My first 100 days

headshot of ellen katzThis week Philanthropy Ohio welcomes guest blogger Ellen Katz, sharing her impressions as the new leader of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

I recently hit my 100 day mark as the president/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF). During my 25 years in this region, (I was formerly the president/CEO of The Children’s Home of Cincinnati) I’ve come to appreciate its many assets.

As the new leader of GCF, I see these assets – and our opportunities – as never before. While I knew this role would provide a bird’s-eye view on the region, I appreciate the magnitude more and more with each passing day.

farmers market

Findlay Market in the Over-The-Rhine Cincinnati neighborhood.

As a community foundation, we exist to leverage our donors’ generosity into solutions to our region’s problems, to support and enhance its great assets and to create a more prosperous community. Our perspective on the many regional initiatives launched to address issues such as education, arts and culture, the environment, human services and economic development is both broad and deep, and we want to share our knowledge with our donors in support of their determining how best to deploy their charitable resources.

greater cincinnati foundation logo What I have come to understand more than anything in the past 100 days is that GCF’s unique place and opportunity is in being donor-driven. We are known for our leadership as a critical funder, but how we lift this community must be determined in partnership with our donors. A community foundation is developed by and for a community of people. Helping donors most effectively invest their charitable resources in the areas for which they are most passionate is the engine of our work.

Fountain Square downtown Cincinnati

Fountain Square downtown Cincinnati.

I am inspired to work with our donors and the community to demonstrate the power of philanthropy – together.


Ellen Katz

October 12, 2015 at 8:50 am Leave a comment

A focus on leadership. A focus on diversity. A focus on creativity.

headshot of JessicaThese were some of the themes and takeaways from Philanthropy Forward ’15 held September 16 – 18 in Cincinnati. The annual gathering of philanthropy – Philanthropy Ohio’s largest event comprising of 240 individuals from all over the state – was a dynamic and energetic experience that filled the downtown Westin Cincinnati.

While buzzwords like collective impact, civic innovation, social impact investing and design thinking littered conversations, deep questions and topics filled sessions and dinner discussions.

How can we achieve racial equity in our grantmaking, how can we align our grantmaking with our values, how can our organization be a better leader, how do we change systems, and how do we advance diversity, equity and inclusion?

Paul Schmitz, CEO for Leading Inside Out and author of Everyone Leads ignited the conversation, speaking about how everyone can lead, not just certain people or organizations. (Special thanks to The Greater Cincinnati Foundation)

“Leadership is an action everyone can take… not a position a few can hold,” said Paul. “Change happens through collective action. It is not a solo act.”

Along the lines of leadership, several sessions focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental to human existence,” said Kelly Brown, director of D5 Coalition. Kelly led the lunch plenary describing how D5 grew a network of champions advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). First, they sought resources, engaged people in the conversation around DEI and invited others to the table. See the full report.

Several conference sessions dove into topics ranging from criminal justice reform to racial justice grantmaking – not only significant but timely subjects.

In addition, we honored three philanthropists with awards, including a new award this year: the Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy, named for Shinn, who died earlier this year. He chaired the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, taking on primary responsibility for guiding Philanthropy Ohio’s work in that arena.


Ohio Philanthropy Award winner: Gordon B. Wean; Emerging Philanthropist Award winner: Connor Reed Thomas; Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy winner: Kristi Andrasik

In other sessions, organizations like People’s Liberty and Design Impact encouraged attendees to think outside the box when it comes to philanthropy.

People’s Liberty is a philanthropic lab powered by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and the Johnson Foundation. It invests directly in individuals by providing funding, mentorship, work space and storytelling support to grantees working on projects that address civic challenges and/or seize unique opportunities. We took a tour of their space in Over-the-Rhine and learned how and why they’re doing philanthropy different.

Design Impact led the Innovation / Flip Lab at the conference, a unique space where attendees considered – and then reconsidered – orthodoxies that community leaders have adopted as core operational assumptions, encouraging participants to look at the other side of the ideas, leaping outside of the box and into a whole new world. The Flip Lab was inspired by the Freakonomics Radio Podcast.

