Kenny Koblitz’s life mantra comes in the form of music lyrics.
“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” said Koblitz, quoting 2000 country music hit, “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack.
His adopted slogan keeps him active in the community, whether it’s as executive director emeritus of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, board member of the Cleveland Sight Center, board member of Montefiore, board member of the UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, sales teacher, managing director of workforce training and corporate partnerships at Values-in-Action, or whatever else he can do to make an impact – all at age 81.
“I’ve been dancing since about 16 years old,” Koblitz said. “I just see things that are interesting, or someone approaches me with a thought or needs some help. I give it a run. It’s worked a lot of times.”
He attributed his philanthropic start to watching his grandparents and parents give back to the community. Little by little, he caught the genetic bug that gave him his love of making a difference.
“It was just in my blood because of the family,” Koblitz said. “They told me to always try to help other people.”
The organizations or efforts he is or has been involved in all serve an importance to Koblitz, whether it’s engaging a personal interest, allowing him to teach or learn, or helping a person or cause.
Koblitz’s many music-related involvements are all based off his longtime infatuation with music. Nicknamed “music man,” Koblitz stepped in as executive director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra when its director fell ill in 2016. Koblitz helped find a new leader for the orchestra, and was then made executive director emeritus of the organization, where he continues to aid with funding and performances.
He and his wife, Audrey, also served on the performing arts board of the State University of New York at Fredonia, where they raised money and helped find talent. And he’s been helping an up-and-coming singer find venues and performance opportunities after he saw her sing at a SUNY Fredonia concert.
A longtime supporter and member of the Cleveland Sight Center, Koblitz found his start with the organization when he returned to Cleveland after 30 years working in Atlanta and saw an ad in the local daily newspaper about a coach needed for the Cleveland Scrappers, a baseball team for visually impaired players run by the center. Koblitz, a sports fan, signed up and helped lead the team across the globe to a league championship.
His board membership at the University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute came about after Koblitz had open heart surgery 26 years ago. He visits patients anticipating or recovering from open heart surgery to inform them of what they need to do and what comes next.
At Montefiore, he and Audrey have been co-chairs of Shining Star CLE since its inception four years ago.
On top of his board positions, Koblitz served as an executive in residence for two years at SUNY Fredonia, where he taught sales, and he co-founded the Bernie Moreno Center for Sales Excellence at Cleveland State University in spring 2016. At Values-in-Action, his efforts in workforce training and corporate partnerships go toward one of the organization’s goals of teaching underprivileged high school students job skills.
While the years might have been busy, to Koblitz, serving on boards or raising money for deserving causes was all worth it.
“There’s always more that you can do, and I understand that,” Koblitz said. “I don’t feel burdened and never have. These things are gratifying, and you’re doing good things for other people or institutions.”