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President/CEO Ellen M. Katz, who came to Greater Cincinnati Foundation from The Children’s Home of Cincinnati in 2015, holds an MA in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Xavier University. A native of Connecticut, she lives with her husband in Hyde Park and has two grown sons.
I began my professional career wanting to become a child psychologist. That took me to The Children’s Home of Cincinnati in 1990 — my first exposure to the nonprofit world — and I immediately fell in love with mission-based work. I absolutely loved being in a charitable organization focused on children. While exploring other types of work at The Children’s Home, I found myself to be most successful as an operational leader.
I spent four months on executive loan to GCF prior to becoming CEO of The Children’s Home. I really loved what I experienced at GCF but my 10-year path was set, having accepted the CEO role at The Children’s Home. The timing was perfect for me to make a transition when my GCF predecessor, Kathy Merchant, announced her retirement. I applied and worked really hard to get the job. My husband was blown away by what had come over me. I tend to pour myself into things — but applying for CEO at GCF took that trait to another level.
My community affiliations are critical to ensuring GCF is aligned to the needs of our region. I love the time I spend on the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC). Being with members of the CRBC helps keep me informed on the needs and interests of our business community — a sector that is absolutely critical to the vitality of our region.
I have a similar experience as a member of the Northern Kentucky Regional Alliance. The business leaders on this board are totally dedicated to the success and vibrancy of Northern Kentucky, and learning from them helps me align the activities of GCF to the core activities and strategy of that integral part of our region. In partnership with our donors, GCF has invested $40 million there over the past two decades.
I have been a board member with Bethesda, Inc. (BI), for a long time and have a fond place in my heart for BI for a number of reasons. First, I appreciate the experience given BI's bold vision to make our region the healthiest in America. Second, I led the search for BI’s President/CEO, Jill Miller, and we got it so right! She is a fabulous leader and I love supporting her. Third, I was asked as a board member years ago to lead the development of grantmaking initiatives at BI. The investments have been extraordinary!!
Serving on Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) is really interesting. I’m so impressed by the organization and all it has done to revitalize our city — and I appreciate the opportunity to represent the community and to ensure that 3CDC has as much a focus as possible on equitable development.
Being a member of the Child Poverty Collaborative Executive Council has been amazing to me. Trying to address the most intractable issue our community has experienced over many decades is a profound — and extraordinarily complex — undertaking. But I can’t think of anything more important than the health of families to strengthen our community.
My inspiration is driven by the resilience, fortitude and love that I witnessed in the families we served at The Children’s Home and the staff who served them. That experience fueled my desire to do more for our community and its people.
I am an amateur potter. The focus, creativity and community that I experience at Queen City Clay keeps me balanced and inspired. I also have an enormous passion for cooking. When I am able, I spend hours and hours in the kitchen. I’m a bit of an adventurer as well. Double black diamond ski slopes are my friend. I climbed Kilimanjaro. I’ve been skydiving with my sons.
The bird’s eye view. It’s incredible to have this vantage point on the community — across every sector. The opportunities and needs are both great, and GCF has so many tools at its disposal to address these. The most powerful tool, by far, is our donors.
CINCINNATI (March 4, 2015) - The Governing Board of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) announced today that it has appointed Ellen M. Katz as its next President/CEO. She will succeed Kathryn E. Merchant, who will retire in May after 18 years at the helm of the $500+ million foundation serving the Tristate region.
Katz is known as a dynamic nonprofit sector leader who guides organizations and initiatives with passion and a keen business sense. Ellen holds an MA in Psychology from University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Xavier University. As President & CEO of The Children's Home of Cincinnati since 2005, Ellen provided leadership for the effective operation of a $20 million organization of 270 staff, who offer services to nearly 7,000 children and their family members per year.
Dianne Rosenberg, Chair of GCF’s Governing Board and the search committee said, “Ellen is a seasoned and proven leader as demonstrated in her executive leadership of The Children's Home during her 10-year tenure as CEO. Her ability to anticipate and champion organizational and community imperatives holds great promise for GCF and for Greater Cincinnati’s regional priorities.”
Ellen also contributes to the community at large, volunteering her time and applying her strengths to a variety of organizations and causes. She currently serves on the board of Bethesda Inc. and chairs its Grants Committee, and serves on the board of TriHealth. In 2004, Cincinnati Business Courier recognized her many achievements by naming her to its “Forty Under 40” list. She is also a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati’s Class XXIX, was recognized by Cincinnati Woman in 2007 as one of six “Women to Watch,” and was a finalist for the 2008 Athena Award. In 2012, Ellen received Medical Mutual's Pillar Award for Executive Director of the Year, and she was named Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Woman of the Year (Nonprofit) for 2013. She was listed as one of the region's Power 100 by Cincy Magazine in 2014 and 2015.
“For Ellen, this is both a wonderful opportunity and a great affirmation of her abilities and accomplishments,” said Michael Coombe. Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Children’s Home. “It is also a testament to the dedication and commitment of the entire staff of The Children’s Home through their work to create amazing stories daily by transforming the lives of our clients.”
The committee conducting the national search included members of the GCF Governing Board, civic leaders, and former Governing Board chairs.
GCF, one of the largest community foundations in the U.S. with a national reputation for innovation, had a record year in 2014:
Rosenberg added, “We thank Kathy for her tremendous leadership over the past 18 years. She was very thoughtful in giving our selection committee ample time to find a visionary leader. Because of Kathy’s leadership, GCF will continue to invest in a more vibrant and prosperous Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive.”
About The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation inspires current and future generations to invest in a more vibrant and prosperous Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive. GCF has served eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana since 1963 with effective stewardship and strong leadership.
About The Children's Home of Cincinnati
Incorporated in 1864, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati transforms the lives of vulnerable children by caring for their mental, physical and social well-being through education programs and treatment services. Last fiscal year, more than 6,500 individuals were positively impacted through these services.
CINCINNATI (May 26, 2015) — Ellen M. Katz began her tenure as the new President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) on May 18. Katz succeeds Kathryn E. Merchant, who retired in May after 18 years with the Foundation.
Katz previously served as the President & CEO of The Children’s Home of Cincinnati. Since 2005, she provided leadership for the effective operation of a $20 million organization of 270 staff, who offer services to nearly 7,000 children and their family members per year.
“Ellen is a seasoned and proven leader as demonstrated in her executive leadership of The Children's Home during her 10-year tenure as CEO,” said Dianne Rosenberg, Chair of GCF’s Governing Board. “Her ability to anticipate and champion organizational and community imperatives holds great promise for GCF and for Greater Cincinnati’s regional priorities.”
Katz serves on the board of Bethesda Inc. and chairs its grants committee, and serves on the board of TriHealth. In 2004, Cincinnati Business Courier recognized her many achievements by naming her to its “Forty Under 40” list. She is also a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati’s Class XXIX, was recognized by Cincinnati Woman in 2007 as one of six “Women to Watch,” and was a finalist for the 2008 Athena Award. In 2012, Ellen received Medical Mutual's Pillar Award for Executive Director of the Year, and she was named Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Woman of the Year (Nonprofit) for 2013. She was listed as one of the region's Power 100 by Cincy Magazine in 2014 and 2015.
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.
CINCINNATI (September 2, 2015) —The Northern Kentucky Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) will present the 2015 Devou Cup to Ellen Rieveschl and her late husband, Dr. George Rieveschl. The honor will be given to Rieveschl at The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce annual dinner on September 17, 2015.
The list of the Rieveschls' professional, civic, and philanthropic leadership roles in Northern Kentucky is as prestigious as it is long.
After receiving a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in chemistry at the University of Cincinnati, George created the antihistamine Benadryl.
Ellen was a trust new business officer at Fifth Third Bank and then worked as a commercial and residential real estate agent.
Together, their combined love for science and the arts, inspired them to support the University of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University (NKU), Cincinnati Art Museum, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati Museum Center, The Carnegie, and Lloyd Library and Museum, among many other organizations.
The George and Ellen Rieveschl Endowed Scholarship and the Rieveschl Scientific Instrumentation Fund at NKU have helped students receive a state-of-the-art science education and unparalleled research opportunities in Northern Kentucky.
Through the generous contributions of donors, more than $22 million in grants from The Northern Kentucky Fund of GCF have been given to more than 150 organizations and programs serving Northern Kentucky. gcfdn.org/nky
Chief Financial Officer Will Woodward is a two-time graduate of Miami University, with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA in finance. A Cincinnati native, he lives in Loveland with his wife and three young children.
Share details of your personal and professional background that helped to guide your path to Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF).
My mom was a philosophy professor at the University of Cincinnati; my sister followed Mom and went into teaching. My dad was an accountant for the IRS for over 30 years, and I ended up following in his footsteps by going into the accounting field. I’ve always been a math-type person, so it was natural for me. My first job out of college was working for Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms here in Cincinnati, which provided me with a strong foundation in the accounting side of the house. But my passion was more in finance, so after five years at Deloitte I had the opportunity to take a position in operational finance with Mercy Health. Initially I was the head of finance for Mercy Anderson Hospital, and six months later they added Mercy Clermont Hospital. I got to work inside the walls of a hospital, which really gave me my first taste of what it’s like to lead finance for an organization. I had an opportunity to look at a wide array of budgets, and we put together many financial projections including the new $80 million tower at Mercy Anderson Hospital.