Design Impact is a nonprofit social innovation firm made up of designers, community development practitioners, social entrepreneurs and educators collaborating with passionate people, bringing design and innovation practice to the table and working together to design a better world.

Above all, Philanthropy Forward ’15 was about applying new perspectives, including unheard voices and implementing bold ideas. Communities are shifting. Needs are shifting. We need to shift philanthropy and how we do business because philanthropy is much more than grantmaking. The impact is more than a dollar amount and we have the opportunity to make a real difference in our communities now and for decades to come.

Help us keep the momentum going. If there was a topic you’d like us to expand on or something you’d like to know more about, send us an email and let us know. If you missed the conference, check out our Storify story of Philanthropy Forward ’15 with tweets, photos and more from the conference.

eric & shiloh pose with oktoberfest mugs

Philanthropy Forward ’15 co-chairs Eric Avner and Shiloh Turner

The conference would not have been possible without our co-chairs Eric Avner, VP for The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./US Bank Foundation, and Shiloh Turner, VP for The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the planning committee and our generous sponsors.

Special thanks to Heidi Jark,  Host Event Chair, and Fifth Third Bank Foundation for an awesome Oktoberfest Welcome Party and closing celebration featuring Cincinnati Ballet.

Heidi speaks to oktoberfest crowd

Heidi Jark addresses the crowd at the Oktoberfest Welcome Party

cincinnati ballet dances in ballroom

The Cincinnati Ballet performed to Walk the Moon’s “Shut up and Dance”

If you attended Philanthropy Forward ’15, I hope you enjoyed the conference as much as I did. And if you haven’t given your feedback, please do. We want to make Philanthropy Forward ’17 even better and more disruptive. Until then, we’ll see you in Columbus September 20-21 for the 2016 Learning Institute.

Happy innovating,

jessica signature

Jessica Howard

October 5, 2015 at 8:50 am Leave a comment

2015 Award Honorees Announced

headshot of claudiaLast week at Philanthropy Forward ’15 in Cincinnati, we celebrated philanthropy and presented three awards to individuals who are advancing the field and doing some really great things. The annual Philanthropy Awards this year honored a lifetime achievement honoree, an emerging philanthropist and an honoree who celebrates and is dedicated to improving diversity, equity and inclusion.

Philanthropy Ohio congratulates these individuals and we’re delighted to celebrate their accomplishments!

headshot gordon

Gordon B. Wean, Raymond John Wean Foundation chair and Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley board member

Ohio Philanthropy Award

Gordon B. Wean,
chair of the Raymond John Wean Foundation and board member of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, has won the 2015 Ohio Philanthropy Award. “Gordon realized early on that grantmaking in the Mahoning Valley had to change in order to be effective and meaningful. His vision transformed the Wean Foundation from one that supported the family’s personal interests to one that now provides benefits to a diverse array of nonprofit organizations and has become a leading force in the Mahoning Valley for building community and facilitating change,” said his nominator.

gordon poses with melissa and glass awardIn his role as board member of the local community foundation, Gordon was instrumental in transitioning the foundation from one focused on attracting funds to one focused on strategic philanthropy and community impact, says Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley (CFMV). “He led CFMV’s strategic planning process in 2011 and continually brings new ideas and energies to committees and the board,” she noted.

Gordon also served on the Philanthropy Ohio board for nine years, which he chaired in 2012 and 2013. While chair, he led the organization through a strategic planning process that resulted in new membership categories and a name change.

photo of kristi

Kristi Andrasik, program officer at The Cleveland Foundation

Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy
Kristi Andrasik,
program officer at The Cleveland Foundation, is the first recipient of the newly-established Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy. The Philanthropy Ohio Board of Trustees created the award to honor Shinn, who died earlier this year. He chaired the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, taking on primary responsibility for guiding the organization’s work in this arena.

kristi, suzanne and Mrs. Shinn pose with glass awardsCleveland-area colleagues who nominated Kristi wrote of her professional and personal commitment to making philanthropy more inclusive and equitable. Since joining the foundation three years ago, Kristi has focused on helping the Cleveland LGBT community mobilize resources and strengthen community infrastructures to prepare for the 2014 Gay Games and improve the well-being of Greater Cleveland’s LGBT residents.

