2024 Pillar Award for Community Service – Greater Cincinnati


Medical Mutual and Smart Business welcome you to the Pillar Award 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.

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 2024 Pillar Award honorees. ●

Steve Glass, President & CEO, Medical Mutual







Pillar Award Honorees


BelFlex Staffing Network
Jason McCaw, CEO

B elFlex Staffing Network prides itself on giving back to the community through service. The manufacturing and light industrial staffing agency, led by CEO Jason McCaw, makes that an active part of its culture, and its team averages more than 2,400 volunteer hours each year. The company also supports more than 50 organizations across 10 states with its time and money, ranging from the Freestore Food Bank, to Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, to the Cancer Support Community.

Its Community Relations department has a mission to connect employees with the communities in which they live and work through outreach, donations and volunteerism. It focuses on local and regional organizations, and values donating time just as much as money. Employees can volunteer at organizations of their choice during work hours, with management’s approval.

To be supported by BelFlex, organizations must be 501(c)(3)s providing general human services for needs like housing and food; care or rescue for animals; or services for veterans and members of the Armed Services. Organizations supporting the environment are also a fit.

Outside of these charitable efforts, BelFlex looks for other ways to support its communities. In Northern Kentucky, it offers the free Logistics, Inventory Management, Facilities Management and Transportation — or LIFT — program to help train people for jobs. Participants get hands-on logistics training, as well as specialized coursework and networking opportunities. Participants certifications, including a Certified Logistics Associates and a Kentucky Essential Skills Certificate. And after completion of the 10-week program, BelFlex works to connect participants with employment. ●



BRG Apartments
Jeff March, Executive chairman

B RG Apartments, an operator of apartments in areas including Greater Cincinnati, aims to do more for communities than just provide housing. Under the leadership of Executive Chairman Jeff March, the company provides residents with reliable services and supports the communities it operates in through charitable donations and volunteer time.

Every year, BRG and its principals donate more than $250,000 to more than 50 local organizations meeting a variety of community needs, from schools to Boys & Girls Clubs to foodbanks. It also financially supports The Apartment Association Outreach Inc., a particular area of focus for BRG’s volunteerism. The Apartment Association Outreach offers services to residents that include rental and emergency assistance, food donations and school supplies for those in need.

BRG team members also volunteer their time to work at food pantries, decorate the Fisher House and participate in charitable 5Ks, and takes part in back-to-school drives and food drives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, BRG offered financial assistance for rent to residents in need, and the group has an internal employee assistance fund for employees facing challenges.

And in 2023, BRG took part in Stephen Shear’s 30/30/3,000 initiative, in which Shear attended 30 Major League Baseball games at 30 Major League stadiums — and provided 3,000 tickets to those games for underprivileged children to attend, with a goal of 100 children at each game. BRG helped by connecting Shear with the Cincinnati Reds and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati. ●



Cincinnati Reds
Robert H. Castellini, CEO

S ince its inception in 2001, the Reds Community Fund (RCF) has used baseball and softball as vehicles to improve the lives of youth and to improve the community.

As a separate, independent 501(c)3 nonprofit affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the RCF strives to create programming that connects underserved children ages 4 to 18 with baseball and softball while providing educational and personal development opportunities to help improve their futures. The organization reaches seven states throughout Reds Country, impacting more than 50,000 children and coaches each year. In addition, it invests nearly $2 million annually in youth baseball and softball programming and raises funds through donations, special events and ballpark activation.

For its contributions to the community, the Cincinnati Reds, led by CEO Robert H. Castellini, were named the recipient of the 2023 Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence, which recognizes the organization’s annual Reds Community Makeover program. The program serves as a community resource to provide revitalization efforts in underserved communities throughout the Greater Cincinnati region.

The annual Reds Community Fund initiative, now in its 14th year, began as a field renovation project with Procter & Gamble and has since transformed into a massive community-wide undertaking. As a result of work through the annual Community Makeover program, the Reds Community Funds, along with P&G, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and GE Aerospace, have invested more than $11 million through cash and in-kind support to some of Cincinnati’s most underserved communities. ●



Fifth Third Bank
Tim Spence, Chairman, president & CEO

F ifth Third Bank has long made giving back part of its mission. In 1948, it became the first financial institution to create a charitable foundation. Today, the bank, led by Chairman, president and CEO Tim Spence, works to become an integral part of its communities, not just support them.

