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Advancement

Kaye Ridolfi

Kaye RidolfiAdvancement

Senior Vice President of Advancement

Executive Assistant: Donna Johnson 216.615.7168

As Senior Vice President of Advancement, Kaye Ridolfi has direct responsibility for all of the foundation’s fundraising activities. As such, she leads the 18-member Advancement staff, with backgrounds in estate law, banking, wealth management, accounting, and nonprofit leadership. This team of seasoned professionals works in charitable gift planning, donor relations, and donor communications, to bring new donors into the foundation and then steward these donors on an ongoing basis as they strive to achieve their philanthropic goals. Kaye is a member of the Cleveland Foundation’s Executive Committee and oversees the Advancement Committee of the foundation’s board of directors.

An experienced development professional, Kaye joined the Cleveland Foundation in 2011. Prior to that, she spent two decades in the field, primarily in the academic sector. Her previous positions include five years at Case Western Reserve University, where she served as associate vice president of institutional development and director of the $1 billion capital campaign. She joined CWRU after six years at The Ohio State University, initially as director of the campaign to renovate the main library and then as assistant vice president for major gifts, which included eight regional major gift offices on the east coast, west coast, and southeastern U.S. Previous positions were with Ohio Wesleyan University, initially as director of its annual fund and ultimately as director of alumni development, and the American Lung Association of Ohio in 1990, initially as the organization’s first director of planned giving and later as vice president.

After moving to Cleveland in 2005, Kaye planted deep roots in her new hometown. She has served on the boards of several area organizations, including the City Club of Cleveland, the Cleveland Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and on the Union Club of Cleveland’s Membership Committee and Engaging Women Committee. She is a graduate of the FBI’s Citizens Academy and is a member of the Citizens Academy Foundation. Kaye is a frequent speaker on capital campaigns, board development, and nonprofit leadership.

Kaye graduated magna cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She later earned a master’s degree in public policy and management from The Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Policy.



Michelle Blackford

Michelle BlackfordAdvancement

Donor Relations Officer

216.615.7145 |

Michelle Blackford focuses primarily on fostering and strengthening relationships with individuals, families, organizations and corporations who seek to fulfill their charitable giving goals.

Michelle joined the Advancement Team in September 2009, bringing with her more than 10 years of development experience.  Prior to joining the foundation, Michelle served as the assistant director for the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations at Messiah College in Grantham, PA., where she played a significant role in advancing the fundraising efforts of the college.  Additionally, Michelle was responsible for overseeing the college’s campus wide annual homecoming and alumni reunion weekend events.  She also served as the advisor for the senior class giving initiative and the alumni student council.

In addition to her development work, Michelle served as a campaign manager for a judicial candidate in the Cleveland Municipal Court.  While residing in Pennsylvania, she served in a number of volunteer leadership roles, including: committee co-chair for the PA 50 Best Women in Leadership Award, committee member of the capital campaign for the Harrisburg BIC Church, and captain for the campus United Way Campaign for several years.  

Michelle is an active volunteer for the Cleveland Metroparks and is a member of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Michelle graduated from Eastern University in St. David’s, PA., summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.  She has completed graduate courses through the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.


Katherine E. Collin

Katherine E. CollinAdvancement

Gift Planning Officer

216.615.7174 |

Katie Collin joined the Cleveland Foundation’s Advancement Team in February 2016. She focuses primarily on providing individuals, families and organizations with information regarding current and deferred charitable giving options. In addition, Katie works closely with professional advisors and their clients to identify those options that will achieve specific philanthropic planning goals.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Katie was a member of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation’s Philanthropy Institute for over five years, most recently serving as a Director of Gift Planning. She provided charitable gift, tax and estate planning services to individuals and families with an interest in supporting the Cleveland Clinic health system. Katie previously held positions at Hickman & Lowder Co., LPA and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Katie has volunteered with the Smith College Club of Cleveland in their role with the Summer on the Cuyahoga internship program since she returned to Cleveland in 2005. She is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, the Northeast Ohio Planned Giving Council and the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland.

Katie earned her Bachelor of Arts in art history from Smith College and received her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law.