One of her nominators described her impact, saying that she “helped frame Gay Games 2014 as more than just a game but as a movement – one that ushered in a greater level of awareness and acceptance of LGBT issues. In every exchange, Kristi is always mindful of the implications of the work in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion outcomes.” Another peer remarked that “Kristi has made it her mission to strive for equity, which I believe to be a daunting task. I have witnessed Kristi build bridges between philanthropy and non-profit organizations to be inclusive and dedicated to diversity.”

photo of connor

Connor Reed Thomas, sophomore at Goshen High School

Emerging Philanthropist Award
High school sophomore Connor Reed Thomas is this year’s Emerging Philanthropist Award honoree. Connor attends Goshen High School in Loveland, Ohio, where he serves as class president, holds a 4.3 grade point average and is a star athlete in football and track and field. Outside of school, his philanthropic passion is in raising funds to support veterans and the military, most recently organizing a 5K run that raised $10,000 for homeless veterans suffering from addiction. He is also active in programs that send care packages to troops and runs a website devoted to military heroes.

connor poses with glass awardThe Philanthropy Ohio award is just the latest in a long list of awards and citations Connor has garnered so far for his volunteer efforts. The Army Chief of Staff, Governor Kasich and Cincinnati’s Mayor Granley are but a few of those who have recognized him for dedication and accomplishments.

Congratulations to all three recipients for their outstanding contributions to their communities!

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

September 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

We’ve moved!

Brewery tower building

Philanthropy Ohio’s new Central Ohio Office: 500 S. Front St., Ste 900.

headshot of claudiaI’m writing today’s post from our new Columbus offices, the third since I began my career here at Philanthropy Ohio in November 1998. We’d been in that space for 15 years, so you can imagine how much stuff we’d accumulated that had to be sorted, tossed and packed.

Our new space is south of the downtown core, in the Brewery District, and still just minutes from the Statehouse and many of our members’ offices. Since we moved in two weeks ago, we’ve unpacked most of the boxes, have a functioning kitchen and technology and are rapidly getting settled in. Which is all good news, since we head to Cincinnati on Wednesday morning to hold our Philanthropy Forward ’15 conference.

OGF's old office, packing for move

Ohio Grantmaker’s Forum’s move to 37 W. Broad St., Ste 800.

While the space is about the same size of our previous office, moving allowed us to better configure our cubicles and offices for more collaborative work, build out a conference room/innovation space in which to hold board and member meetings and showcase our brand and values. We’ll have an open house later in the fall so everyone can see our new digs.

Just as in any move, whether commercial or residential, we learned a few things over the past weeks.

karen holds sledge hammer

Karen Freeman helps with demolition.

First, find and rely on the experts. We had great help in finding the office space, with numerous trips with our agent, Dan, cheerfully hauling us to different parts of the city to view potential space. He even washed his car for us, during those snowy, gritty days when we sloshed through typical Ohio winter weather. And, as he informed us early on, he had never missed a move-in date and he didn’t intend for ours to be his first – and he didn’t. His expert scheduling during the build-out kept everyone on track and informed.

items for packing and purging

Packing and purging items at 37 W. Broad St.

Still, something will go wrong. That refrigerator that looked so great at the big box store? When delivered, we discovered the doors opened smack into the cabinet and counter. So, back it went, and a new one was purchased and delivered two days later.

staff photo in office

Staff getting moved into 500 S. Front Street.

steve with a crown

Steve Phallen was crowned King of the Move.

