What are you most proud of doing or being part of in 2017?


Christine Amer Mayer, President of GAR Foundation

I’m currently the board chair of the United Way of Summit County and I’m most proud of what that organization has done this year — reshaping all of its work in service of four Bold Goals that will improve early learning and third grade literacy, support college and career readiness in APS, financially empower workers, and attack the local opioid crisis.

(Photo of Christine Amer Mayer courtesy of Christine Amer Mayer)



Kevin Smith, Member, Board of Directors, Life is Good No Matter What

Our charity is small, yet our impact is mighty. In 2017 we had to regroup from a very large leadership transition and create a plan to reintroduce ourselves to our community and our constituents. What we are most proud of is that despite a tough transition, we never ever stopped fulfilling our mission: Granting escapes to adults with advanced cancer of any kind. In 2017, we granted our 50th Escape since our inception just 5 years ago.

(Photo of Kevin Smith courtesy of Kevin Smith)



Kyle Kutuchief, Akron Program Director at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The work that we’re doing with Reimagining the Civic Commons. The goal of RCC is to demonstrate how a connected set of civic assets – a civic commons – can yield increased and more equitably shared prosperity for Akron. Our team is focused on Summit Lake, Park East and Downtown Akron with the Towpath Trail serving as the connecting thread. In 2017, our team added Shane Wynn’s #Overlooked photograph series to the Towpath bridge over Rt. 59, re-greened Lock 4, worked with Hazel Tree Interiors to create an outdoor living room at Lock 2, held concerts at Park East, remodeled the kitchen and added Wi-Fi to the Summit Lake Community Center and worked with Summit Metro Parks to create a pop-up nature center at the REACH Opportunity Center (that is now in the running for an award from the State of Ohio). This list isn’t comprehensive, but a small sample the projects completed last year in pursuit of a larger strategy. My favorite part about this work is the team of community leaders, national experts, residents and stakeholders working together to make all of this happen.

(Photo of Kyle Kutuchief courtesy of Kyle Kutuchief)



Jim Mullen, President and CEO of United Way

We are most excited about the announcement of the Bold Goals for 2025. This was not just about United Way of Summit County, this was about the community coming together to share thoughts on feedback on what would inspire all of us to be great. Our Bold Goals engaged hundreds of community volunteers investing over 2,500 hours of work. It is the true sense of what Akron is and that is a community that is driven by the people.

(Photo of Jim Mullen courtesy of United Way of Summit County)



Bill Considine, CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital

Now in my 38th year as CEO of Akron Children’s, I am still excited to get up every morning and go to work for an organization that is so vitally important to our community and especially the patient families we are privileged to serve. We continue our laser focus on quality, on improving the patient experience, and making health care more accessible to children throughout northern Ohio. It really is an honor to lead a team of caregivers who care for ill children and who advocate for all children, even those who are fortunate enough to never walk through our doors.

(Photo of Bill Considine courtesy of Akron Children’s Hospital)

James Hardy, Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Akron

Helping to pass comprehensive non-discrimination legislation for Akron.

(Photo of James Hardy by Shane Wynn)





Matt Wilson, President, The University of Akron

I am most grateful for the opportunity to be part of the resolve, optimism, and outright enthusiasm of The University of Akron community in 2017 as we tackled challenges that have accumulated over the past several years.  As we collectively focused our efforts on student success and constantly strived for excellence, things have started taking off again.  Morale across campus has increased; the community is emboldened by UA’s progress; new freshman enrollment increased; student retention appears to be improving; donations to the University continue on an upward trajectory; we have made some strong initial progress on our finances with a $42 million budgetary improvement last fiscal year; and campus has embraced an innovative spirit in helping students obtain a college degree.

(Photo of Matthew Wilson courtesy of The University of Akron)