That includes engaging in regular conversations across the community to identify its needs. Fifth Third Bank’s employees serve on a variety of boards, from major nonprofits to schools and churches, which the bank’s leadership views as a critical part of the institution’s role in the community. Employees are allowed flexible work schedules and other accommodations so they can participate in volunteer activities, which the bank encourages. In 2022, Fifth Third implemented a policy that allows full-time employees to take eight hours of paid work time every year to volunteer; part-time employees who work at least 20 hours a week can take four hours of paid work time to give back.

Fifth Third employees volunteer in a variety of spaces, coaching sports teams, fostering rescue pets and organizing fundraisers. In 2022, they spent more than 117,000 hours volunteering, about 42,000 of which were in the Cincinnati area.

And the company celebrates May 3 as Fifth Third Day, kicking off its Feeding our Communities initiative. In 2023, Fifth Third provided more than 11 million meals across its footprint — more than 800,000 of those in the Cincinnati area, made possible by donations and volunteer activities. ●



Rob Cybulski, Co-Founder & CEO

C onsulting firm Finit puts people ahead of profit. Under Co-founder and CEO Rob Cybulski, the firm works with organizations to create, implement and maintain Corporate Performance Management technology, taking financial data and using it to make impactful decisions. Its underlying approach to business helps it serve its clients, its employees and the communities in which it works.

With a focus on philanthropy, Finit works to meet local needs, including in its headquarters market of Cincinnati. For example, Finit takes part in the Adopt-A-Class program in the Cincinnati area, with employees mentoring students at schools in more challenged communities. Employees create lesson plans designed to connect math skills such as coding and statistics to real-world careers options.

The company has also expanded its volunteerism and donations beyond the local community. When employees travel for all-staff company meetings in other cities, it finds a way to give back there, as well. When the team traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in November, it brought donations to help local families.

Finit also enables its employees to support organizations of their choice, offering charitable contribution matching of up to $500 a year per employee to any 501(c)(3) organization, and paid time off for volunteer work in the form of eight hours a year. Employees can also suggest organizations to receive corporate donations from Finit through its Finit Advocacy Donations program; in 2023, it expected to donate about $24,000 to organizations recommended as part of this program. ●



Furniture Fair
Bill Daniels, President & CEO

H ome furnishings company Furniture Fair has grown over the years from a small store in Kentucky in the 1960s to the regional retailer it is today, but its foundation has stayed the same. Founder Robert Daniels wanted the company to provide quality products at fair prices with great service, and it continues to do so today.

The company first expanded to Fairfield, Ohio, in 1972, and while that store relocated in the mid-1980s, it today serves as the corporate headquarters for Furniture Fair. But through the changes, the company’s commitment to serving customers has extended to the entire community, and building strong community relations is viewed as part of the business.

The company, today led by President and CEO Bill Daniels, advocates for community causes, bringing customers, employees and other partners together, amplifying their reach. Furniture Fair also encourages volunteerism among its employees as part of its promotion of community engagement. It has contributed to toy and school supply donation drives for children in need, given mattresses and other home furnishings to a foster family after a fire and encouraged employees and customers alike to give to a local food bank.

It contributes to the community financially, as well. The furniture retailer has long supported the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In 2023, Furniture Fair’s fundraising efforts collected more than $130,000 for the society, and in the nearly 16 years since the two entered into their partnership, Furniture Fair has raised about $1.6 million. ●



Health Carousel
John Sebastian, CEO

H ealth Carousel works to both improve the way health care works and improve lives. The talent management company, led by CEO John Sebastian, has more than 500 administrative employees in four offices working to connect health care professionals with opportunities where their skills are needed.

The company’s #HCGivesBack program has four areas of focus: philanthropy, employee well-being, recognition and diversity and inclusion, which emphasizes health equity. And its regular, signature programs aim to raise awareness and fund raise.

In 2023, Health Carousel again partnered with Cincinnati nonprofit 1N5 on two programs, Fall Raffle for a Cause and the Fall Mental Health Series. Recent years have made it clear to Health Carousel’s leadership how important mental health services are, so the company has made it a larger priority. 1N5 works to prevent suicide by promoting mental wellness and reducing the stigma of mental illness.

As part of the Fall Mental Health Series, Health Carousel connected employees with 1N5’s annual Warrior Run and 5K Fundraiser and with the nonprofit’s mental health resources, including webinars. And funds raised by Health Carousel’s fourth annual Virtual Raffle for a Cause supported the nonprofit. Employees and leadership donated raffle items, from sports tickets to gift cards to golf outings and — with the Health Carousel leadership team matching every donated dollar — the raffle raised more than $42,000.