We also learned that one person needs to “own” the move – and for us, it was Steve Phallen, our vice president for finance and administration. We crowned him King of the Move in recognition of the great job he did managing all aspects of the move while keeping up with all his other tasks. We knew he could juggle (really, he has a juggling ball set in his office) and have a new appreciation for how well and calmly he managed the move.

Moves and change are stressful but also invigorating and refreshing. Our new space, along with a new strategic action plan crafted for the next three years (more on that later), we’re excited and poised to pursue a future of empowering our members to achieve greater impact in their communities.

Stop by for a visit,

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

September 14, 2015 at 5:55 pm 2 comments

The countdown to Philanthropy Forward ’15

headshot of claudiaOhio’s largest gathering of people engaged in philanthropy is just a few weeks away and it is bigger and better than ever.

Building on the success of past conferences – including incorporating adult learning techniques, more time for networking and lots of interaction in workshops – the planning committee and staff have developed a three-day event that offers something for everyone who invests time, expertise and resources to help communities become strong, thriving places in which to live and work.

Here are the top 5 reasons you should attend:

number 5 imageDevelop your leadership capacity and strengths with Paul Schmitz, CEO of Leading Inside Out.


number 4 imageSocialize with peers during the Oktoberfest Welcome Party at the iconic 21 C Museum Hotel.


#3Build your connections to philanthropy peers from across the state.


number 2 imageGain perspective as you take a few days away from the office to refresh, reset and re-energize.


number 1 imageLearn alongside other smart Ohio philanthropy colleagues in 27 breakout sessions and deep dives on everything from investments to cross-sector partnerships.

paul schmitz headshot with arrows

So if you are interested in building the network, tools and knowledge that will help you become a more effective, powerful change agent in your community, register today while there are still hotel rooms and conference seats available.

See you in Cincinnati,

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

August 24, 2015 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Constant learning creates lasting progress

headshot of claudia“To make lasting progress on the issues we care about, we have to be learning with others all the time . . . we have to know what others are learning.”

This statement has stuck with me since reading it in a recent GEO publication, probably because of two things: first, I was reading it on the way to the annual conference for staff of regional associations like Philanthropy Ohio, where I hoped to learn from and with my colleagues. Second, I had just sent the final copy of our own conference brochure to print, both of which led me to think about the importance of professional development, whether that happens in formal ways – like conferences and webinars – or informally as I network with colleagues and members working in the philanthropic sector.

books stacked with e-readerMy hopes were realized at the conference I attended with 150 of my peers (about 40 percent of those eligible to attend – did I mention that we’re a small niche of the nonprofit sector? There are only 33 regional associations of grantmakers spread across the U.S., but we’re the largest philanthropic network with over 5,000 grantmaking organization members.)circle_people

So what did I learn?

  • I learned about a different way to think about and organize setting goals and assessing outcomes from David Grant as he shared the framework and tools from his book, The Social Profit Handbook. A lively and engaging presenter, David was the president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for 12 years, a teacher at heart, world traveler and committed social change agent.
  • As usual, my peers from across the country helped me think about how to do my day-to-day work better, whether it was during the 50 Shades of Engagement or job-alike breakout sessions.
  • I built my network of professional colleagues, meeting many new people and reconnecting with some seasoned veterans (there were six of us there who have worked at regional associations since the 1990s – we’re taking suggestions for our quintessential theme song).
  • And, there was plenty of time to socialize and relax as we explored Baltimore restaurants near the harbor, with an emphasis on seafood and wine.

Philanthropy Forward brochure coverAs I head into the final days leading up to our conference in mid-September, it of course occurs to me that these are the same kinds of experiences and learnings that I hope our conference registrants are looking forward to – and will realize. Our thought leaders, Innovation / Flip Lab, deep dive sessions, networking breaks and Oktoberfest welcome party will all come together to provide Ohio’s philanthropic sector with a great learning experience that will help create lasting progress on the issues we all care about. See you there!

