The Barberton Community Foundation didn’t have to look too far for its new executive director — it is Barberton native Jim Stonkus.



He will start his new job on March 17 at a salary of $120,000.



Stonkus will replace Larry Lallo, who resigned Feb. 15 to lead a religious charity he helped found. Lallo will direct the Mercy Economic Development International Corp., a Summit County charity founded 10 years ago, that operates in 10 nations.



Stonkus has spent 28 years in the health-care industry on the business side, including 12 as the regional vice president of business development for the Southwest region of Summa Health System.



“Strategy and planning have always been my base set of goals,” he said. “I also did a lot of marketing at the senior level for Barberton then expanded to the region. I also have a lot of real estate development experience.”



He oversaw the Parkview Center project at the hospital and led the initial implementation of the $10.5 million comprehensive cardiovascular program at Summa Barberton Hospital, bringing open heart surgery capabilities and new catheterization labs to the city. He also worked closely with Testa Builders and was the regional representative for the emergency center in Green and the health center at Lake Medina in Medina.



“I was kind of the idea guy when we were just Barberton, so I bring a lot of experience that will allow the foundation to think outside the box a little bit,” he said. “I was in charge of bringing new ideas to the senior leadership team at Barberton.”



He said he is bringing his hospital experience to the foundation, which he says was all about relationships.



“The hospital is a relationship business, you had to have good relationships with the doctors and with the patients and with the community and with the employees,” Stonkus said. “The foundation is in the relationship business too, you have to have a great relationship with the community and the city leaders and the people who give you the privilege of investing their money or using their money in ways to benefit the community. Working together with people in the community is something that the community should be tied to and vice versa.”



He was the community liaison as part of his job with Summa, so to him his new role is a natural progression.



“It’s nice to work in a place where you have a lot of relationships that you’ve built over 20 years, where you can call someone and say ‘what about this’ or ‘can I help you with that?’ Those are already built in the day I walk in the door,” he said.



In fact, Stonkus has already made a list of goals before he will start his new job.



He said he will focus on the three main supporting organizations of the foundation — schools, the city and the health district. The schools are where he started his education, the city he has worked with on various projects and the health district is something near and dear to his heart because of his background in health care.



His to-do list is long and includes meeting one-on-one with the staff to discuss strategies and meeting with board members to ask about expectations and visibility with service roles in the community. He is a former president of the South Summit Chamber of Commerce and various professional health organizations, as well as the Magic City Kiwanis and the Barberton Community Development Corp.



Stonkus is a 1978 graduate of Barberton High School and a member of the Barberton High School Academic Hall of Fame. He also has a degree in natural science (pre-med) from the University of Akron and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace College.



Foundation Board Chairman Tom Harnden said Stonkus was chosen from a pool of 30 candidates. Harnden interviewed with three different search firms before hiring a consultant that specialized in finding leaders.



“Resumes were coming in at the same time we were doing our focus groups,” Harnden said. “We met with current board members, former board members, staff, donors to the foundation, nonprofits in the community, representatives from the ministry, chamber of commerce, city and school officials for their input.”



As far as expectations, the focus groups all had a common theme: strong communication skills and a good manager.



The Barberton Community Foundation has $88 million in assets and was established in 1996 to improve the quality of life for Barberton residents.



“It’s a great fit. Jim is extremely well known in the community, has a great reputation and a great deal of respect,” Harnden said. “He has great communication skills, people skills and good organizational skills. I’m very, very happy with our choice.”



Stonkus stressed that he and his wife, Kay, have strong ties to the community.



“I know what type of passion the board has for the community and that’s the way I’ve always been,” he said. “Barberton isn’t just my hometown, it’s my passion.”



Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or mmiller@thebeaconjournal.com.