This past year, Health Carousel also partnered with Make a Wish Foundation, hosted blood drives in its offices and launched a charitable foundation to support nursing training and development globally. ●



Just Q’in BBQ
Matthew Cuff, Owner

A s the owner of Just Q’in BBQ — a restaurant that has grown from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar location — Matt Cuff has already experienced success. And while he plans to continue growing, he also works to help others achieve success, whether they work for his company or not.
Just Q’in BBQ isn’t your typical barbeque restaurant. Instead, it’s a Christian company founded on biblical beliefs that puts taking care of the details and showing love to everyone the restaurant serves first.

Cuff works to provide second chances to those who have faced challenges such as incarceration or homelessness. He hires people that many others won’t, and he pays them well. In recent years, Cuff has also created a nonprofit called RENEW, which takes making resources available to employees to another level. The goal of the organization is to start by offering programs and services to employees and then to eventually expand them and make opportunities available to the larger community.

RENEW aims to empower, equip and employ people. In terms empowerment, the program takes participants through personality assessments and goal-setting exercises. To equip them, it gives participants the tools they need to succeed, including job-readiness training, financial education and classes on skills such as budgeting and tax preparation. The program also connects people with resources in areas like housing, transportation and rent assistance.

And, finally, Cuff works to help participants in the nonprofit gain meaningful employment, whether it’s with his business or elsewhere. ●



Oswald Companies
Moira Lyon, Market leader

E mployee-owned Oswald Companies has made commitment to the community part of its core values, right alongside a passion for excellence, integrity and resourcefulness. Taking care of the communities the 130-year-old insurance brokerage and risk management firm works in is critical. And taking time to give back makes employees to feel like part of a team while helping others.

Led by Market Leader Moira Lyon, the company has embraced a culture of diversity, working to make equity and inclusion part of the way it operates. That means putting together a diverse workforce, but that’s just the beginning. All of its employee owners need the opportunity to succeed. And while it’s important to Oswald Companies that all employees have a voice in the conversation, it is also critical that those values translate to its work with clients and in the community.

In 2023, Oswald Companies raised more than $25,000 for local charities, supporting organizations and initiatives like United Way’s Backpacks for Success and the University of Cincinnati’s Walk Ahead for Brain Tumor Discoveries. Beyond the monetary, employees volunteered their time and efforts, helping fill backpacks of school supplies and delivering them to schools. They sorted clothing for Lighthouse Youth & Family Services and stuffed more than 1,000 fundraising envelopes for the Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired.
Additionally, employees at Oswald each get a paid Day of Caring every year, which they can use to volunteer at a charity of their choice. ●



Phillips Edison & Company Bob Myers, Chief operating officer

P hillips Edison & Company, an owner and operator of grocery store-anchored shopping centers across the nation, has made a commitment to its team, to the environment and to the community, a commitment that is reflected in its philanthropic and volunteer efforts.

PECO Community Partnership is the company’s business resource group focused on creating a culture of giving and volunteering among its employees. In 2023, this group supported more than 10 causes, including the Family Nurturing Center Snack Drive, for which they collected 4,500 snacks; a Green Man Park clean-up with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful; and quarterly Taste of Hope events, where employees served about 700 meals to families at Ronald McDonald House. The company’s leadership team, including COO Bob Myers, also packed 200 welcome bags for families with snacks and crafts.

Other philanthropic efforts in 2023 included an American Heart Association Heart Walk and CPR training, Red Cross blood drives, a toiletry drive for those affected by the fires in Maui, a hygiene and cleaning goods drive for Refugee Services at Catholic Community Services in SLC and a giving tree for gifts and necessities through the Butler County Board of Disabilities. Employees also volunteered at Matthew:25 Ministries, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that collects excess products from companies and individuals and distributes them to those in need across the globe, and held a regift raffle for Madi’s House, a free community center for young adults in recovery or healing from mental illness. ●



The Gorilla Glue Co.
Mark Mercurio, President & CEO

T he Gorilla Glue Co. prides itself on having great employees who are always willing to give back. The family-owned company, which in addition to glue, makes tapes, sealants and other kinds of adhesives, values investing in and connecting with the community.