Brenda Cummins

Brenda CumminsAdvancement

Donor Relations Officer

216.615.7158 |

Brenda Cummins joined the foundation in 2015 and works with donors and organizations to help them plan and achieve their philanthropic objectives.  

Brenda brings senior level development experience from her previous role as director of Foundation Administration and Community Engagement at Summa Health System. In her role, she advanced Summa’s priorities through philanthropy and connected the greater community to the work of the organization. Prior work includes her position as a development officer at the Akron Civic Theatre, where she was responsible for all aspects of fundraising for the 1920’s atmospheric theatre. 

Through her first career path as an Audiologist and her community volunteer work in social services, healthcare and the arts, her strength is connecting people to organizations that make an impact in the lives of our greater community. 

Brenda serves on the boards of several non-profits, including Greenleaf Family Center, 91.3 The Summit - WAPS, and Summit ArtSpace. She is a graduate of Leadership Akron, Class 2007. She serves on the American Heart Association Go Red for Women committee, and has volunteered with the Summa Medical Team for the Akron Marathon. She holds a master’s degree in Audiology from Kent State University and a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing from Bowling Green State University.

Terri Eason

Terri EasonAdvancement

Director of Gift Planning

Administrative Assistant: Linda Gersten 216.615.7143

Terri Bradford Eason manages the foundation’s Gift Planning Program as a member of the Advancement team. Her primary focus is cultivating relationships that help individuals establish current and deferred philanthropic funds, legacy gifts and charitable giving strategic plans. As such, Terri works closely with professional advisors and their clients to identify, create and provide charitable planning options tailored to achieve specific philanthropic goals. 

Terri joined the Foundation in October 2008 after gaining two decades of experience in the financial services industry. She had several positions with National City (now PNC) and supported several functions including wealth management, relationship management, new business development, and both private and corporate banking. As director of nonprofit business services, she was responsible for new business development and relationship management of nonprofit and higher education organizations. Throughout her tenure, Terri was dedicated to quality service for which she received the company’s NCC Excel Award for extraordinary client and community service. She also was the recipient of the YWCA Women of Professional Excellence Award, TLOD Status of Women Award, and the NCNW Phenomenal Women of Extraordinary Leadership and Service Award. 

Terri has served the nonprofit community as a director on several area nonprofit boards, including Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center (Past-Board President), Recovery Resources, Junior Achievement, and the Women’s City Club Foundation. Currently, she is President of the Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and the Chairman of Alpha Omega Foundation, Incorporated. In addition, she serves on the Legacy Village Lyndhurst Community Fund Committee and is a member of the National Black MBA Association, Inc., Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society, Cleveland Chapter of Links, Inc., and Jack & Jill of America, Inc. She earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Penn State University.

Maureen Forrest

Maureen ForrestAdvancement

Development Assistant

216.685.2002 |

Maureen Forrest joined the Cleveland Foundation in March 2007 as a donor relations and scholarship assistant. Prior to that, she was an administrative assistant in the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office for 15 years. Maureen provides administrative support to the Donor Relations team to ensure that those supported have the tools and information necessary to successfully carry out their objectives.

Michelle Fritz

Michelle FritzAdvancement

Director of Development & Donor Communications

216.615.7165 |
Administrative Assistant: Maureen Forrest 216.685.2002

Michelle Fritz consults with individuals, families, and organizations to help donors identify and achieve their charitable giving interests and goals. She also works collaboratively with the Marketing & Communications team to develop donor communication strategies.

Michelle joined the team in 2012 with more than 15 years of development experience. In her previous role as executive director of donor relations and events for Case Western Reserve University, she played an instrumental role on the leadership team that successfully launched the university’s $1 billion capital campaign in the fall of 2011. In addition, Michelle created comprehensive stewardship and donor recognition programs for schools and departments across the university.

Prior to working at Case Western Reserve, Michelle worked in various development roles for the American Cancer Society, Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services, and Bowling Green State University. 

Michelle holds an MBA from Case Western Reserve University and earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Bowling Green State University. She has been an active volunteer for several nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. 

