See what these 11 nonprofit leaders are up to. Read more about them and their nonprofit organizations.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Vicky Sterling
JOB/TITLE: VICE PRESIDENT, SALES AND MARKETING AT PINNACLE PRESS
IN HER WORDS: I have and always will live by the golden rule. Do unto others as you wish others to do unto you. We have an awesome community and if there is something that I can do to make it better, I will, with trust and hope that the next person will do so as well.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BECOME INVOLVED/VOLUNTEER? There are three words that summarize why I volunteer: passion, fun and commitment! I just love meeting people and volunteering. It is so awesome when I can help to make someone’s day better, contribute to a board that is making a difference to our community and help to create the electricity in the air that surrounds my favorite time of year, the Pro Football HOFEF.
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS VOLUNTEER? My biggest challenge is not being able to say no — and only having 24 hours in a day! I just love helping and if I am asked to do something, you can bet that I will give it my all, even if that means getting up in the wee hours of the morning to stay of top of everything.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Vicky is a firecracker. Set her on a project and off she goes. From large scale community events to small nonprofit fundraisers, Vicky is there to offer her insight, her time and her many talents to make each initiative a success. In one way or another, we have all benefited from the work she has done.”
EDUCATION: Graduate of Louisville High School and Dale Carnegie training programs
COMMUNITY BOARDS/OTHER PLACES YOU VOLUNTEER: Graduate of sixth class of Leadership Stark County, followed by two board terms; member, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce board of trustees for two terms; served on the board of Trillium Family Solutions for more than 18 years, including president of the board for two terms; served on the board for the Canton Advertising Club; volunteer for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Ribs Burnoff for the past 18 years, including two years as chairman; volunteer for the HOF Enshrinement ceremony and Balloon Classic; general vice chairman for the Pro Football HOFEF for 2013 (will be general chairman in 2014); vice president of Aultman Women’s Board; member of Executive Committee for the Aultman Health Foundation board of directors; vice chairman, Canton Blues Festival; J.R. Coleman Women In History Luncheon Committee; treasurer, Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 7490; received Canton Regional chamber’s Community Salute Award and the Silver Medal Award from the Canton Advertising Federation.
PERSONAL: Resides in Louisville. Married to Todd. Vicky has two grown children, John and Brooke; Todd has one grown daughter, Brittney. They have four grandchildren: Zanden (6), LayLa (5) and twins Aiden and Abigail (2); and two puppies, Patches and Zeppy.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Karen Abel Jepsen
JOB TITLE: PREVENTION DIRECTOR FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROJECT, INC.
IN HER WORDS:
“Even though domestic violence is a tough subject to handle, there is so much hope in what we do at DVPI. Victims come to us broken and damaged and for each there is the possibility of a new life ahead. When I look back upon my years of work with DVPI, I can’t say that I’ve made a lot of money or even achieved much professional status. What I can say is that the work I’ve done makes a difference in the lives of others and, in particular, the lives of young people. For that I feel both proud and hugely grateful.There have been so many moments in time, each a gift, when the walls come down, the mind engages and a young life moves forward. That helps me sleep at night.”
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? I wear many hats at DVPI, which allows me a lot of diversity in what I do. Some days I’m a teacher, challenging young minds to expand and explore. Other days I’m an advocate, out in the community raising awareness about abuse and its impact. As a preventionist, I’m always looking for ways to move upstream and address the societal and cultural roots of abuse. I see a world with fewer and fewer limits engulfing our children and I worry about their ability to manage so much.
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR ROLE? Doing more with less. And less. Funding for services in the field of prevention is difficult to find and sustain — and so crucial for lasting change.
WHAT IS ON YOUR WISH LIST? I would love to be able to train and maintain a team of preventionists who could serve all of our county schools in a meaningful and integrated fashion. I’ve also got about 25 other ideas if you have an hour or two …
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Karen is adept at identifying opportunities and putting DVPI out there front and center as a resource and support. DVPI is lucky to have such a dedicated professional who goes above and beyond to prevent violence and abuse through education, awareness and training.”
EDUCATION: Duke University, B.A. in sociology and women’s studies, OCPS II (Ohio certified prevention specialist).
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: Writer (newspaper, special features publications, grants); Options for Youth instructor (Family Court diversion program for teens who have been arrested for the first time on alcohol and drug offenses).
