The United Way of Summit County annual meeting was held Tuesday, April 19 at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.
Jim Mullen, United Way’s president and chief executive officer, presented the organization’s new vision plan along with ideas on how individuals and organizations can assure the plan’s success.
Mullen, along with United Way’s board and staff members, spent the past year examining the organization's operations and focus, and evaluating ways to ensure that United Way’s impact on the community is the most effective. Under the vision plan, United Way of Summit County aims to be a greater catalyst of community change and will strengthening its partnership with a wide variety of stakeholders — from corporate and governmental leaders to residents.
“We are responding to our equally-committed partners who have told us that they want to be more strategic,” said Mullen. “United Way stakeholders have sent clear messages that they want to see more pronounced positive change in the lives of their neighbors, coworkers and fellow community members. The collective appetite for greater impact, for aggressive pursuit of a better tomorrow, is growing”
Because United Way’s leadership believes that success for the entire county is impossible without a strong urban core, a fair amount of the organization’s work will focus on needs within the City of Akron. This redirection is in response to five indicators of wellbeing United Way leaders say must be addressed:
- 52% of children in Akron live in poverty
- 11 in 1,000 Akron babies do not make it to their first birthdays
- 39% of Summit County children are obese or overweight
- 27% of Akron Public School students do not read at grade level in 3rd grade
- 26% of Akron Public School students do not graduate in four years
Under the plan, United Way will sharpen its focus in the areas of Early Childhood, Youth Opportunity, Economic Mobility and Health Access. The organization will then report its progress to the community through multiple measures of success:
- Bold goals around United Way’s focus on Education, Income and Health
- Policy advancement in response to United Way’s advocacy work
- Increased participation by volunteers, advocates and donors
- More financial resources brought in, and then leveraged to create additional dollars to invest in in the Summit County community
Also during the annual meeting, United Way’s membership elected a slate of 18 directors to three-year terms ending at the annual meeting in 2019: Paul Catania, Oswald Companies; Robert Cooper, CBRE.; Mark Krohn, Brouse McDowell; Mark Merklin, Brouse McDowell; John Orr, Myers Industries; Jacqueline Silas-Butler, Project GRAD Akron; Sylvia Trundle, City of Akron Police Department; Hallie Jones Capers, G. Stephens Inc.; Shon Christy, Focal Point; William Considine, Akron Children’s Hospital; Laura Culp, BCG & Company; Dan Horrigan, City of Akron; David James, Akron Public Schools; Phillip Maynard, ASW; Michael Mazzeo, EY; Robin Shabazz, Signet; Brock Steere, Steere Enterprises; and Tim Stover, Cleveland Clinic Akron General.
A slate of officers for 2016-17 was also elected board chair: James Merklin, Bober Markey Fedorovich; vice chair, Christine Amer Mayer, GAR Foundation; immediate past chair: William Feth, AESCO Holdings, LLC; secretary: Mark Krohn, Brouse McDowell; and, treasurer: Rick Noechsel, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
Additional executive committee members elected were, at large: William Lowery II, Stouffer Realty Inc.; Philip Maynard, ASW; Bernett Williams, Akron Children’s Hospital; nominating committee chair: Cynthia Flynn Capers PhD, The University of Akron; campaign chair: William Caplan, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP; community impact chair: David Jennings, Akron-Summit County Public Library; administration committee chair: Paul Catania, Oswald Companies; strategic planning chair: Marc Merklin, Brouse McDowell; marketing & brand management chair: Rick Krochka, TRIAD Communications; and, public policy committee chair: Russell M. Pry, Summit County
The event also featured the presentation of awards to companies that went above and beyond to ensure great results through the annual United Way campaign.
GPD Group received the 2015 “Spirit of Caring Award.” United Way’s highest corporate honor, the Spirit of Caring Award is presented annually to a company that exhibits outstanding support of United Way and year-round commitment to the Summit County community.
In addition to honoring businesses, United Way also presented its Distinguished Service Award to Robert DeJournett, Summa Health and William Feth, AESCO Holdings, LLC. United Way’s Young Philanthropist of the Year Award was presented to Wesley Pierce, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.