If you were to look up the word “happy” in the dictionary, there’s a fair chance you could spot Maureen Ater’s photo.

The vice president of marketing and fund development at Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland is an outgoing and energetic mom of three daughters and a hometown girl who grew up on the same street as her husband, Patrick, an educator at Canton Country Day School.

“Although we weren’t high-school sweethearts, it’s wonderful to have a shared history with someone who had many of the same teachers, friends and also knows how amazing Kraus’ Pizza and Gold’N Krisp chips are—it’s a western Stark County thing,” Ater said.

At Goodwill, Ater is responsible for the advertising, fundraising and public relations for 24 Goodwill stores and its missions programs, which served 12,000 people in 2017.

She also is director of the Ken Weber Goodwill Community Campus in downtown Canton, which houses 18 additional nonprofit agencies and organizations.

“My connection with Goodwill began in high school,” Ater said. “I was quite a thrift shopper. When I was 16, I wrote a letter to Goodwill International suggesting they hire me to write a column to attract more teenagers to shop at Goodwill. They were interested and requested a few of my writing samples. I panicked and never wrote them back!”

Ater’s career is rooted in the nonprofit world, and it was always her dream to return. Prior to Goodwill, she worked as general manager of Gatehouse Ohio Media, which at that time included The Canton Repository, The Independent, the Times-Reporter, the Suburbanite and About magazine.

Ater also worked in marketing and executive positions at Stark County Board of DD and the United Way of Greater Stark County and served on Goodwill’s board of directors for more than eight years.

A graduate of Jackson High School and Ashland University, she holds a master’s in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University.

After college, Ater worked in television, doing everything from producing infomercials, to serving as a regional host on The Food Network.

She currently serves on the boards of the YMCA of Central Stark County, the Stark Education Partnership and the Stark County District Library Foundation.

Ater is a recipient of the Canton Jaycees Distinguished Service Award and the Twenty Under 40! award. In 2013, she was enshrined in the YWCA Stark County Women’s Hall of Fame.

“I say ‘yes’ to about every volunteer committee or event that comes my way,” she said. “It’s energizing to work alongside other volunteers and see that your efforts are making a difference in our community.”

ATER’S LOCAL PICKS

Favorite restaurants:
Bender’s Tavern: “Never had a bad meal and always great fun to dine with the who’s who of Stark County. Lake Erie Perch with a side of Bender’s Tomatoes is my go-to!”

Nuevo Acapulco: “I highly recommend the fresh tableside guacamole. I just got my own molacajete to re-create the experience at home.”

Canal Tavern of Zoar: “Sitting on the patio with an adult beverage and fabulous meal at this restaurant is our favorite date night.”

Favorite place to take the kids:
“My daughters enjoy swim and gymnastics classes at the Meyers Lake YMCA. We love to spend the afternoon at Discover World at the McKinley Museum, which is always followed by a trip to Taggart’s.”

Favorite indoor activity:
“We are blessed to live in the Avondale neighborhood, close to downtown, but surrounded by parks and nature. Nothing is better than a cup of coffee, the Sunday Repository and watching nature out the window. Most days, we spot deer, blue herons, turtles and any number of wildlife in our front yard.”

Most admired biz owner or CEO:
“I’ve always admired business leaders that approach their role with a no-nonsense attitude and passion for doing what’s right. Jim Porter of The Canton Repository, Maria Heege of United Way, former Goodwill CEO Ken Weber and now Anne Richards are all at the top of my list!”