Recent News

March 23, 2018

Meet Our 2018 Leaders and Legends Award Honorees

On Friday, April 27 we will honor and celebrate incredible people throughout our region at our Leaders and Legends luncheon at Duke Energy Convention Center. These outstanding volunteers are committed to United Way's vision of creating a community where everyone has an opportunity to thrive.

Additionally, we will share how our work together is uniting communities and changing lives as we tell the story of our collective impact. 

Purchase tickets for the Leaders and Legends luncheon

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Legend awards

Geier Family Award for United Way Leadership – George Yund

George Yund has a long history of community service to the Greater Cincinnati community, and has served many volunteer capacities for United Way. Yund was a member of United Way’s Board of Directors from 2011-2017 and has been a member of the Foundation Board since 2012, including as Chair from 2013-2015. He has been instrumental in bringing clarity around the role of Foundation Board membership compared to that of Board of Directors membership. His input triggered the amending of United Way’s Code of Regulations and Investment Policy. Yund has been a member of United Way’s Tocqueville Society since 2009, and served as Tocqueville Cabinet chair during the 2014 United Way Campaign. He served as CEO of Frost Brown Todd, LLC from 2009-2017, leading the firm’s operations across 12 offices in eight states. His professional interests include leadership in several programs that promote diversity in the legal profession.


Ruth W. and Robert I. Westheimer Award for Continuous United Way Leadership – Mike Manzler 

Mike Manzler has been a longtime member of United Way’s Human Resources Committee, serving since 1997 and as Chair since 2004. As Chair, Manzler oversees the human resources policies and strategies in an effort to provide an effective foundation for United Way, and to ensure a high level of accountability and compliance with all applicable employment laws and regulations. In addition to his Chair responsibilities, Mike reviews the Team Member Handbook annually to ensure United Way addresses the rights and needs of its team members appropriately. Despite a very busy schedule in his legal practice, Mike has always made time to provide advice and counsel to United Way, serving as legal counsel to the organization for all employment and personal matters. Manzler is also a member of United Way’s Executive Compensation Committee, which acts on behalf of the Board of Directors in fulfilling its responsibilities relating to the compensation of executives. He helped create the Committee Charter, which defines the role and responsibilities of the Committee, and ensures the Committee conducts its work at the highest level of accountability, transparency and compliance with all legal/regulatory requirements. In addition, as HR Committee Chair, Mike has been an active and engaged member of United Way’s Accountability & Services Cabinet.    

Neil H. McElroy Award for United Way Resource Development Leadership – Heidi Jark

Heidi Jark’s volunteer involvement with United Way has spanned two tenures on the Campaign Cabinet as the Foundations and Trusts Chair from 2007-2009 and from 2015-2017. In this role she was instrumental in personally securing more than $1 million in grants. Heidi is a longtime advocate for the work of United Way.  She believes deeply in the United Way mission and will do anything she can to help attract funding, donors, volunteers and support. She leverages her strong network to promote the impact of United Way in corporate settings, within foundations, and across the community. Jark was a member of United Way’s Women Investing in the Next Generation (WINGs) group from 2008-2015, and has been a Women of Tocqueville member since 2016. Among her community involvement in Cincinnati and on the national level, she has served on the Board of YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, a United Way agency partner, the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council, and the National Board of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning.


Joseph A. Hall Award for Promoting Diversity – Eric Kearney

Eric Kearney has had a career in law, business and politics. In 2017, Kearney began serving on United Way’s Board of Directors and Public Policy Committee. Throughout his entire career, Eric has never forgotten the needs of the African American and other minority communities who are not normally represented at the table. From 2005-2014, he served as the Ohio Senate Minority Leader, and has championed a number of causes including adoption, children's health, small business development, and pension reform. Within the senate, he was a voice for common sense business approaches that never left behind those who are underrepresented. Following his senate term, he became president of the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce, where he has increased membership by 40-percent. He founded and built one of the largest African American owned publishing companies, Sesh Communications, which publishes The Cincinnati Herald, The Northern Kentucky Herald, The Dayton Defender, and other publications, providing a voice for voiceless people. Kearney has also served on the Child Poverty Collaborative Steering Committee since 2016, and was a former Chair of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Public Policy Committee. 

Impact Leadership Award – Pastor Ennis Tait

Pastor Ennis Tait serves as the executive director for the CWFF Child Development Center, a new United Way agency partner for 2018. Under his leadership, CWFF was an early adopter of Ohio's Step Up to Quality program and was one of the first programs to achieve a high-quality rating in Avondale. Tait has been a champion for the work of the Child Poverty Collaborative since its inception, and currently serves on the Executive Council guiding the overall effort. In 2017, he joined the Board of Managers as Treasurer for Cincinnati Preschool Promise. As Treasurer, he helped set up the financial policies for Cincinnati Preschool Promise, helped conduct the initial audit and oversees the administrative funding that comes from Cincinnati Public Schools. Tait also started the nonprofit organization Project Nehemiah in 2006. Its mission is to rebuild healthy lifestyles of faith, family and community through parent and youth intervention, education and training. Tait serves on other various boards in the community, including Every Child Succeeds, a United Way initiative in partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.


