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Robert Killins, Jr., Program Director Vibrant Places for The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, was honored with a United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s 2015 New Century Award.
CINCINNATI (May 20, 2016) – Robert Killins, Jr., Program Director Vibrant Places for The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, was honored with a United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s 2015 New Century Award.
The awards honor those who improve lies and foster the spirit of voluntarism. Killins received the Community Service Award for Strengthening our Region. He led the Vibrant Neighborhoods Vision Council and advances the place matters initiative.
Killins was part of a select group of volunteers that helped influence United Way’s Agenda for Community Impact. He brings his past experience knowledge to neighborhood work, understands the complexity of community and has a deep appreciation for resident involvement in efforts to make neighborhoods better – and the need to be inclusive on the journey.
As Program Director, Killins oversees four Community Investment areas for the Foundation: Cultural Vibrancy, Environmental Stewardship, Job Creation and Strong Communities. In addition, he manages GCF’s Impact Investing program.
Killins is board chair of LISC Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky and serves on the Leadership Council of The Women's Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. He is a former board member of Philanthropy Ohio and SC Ministry Foundation.
One of the nation’s leading community foundations, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation helps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. At the end of 2015, GCF had net assets of $533 million.
Robert Killins Jr., Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Director, Special Initiatives, is a native of Oakdale, LA, and has a bachelor’s degree in French from Grambling State University. He and his wife, parents of two daughters and a son, live in the West End.
Share details of your personal and professional background that helped to guide your path to Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF).
For 10 years prior to coming here, I was a funding partner of GCF. I worked at Procter & Gamble, in the area of philanthropy, and we collaborated and co-funded many projects jointly. I had a very in-depth knowledge of the foundation — obviously from an outsider’s perspective — but I knew a lot about, and frankly greatly admired, a lot of what GCF stood for in the community. So, when the opportunity came in my post-P&G career to work here, I was delighted. This marks the beginning of my tenth year here.
I worked at P&G for 24 years. I started out as an IT guy and worked in that area — IT and telecommunications, etc. — for 14 years. I had an opportunity for an internal career change and then moved into the foundation and did public affairs/external relations work including philanthropy, some media and government relations and community relations. When I took an early retirement from P&G, I spent most of 2009 as a substitute teacher in Cincinnati Public Schools. I had every grade level from K through 12 and just about every subject except for art, music and gym — the “specials,” as they call them — I didn’t feel as if I was up to the task in those areas but everything else I was willing to try. That was a great experience and it has informed how I do some of the work that I do here at GCF.
I have a bachelor’s degree in French. I started out majoring in computer science at Grambling State University, then I had a chance to go to France in a summer study-abroad, loved it, came back and added French as a major, then had an opportunity to spend a school year in France. After that it was so difficult to get back on track because I had missed so much of my computer science work that I graduated with my degree in French, but effectively I had a computer science degree and that’s what I was hired to do at P&G. One of the things I appreciated from my time in France was identified by my advisor and head of the foreign language department, with whom I was in constant contact. His view, about computer science and the value of humanities in general, was this: “The sciences help us to earn a living, but the humanities teach us how to live.” I have found that being able to combine those two is great — it was really helpful. The push just for training to earn a living has, I think, weakened our overall humanity, especially on a national basis and an international basis.
I discovered through my 24 years at P&G that my passion was in helping people, working with people and interacting with people, and having a career that involved doing that was important. And personally, once I left P&G, my wife and I made the decision to stay in Cincinnati. (I had thought that, once the P&G days were over, that we would pack up and head back south.)
What are your professional and community affiliations, and how do they inform your role at GCF?
I’m involved on the board of the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, Inc., which is a community-based organization that has an almost 60-year history in the West End. We provide social services, support to victims of crime and we’re doing more community developing, but it’s a basic organization trying to help low-income people and support grassroots efforts in the West End. I’ve lived in the West End now for 20 years, and I’ve owned property there for 28 years. I’m also on the board of St. Vincent de Paul. I enjoy that — again, it’s in that theme of helping to make a difference for people. I’m very involved in and am an officer of the West End’s Community Council. That brings you in contact with a lot of government-related stuff as it impacts communities — how ordinances and zoning and liquor licenses and all these things that happen in communities are decided.
