For those who spend hours giving back to the community or donating hard-earned dollars to worthy causes, it’s all about making a difference with their work.
To honor these local leaders and celebrate the 35th annual Greater Cleveland National Philanthropy Day, the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Greater Cleveland will honor six individuals and organizations that are working to improve the world with the “Celebrating the Giving Hearts of Northeast Ohio” educational panel, starting at 9 a.m., and luncheon at 11:45 a.m. Nov. 8 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, 24 Public Square in Cleveland. Awards will be presented after lunch.
Award winners are nominated by members of the AFP of Greater Cleveland, consisting of nearly 400 nonprofit professionals, said Ellen Brown, a director for AFP Greater Cleveland and relationship manager of The Ohio Society of CPAs. A subcommittee within AFP then selected award recipients from about 40 nominations over six categories.
The following are the six honorees being recognized for their community involvement:
• Outstanding Philanthropist Leadership Award: Debra Hershey Guren, president and treasurer of the Montessori Development Partnership, has led MDP to process more than $19 million in grants and developed education programs for over 30 years. She is also the founder of Stonebrook Montessori, Ohio’s first free public-charter Montessori school for children ages 3 to 13 living in urban Cleveland.
• Corporate Leadership Award: BMW of Westlake/Ganley Auto Group works with Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio and is a partner and sponsor of the nonprofit’s More than Pink walk, working closely to build community awareness and taking part in other events. The auto group also adopts families around Christmas to give them a special holiday.
• Foundation Leadership Award: Through the Robert S. and Sylvia K. Reitman Family Foundation, three generations of the Reitman family have worked to support the area’s health and human services sector, such as the United Way of Greater Cleveland. The foundation has also contributed to many local arts and culture, health, education and Jewish organizations.
• Outstanding Fundraising Volunteer Award: Kristen Lutjen Saada, volunteer fundraising committee chair of the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank, has led KBB to distribute 1.8 million books to children in need throughout greater Cleveland. She also raised 21% of KBB’s budget in an inaugural event with 190 influential women in 2016, and this event earns about 15% of KBB’s now-increased budget.
• Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award: Students who run the Baldwin Wallace University Jacket Philanthropy Program have invested more than 200 hours with the seniors at Eliza Bryant Village, teaching them how to use the internet, phones and computers. The students also created a $1,860 proposal to support yearlong healthy cooking demonstrations and exercise classes for 150 low-income residents at Eliza Bryant Village.
• Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award: Kaye M. Ridolfi, senior vice president of advancement at the Cleveland Foundation, led her team to record fundraising results. Since 2012, her team has raised $451 million in cash gifts and $350 million in planned gift commitments. Her work to make Cleveland a “Say Yes to Education” city raised $88 million toward improving public school education, which was 70% of her $125 million goal.
Brown said winners of the National Philanthropy Day awards often feel “a calling” to help the community because they’re passionate about it.
“They see a need, and they really want to step in,” she said. “National Philanthropy Day is our day to get together, congratulate each other and honor some of the people who are making a difference in the profession and helping the organization have this kind of success. It is a really a powerful thing to be recognized.”