Our President & CEO Ronn Richard Receives Philanthropy’s Highest Honor

Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richards stands at podium onstage at annual meeting

We’re thrilled to announce that the Council on Foundations will recognize our President & CEO Ronn Richard’s leadership and service to philanthropy with its 2017 Distinguished Service Award! The award is considered philanthropy’s highest honor and celebrates a visionary leader who embodies qualities that define excellence in philanthropy – commitment, courage, entrepreneurship and impact.

“Ronn is an exceptional leader whose career has been defined by his tireless devotion to bettering his community, his willingness to take risks and innovate, his spirited championing of philanthropy, and his encouragement of excellence in others,” said Council on Foundations President and CEO Vikki Spruill. “He never shies away from a difficult issue and throughout his career has taken unequivocal stands on key issues, supporting causes ranging from environmental protection and advanced energy, public education reform, criminal justice reform and police-community relations, LGBT rights, and digital innovation and access. He is an inspiration to those who work with him and are fortunate enough to know him.”

We couldn’t agree more! During his tenure here at the Cleveland Foundation, Ronn has led a number of game-changing initiatives. His leadership has not only transformed the Cleveland Foundation – it has impacted the Greater Cleveland community in significant ways. Ronn helped to launch the Greater University Circle Initiative, encouraging collaboration between some of our city’s most powerful institutions to promote inclusive neighborhood growth and development. You can learn more about the initiative, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, here. He also led the effort to create a freshwater wind farm off the shores of Lake Erie. When construction is completed in the coming years, this pilot wind farm will be the first of its kind in North America.

Ronn’s signature achievements also include:

  • Developing a mastery-based arts initiative to ensure every child in every Cleveland neighborhood has access to high-quality arts education
  • Fostering our Digital Excellence Initiative to build a culture of digital innovation and equitable access in Greater Cleveland 
  • Establishing the Encore Cleveland Initiative, which connects the aging population in our region with meaningful roles and opportunities to help the community
  • Initiating a career-technical education strategy to equip Greater Cleveland students with skills needed for in-demand, family-sustaining jobs in our region
  • Founding the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship program, which offers emerging young leaders from across the country the skills and networks needed to jumpstart their careers in public service

These initiatives have blazed new trails and forged new partnerships while measurably improving the lives of Greater Clevelanders and the strength of our community.

Ronn will accept the award April 25 at the Council on Foundations’ Annual Conference, where he will participate in a salon discussion to share his insights and learnings with attendees. Learn more here.