I am a member of the Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and what I am most passionate about there is that I help to lead our prison/jail ministry, and it’s work that I enjoy tremendously. I’m a member of Toastmasters, which I also enjoy greatly.
I recently became a member of the Urban Land Institute and am excited to learn more about that work, again from the angle of the need for additional affordable housing. In the urban environment so much of the environment is built and I’m particularly interested in, how do we repurpose lots of existing structures that are historic for new purposes other than those for which they were built? There are a lot of abandoned churches and industrial buildings that can be made into housing and community centers. It’s an international organization, and this is the local chapter. It’s new to me, so it will be a learning opportunity.
Who or what is your inspiration, and in what ways has that driven your passion for GCF’s mission?
There are lots of people who have inspired me and inspire me. It starts with my parents — they were very giving people of very, very modest means, to say the least, but they were always willing to help, so I learned the need — and just an expectation — that you make a contribution, and they inspired that. I’m inspired by people who want to make a difference and who give of themselves, their resources and time to help others, because I think that’s how we build a world that we can be proud of, by sharing and by caring. The famed “Am I my brother’s keeper?” question that we know from the Cain and Abel story is kind of an important theme for me, because I feel like I have benefitted richly from people who made lots of sacrifices for me in general — through civil rights, through growing up in the South at the tail end of overt racism and discrimination. I’m inspired by all of that and feel that I need to do what I can for others, regardless of race, circumstances or income. Those are the inspirations — I’ve got lots of heroes and “sheroes” (heroines).
What are three things about you that most people don’t know?
I have twice unsuccessfully run for public office. In 1985 I ran for mayor for the town of Grambling, LA, when I was a graduate student at Grambling State University. In 2003, almost 30 years later, I ran for Cincinnati School Board.
I’ve shaken the hand of two presidents — Barack Obama and Bill Clinton when they were visiting Cincinnati — and I’ve been invited to the White House twice. I got to go to the White House in 1994 under Bill Clinton to see Nelson Mandela. I was one of hundreds, and I didn’t get to meet Mandela personally, but it was a highlight to see him. I also got invited to the White House to meet George W. Bush in 2003, when he had just returned from a lengthy trip to Africa.
I attended the Million Man March in 1995 in Washington, D.C. That was a very emotional, powerful experience for me.
What do you like most about working at GCF?
That’s a tough question, because I like a lot of things about working here. The thing I like most is the ability to make a difference, directly and indirectly, in the lives of so many people and in so many projects. Not only through funding, but sometimes through the ideas and the advice — because you have more of that than you have money — and so occasionally you get reminded that something you said or did made a difference for an organization or an individual. GCF is an outstanding organization and there have been so many outstanding people as staff, volunteers and donors associated with it over the years that I’m just proud to be a part of that history, that legacy of contributing to the community.
Update 3/7/16: General admission tickets have been sold out for A Conversation with Cokie Roberts. Thank you for your support of this event! For questions, contact Lauren Jones at 513-768-6123 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(January 5, 2016) — You can support The Women's Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation by becoming an event host/hostess or sponsor for the April 5 event, A Conversation with Cokie Roberts.
Be an event sponsor
be a host or Hostess
Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming, as well as for NPR.
Tickets for this event will go on sale on January 25, 2016. A Conversation with Cokie Roberts will be held at 5:30 pm at the Cintas Center, 1624 Herald Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45207.
The Women's Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation leads our community in ensuring the economic self-sufficiency of women in our region. Get involved at cincinnatiwomensfund.org.
CINCINNATI (Nov. 9, 2015) — The Women's Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is proud to announce the political commentator Cokie Roberts will be the next speaker at the annual "A Conversation With..." event on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programing, as well as for NPR. In more than forty years of broadcasting, she's won countless awards, including three Emmys and has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.