Linda Gersten

Linda GerstenAdvancement

Gift Planning Assistant

216.615.7143 |

Linda Gersten joined the foundation in 2001 and currently works as a gift planning assistant. Linda earned a bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University and a master’s degree in business from Lake Erie College.

Donna Johnson

Donna JohnsonAdvancement

Executive Assistant to SVP, Advancement

216.615.7168 |

Donna Johnson, who joined the foundation in 2006, is executive assistant and operations administrator for the Advancement team. She provides administrative support for the senior vice president for Advancement, oversees department operations, and handles special projects.

Donna has more than 25 years of administrative experience in the nonprofit and community development sectors. Prior to joining the foundation, Donna served as an executive director for a nonprofit community arts organization. She has worked as a consultant for nonprofit arts organizations providing grant writing and project management services. Donna also worked at ShoreBank, Cleveland,  and in the development department of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Donna is a graduate of John Hay High School and attended Bowling Green State University.

Kevin J. Lenhard

Kevin J. LenhardAdvancement

Gift Planning Advisor

Administrative Assistant: Linda Gersten 216.615.7143

Kevin J. Lenhard joined the Cleveland Foundation in August 2014. He focuses primarily on cultivating relationships with professional advisors in the Cleveland community and surrounding areas. Through these partnerships, he assists professional advisors and their clients in establishing strategic philanthropic plans with the foundation. Additionally, Kevin consults with individuals, families, nonprofit organizations and businesses to help them identify and achieve their charitable interests and goals.

Prior to joining the foundation, Kevin was in private law practice representing individuals, families and small businesses in estate and tax planning, litigation and business advisory matters. Kevin previously held Senior Manager and Director positions in the tax practices of Ernst & Young LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, respectively, where he provided consultation to U.S. multinational clients in federal and international tax matters.

Kevin has served as board president of Seeds of Literacy and on the Alumni Council at St. Ignatius High School. He currently serves on the Advancement Committee of the West Side Catholic Center.  Kevin is also a member of the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio Planned Giving Council.

Kevin earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Notre Dame. He received his law degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and an LL.M. in taxation from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.


Katherine M. LePar

Katherine M. LeParAdvancement

Gift Planning Associate

216.615.7161 |

Kathy LePar is part of the Advancement team of the Cleveland Foundation and is responsible for processing new gifts, supporting the setup of new funds, preparing fund agreements and charitable gift documents, and serving as a liaison with the Finance team and other cross-disciplinary teams.

Kathy has  more than 30 years of experience in the legal profession with specific expertise in the areas of estate planning, probate administrations, and asset liquidation. Before joining the foundation in September 2012, Kathy spent 13 years as a paralegal with the firm of Behm & Henry, LLC. Prior to that, Kathy spent nine years as a legal assistant/paralegal with Bowlus & Bowlus, Ltd. During her employment with Bowlus & Bowlus, Kathy also provided paralegal support for a number of years to Sara J. Sherick, Esq., and Roger W. Hafford, Esq., in the area of probate administrations. 

Kathy is currently working toward obtaining her certified paralegal designation from the National Association of Legal Assistants. 

Melissa Libertini

Melissa LibertiniAdvancement

Research Assistant

216.685.2009 |

Melissa joined the Advancement Team in January 2016 as a research assistant, providing support in the areas of research, planning, and coordination. She works with the Director of Development and Donor Communications to support the research needs of the entire team.

Melissa was a participant in the foundation’s 2015 summer internship program, where she worked for MOCA as a program intern. She has also worked for the last several years as a shift supervisor at Starbucks.

Melissa graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor of arts in nonprofit administration. She also earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts as well as a certificate in peace and conflict studies from Cuyahoga Community College.

Paige Mische

Paige MischeAdvancement

Donor Relations Assistant

216.615.7193 | 

Paige joined The Cleveland Foundation staff as a Donor Relations Assistant in September 2015.  She provides administrative support for the Donor Relations Team.  Paige is native to Virginia and moved to the Cleveland area during the summer of 2015.

