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Akron Community Foundation celebrates record growth at annual meeting

UPublish story by Kristen Ashby

new board members
New board members Vivian Neal and Robert Cooper were welcomed at the annual meeting.

AKRON, Ohio (July 10, 2013) – Akron Community Foundation officials announced yesterday that as of March 31, 2013, its charitable assets had reached an all-time high of $150 million, an increase of nearly $10 million, or 6.8 percent, over the previous year. Treasurer and Merrill Lynch Senior Vice President Dale Koblenzer delivered the news to more than 200 community leaders and supporters at the community foundation’s 58th annual meeting, which was held at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn.

Contributing to the success was $7.3 million in gifts and pledges made by a record 4,000 donors, many of whom contributed to the Women’s Endowment Fund’s $2.1 million “For Women, Forever” campaign, which was the largest endowment-building effort in the community foundation’s 58-year history. Outgoing board chair and Brouse McDowell Partner Michael A. Sweeney promised even greater growth in the coming year, including a record $12 million gift made on June 7, 2013, to establish the IBH Foundation Fund.

Koblenzer reported that grants and distributions totaled nearly $7.6 million, an increase of $1.3 million for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2013. This brought the community foundation’s cumulative distribution total to $106 million. “All of this was accomplished with an expense ratio that is one of the lowest in the country for community foundations of our size,” he said.

Incoming board chair and MSA Associates CEO Mark Allio honored Sweeney for his leadership, presenting him with a commemorative crystal bowl. “Under Mike’s direction, the community foundation has experienced incredible expansion, both in new dollars and new funds,” Allio said.

The following officers were approved prior to the meeting: Allio, a resident of Bath, chair; West Akron resident Steve Cox, partner at Roetzel & Andress, vice chair and community investment chair; Hudson resident and Roth Bros. President Paul Belair, treasurer and finance chair; Steve Strayer, Bath resident and senior vice president at PNC Institutional Investments, community relations chair; Fairlawn resident Rev. Sandra Selby, secretary; and Sweeney, a resident of Fairlawn, immediate past chair.

Cox, also a member of the Nominating Committee, announced incoming board members Robert Cooper and Vivian Neal, who each accepted three-year appointments. They will replace Susan Kinnamon and Bill Feth, who are retiring from the board after completing their terms of service.

Cooper, of Bath, is the director of CBRE and the owner of CREM Real Estate Properties. He serves on the boards of Akron General Partners, Akron Children’s Hospital, Cascade Capital, FirstMerit Bank, Summit County Board of Zoning Appeals, United Way and The University of Akron Research Foundation.

Neal, of Fairlawn, is an educator who worked for Akron Public Schools, The University of Akron and as a program officer for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation prior to retiring. She serves on the boards of the Summa Health System Foundation, Akron Children’s Hospital and the Akron Urban League.

Meeting attendees, composed primarily of donors and nonprofit and community leaders, also applauded Eileen Burg, who – with her late husband H. Peter Burg – will be honored with the Bert. A Polsky Humanitarian Award. Eileen will accept the award on the couple’s behalf at a dinner event on Oct. 15.

Attendees also heard from Dan O’Connell, president of the Akron Rotary Foundation, about the fund they established at the community foundation last year to support Akron Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs and other rotary charities.


In addition, Lisa Craine, founder of the Craine’s Cholangiocarcinoma Crew Fund, shared how Akron Community Foundation is helping her family support research for the rare bile duct cancer she was diagnosed with three years ago. Last year, through a partnership with the Akron Marathon, the Craines raised $15,000 for their fund at the community foundation.

“Raising hope is one thing, but raising money is quite another. I needed help to do it right,” she said. “We couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our community or our charitable fund at Akron Community Foundation.”

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