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

August 10, 2015 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Good grantmaking and good intentions

Heather-Peeler-headshotPhilanthropy Ohio is pleased to welcome Heather Peeler, vice president of member and partner engagement at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, as our guest blogger this week. You’ll have a chance to meet and learn from Heather at the Philanthropy Forward ’15 conference, where she’s leading two sessions to help increase your effectiveness as a grantmaker.

Now that summer is in full swing, I convinced my husband that we should have an informal backyard barbecue with some good friends. Given busy schedules, I wanted to host a casual gathering where everyone could relax and enjoy one another’s company.

plate of food at BBQHowever, if you had seen me the days before and after the event, you would have thought I was planning something for the Queen of England, not a casual party with friends. There was extensive menu planning (simple burgers and dogs wouldn’t do), a signature cocktail and an excursion to the home goods store for fancy patio lights and new planters. I was so stressed by my “casual” barbecue, that I’m not even sure if anyone actually had a fun and relaxing time. I certainly didn’t.

This is a perfect example of how our intentions and our behaviors are often out of alignment. It happens in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. And sadly it happens in grantmaking, too. As grantmakers, we have the best of intentions to collaborate with others, help our grantees become stronger and to learn from our failures and mistakes. Yet our behaviors and practices often get in the way of making those intentions a reality.

GEO-LogoGrantmakers for Effective Organizations has long studied the types of grantmaker practices that support grantee success. We know that nonprofit resilience is based on the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and that restricted funding hamstrings this flexibility. We know that evaluation provides a powerful way to garner insights into what’s working and why, but few grantmakers share evaluation results with grantees and others who can benefit. We know that collaborative efforts to pool resources and align strategies can yield faster progress, yet we struggle to give up control and let go of our unique ways of doing business. Finally, we know that we make better decisions when we engage with the community and deepen our understanding, but we struggle to prioritize the time that’s needed to build relationships.

If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. GEO’s recent field study of more than 600 foundations found that 93 percent of respondents think it is important or very important to provide support that will strengthen grantee organizations, yet 45 percent rarely or never support capacity-building activities. Eighty-one percent provide some level of general operating support, but most dedicate only 25 percent or less of their grantmaking budgets to it.

taking notes at meetingOver the years of working with grantmakers to help boost their and their grantees effectiveness, we’ve come to realize that knowledge of effective practice is not enough. Many smarter grantmaking practices are easier said than done. One doesn’t become a master collaborator or learning organization overnight. As part of the process, we should give careful consideration to our practices as well as our values. In particular, reflecting on current culture and values and how they align with practice can yield insights about why our organizations may not be making the progress we desire.

We have discovered many great ways that GEO members are shaping productive cultures through their actions, big and small. Here are a few that stuck with me:

  • The Cleveland Foundation nurtures a culture of learning by hosting “Fred Talks” (named after its founder) to better connect and learn with members of the community. The grantmaker convenes residents and community leaders for in-depth conversations in order to tap ideas about how the grantmaker can best pursue its mission. You can read more in Learning Together.
  • symphony concertIn GEO’s Smarter Grantmaking Playbook, we highlighted the work of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and its commitment to strengthening the arts sector in Cleveland. It has made general operating support a key part of its strategy. By devoting a large proportion of its grantmaking to flexible support, the grantmaker has seen its grantees grow sustainably and have a larger impact in the communities they serve.
  • Jim Canales, one of GEO’s founders and the CEO of the Barr Foundation, talks about how important it is to mind the small things – like making sure program officers keep their phones tucked away when they are meeting with grantees or others in the community as a sign of respect.

Our desire for strong and effective grantees is within our reach. To achieve it, we must build our knowledge about and practice smarter grantmaking. And, we must give careful consideration to where our values, intentions and practice diverge.

I’m looking forward to my time in Ohio next month, hope to see you there!

Heather Peeler

August 3, 2015 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Older Posts

Visit Our Website

Get Your Philanthropy Ohio News First

Reader Subscription

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 72 other followers



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers

%d bloggers like this: