made a significant investment in showing its support of the State of Israel through its continuing purchase of Israel bonds. ●


Cleveland Metroparks
Brian M. Zimmerman, CEO

Cleveland Metroparks continues to work to create an organizational culture of giving, and volunteerism is essential to its daily operations. Beginning with its robust volunteer arm, it views its volunteers as an official extension of its organization and critical to operations, with more than 5,400 volunteers who serve in key roles such as trail ambassadors, guest services and projects across the Park District. Over the last three years, Cleveland Metroparks volunteers contributed over 325,000 hours of service.

With such a robust external volunteer program, Cleveland Metroparks — led by CEO Brian M. Zimmerman — also launched an employee volunteer program, Cleveland Metroparks Cares, to encourage employees to stay connected and involved in their communities. Employees lend their voluntary support to programs and causes they believe in that positively impact the quality of life within these communities. This program was created to boost employee morale, create a sense of belonging and contribute to a culture of caring.

Cleveland Metroparks Cares provides a way for employees to give back during their workday, with paid time off to participate. In its first year, 146 staff volunteers contributed 415 hours to community organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. The program allows employees to focus on their personal wellbeing, both mentally and physically. Volunteering reduces stress levels and provides an outlet for employees to decompress, whether through physical activity or the personal satisfaction gained by helping others.

Through this program, employees can make meaningful connections and build bonds with colleagues outside of their regular workspace, promoting inclusion and a welcoming work environment. ●


Andrew Eich, President and CEO

Covia’s leadership believes that when communities thrive, everyone benefits from a brighter, more prosperous future. Across the organization, and with the help of President and CEO Andrew Eich and its dedicated team members, Covia strives to give its best back to its communities by investing time, talent and financial resources.

The company, which provides a broad array of high-quality minerals and material solutions for the industrial and energy markets, values the relationships it has built with its communities. Meaningful interactions with neighbors, community members, customers and partners have helped shape the organization and will continue to inspire and guide Covia. Its comprehensive community engagement and philanthropic initiatives are overseen by The Covia Foundation, established to formalize the approach to operating as a responsible corporate citizen.

It is proud to work with organizations on initiatives that create growth and leave a lasting impact across four pillars: health and wellness, education, environment, and social equality. Each represents an area of significance to its communities, team members and other stakeholders. Covia is proud to foster meaningful partnerships and collaborate with more than 250 organizations in its local communities.

In addition, the company helps team members support organizations and initiatives they care about, providing 1:1 matching gifts up to $1,000 each year. Employees can earn grant money for a charity for every 20 hours of volunteer time and are allotted 24 hours of paid volunteer time off to invest in their passions. ●


JACK Entertainment
Mark Dunkeson, Principal and CEO

JACK Entertainment promotes a culture of community involvement, encouraging team members to volunteer at events such as food and toy drives, school supply drives, Habitat for Humanity and many others.

JACK is a Cleveland-based urban gaming company focused on the development of gaming facilities designed to maximize connectivity and economic impact in the areas where they are located. The organization boasts more than 1,400 team members, 14 bars and restaurants, and 150,000 square feet of gaming space.

JACK also donates to nonprofit organizations to further support the community and organizations bringing resources to those underserved. Led by Principal and CEO Mark Dunkeson, JACK Entertainment is deeply committed to being a champion for good in Northeast Ohio.

From its start, the organization has understood that being a responsible member in its communities means contributions of time, energy and its unique expertise, focusing on a number of areas, including stabilization of Northeast Ohio neighborhoods. This includes a focus on urban revitalization, neighborhood beautification, art and cultural associations, and educational initiatives. It also encourages involvement in human services, including veterans, homelessness, senior care and cancer awareness.

JACK Entertainment is committed to serving the communities in which it does business and believes strongly in the philosophy of giving back. Its team members regularly participate in events such as walkathons and volunteer days, and team giving extends beyond cash donations to volunteering time and energy.