The Gorilla Glue Co., led by President and CEO Mark Mercurio, makes donating and volunteering part of its workplace through a variety of programs, including The Gorillas Give Back program, in which Gorilla Glue partners with local organizations that are chosen by employees through a vote. Employees can choose to give to one — or all — of the organizations through a payroll deduction. The program also includes an annual golf classic, whose proceeds go to those selected organizations. In 2023, the golf classic raised more than $100,000 for those charitable partners.

In addition, the Silverback Sponsorship program gives every employee the opportunity to donate $350 from the company or $100 in company products to the organization of their choice. Employees can also lead drives throughout the year in response to needs in the community. And the company and its employees donate not only money and products but time through The Gorilla Glue Co.’s annual Community Day.

In October 2023, employees gave back to their community by participating in beautifying Dyer Park, in partnership with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. Other employees opted to pack more than 120,000 meals for children in need at A Child’s Hope International. ●



Towne Properties
Adam Bortz, CEO

R eal estate company Towne Properties, led by CEO Adam Bortz, commits to giving back to the communities in which it works. The company focuses on property development and management, as well as investments, and aims to help its communities succeed by creating good places to live and work.

It supports its communities through philanthropy, as well. In 2023, Towne Properties significantly supported the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, ArtsWave and United Way, all organizations it has given its support to for multiple decades. Towne Properties has partnered with United Way since 1989, and in 2023, made a corporate pledge of $30,000, with additional associate pledges adding up to $16,570. These donations reflect the power of collective giving and go to support a wide variety of programs and initiatives in the community.

In addition, Towne Properties aims to help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through a combination of monetary donations and volunteer efforts, making a meaningful difference in the lives of those impacted by both leukemia and lymphoma. In 2023, the company gave corporate contributions of $10,000, complemented by more than $75,000 in volunteer contributions. Its support of ArtsWave was also notable in 2023, with $11,000 going to the nonprofit from corporate contributions and another approximately $3,000 coming from volunteer contributions. The goal of those efforts is to foster a robust and vital community for the people that Towne Properties serves, improving lives and helping those in its footprint live better, more fulfilling lives. ●


Medical Mutual Share Award


PECO Community Partnership Business Resource Group, Phillips Edison & Company Bob Myers, Chief operating officer

P hillips Edison & Company, headquartered in Cincinnati, owns and operates shopping centers anchored by grocery stores across the nation. And it strives to use those shopping centers to improve communities.

Although it’s grown significantly since its founding in 1991, the company, led by COO Bob Myers, aims to keep a small-business approach. It is committed to its team, to the environment — particularly in terms of water conservation and energy efficiency — and to the community, both the communities of tenants in its shopping centers and the larger communities those centers serve.

PECO Community Partnership was created by the company as its business resource group focused on creating a culture of giving and volunteering among its employees. The group,
led by Kat Hamilton and Victoria Hirschfeld, aims to both encourage community engagement in the neighborhoods PECO serves and to empower employees to participate in efforts important to them.

In 2023, this group supported more than 10 causes, including the Family Nurturing Center Snack Drive, a park clean-up with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Taste of Hope events at the Ronald McDonald House. For the snack drive, Mark Fussinger led collections of snack donations for the Family Nurturing Center, a nonprofit that aims to prevent child abuse and neglect. PECO collected 4,500 snacks for the organization.

The Green Man Park clean-up attracted more than 75 attendees, who made a big impact in terms of beautification. And the Taste of Hope events took place every quarter, as the group prepared and served about 700 meals to families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Additionally, PECO’s leadership team took the time to pack 200 welcome bags with crafts, snacks and activity books for families.

Other philanthropic efforts in 2023 included an American Heart Association Heart Walk and CPR training, Red Cross blood drives, a toiletry drive for those affected by the fires in Maui, a hygiene and cleaning goods drive for Refugee Services at Catholic Community Services in SLC and a giving tree for gifts and necessities through the Butler County Board of Disabilities. Employees also volunteered at Matthew:25 Ministries, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that collects excess products from companies and individuals and distributes them to those in need across the globe, and held a regift raffle for Madi’s House, a free community center for young adults in recovery or healing from mental illness. ●


Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award


Robert Collins
Board chair, Bethesda Inc. and bi3

A s board chair of Bethesda Inc. and bi3, Robert Collins helps drive the delivery of health care in Southwest Ohio, as well as the funding that supports it.