COMMUNITY BOARDS/VOLUNTEER WORK: Portage Collaborative Montessori School, Organic Gardening Project; Girls On Track Coach at Canton South Middle School; Unitarian Universalist social justice outreach and workshop leader.
PERSONAL: Resides in Canton Township; married to George Jepsen; mother to Hunter and Sienna Jepsen.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Dan Fuline
JOB TITLE: CEO/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY SERVICES
IN HIS WORDS: “I am just the fourth director of this agency since its founding in 1919. I appreciate the
cooperative and collaborative spirit of our community.We are proud to be provider agencies of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and the United Way of Greater Stark County.”
WHAT ARE THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A NONPROFIT DIRECTOR? 1. Recruiting and then retaining a highly qualified staff.We have been extremely fortunate in this respect. 2. Always wishing I could do more to help. 3.The fiscal challenge of running a nonprofit organization.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN NONPROFIT? I was inspired by a very special elementary teacher and I have had the desire to be in the helping field since childhood. I wanted to be a difference-maker.
YOUR WISH LIST? The dream would be to learn that our agency is no longer needed because we have eliminated all the need for services. However, the reality demands that I wish to have all the funding required to meet the current need in our community.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Dan Fuline is the real deal; he is a genuine and respected leader in our community, he is a dedicated non-profit director — and he is someone who has been able to truly make a positive difference in the lives of people of Stark County.”
CAREER: At Community Services for 28 years. Prior to that time he was a branch director with the Akron Child Guidance Center.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts, Master in social work and Doctorate in clinical social work, all from The Ohio State University.
PERSONAL: Resides in Louisville. Married to Linda. Two grown sons: Michael (Amy) and Dan Jr. (Luci). Seven grandchildren.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Derek Gordon
COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER FOR VARIOUS NONPROFITS
JOB TITLE: ASSISTANT SAFETY AND SERVICE DIRECTOR, CITY OF CANTON
IN HIS WORDS: “The best part about my job is that it allows me to work in and for the Canton community every day. This allows me to meet with a wide variety of individuals who are in a position to make an impact in Canton, and it gives me a unique opportunity to see the most significant needs in the community. It is always exciting when a casual conversation during the workday turns into a great volunteer or service opportunity that I can take back to one of my volunteer organizations.”
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? I am motivated by being a part of anything that has a positive impact in my hometown. Canton has a lot of work to do to become a thriving community, but it is my home and I believe it has incredible potential. Nothing would make me more proud than to be a part of Canton’s revitalization. I believe setting an example by helping the youth in our community will inspire them to do the same and continue to pay it forward.
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A VOLUNTEER? Getting more volunteers! It is very difficult to find volunteers with the time, energy and commitment to start and finish a service project. However, after being a part of several projects, I have noticed that once a volunteer has completed a truly meaningful service project, most of them are hooked. The sense of accomplishment and the ability to truly help someone is an incredibly powerful experience.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Derek is very passionate about his community, he constantly works to ensure that Stark County is an amazing place to live, work and play. The time and energy that he commits is profound and his energy is unparallel. Derek is committed to our communities’ future and he will ensure that it is a bright one!”
EDUCATION: Canton McKinley Senior High School; Mount Union College, bachelor’s degree; Kent State University, master’s of public administration student (currently enrolled)
COMMUNITY BOARDS/VOLUNTEER WORK: Project Rebuild (Board of Education, 2011-present); co-chairman, United Way Gen U Board; member, ystark! Service Committee; chairman, 2012 College Care-a-van Project; chairman, McKinley Diamond Dog Classic Golf Outing (2004-present); St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, vestry member, youth group leader; Canton Jaycees 2011 chairman, 2009 chairman of the Back to School Shopping Tour, 2009 chairman of Oktoberfest, 2010 coordinator of 16th U.S. Congressional District debate; 2009 Layperson of the Year, Canton Professional Educators Association; board member, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (2010).
PERSONAL: Resides in Canton. Married to Emily.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Maria Heege
JOB/TITLE: PRESIDENT/CEO, UNITED WAY OF GREATER STARK COUNTY
IN HER WORDS: “United Way helps all kinds of people with all kinds of needs — about 1 in 3 people in Stark County. We partner with dozens of agencies, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors who place trust in United Way to be responsible stewards of your donation, to help the most people, right here at home.”