JACK also provides certificates for property services, including meals at its restaurants, and donates gift shop items to charitable organizations. ●


MAI Capital Management LLC
Rick Buoncore, Managing Partner

Founded initially to serve pro golfer Arnold Palmer, today MAI Capital Management is a comprehensive wealth management firm that empowers clients to simplify, protect and grow their wealth so they have more time to enjoy everything they have built. The key to its success lies in building a business around three pillars: Take care of clients, take care of each other and take care of its communities.

Led by Managing Partner Rick Buoncore, it has created a people-first environment. From the top down, everyone at MAI works hard to ensure that people are taken care of. From building solid relationships to team member development and everything in between, MAI leadership sets the tone of inclusivity and community. Outside the office, MAI leaders and team members are actively engaged with approximately 150 boards, charities and organizations, dedicating more than 7,000 hours annually to making a difference.

The firm also showcases the importance of living its values through a monthly employee award. Team members can nominate a colleague for the way he or she has showcased sharing time, treasure, or talent to help their clients, colleagues, or communities. By spotlighting these stories, MAI creates an environment where employees are acknowledged for their quiet, often unseen, acts of kindness and charity.

By connecting with others, paying forward its successes and sharing its gifts with its communities — whether time, treasure, or talent — it continuously builds and lives its culture of service. MAI team members are servants — of their clients, of each other and of their communities. ●


National Safety Apparel
Charles Grossman, CEO

From a very early age, the leadership team at National Safety Apparel (NSA) had a philanthropic mindset that has turned into a driving factor of its culture as the largest manufacturer of American-sewn safety apparel.

NSA CEO Charles Grossman has always been involved personally and professionally with community service efforts such as making financial contributions and volunteering over the years with organizations such as Global Cleveland, Ronald McDonald House, Youth Challenge, Esperanza Threads and others, but it wasn’t strategic. Grossman wanted to develop a branch of NSA that is organized and consistent in its efforts to help the local community.

NSA employed people from all over the world, partnering with local refugee organizations to provide employment opportunities for new arrivals, leading to over 40 nationalities being represented in the Cleveland plant alone.

But it wanted to do more. Last year, it built the Community Support Committee to give back to its local community. The first event, a Women’s Hygiene Collection Drive, collected donations to make 100 care packages that were donated to The City Mission of Cleveland and FrontLine Service. And a book drive for kids 18 and under collected books to be donated to The Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank.

Employee-driven and company-supported efforts were met with enthusiasm, compassion, strong participation and eagerness to see what is on the horizon. Plans are in the works for a December food drive, followed by at least one event per quarter, to reach as many community-based organizations as possible. ●


Rocket Mortgage
John Wargo, Senior Vice President

Rocket Mortgage Senior Vice President John Wargo has led the organization through arguably the hardest market in the history of mortgages. Interest rates are the highest in decades, yet Rocket Mortgage still maintained a building of over 300 team members, many of whom have had the best years of their careers.

It has dedicated more than 1,000 hours to community service and nonprofits to give back to the community where its team members live, work and play. Rocket Mortgage considers itself not a nonprofit but a more-than-profit organization and has worked with Ronald McDonald House, Empower Sports and the Cleveland Food Bank, among others. Wargo is also a former board member of Ronald McDonald House and still works closely with the organization.

Rocket Mortgage is expanding its sales force by starting to hire again. To attract and retain employees, it gives team members paid time off in the form of personal development hours and provides some of the classes/experiences through the company. It is constantly working on new and better ways to access its amazing space in the historic Higbee building, preserving the history of the building while adding a free gym, arcade games, pool tables and video game areas.

Its real estate company in the family of companies, Bedrock, is leading the charge on the Cuyahoga Riverfront Project to invest back into the city, and Rocket Mortgage has started more leadership development classes.
In addition, it has a DE&I offsite program where senior leaders learn about how to excel in that area. ●


Taylor Oswald
Eddie Taylor, President

Eddie Taylor is president of Taylor Oswald, a venture between Oswald Cos. and Taylor. Oswald Cos. is one of the nation’s largest independent, employee-owned insurance brokerage firms and an operating company under Unison Risk Advisors.

A native of Northeast Ohio, Taylor is a past chairman of the board of trustees of Allegheny College. He was founding chairman of the board of directors for the Cleveland Leadership Center and is the former board chair of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the American Red Cross.

In addition, he is current chair of the Cuyahoga County Citizens’ Advisory Council on Equity and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Taylor serves as a board member for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Burton D. Morgan Foundation and other nonprofit and company boards.

In 2011, Taylor, a recognized Northeast Ohio business and civic leader, combined his business experience and insurance background to partner with Oswald Cos. to create a breakthrough initiative in the insurance industry. The result is Taylor Oswald, a minority-owned risk management firm dedicated to innovative solutions that contribute to clients’ successes in today’s changing world.

With an inherent belief in equity, the company embraces its differences and seeks to build lasting and trusting client and employee relationships with every interaction, every day. True organizational strength comes when your team embraces the core beliefs of integrity, community and inclusion, backed by the confidence of knowing their employer has them covered at every turn. ●


WKYC Studios
Micki Byrnes, President and General Manager

WKYC Studio’s “Education Station” campaign is a station-wide effort to identify the biggest post-pandemic challenges facing Northeast Ohio schoolchildren, and to be solution-oriented in its news coverage and advocacy efforts. This multi-pronged initiative has mobilized dozens of employees to get involved to make a difference and earned it the 2023 Emmy for Community Service.

When reporting revealed a disturbing drop in K-3 literacy scores at Cleveland schools as a result of the pandemic, WKYC adopted Charles Dickens School, a Cleveland public school where none of the third-graders were reading at grade level. It asked viewers to join employees for an after-school tutoring program, and in just five months, its “Dickens Reads” program for second- and third-graders saw major results. At the end of the 2021-22 school year, the 15 participating students jumped one grade level ahead in reading, and 1.5 grades in spelling.

WKYC — led by President and General Manager Micki Byrnes — also collaborates with College Now of Greater Cleveland annually on a month-long “Mentor Mondays” campaign that helps College Now recruit the volunteer mentors to be matched with college-bound students. In 2022, the media exposure that WKYC provided helped College Now recruit 275 volunteers. And this year, it recruited 323 mentors.

WKYC’s success with Education Station — and in particular, with Dickens Reads — shows the impact a TV station can have when it focuses on a societal problem and rallies the public to make a difference. Staffers are exceptionally proud they invented an after-school tutoring program that had a measurable impact on student reading ability. ●


ZuZu Chocolates
Tamara Mlynowski, Owner and CEO

In just the four years of its existence, ZuZu Chocolates has had a significant impact on the community.

Since the company’s inception in 2019, ZuZu Chocolates has aimed to keep the community at the center of its business, largely through its incredible partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter. As part of its business model, the company donates a portion of all proceeds to the association to advance its efforts to improve the lives of those facing Alzheimer’s and other dementia illnesses.

This was an intentional partnership from day one, as the name ZuZu Chocolates was created in honor of Owner and CEO Tamara Mlynowski’s mother, who has been living with Alzheimer’s for more than 15 years. Mlynowski’s experience as a caregiver fuels her to push further in raising critical funds and awareness for the cause.

She has a tremendous passion and unwavering commitment, growing ZuZu Chocolates from a home business to dessert truck to storefront, all during the pandemic and all while keeping charity at the forefront of her work.

She has supported the association through its two signature events: Walk to End Alzheimer’s® and The Longest Day®. She has found success in fundraising through donating a portion of ZuZu Chocolates’ proceeds, holding creative giveback days throughout the year and hosting its annual fundraiser.

ZuZu Chocolates has been consistently recognized as one of the Cleveland Area Chapter’s top five local fundraisers for The Longest Day, while reaching Champions Club status for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. ●


Medical Mutual Share Award


KeyBank Corporation
Christopher Gorman, Chairman and CEO

Led by Chairman and CEO Christopher Gorman, KeyBank Corporation is one of the United States’ largest bank-based financial services companies. Gorman is responsible for leading more than 17,000 teammates, and he and his employees serve more than 3.5 million clients.

Gorman is focused on, and dedicated to, delivering shareholder value, keeping the client experience central to all priorities, lifting and revitalizing communities and maintaining a diverse, experienced and engaged board of directors and team.

KeyBank has also been a vital partner to Cuyahoga Community College since 1993. The impact of KeyBank’s partnership has been transformational, removing barriers and increasing access to education and training, ultimately benefiting the entire community. KeyBank’s substantial long-standing commitment to the college and the broader community have had a significant and positive impact on the educational and economic opportunities available to community members. Tri-C would not be the institution it is today without the significant support and partnership of KeyBank over the last three decades.

In November 2022, KeyBank Foundation invested in Tri-C’s Reimagining Workforce Training in Northeast Ohio initiative to support the college’s ongoing efforts to increase innovative, accessible workforce training that addresses employment and earnings gaps in Cleveland. Additionally, the KeyBank Public Safety Training Center has enabled Tri-C to expand public safety education and training to encourage a more diverse workforce. Because of KeyBank’s investment, Tri-C increased enrollment of women by 155 percent and minorities by 68 percent in first responder training programs, engaged over 300 youth in the public safety summer program and provided 493 scholarships to minorities and females, with more than 300 degrees awarded to date.

Since 1999, KeyBank and the KeyBank Foundation have made substantial financial contributions to additional scholarship funds, such as the KeyBank Creative Arts Scholarship Fund, KeyBank Business Endowed Scholarship Fund and the KeyBank Hispanic Endowed Scholarship Fund. Over time, KeyBank’s endowed scholarship funds have helped more than 1,060 students access a Tri-C education and will continue to support more students in the future.

Its passion to ensure that individuals are able to fulfill their dreams is evident through its generous philanthropic investments, including significant support for workforce preparation and entry initiatives.

KeyBank Foundation’s mission supports organizations and programs that prepare individuals for thriving futures, focusing on neighbors, education and workforce through grants and sponsorships. And Gorman was recently a campaign co-chair for the Tri-C Foundation’s Skills to Succeed Campaign. ●

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award


Greer Gibbons
President, Board of Trustees, Youth Challenge

Greer Gibbons has left an indelible mark on Youth Challenge, embodying a spirit of dedication and service throughout a two-decade journey. From her first role as a teen volunteer to her current role as the first volunteer alumna board president, her impact is immeasurable.

Over the last two decades, Gibbons has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Youth Challenge, serving as a teen volunteer, summer staff member, Young Professionals for Youth Challenge participant, trustee, and now, board president. She sees Youth Challenge not just as an organization but a way of life, fostering inclusivity so that young people with physical disabilities and their volunteer partners can discover themselves and their voices.

Beyond her role at Youth Challenge, Gibbons serves as a global project manager for the Lubrizol Corp., bringing her can-do attitude, subject matter expertise and commitment to non-negotiable quality to her professional and volunteer work. She has seamlessly integrated her science skills into her role at Youth Challenge, collaborating with her Lubrizol colleagues to host fun and educational programming for young people with physical disabilities. She is also involved in community initiatives, including mentoring through the Greater Cleveland College Now Program, participating in the Cleveland Zoological Society’s group for young professionals and contributing to her church.

Gibbons’ dedication and leadership make her a driving force behind the organization’s success. Through her journey from a teenage volunteer to board president, she exemplifies the transformative power of Youth Challenge, embodying its mission in every aspect of her life. ●


Dianne Vogt
Board of Directors Chairperson, Crossroads Health

Dianne Vogt joined New Directions’ board of directors in 2012 and has had increasing leadership roles, including co-chair of the Development and Marketing & Communications Committee, secretary and vice chair, and had been board of directors chairperson since 2021.

