Cleveland Foundation Announces Staff Additions, Promotions

Two directors added, two leaders expand roles

Release Date: 08.11.2009

The Cleveland Foundation today announced that Terri B. Eason and Ginger F. Mlakar have joined the foundation’s Gift Planning and Donor Relations team as directors, while staff members Cynthia V. Schulz and Lillian A. Kuri have adopted new titles to reflect their expanding roles.

Eason serves as director of gift planning after having previously held a variety of positions at National City Bank, the last of which was director of nonprofit business services. She is responsible for managing the foundation’s development program, with a primary focus of cultivating relationships to help establish philanthropic legacies. She has two decades of experience in financial services, including wealth management, relationship management, new business development, and both private and corporate banking.

Eason has been a director on several area nonprofit boards, including the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center (president), Recovery Resources, Junior Achievement, Women’s City Club Foundation, and the Associate Board of the United Black Fund. She is a member of the National Black MBA Association, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society.

As director of donor relations, Mlakar manages the foundation’s donor stewardship program, connecting donors to their charitable interests. She came to the Cleveland Foundation 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 a certified public accountant, as well.

Mlakar also has served on the boards of several area organizations, including the Girl Scouts of Lake Erie Council, the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland, and as treasurer for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation. She is a member of advisory groups for University Hospitals, the Cleveland Orchestra, and Case Western Reserve University. She has been named among the “Best Lawyers in America” each year since 2006 and the “Top 50 Female Ohio Super Lawyers List” by Law and Politics magazine each year since 2005.

Previously director of public affairs, Schulz has been named director of public affairs and strategy. In addition to leading the foundation’s internal and external communications efforts, she also assists President and CEO Ronn Richard with implementation of various strategic initiatives.

Schulz joined the foundation in December 2005 after a 15-year career at Cleveland public and investor relations firm Dix & Eaton, where she served as executive vice president and senior managing director, among other roles. Her extensive communications background also includes time spent with Diamond Shamrock Corporation and the East Ohio Gas Company. She graduated magna cum laude from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and is involved on such nonprofit boards of directors as the Kent State School of Journalism (chair), Southwest General Health Center (vice chair), In Counsel with Women, and the Union Club.

Schulz received the 2009 Lighthouse Award from the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America – its highest honor – for career accomplishments and community service. She also has been recognized by the YWCA as a 2005 Woman of Achievement, by Northern Ohio Live as a 2001 Rainmaker, and by Crain’s Cleveland Business as a 2001 Woman of Note. In 2002, the Kent State School of Journalism honored her with the William Taylor Distinguished Alumna Award.

Kuri, who worked as a consultant to the Cleveland Foundation for two years before being named director of special projects in 2007, is now program director for architecture, urban design, and sustainable development. She helps oversee a number of priority projects, including the foundation’s wide-ranging Greater University Circle Initiative (GUC) and planning for a network of green, cooperatively owned businesses that build assets for GUC residents. Her newer areas of focus include large-scale land reutilization and leveraging the Euclid Corridor transportation project in Cleveland’s Midtown District.

Kuri was the executive director of Cleveland Public Art before joining the Cleveland Foundation, and also held positions as project manager for the Cleveland City Planning Commission and project coordinator for the Harvard Design School at Harvard University. She holds a master of architecture in urban design degree from Harvard, as well as a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Kent State. Kuri is a licensed architect in Ohio and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-accredited professional.  She serves as a member of the Cleveland City Planning Commission and as a board member for Cleveland Development Advisors.


Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and the nation’s third-largest today, with assets of $1.6 billion and 2008 grants of $84 million. The foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. Currently the foundation proactively directs two-thirds of its flexible grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs: economic transformation (including advanced energy and globalization), public school improvement, early childhood and youth development, neighborhoods and housing, and arts advancement.

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