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A NONPROFIT DIRECTOR? Tougher needs, fewer resources. During the past 30 years, I have seen the number of needs in our community increase and the complexity of those needs expand. United Way-funded partner agencies continue to face budget shortfalls, which places further importance on United Way funding.We have to be constantly in tune with fluctuating community economics, government policy changes and the voices of the people we serve in Stark County.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN NONPROFIT? Bringing people together to solve a community problem is very rewarding. I feel fortunate that I am surrounded by people who care deeply about making a difference in our neighbors’ lives and preparing the community to be a better place for the next generation.When work is done in silos, not nearly as much can be accomplished and the positive impact cannot be maximized. I enjoy bringing people together to effectively and efficiently address the needs of our community. By nature, nonprofit leadership is a very hands-on endeavor. Nonprofit work gives me the opportunity to learn, use and develop a wide range of professional skills. Because of my personal and professional investment in this community, I am motivated by what I see as potential in our community. I could not imagine anything more rewarding than to help our community.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “For Maria, being spotlighted for her achievements is something she will hate. Despise. Loathe. But it is so well-deserved. She has dedicated herself wholeheartedly to making our community stronger. She works tirelessly to be educated on what issues we are facing in our community and what needs are not being met. And then she works to address those needs with vigor and passion.”
EDUCATION: B.A. from Malone University.
CAREER: With United Way for 31 years in various impact and direct service leadership roles; president/CEO for the last five years.
PERSONAL: Resides in Plain Township with her husband, Karl, her sister, Chris, and three bulldogs, Liza, Roxy and Tank.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Karen Feller
JOB/TITLE: MISSION OUTREACH MANAGER, MERCY MEDICAL CENTER
IN HER WORDS: I am privileged to be associated with a faith-based organization, Mercy Medical Center, which missions and supports us with outreach in communities of poverty. For almost two decades — filled with both challenging and rewarding experiences — we have worked with the residents to improve the quality of their lives.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? We have walked with first-time moms as they journey through pregnancy to the birth of their child and beyond.We have helped children feel safe, improve grades, and learn ways to peacefully resolve their conflicts. I am regularly rewarded with a thank-you, hug and a big smile from a child when he/she grasps a new concept — and take joy in learning that someone has secured a great job or lowered their cholesterol.What an honor and joy it is to be involved in this work on a daily basis!
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR ROLE? As with many nonprofits, seeking dollars to support our efforts is always challenging. We are committed to offering quality programs and services and are continually evaluating and working with residents to offer only the best. Engaging residents in our programs also can be challenging.We have learned firsthand the value of building relationships of trust and hope. Once this happens, participation will follow. This takes time, but it works!
WHAT IS ON YOUR OUTREACH WISH LIST? We always have wishes! We are hoping to find community support to help us prepare a teaching apartment at Skyline Terrace. Also, we are looking for toy donations to support a Christmas “dollar store” for parents to purchase gifts for their children at very reasonable prices. Money raised is used to support our weekly “Keep It Real” group for women.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Karen is a true example of a servant leader. She devotes herself to serving the needs of others while focusing on their assets. She encourages self-expression and personal growth in everyone she encounters. Karen is a real champion for the underdog and will do all she can to help someone reach his or her full potential.”
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in education, Kent State University; master’s in pastoral studies, Loyola University.
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: Elementary education teacher, parish director of religious education, diocesan regional director, mission outreach manager.
COMMUNITY BOARDS/VOLUNTEER WORK: NEAR Board (Northeast Area Renaissance); United Way Impact Council; Leadership Stark County, Asset Building Day; active member of St. Anthony All Saints Parish (catechist for children in the parish’s Hispanic community, member of the Social Concerns committee, member of the prayer shawl ministry).
PERSONAL: Resides in Canton with two cats, Sophie and Otis.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Tom Thompson
JOB/TITLE: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, J.R. COLEMAN
IN HIS WORDS: J.R. Coleman has been part of the Stark County community for nearly 40 years.We appreciate the ability to offer services for people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to receive them.