In 2022, New Directions and Crossroads Health formally merged after a long-term strategic partnership. The agencies have shared a common board and leadership team for the past 12 years. Under Vogt’s leadership, the newly merged organization has taken steps to become a Federally Qualified Health Center. This year, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration/Health Resources and Services Administration awarded Crossroads Health the designation of Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike.

The designation is affirmation of Crossroads Health’s community-based services and programs offered in partnership with The Lake County ADAMHS Board, such as Mobile Crisis Services, specialized services for veterans and first responders and expanded evidence-based services for co-occurring disorders, as well as adding physical health care in one single organization. This ability to evolve for the future, with better outcomes for clients, is more evident now than ever. Vogt’s leadership has played a critical role in this success.

Her board service is characterized by a positive and genuine care for others and community. She founded the HUGS Foundation (Hope, Understanding, Gratitude and Serenity) in 2008, which offers support to families of substance abusing adolescents.

In addition to serving as board chair and being involved on the Executive Committee, she maintains her Development and Marketing & Communications Committee co-chair position. ●


Theodore Wagner
Partner and Executive Committee Member, The City Mission

Theodore Wagner, partner and Executive Committee member, is a long-time supporter of The City Mission.

He began serving on the board in 1999 and has held a variety of roles, including treasurer, vice chair and chair of the board. He has served on a CEO search committee, assisted with the capital campaign for Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center and served on the camp committee when The City Mission ran Grand Valley Camp for Cleveland area youth. He has been consistent and unwavering in his service, in addition to holding a demanding role as a CPA at Bober Markey Federovich.

During his time with the mission, he has witnessed the highs and lows that come with being involved with a 113-year-old organization. Through economic downturns, staffing and board member changes, he has stayed faithful to The City Mission, helping to calmly guide its trajectory. His time of service has been one of exciting changes, including the opening of Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center in 2003, the start of Pathways youth program on site at Laura’s Home in 2012, the renovation of both mission campuses in 2020, the implementation of the Step-Up Bed system at Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center in 2023 and the upcoming transitional housing units on site at Laura’s Home in 2024.

He fosters a family legacy, which began decades ago with the involvement of his grandfather, when he helped begin The City Mission Support Foundation. ●

Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year


Flora Brett
Founder and Executive Director, Effective Leadership Academy

The Effective Leadership Academy (ELA), a Northeast Ohio nonprofit youth leadership and soft skills development organization, was formally incorporated in 2008, but the inspiration for its work and mission began years earlier. Founder and Executive Director Flora Brett had worked as the lead specialist in the largest pediatric intensive care unit and training hospital in the United Kingdom before emigrating to the United States in 2004. Here, she recognized a significant gap in leadership training in the educational community.

Spending two years in the kindergarten and first grade classroom with her youngest son, she observed many lost opportunities to enhance leadership and soft skills training in future leaders. With no specific solution identified, she forged forward with research, founding the Effective Leadership Academy in 2008. Brett adapted a curriculum she had developed in the United Kingdom for adults to equip students along the middle school to college continuum with the transferable skills they would need to be work- and citizenship-ready adults.

Brett has built ELA from a one-woman show into a dynamic team of individuals with a passion to make a difference in the world of future leaders. Internal and external evaluations of the program show that ELA changes the way students learn, grow, achieve, lead and manage themselves and others.

When ELA began, it served 37 students with three school partners. Today, the organization has touched the lives of more than 46,000 students in partnership with more than 230 schools and community youth-serving organizations. ●


Marianne Crosley
President and CEO, Cleveland Leadership Center

Marianne Crosley arrived in 2010 at the Cleveland Leadership Center shortly after it was created from the merger of what had been four separate programs. As president and CEO, she has shepherded the organization’s steady and successful growth to fully embody its mission, which is to build a continuum of civic leaders who are committed to the community’s excellence by serving as a catalyst for civic engagement.

Because of her leadership since then, those initial programs branched out with additional offerings to reach more people and have greater impact on the community. Four new programs were launched, two annual signature events were created, as were a free weekly virtual leader lunch break series and customized programming.