Bethesda is a co-sponsor of integrated health care delivery system TriHealth and the creator of bi3, a health-focused, grant-making initiative. Collins has helped drive bi3’s $100 million in investments in Greater Cincinnati. In his time as a bi3 board member and chair, the organization has granted $18 million to TriHealth to strengthen its focus on creating a diverse and inclusive culture. This investment has allowed the organization to found the first Center for Health Equity in the region, and develop a Building Our Leadership Diversity program, which aims to prepare underrepresented team members to take the next step in their careers.

Additionally, bi3 has worked with both TriHealth and the Cincinnati Public Schools to launch a new program called School to Work. The program supports a diverse group of high school students, exposing them to health care career options through paid work experiences and mentorship.

In 2015, Collins helped bi3 lead and fund a partnership between TriHealth and Health Care Access Now, a nonprofit that aims to improve access and delivery of health care to the region’s medically underserved populations, where Collins also volunteers. The partnership looked to redesign graduate medical education and primary care, with a goal of improving population health and reducing the use of health care services by high-risk and high-cost patients. ●



Bill Courtney
Chairman, board of directors, Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries

B ill Courtney has led the board of directors at Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries for the past six years as it has grown and thrived despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and the resulting shutdowns and changes in people’s needs. In 2022, Ohio Valley Goodwill provided services to more than 2,300 people, creating an economic impact of more than $64 million locally. That total includes wages paid by Goodwill and those paid to people placed in jobs elsewhere, as well as taxes paid by employees and the government assistance that was saved by people being employed.

Courtney has a background in business, having previously served as president and CEO of ClarkDietrich Building Systems for more than three decades. In that time, he helped to transform the small construction products company to the top producer of steel framing materials in the country. He led the company through a number of mergers and acquisitions, including the merger of ClarkWestern Building Systems and Dietrich Metal Framing in 2011.

When Courtney retired, his successor noted the culture of innovation and teamwork that he had instilled in the company and the creation of a program designed to help employees share their ideas on how the company could improve its processes. And those are qualities he has carried through to Ohio Valley Goodwill.

He’s brought a growth mindset to the organization, as he continuously looks for ways to expand the services offered to the Greater Cincinnati community. ●


Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year Award


Steve Abbott
Executive chairman, Cincinnati Cancer Foundation, Inc.

W hen Steve Abbott was appointed executive director of the Cincinnati Cancer Foundation in fall 2020, Cincinnati Cancer Advisors was still a pilot project. Cincinnati Cancer Advisors aims to give cancer patients support and second opinions, giving one-time evaluations that work with a patient’s primary care team. This helps patients better understand their diagnosis and treatment options.

The pilot’s clinical base was in place, but the program needed help to build a foundation for future success. Today, in its first four years of operation, Cincinnati Cancer Advisors has grown from three team members to 16 and more than doubled the number of patients it was able to serve in the Cincinnati area. It also launched a second location in Naples, Florida, and has done it all free of charge to patients.

Abbott led the organization in implementing human resources services, including employee benefits. Alongside the appropriate teams, he also works on fundraising and grant searches, as well as donor relations, marketing and content creation, and finance and accounting. These services did not exist within the foundation when Abbott came on board, but he has worked hard during his tenure to grow the team in a way that supports the organization and ensures each employee has those benefits and support structure. His leadership approach often has him taking on more responsibilities, instead of passing those along to other employees.

In addition to his work with the foundation, Abbott serves as a national advocate for men with prostate cancer, a disease he battles himself. ●



Bill Bresser,
CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati

B ill Bresser has been part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati for more than two decades. And while he’s led the organization for six years, he got his start volunteering as a tutor at the Lower Price Hill Club in 2003.

The following year, he was hired as an education director. Since then, he’s served
in roles from club director to associate director  of compliance to vice president of operations.

All of that experience has given Bresser a unique perspective on how the seven-site nonprofit should be run. He’s implemented success-measuring tools and a continuous improvement process and grown the organization’s operating budget by $1 million annually.

In its 2022-2023 Impact Report, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati highlighted that it had served 1,880 club members, provided more than 60,000 meals, and more than 900 members had taken part in service learning. More than 1,000 took advantage of homework help and tutoring, and the vast majority improved their math and reading skills.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bresser turned the club into a virtual school and secured meals for students, doubling the hours the clubs ran and hiring staff. Today, he’s leading the organization as it grows, building two new facilities and renovating others.