WHAT ARE THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A NONPROFIT DIRECTOR? One of the major challenges is sustaining needed services for the community, while bearing recent government budget cuts. Whether providing early education and child care, adult day services or providing home modifications to elderly and disabled individuals, we must look to additional ways to continue offering these quality services in light of federal and state budget cutbacks. Another challenge is marketing the diverse services J.R. Coleman provides to the community on a nonprofit budget. We need to educate the community that our services are of high quality and available to them.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN NONPROFIT? Working at a nonprofit such as J.R. Coleman is not work. It is an opportunity to make a positive difference in our community. From providing early education at our Learning Center so a parent can go to work or school, to seeing a smile on the face of a senior citizen at our Adult Day Center who can now remain in his home and know he is valued, we are providing “quality of life” experiences for all.
YOUR WISH LIST: 1. Increased collaboration in our community. 2. The opportunity to educate more people about our diverse services. 3. Volunteers. 4. Funds.
IN HIS WORDS: “He believes strongly in the Coleman mission to enrich lives through educating children, engaging seniors and strengthening community. Tom works tirelessly on behalf of J.R. Coleman and invests tremendous energy, thought and care in nurturing the organization, which in turn, benefits our community.”
HOW LONG HAVE YOU HELD THIS POSITION? Two years.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in management from the University of Akron; Canton Lehman High School.
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: 30 years with Stark County and the state of Ohio with the Job and Family Services system. Most recently served as human services deputy director at Stark County Job and Family Services.
PERSONAL: Resides in Meyers Lake. Married to Betty. One daughter, Erin Thompson; one stepdaughter, Andrea Gerdeman; and one granddaughter, Clare.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Alexandra Nicholis Coon
JOB/TITLE: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MASSILLON MUSEUM
IN HER WORDS: The Massillon Museum is unique in that it is the only museum in the entire state of Ohio funded by a city property tax levy to maintain free admission and sustain its operations. That speaks volumes about the extent to which the Massillon community appreciates and recognizes the need for the existence of this local cultural center for art and history.
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS NONPROFIT DIRECTOR? The competition for funding continues to grow steeper; there are numerous worthwhile institutions in Stark County looking to draw from the same sources, and as federal and state funding for the arts is cut, nonprofits must look to their citizens, local foundations and corporations to offer the support needed to sustain the cultural well-being of our communities.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN NONPROFIT? As challenging as this work can be in terms of the demands on one’s time and continual hunt for resources, I find my job to be incredibly rewarding. For most people working in the nonprofit sector, their careers are labors of love. I’m sure every person working in a nonprofit will agree there are never enough hours in a day to complete all we set out to accomplish; however, I learn from my peers, colleagues and advisers daily, continue to grow as new challenges present themselves, and am motivated and excited by the fact that no day is ever monotonous.
YOUR WISH LIST? My wish list includes having more physical space for the Massillon Museum in which to facilitate the growing requests for programs and increased access to the diverse and extensive art and history collections.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Not only is Alex a knowledgeable, insightful and imaginative creator of exhibitions at the Massillon Museum, she is also a great people person, a true asset for a museum that is central to its community.”
HOW LONG HAVE YOU HELD THIS POSITION? Since January 2011.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Art in art history from Kent State University; minor in business; master’s in art history from Case Western Reserve University.
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: Registrar, Massillon Museum (2002-2004); curator, Massillon Museum (2004-2011); interim executive director, Massillon Museum (June 2010- January 2011; adjunct faculty, Walsh University (2006-2011).
PERSONAL: Resides in North Canton. Married to Joshua.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Terrance Jones
JOB/TITLE: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MULTI-DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
IN HIS WORDS: MDS is a grass-roots organization, and we have experienced our fair share of challenges. More importantly, the benefit of MDS has been evident in the success of our youth.The mission of MDS is to provide supportive programs and services to under-served youth and families in order to empower them to become self-sufficient and live a healthy lifestyle.
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS NONPROFIT DIRECTOR? Marketing and fundraising.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN NONPROFIT? The population that I serve is a resemblance of what I used to be. I empathize with its needs and challenges because I faced the same struggles as a child. A quote that pierced my heart and ultimately changed my life focus was, “Children are the living message we send to a time we will not see.” This quote resonated with me, and my commitment has been with youth ever since.
