Cleveland Foundation Selected to Participate in Program to Groom Future Nonprofit Health Executives

Cleveland Foundation one of nine organizations selected nationally

Release Date: 10.03.2008

The Cleveland Foundation has been selected to collaborate with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) to implement a national fellowship program that will help train the next generation of community health leaders in Cleveland.

As the nonprofit field begins to lose many of its leaders to retirement, the Ladder to Leadership program aims to boost the skills of early- to mid-level professionals working in health-related nonprofit organizations so they will be positioned to lead.

Over the next 18 months, RWJF, CCL, and the national advisory committee of Ladder to Leadership will select 30 fellows from around Greater Cleveland to take part in the 16-month leadership curriculum. Fellows will participate in face-to-face training sessions, individualized executive coaching and team project work.

“This program will offer excellent training to the emerging nonprofit leaders in Cleveland, not only enhancing their professional growth but also helping our community grow a cadre of skilled health professionals to provide needed leadership,” said Robert Eckardt, senior vice president for programs and evaluation at the Cleveland Foundation.

The nonprofit sector is facing an impending exodus of senior leaders who plan to retire in the coming years. A study by the Bridgespan Group, for example, estimated that by 2016, nonprofit groups will need approximately 80,000 new senior managers each year. Locally, a recent survey conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that Cleveland-based nonprofits are likely to experience an increasing number of executive transitions. More than 65 percent of local nonprofits are predicting that they will need to hire a new executive director in the next five years.

“Nonprofit organizations are a critical part of health care and service delivery in this country. It is important we work with current leaders to build a pipeline of qualified future CEOs and executive directors so we do not lose the vision and capacity needed to continue to do this work effectively in the future,” said Sallie Petrucci George, program officer at RWJF. “We are committed to investing in tomorrow’s nonprofit leaders to make sure they receive the training they need to best serve those at-risk communities.”

Cleveland is one of nine sites selected across the country to participate in the program. Selection was based on each community’s unique healthcare needs, census and demographic information, demand for public health leadership development, and the commitment of local partners like the Cleveland Foundation.

“We believe this program will have a powerful and lasting impact on individual leaders and their organizations,” said Karen Dyer, director of CCL’s Education and Nonprofit Sector. “By design, the program encourages fellows to apply new skills and innovative solutions to problems in their communities as these skills are learned. So they are giving back to the community as they go.”

To become a fellow, applicants must demonstrate a record of accomplishment within the nonprofit sector, potential for leadership in the nonprofit health or health care field, and a proven commitment to serving at-risk groups. To learn more about who is eligible and how to apply, visit


Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and the nation’s third-largest today, with assets of $2.2 billion and 2007 grants nearing $85 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.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, please visit


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit


The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is a top-ranked, global provider of executive education that develops better leaders through its exclusive focus on leadership education and research. Founded in 1970 as a nonprofit, educational institution, CCL helps clients worldwide cultivate creative leadership—the capacity to achieve more than imagined by thinking and acting beyond boundaries—through an array of programs, products and other services. Ranked among the world’s top providers of executive education by BusinessWeek and the Financial Times, CCL is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., with campuses in Colorado Springs, C.O.; San Diego, C.A.; Brussels, Belgium; and Singapore. Its work is supported by more than 500 faculty members and staff.