Ms. Roberts is a bestselling author, holds more than twenty honorary degrees, serves on the boards of several non-profit institutions, and on the President's Commission on Service and Civic Participation. The Library of Congress named her a "Living Legend," one of the very few Americans to have attained this honor.
Sponsorship opportunities are available, and host and hostess tickets are now on sale. Individual tickets will go on sale on Monday, January 25, 2016.
The event will start at 5:30 and will be held at the Cintas Center at Xavier University, 1624 Herald Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45207.
Find out more about A Conversation with Cokie Roberts
CINCINNATI (June 21, 2017)—Lisa Davis Roberts joins The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) as program officer for philanthropic services.
Davis Roberts is responsible for carrying out the Foundation’s grantmaking services for private foundations and GCF donor advised funds. She works closely with trustees and donors to help them accomplish their charitable giving goals through effective grantmaking.
“Lisa has strong connections within the nonprofit community from her previous professional experience and volunteer engagement,” Phillip Lanham, Vice President of Donor Relations said. “I am confident that she will strengthen our services to private foundations by fostering meaningful relationships to support our clients’ mission.”
She was previously the manager of research development at Northern Kentucky University and serves on the grantmaking committee at Artswave. Davis Roberts is a member of WE Lead, Class 5 and has held numerous volunteer positions in the community.
Davis Roberts is currently obtaining her Master of Science in executive leadership and organizational change and has a Master of Arts from University of Illinois. She is a resident of Fort Thomas, Kentucky.
About The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
One of the nation’s leading community foundations, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation helps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. At the end of 2016, GCF had net assets of $563 million.
Robert and Ruth Westheimer believed in the idea of a community foundation, and their family made a significant gift towards The Greater Cincinnati Foundation's first permanent home, a 6-story building at the corner of 4th and Elm, in 1999.
Known as the S.P. Nelson & Sons Building, it was built in 1919 and housed a mercantile warehouse, and later an interior design firm and the Northlich Stolley LaWarre advertising agency.
Turning a vacant building into an anchor of the historic Fourth Street neighborhood allowed The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to expand services to a growing number of donors, provide better services and resources to nonprofit organizations, host community gatherings, and provide space for a number of community initiatives.
The late Bob Westheimer provided dedicated leadership to GCF as an Associate Director and Governing Board member for more than 15 years. Bob also provided leadership to a host of other important community organizations, including United Way of Greater Cincinnati. He passed away in 1997.
Ruth Westheimer was an outstanding volunteer who received many honors and awards as testament to her importance to this community. She cared deeply about the causes nonprofit organizations represented, but she also cared deeply about the people who staffed them and valued her fellow volunteers. She passed away in 2009.
Ruth and Bob were life partners in their commitment to this community. The Westheimer family believed that helping GCF secure a permanent home was a fitting testament to Bob’s commitment to the community and to the Foundation.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is honored to recognize the Westheimer family’s philanthropic and civic leadership.
At the sold-out evening, Roberts addressed subjects such as the history of women in philanthropy, poverty, and the work of The Women’s Fund.
“The point of a women's fund is women coming together to make their resources much more effective,” said Roberts.
She also praised The Women’s Fund for its commitment to research with the PULSE Studies.
Get more involved with The Women’s Fund
The Women’s Fund Executive Director Meghan Cummings challenged the audience to discuss women’s self-sufficiency in backyards and board rooms.
“Women’s self-sufficiency isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a community issue,” Cummings said.
Shakila Ahmad served as the event interviewer. She is president of the board of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and an enthusiastic community leader who has dedicated herself to numerous civic and community causes for over 20 years.
The Women's Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation leads our community in ensuring the economic self-sufficiency of women in our region. Through leadership, research, and grantmaking, The Women’s Fund works to identify and address the barriers affecting working women and their families. Learn more and get involved at www.cincinnatiwomensfund.org.
One of the nation’s leading community foundations, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation helps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
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