Cleveland Foundation Announces Senior Leadership Appointments 

release date: November 10, 2016

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation today announced the promotion of India Pierce Lee to Senior Vice President, Program. Pierce Lee will lead the Cleveland Foundation’s grantmaking team, working with the board, staff, and community leaders to define Greater Cleveland’s critical needs and leverage resources to help meet them. She replaces Cleveland Foundation Executive Vice President Robert E. Eckardt, who is retiring from the foundation after 34 years of service.

India Pierce Lee

India Pierce Lee

“India is the ultimate ambassador for Greater Cleveland. She is beloved by our board, staff and our community, and that’s because she understands the needs of our residents, the opportunities in our neighborhoods, and the best path forward to expand Cleveland’s renaissance so that everyone benefits,” said Ronn Richard, Cleveland Foundation President and CEO. “The sky’s the limit with India, and I can’t imagine anyone better qualified to ensure we continue the foundation’s tradition of grantmaking excellence.”     

The foundation also announced the promotion of Lillian Kuri to Vice President, Strategic Grantmaking, Arts & Urban Design Initiatives. In addition to her current grantmaking portfolio in the arts and urban design, Kuri will play a leadership role in developing new grantmaking initiatives on behalf of the foundation. She will collaborate with Pierce Lee and colleagues throughout the organization to develop cross-sector opportunities for the foundation to enhance its impact in the community.

Lillian Kuri

Lillian Kuri

“From her partnership with India to launch our Greater University Circle Initiative to her dynamic leadership on our mastery-based arts strategy, Lillian demonstrates an unparalleled ability to create, innovate and collaborate – it’s in her DNA,” said Richard. “I’m excited to see what Lillian can achieve in this new role, working closely with her best-in-class program colleagues to ensure that we maximize our grantmaking potential while identifying new ways to collaborate in service of Greater Cleveland.”

Pierce Lee and Kuri bring more than 20 years of combined experience at the Cleveland Foundation to their new roles. Pierce Lee joined the Cleveland Foundation in 2006 as Program Director for Neighborhoods, Housing and Community Development. She oversees the foundation’s Greater University Circle Initiative, a unique multi-institutional anchor-based partnership with Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, the City of Cleveland, philanthropy and nonprofit organizations engaged in catalytic projects to revitalize neighborhoods that include transportation, wealth building and economic inclusion, employer-assisted housing, and community engagement. Her portfolio at the foundation also includes Cleveland’s community development corporations and neighborhood intermediary organizations.

Prior to joining the Cleveland Foundation, Pierce Lee served as Senior Vice President of Programs at Neighborhood Progress Inc. (NPI), Senior Program Director with the Northeast Ohio Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Director of The Empowerment Zone with the City of Cleveland’s Department of Economic Development, and Executive Director of Mt. Pleasant NOW Development Corporation.

India earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Cleveland’s Dyke College and is a graduate of the Louis Stokes Fellowship in Community Development from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, where she obtained a Master of Science degree in social administration. In 2009, India completed the prestigious Loeb Fellowship from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where she spent 10 months on the Harvard campus studying best practices in neighborhood revitalization, with a special interest in sustainability. India is currently pursuing a Master of Art in Psychology with a specialization in Diversity Management at Cleveland State University, with expected graduation in May 2017.

Lillian Kuri currently serves as the Program Director for Arts and Urban Design at the Cleveland Foundation. She joined the foundation in 2005 as a consultant to help develop a comprehensive strategy for one of the foundation’s priority strategic initiatives: the revitalization of the Greater University Circle area, which is now one of the nation’s leading comprehensive anchor institution development strategies. In 2015, Kuri assumed responsibility for the foundation’s arts, culture and placemaking initiatives. She manages Creative Fusion, the foundation’s international residency program which has brought more than 70 global artists to Cleveland since 2008. Kuri is also developing and implementing the foundation’s new arts mastery initiative that will bring year-round, rigorous, mastery-based programs in theater, music and visual arts to thousands of underserved children each year. 

Kuri has more than 20 years of experience as a nonprofit executive. As the Executive Director of Cleveland Public Art from 2000-2004, she was responsible for the implementation of more than $4 million in projects throughout her tenure. Kuri also held positions as Project Manager for the City of Cleveland’s Citywide Plan under Mayor Michael R. White as well as Project Coordinator for the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. While in Boston, she worked on projects such as the redevelopment of Boston’s City Hall Plaza and an effort to rebuild downtown Beirut, Lebanon. She has taught courses at the Boston Architectural Center and Harvard University’s Career Discovery Program in Urban Design & Planning.

Kuri is a licensed architect in Ohio and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-accredited professional. She holds a Master of Architecture in Urban Design degree from Harvard University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Kent State University. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of Cleveland’s Planning Commission.


Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.1 billion and 2015 grants of $95 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – education and youth development, neighborhoods, health and human services, arts and culture, economic development and purposeful aging – and responds to the community’s needs.

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