#CLEMakers: Highlights from our 2018 Annual Meeting

crowd pictured onstage at 2018 annual meeting community reception

On May 1, more than 1,000 people joined us at the Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square to celebrate the Cleveland Foundation’s 104 years of community impact. The theme of the 2018 Cleveland Foundation Annual Meeting presented by KeyBank was “A Sense of Place,” with a program focused on the links between the places and people that make our community great. In case you missed it, here are a few highlights:

A Sense of Place

The meeting opened with a video featuring a selection of individuals who are working on the ground to make Greater Cleveland a more vibrant place, to live, work, study and play. Watch the video here:


A Performance by Young Poets

Young poets pictured on stage during performance

Twelve Literary Arts

Next up was a performance from Twelve Literary Arts, an inter-generational teaching, learning and professional development incubator for poets, writers and performance artists. Two young poets performed “Our Forest City,” a work produced as part of a project called “Believe in Cleveland,” commissioned by Karamu House, Playhouse Square and Tri-C last year.

A Welcome from KeyBank

Margot Copeland, Chair & CEO at KeyBank Foundation, welcomed the audience on behalf of KeyBank, which has generously supported our Annual Meeting for five consecutive years as presenting sponsor. Our history with KeyBank stretches back more than 100 years, and we’re proud of the work we’ve accomplished together to enhance the lives of generations of Greater Clevelanders.

A Record-Breaking Year at the Cleveland Foundation

Rev. Rowan pictured onstage at annual meeting

Rev. Dr. Stephen Rowan

Rev. Dr. Stephen Rowan, Chair of the Cleveland Foundation Board of Directors, shared updates from a record-breaking year at the foundation. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, our 2017 grantmaking totaled $101 million and donations to the foundation reached $162 million. Rev. Rowan also shared information about this year’s Common Ground day of community conversation, happening June 24. This year, Common Ground will expand across Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties, with residents gathering at events throughout the region to share a meal and a conversation focused on the question “why does place matter?” You can learn more about Common Ground, and sign up to host or attend a conversation, via: www.ClevelandFoundation.org/CommonGround.

A Visionary Leader in the Community

India Pierce Lee presents Homer C Wadsworth Award to Raymond Bobgan

Cleveland Foundation Senior Vice President, Program, India Pierce Lee, presents the 2018 Homer C. Wadsworth Award to Raymond Bobgan, Executive Artistic Director, Cleveland Public Theatre.

Each year, the foundation honors a local leader who is innovative, visionary and energetic – the same qualities that Homer C. Wadsworth, Cleveland Foundation Executive Director from 1974-1983, was known for. This year, we were thrilled to honor Raymond Bobgan, Executive Artistic Director of Cleveland Public Theatre. The award recognizes Raymond’s dedication to producing cutting-edge theater, with a deep commitment to community and to elevating people from the margins into the spotlight. Under Raymond’s leadership, CPT has launched Teatro Publico – a 35-member Latino ensemble, Brick City Theatre – a program that brings year-round theatrical programming to children living in public housing, and the Y-Haven Theatre Project – where homeless men create original productions. These programs have helped introduce theatre to people who had never before taken the stage, empowering countless individuals through the arts.

We’re proud to support Brick City Theatre as part of our investment in mastery-based arts programs for youth in Cleveland neighborhoods. We’re helping to fund the expansion of Brick City Theatre this year to serve more than 1,000 children at six sites. We’re excited to continue our partnership with Raymond and the incredible staff at CPT. Kudos, Raymond, on this well-deserved honor!

The State of the Community Address

Ronn Richard onstage delivering the State of the Community Address

Ronn Richard

Our President & CEO Ronn Richard delivered his annual State of the Community address, this year focused on a selection of people who are making a difference in Greater Cleveland. Ronn profiled a number of individuals, many of whom are featured in the Place.Makers project. Stay tuned! In the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing you to these remarkable people here on our blog.

Ronn also talked about the foundation’s priorities for the year ahead, which include bringing the national nonprofit Say Yes to Education to Cleveland. Say Yes could be a game-changer for our community, helping every student access postsecondary education or training through supportive services and scholarship dollars. You can learn more about the effort to bring Say Yes to Cleveland, and how you can get involved, here. Ronn also announced the launch of the On the Verge Fellowship in partnership with the Cleveland Arts Prize. We’re proud to present this fellowship, which will recognize and support emerging artists right here in our community.

You can watch the first half of our Annual Meeting, including Ronn’s full State of the Community Address, on our Facebook page.


A Keynote Conversation on Architecture and Sense of Place

Sir David Adjaye pictured onstage at annual meeting

Sir David Adjaye

This year’s Robert D. Gries Keynote Lecture featured Sir David Adjaye, world-renowned architect and founder of Adjaye & Associates, whose credits include the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Sir David delivered the keynote in conversation with Steven Litt, art and architecture critic at the Plain Dealer.

Their conversation centered on how the built environment impacts our collective identity and the stories we tell about ourselves. More than just buildings, architecture has the potential to change narratives, lives and ultimately our society. Addressing students from John Hay School of Architecture & Design in the audience, Sir David told them that by becoming architects, they have an opportunity to be part of building a sense of place. Speaking about what architecture means to him, Sir David said it’s about engaging with community – the history and narrative of a place – to make spaces that have meaning, and that empower, edify and elevate the community.

You can learn more about Sir David Adjaye and his work right here

An Exhibition of Place.Maker Portraits

Lillian Kuri speaks from podium onstage at annual meeting

Lillian Kuri

Our Vice President, Strategic Grantmaking, Arts & Urban Design, Lillian Kuri, closed our annual meeting program by unveiling a special exhibition, “Portraits of Cleveland’s Place.Makers,” that will be on view at the Cleveland Foundation’s offices through the end of the year. The exhibition includes portraits shot by local photographer Billy Delfs of individuals who are making a positive impact in our community. Many of these are the same individuals highlighted in our Place.Makers video. Stay tuned as we introduce you to them here on the blog and on our social media channels in the coming weeks. These are just a few of the many Greater Clevelanders who have contributed to the continuing rise of our region. We’re grateful to everyone who is working to build a brighter future for our community.


All photos courtesy of Rob Muller.


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