The award honors a visionary leader who embodies the commitment, courage, entrepreneurship, and impact that define excellence in philanthropy. Over the past thirty years, Richard, a former member of the Council on Foundations’ board of directors, has held a variety of senior management positions in government, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector. Since 2003, he has served as president and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation, the oldest community foundation in the country, where his signature achievements include the launch of the Greater University Circle Initiative, a multi-institutional neighborhood growth collaborative that celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2015; the development of a mastery-based arts initiative aimed at ensuring that every child in Cleveland has access to a high-quality arts education; a Digital Excellence Initiative aimed at building a culture of digital innovation and equitable access; the launch of an Encore Initiative designed to connect the city’s aging population with opportunities that improve the community; the development of a career-technical education strategy designed to equip Cleveland students with the skills needed for in-demand family-sustaining jobs; and the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship Program, which offers emerging young leaders from across the country the skills and networks needed to jumpstart their careers in public service.
"Ronn is an exceptional leader whose career has been defined by his tireless devotion to bettering his community, his willingness to take risks and innovate, his spirited championing of philanthropy, and his encouragement of excellence in others," said Council on Foundations president and CEO Vikki Spruill. "He never shies away from a difficult issue and throughout his career has taken unequivocal stands on key issues, supporting causes ranging from environmental protection and advanced energy, public education reform, criminal justice reform and police-community relations, LGBT rights, and digital innovation and access. He is an inspiration to those who work with him and are fortunate enough to know him."