YOUR WISH LIST? A $100,000 donation! This would give the agency a strong financial foundation so that we can focus on the true mission of the agency without the constant challenge of where is our next dollar coming from. Also, a robust professional volunteer, 15 passenger van, office supplies (copier paper, pens, etc.), gift cards for any store, professional printing services.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Given his commitment to the community and exceptional work with under-served youth, Terrance has worked tirelessly to revive and keep MDS on the map. MDS is a grass-roots community-based organization, and raising funds is tough in this economy with the area in which MDS is located and the population it serves. Allow me to speak on behalf of thousands of youth, he is a mover and shaker — and the best is yet to come.”
HOW LONG IN THIS POSITION? Three years.
EDUCATION: Attended Grambling State University, Grambling, La.
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: Constituent liaison, city of Canton; general manager, Canton Oldtimers Activity Center.
PERSONAL: Resides in Canton. Single. Guardian to his sister, Maneka.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Ken Weber
JOB/TITLE: PRESIDENT/CEO, GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF GREATER CLEVELAND AND EAST CENTRAL OHIO
IN HIS WORDS: I want to thank the community for supporting the build out of the Community Campus at Goodwill. We have such great nonprofit partners in the facility, and the collaboration that occurs on behalf of those who are in need is truly inspiring. Also, I want to thank our Goodwill employees who come to work each and every day with a “beyond great” attitude. We have worked hard to increase the training that we offer staff and the opportunities for them to grow as leaders at all levels. We plan to continue down this path and see that as we continue to grow as an organization, our staff is given opportunities to grow as well. The mission of Goodwill is to improve the quality of life and employment opportunities for all people. Goodwill donations make good skills possible!
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A NONPROFIT LEADER: The biggest challenge is staying ahead of our rapid growth and having the right people in the right places. Leadership development at all levels is imperative for us to continue growing.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN NONPROFIT? The employees at Goodwill and I have the awesome opportunity to make a difference for people in our community every day. I do not consider it work, and I absolutely love what we do.
YOUR WISH LIST? My hope, my goal and my passion is to be the best we can be for the benefit of those individuals who need a hand up in life.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Not only has Ken been a visionary with the development of the Community Campus at Goodwill, but he has worked to ensure we are initiating programs that will help us go ‘beyond great’ for the communities we serve and our employees.”
HOW LONG HAVE YOU HELD THIS POSITION? 10 years.
EDUCATION: Graduate of St. Lawrence Seminary; attended Marian College; graduate of Goodwill Industries International Executive Development Program.
CAREER: A native of Wisconsin, Weber began his career with Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin before joining Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio as president and chief executive officer in March 2002. Prior to his time with Goodwill, he owned and operated his own business in Wisconsin.
PERSONAL: Resides in Canton. Married to Sally for more than 35 years with five grown children and three grandchildren.
NONPROFIT MOVER & SHAKER: Jeff Ferry
COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER FOR VARIOUS NONPROFITS
JOB/TITLE: VICE PRESIDENT COMMERCIAL BANKING, FIFTH THIRD BANK
IN HIS WORDS: We still feel Meals on Wheels of Stark and Wayne Counties is one of the best kept secrets within the community. Our goal is to be one of the first calls made when in-home services are needed and not the last, if at all. The mission of Meals on Wheels is to provide nutritionally balanced meals to homebound individuals of all ages to assist them in remaining independent and in a community setting.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? It is everyone’s responsibility to assist in making his community better.
TOUGHEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A BOARD MEMBER/VOLUNTEER: The agency’s fiscal well-being is a big challenge. The agency has been struggling over the last few years with cuts in funding and battling the constant increases in food and fuel. All not-for-profits are experiencing budget issues but few others, if any, have to deal with the two most volatile commodities, food and fuel, in order to carry out their mission.
YOUR WISH LIST? Improved visibility with the general public; partnerships with all of the local hospitals to lessen the likelihood of re-admission by immediate nutritional support; and, of course, monetary support to assist with ongoing expansion of the Meals on Wheels mission.
FROM THE NOMINATION: “Jeff has been active and involved in many different areas of agency operations over the last 10 years. His financial expertise has been critical in helping us through the challenging financial times we’ve experienced in recent years.”
EDUCATION: Malone University
COMMUNITY BOARDS/OTHER VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES: Meals on Wheels of Stark and Wayne Counties; past volunteer for United Way, Junior Achievement, Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, North Canton youth athletics.
PERSONAL: Resides in North Canton. Married to Cindy. One son, Todd.