The organization plans to create its first Youth Workforce Development Center in Price Hill, which will offer mentoring and tutoring but will also bring together business, universities, the trades and the military to highlight post-high school career options for students. ●



Jennifer Frey
President and CEO, Every Child Succeeds

J ennifer Frey has been leading Every Child Succeeds since 2020, overseeing a budget made up of public and private revenue. The long-standing nonprofit in the Cincinnati region offers home visits to low-income families in Butler, Clermont and Hamilton counties in Ohio, in addition to some Northern Kentucky counties, as well. The goal is to help pregnant people and new parents develop skills and connect to supports, improving health and other outcomes.

Frey leads the organization’s 22 central office employees, who support Every Child Succeeds’ seven partner agencies and its nearly 100 family support specialists and supervisors. In her first 18 months with the organization, Frey led Every Child Succeeds in creating its first strategic plan. Her work has also led to securing a Pay for Success deal with the state of Ohio.

She’s diversified the organization’s workforce, with 40 percent of Every Child Succeeds’
recent home visitor hires being Black or Hispanic — and all are women. The organization also employs bilingual home visitors and works with interpreters so that families who don’t
speak English as a first language can still access its services.

In fiscal year 2022, Every Child Succeeds served more than 2,100 families, an increase of about 10 percent over the previous year. The organization made almost 17,800 visits in Ohio in that period, and about 8,800 in Kentucky, working with families on topics including safe sleep and transitioning to preschool. ●



Kimm Lauterbach
President and CEO, REDI Cincinnati

K imm Lauterbach has been part of REDI Cincinnati’s leadership since it was founded in 2014, taking on the role of president and CEO five years ago. The nonprofit aims to drive job creation and attract, retain and grow businesses in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southwest Indiana.

Since its founding, REDI (Regional Economic Development Initiative) has helped foster more than 400 projects in Southwest Ohio, creating more than 40,000 new jobs and retaining more than 71,000.

Lauterbach’s leadership skills, and her expertise in economic development, have both been critical. Externally, she works to collaborate with business leaders and legislators, as well as other economic development organizations. Internally, she aims to support and recognize each employee. The Cincinnati Business Courier has recognized REDI Cincinnati as one of the
“Best Places to Work” for the past four years under her leadership.

And Lauterbach has received many awards herself, including CEO of the Year from the Cincinnati Business Courier in 2021. She also received two TITAN Women in Business Awards in early 2023. She was a platinum winner in the Female Executive of the Year — Non-Profitable Organization category and a gold winner in the Female Executive of the Year — CEO of the Year category.

Lauterbach tries to take her approach to leadership and extend it to the way REDI Cincinnati engages in the community. She wants the organization — and the region as a whole — to serve as a leader in the business community and globally. ●


Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award


Matthew Cuff
Owner, Just Q’in BBQ

M atthew Cuff has experienced success as the owner of Just Q’in BBQ, growing the venture from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, with plans for further expansion. He’s been visited by President Joe Biden and featured on the Travel Channel. He’s gotten national attention and won awards. But the accolades are the result of Just Q’in BBQ being far more than just a restaurant.

It’s a Christian company founded on biblical beliefs, with a drive to help its employees succeed. And those beliefs come first. The barbecue is important — Just Q’in BBQ cooks fresh meat every day, along with its own sides, bread, rub and sauces. But it’s taking care with the details and taking the opportunity to show love to everyone the restaurant serves, whether they are a customer or an employee, that really matters.

Cuff goes the extra mile when it comes to the success of his employees. He wants them to thrive, whether they stay with Just Q-in BBQ or move on to another job. He believes in giving people second chances and often hires those who have faced challenges, such as homelessness or incarceration, that would cause other employers to pass them over. He hires people and pays them well, and offers training and resources in areas such as financial literacy that help them advance both in their professional and personal lives.

In recent years, Cuff has also created a nonprofit called RENEW, which takes those resources to another level. The goal is to start by offering these programs and services to the restaurant’s employees but then to eventually expand them and offer them to the larger community, as well.

RENEW focuses on what it frames as empowering people, equipping them and employing them. To create empowerment, the program takes participants through personality assessments and goal-setting exercises. The goal is to help people understand what drives them and what success would look like for them, personally.

Equipping them is more tangible. It means then giving those participants the tools they need to succeed, such as job-readiness training, financial education and classes on skills including budgeting and tax preparation. The program also connects people with needed resources in areas like housing, transportation and rent assistance. And, finally, Cuff wants participants to have meaningful employment, whether it’s with his business or somewhere else. For him, it’s about what’s best for those others, not for the company. ●