Living Her Legacy Award – Susan Storer

Susan Storer has been a member of United Way’s Women Investing in the Next Generation (WINGs) over the past decade, and has served on both the Steering Committee from 2010 – 2013, as well as the Advocacy Sub-Committee since 2010. In her efforts with the Advocacy group, Susan worked with fellow WINGs members to more deeply engage our local, state and federal officials in the mission of United Way, ensuring that the priorities for our community were both understood and supported. Additionally, Susan has led a strong partnership with Macy’s and United Way, creating annually the largest gathering of WINGs members for an evening of fellowship and shopping. This engagement platform has enabled United Way to attract more donors to support the important work in our community, providing great value for members. Storer has also served on the Board of HIPPY USA (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters), which is a part of United Way agency partner YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, locally.  


leader awards

Improving Our Community – Allison Kropp

Allison Kropp has been instrumental in the launch of United Way’s new online tool BoardBank, a collaborative effort between community partners to find or fill positions on nonprofit boards and committees with the best leaders in Greater Cincinnati. In 2017, Allison began serving as Chair of the BoardBank Advisory Committee, which is comprised of representatives from 17 organizations with key roles in our region’s leadership development training programs and the nonprofit community. From acting as an all-star advocate, looping in other community members, fundraising and providing strategic direction, Allison has gone above and beyond to ensure that BoardBank was able to come to fruition and has the framework to be successful for years to come. Allison is committed to working to improve the quality and impact of the charitable organizations in Cincinnati and beyond.

Developing Resources – Joel Stone

Joel Stone is a member of United Way’s Tocqueville Society, and in 2017, he began serving on the Tocqueville Cabinet. Stone was an integral part of the Tocqueville Cabinet success, which saw 82 new members of the Tocqueville Society in 2017, including 25 new members he garnered from Fifth Third Bank, more than doubling Fifth Third membership from the year prior. Joel has joined United Way’s Foundation Board in 2018 and will serve on the Tocqueville Cabinet for a second year as the young professionals leader. Joel is a strong community advocate for United Way, tirelessly sharing United Way’s mission and message as it relates to lifting families out of poverty. As a young professional in Tocqueville, he has quickly established himself as a leader in the group. Prior to joining Tocqueville, Joel was a member of both United Way’s Herbert R. Brown Society and Emerging Leaders group for young professionals.

Communicating Our Message – Tom Kirkpatrick

Tom Kirkpatrick has been a member of United Way’s Tocqueville Society since 2008 and a past member of United Way’s Campaign Cabinet. During his time at Procter and Gamble and now as President of ECO Engineering, he has gone above and beyond expectations to serve the community. Each year for ECO Engineering’s United Way campaign, Tom orchestrates a digital kickoff for all of his employees in Cincinnati and throughout the country to reiterate the importance of United Way and giving back to the community. For employees outside of the Greater Cincinnati region, Tom connects them to the local United Way in their community, using United Way as a way to build unity amongst his national team. In 2016, Tom led ECO Engineering to complete a pro-bono project for United Way agency partner, the DCCH Center for Children and Families. More than 100 employees from around the country volunteered their time to design and implement a new, energy efficient lighting system for the DCCH facilities. The project saves DCCH roughly $10,000 per year to utilize that money towards programming. 


Communicating Our Message – Ryan McNeely

Ryan McNeely is a business analyst and artist. His approach is to understand the requirements and then deliver on a solution that is both impactful and innovative. He had a concept to leverage his artistic talent and his relationships in the artistic community to have an art sale to help lift children out of poverty. Ryan brought his idea to life by partnering with United Way to deliver an event, Giving & Art United. This was a new event format for United Way and brought together a diverse group of people who might not have had a chance to hear the United Way story and message. The event drew over 100 attendees and the art sale raised $3,800 for United Way. Most importantly, a different group of people engaged with the work of United Way in a new way. Ryan believes to achieve success, you must be a champion of others and facilitate action.


special award

Clement L. Buenger Award for Leadership in Education – Kent Wellington and Lauren Hannan Shafer

Kent Wellington and Lauren Hannan Shafer serve as co-chairs for Saturday Hoops, a program in Over-the-Rhine and a part of Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC), a United Way agency partner. Saturday Hoops, now in its 14th year, is a growing group of friends and vulnerable kids who get together on Saturday mornings (January through May) for some fun, faith, and positive role modeling through a variety of activities. The goal is to connect one-on-one with kids and have them feel important, loved, and confident by playing basketball together, creating art, circuit training, weekly speakers, healthy snacks, lunch and much more. Saturday Hoops has been a part of CYC since 2014, which has been integral to helping match participating children with CYC mentors. 

Kent Wellington has mentored vulnerable kids in the Greater Cincinnati community for the past 25+ years. He has been involved with Saturday Hoops from the beginning, helping lead the effort from 3-4 volunteers with 10-15 kids, to now 14 years later having over 700 volunteers and 500 kids a part of the program. He served on the CYC Board of Directors for approximately 15 years, including 11 years as Board Chair. He is currently a member of the CYC Advisory Board. 

Lauren Hannan Shafer has co-chaired Saturday Hoops since 2012, and additionally has served as a CYC mentor since 2015. She has always bene drawn to helping children as a Big Sister in high school, helping to launch the Cincinnati Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is also an Artworks trustee and chairs their Adopt an Apprentice program.