CLC also held a special fundraising campaign that led to the creation of the organization’s first endowment fund, which reached its $1 million goal in just over a year. The organization created a leadership council to engage more of its program alumni in the organization’s work and position them for future board leadership across the community. It also launched a pilot initiative to tap into the experience and expertise of senior-level leaders of color to inform, engage, and influence rising leaders of color, elevating their visibility and advancement into senior leadership positions.

Crosley’s energy, vision and hard work catalyzes and connects leaders across the community in new and exciting ways. She is the epitome of a servant leader, attuned to the needs of the community and confident enough to lead from wherever she needs to be. ●


Valerie Hillow Gates
Executive Director, American Heart Association

Valerie Hillow Gates, as executive director and market vice president of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association of Greater Cleveland, has had a transformative impact on the organization.

Over her remarkable 20-year tenure with the American Heart Association, her leadership has been instrumental in directly raising more than $100 million for the association’s mission. This exceptional career has been marked by a series of achievements and initiatives that have significantly advanced the association’s influence and impact within the community.

Under Gates’ leadership, the association carries out its mission across a six-county footprint in the Greater Cleveland region, empowering the health of more than 2.2 million residents.

Her exceptional contributions have not gone unnoticed; she has received numerous personal awards within the American Heart Association including, most recently, the 2023 Midwest Trailblazer Award and the 2022 Midwest Making an Extraordinary Impact Award. These accolades recognize her outstanding leadership and significant positive influence on the American Heart Association.

Gates’ leadership, vision and unwavering commitment to the mission of the American Heart Association in Greater Cleveland have brought about significant progress and success in fundraising, advocacy, children’s health and community engagement.

Gates employs a unique and highly effective management technique that revolves around leading with trust. She understands that trust is a critical component in fostering collaboration and driving positive change. She leads by example, demonstrating transparency, honesty and authenticity in her interactions with her team, colleagues and stakeholders. ●

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award


Kevin S. Adelstein
President, Publisher and CEO, Cleveland Jewish Publication Co.

Cleveland Jewish Publication Co. President, Publisher and CEO Kevin S. Adelstein serves on a number of local and national boards of directors and lends his time to myriad industry and community-based nonprofit organizations, making a difference in the communities where he lives and works.

The mission of The Cleveland Jewish Publication Co., founded in October 1964, is to perform a public service to the Jewish community of Northeast Ohio by providing a quality weekly newspaper that presents local, national and world news of Jewish interest, offering commentary, interpretation and background on events of the day as a means of stimulating the concern and response vital to the fulfillment of readers’ responsibilities as Americans and Jews. It also enriches the cultural life of individuals and the community through the presentation of features, articles, reviews and other material of Jewish content and interest, and provides communication to enable members the Jewish community of Northeast Ohio to express their viewpoints on matters of Jewish interest.

The CJPC also provides the Jewish community of Northeast Ohio with an award-winning news website, relevant magazines and community events that further its mission. The CJPC is not affiliated with any one program, organization, movement, or point of view within Jewish life, but expects to give expression to all phases of that life. The CJPC is completely independent, committed to the progress and continuity of Jewish life and to the democratic traditions that have made the United States a blessed land.

Preparing to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2024, the CJPC has grown significantly over the past decade, thanks to the leadership team headed by Adelstein, the board of directors and the organization’s professional staff. What once was a single newspaper company has grown and expanded to multiple cities around Ohio and other states to further support and engage those Jewish communities with a quality and focused newspaper to inform and educate the respective Jewish communities with local, timely and relevant news, commentary and information. This significantly improves the quality of life for those the CJPC serves.

Earlier this year, the Cleveland Jewish News hosted a Beachwood city council candidate debate, attended by more than 200 community members, aimed at informing and educating voters on the platforms of each local candidate seeking office in this predominantly Jewish suburb of Northeast Ohio. The company provided firsthand experience to Beachwood High School students by engaging them as video and audio operators during the debate. ●