Prior to her work with the foundation, Paige held the position of Guest Services Manager for the Children’s Museum of Richmond in Midlothian, Virginia, where she worked with museum staff and volunteers to grow the museum’s membership program.  Earlier positions include serving as a substitute teacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools, a lab technician for the University of Virginia, and an undergraduate research assistant with the Virginia Coastal Reserve Long Term Ecological Research Center.

Paige earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecological and Biological Conservation from the University of Virginia, where she graduated with distinction. 

Ginger F. Mlakar

Ginger F. MlakarAdvancement

Senior Counsel and Director, Donor Relations

Administrative Assistant: Megan Wilson 216.685.2004

As Senior Counsel & Director, Donor Relations, Ginger Mlakar oversees the Cleveland Foundation’s donor stewardship program. In this role, she connects donors to their charitable interests. Additionally, she serves as in house legal counsel on charitable gifting and estate administration issues, and facilitates the acceptance of complex charitable gifts. She came to the Cleveland Foundation in July 2009 after 16 years practicing law in the area of estate and charitable gift planning and administration. Her previous positions include partner in the personal succession and planning practice group at Thompson Hine LLP and of counsel in the estate planning and probate practice group at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP. She is also a certified public accountant.

Ginger has served on the boards of several area organizations, including the Girl Scouts of Lake Erie Council, the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland, the Bay Village Education Foundation, the Bay Village Foundation, and as treasurer for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation and Bay Soccer Club. She was the President for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation. She has been a member of advisory groups for University Hospitals, the Cleveland Orchestra, and Case Western Reserve University. Additionally, she is an active fellow of the American College of Estate and Trust Council, and an Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Council member for the Ohio State Bar Association. Ginger is a frequent speaker on legal and tax issues surrounding charitable giving.

Ginger has been named among the Best Lawyers in America and the Top 50 Female Ohio Super Lawyers List by Law and Politics magazine. She was a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2014. Ginger has received the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's Women in Law Making a Difference and President's Awards, and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation's Outstanding Leadership Award. She graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and earned her juris doctorate from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Paul G. Putman

Paul G. PutmanAdvancement

Donor Relations Officer

 216.615.7583 |

Paul G. Putman joined the Advancement Team in November 2014 and is responsible for fostering and strengthening relationships with individuals, families and organizations that seek to turn their passion into purpose through philanthropy.

Paul joined the foundation in October 2008 as a Program Officer on the Community Responsive Grantmaking team where he facilitated grantmaking across multiple sectors by focusing on efforts to strengthen nonprofit organizations and improve access to services for underserved populations. In this capacity, he also coordinated the Fenn Educational Fund and oversaw special projects. Most recently he provided leadership in the review of arts education in the Cleveland schools and supported the Cleveland Foundation summer internship program. Prior to joining the foundation, Paul was the manager of the Center for Leadership and Service at Cleveland State University, where he coordinated leadership development and service-learning experiences.

Paul holds a doctorate in urban education from CSU with a focus on leadership and lifelong learning. He earned his master's in psychology, with a specialization in diversity management from CSU and his master's in education, guidance, and counseling from Eastern Illinois University. Paul earned his bachelor's in English from Kent State University.

Alicia Wray

Alicia WrayAdvancement

Events Manager

216.685.2013 |

Alicia Wray joined the Advancement Team in November 2016. She oversees and implements events focused on cultivation and engagement of donors, advisors, and prospects.

Alicia brings more than ten years of event planning experience to the foundation that includes work in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.  Most recently, she served as Conference and Event Management Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, where she was responsible for planning programs for groups of internal and external stakeholders. Prior to her role at the Federal Reserve, Alicia was the Event and Donor Relations Coordinator at YWCA Greater Cleveland. In addition to these key positions, she has worked in event planning at National Concession Company, United Way of Lake County, and the Cleveland National Air Show. 

Alicia earned a bachelor of arts in public relations from Baldwin Wallace University where she is currently pursuing an MBA. She has completed additional training through the Disney Institute as well as Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management.

In addition to her professional and academic experiences, Alicia is a member of several event planning associations including the Professional Convention Management Organization (PCMA), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Association, and Women in Sports and Events (WISE).