Then I was recruited to the start-up company RushCard, the largest privately-held pre-paid debit card company in the US, which was then located in Blue Ash. It was co-founded by Russell Simmons (rap music producer and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings). They created the first-ever Visa pre-paid debit card, but by the time I got there it was a pretty large organization. My role was the entire financial purview — accounting, finance and HR, which really gave me a taste of how to grow an organization. We doubled the size of my team in the time I was with the organization. We operated as the “bank” for many of our customers, most of whom tended to live below the poverty line.
We were in the process of selling the business when I got a call about GCF. It was a great natural progression in terms of my next step. I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason. During the interview process I had an opportunity to meet a lot of our board members, and they were looking for someone who had a for-profit mindset in terms of the skills and capabilities that would help bring to GCF. Ellen and Dora have been in the nonprofit world for a long time, and so it was a great fit of our different backgrounds to be able to facilitate growth in making an impact. When I came Ellen had been here about two years — it was really exciting time, and I think we have an amazing board.
What are your professional and community affiliations, and how do they inform your role at GCF?
On the professional side, I am a CPA, so I’m a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. I’m a Charter Global Management Accountant as well. Because I have young children (three kids four and under to be specific) I’m mindful of prioritizing my time. I recently concluded about 10 years of service with the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, a cause that has always been a passion for our family. My wife and I are also in a number of groups affiliated with our church.
Who or what is your inspiration, and in what ways has that driven your passion for GCF’s mission?
Probably my biggest source of inspiration is my parents, for different reasons. My dad was the coach, a person who was always the provider for our family. My mom had an incredible life — she was a college professor until she got sick when I was a young child and had to give that up. Later she went back to graduate school and became a social worker at Talbert House working with people who had drug and alcohol addictions; after that she did prison ministry, mentoring women at local prisons and helping them get their GEDs. She instilled in me a sense of giving back, of making sure that I am leaving our community in a better place than I inherited it. I’ve always tried to carry that forward and that’s what led to my through-line of mission-based jobs that ultimately led me to GCF. On the professional side, I’ve had really good mentors. The people I’ve appreciated the most are those who have taught me something and I’ve tried to carry that forward, making sure that I’m teaching and giving back as much as I possibly can.
What are three things about you that most people don’t know?
One of my passions is that I’ve always loved the idea of an entrepreneurial-type business. My wife and I got into real estate back in 2011 and 7 years later we’ve flipped five houses and have 12 rental properties. I love being able to offer nice houses that people can feel comfortable living in and seeing the transformation when they are complete. It’s another aspect that ties in with the mission of this organization. At GCF we’re looking at how can we do some really big things in the affordable housing space, and I hope that I can add some value in ways that could impact a lot of lives.
I love playing poker. I love the strategy behind it and I have played for a long time in a number of poker leagues. I’ve come within inches, twice, to making the (World Series of Poker) Main Event — the largest poker tournament in the world.
I’ve had the benefit of meeting two of the greatest individuals of all time in their respective sports. I grew up in Roselawn, and Muhammad Ali’s brother lived across the street. One day Muhammad Ali pulled up in a big RV, and the whole street got to come out and meet him. I also met Secretariat — my parents took me down to a horse farm in Lexington to meet him. I also had the chance to play against a grand master in chess in New Orleans.
What do you like most about working at GCF?
What I’ve enjoyed the most is the people, both inside and outside the walls of this great organization, that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. At GCF we tend to come across a wide spectrum of people. We’ve got great employees, and we’re also interacting with fantastic donors, professional advisors and a lot of really important nonprofits. The greatest thing, for me — which I said coming in the door and I say it now — is that I really want to be at an organization about which I can tell my kids one day, “Daddy was helping to make Greater Cincinnati better.”
CINCINNATI (August 24, 2015) — 91.7 WVXU welcomed The Greater Cincinnati Foundation's Ellen Katz as a guest on Cincinnati Edition. Katz recently took over as president and CEO of the Foundation. She was joined by GCF's Shiloh Turner and Beth Benson to discuss the history and work of GCF.
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.
Greater Cincinnati Foundation COO Dora Anim, a native of Ghana and the daughter of a diplomat stationed at UNESCO, grew up in Paris. She received her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Cincinnati and lives in Sharonville with her husband and four children. As she said, “I married a Cincinnatian, and people like to say, ‘That means you’re stuck! You’re not leaving — ever.’”
I worked at a couple of different places as a consultant and then at Greater Cincinnati Health Council, which became the Health Collaborative. Consulting work was really a challenging environment, and it taught me to really think on my feet. It also taught me to look at a lot of information at a very high level and to just simplify and synthesize complex issues. I realized that relationships are the foundation of anything — without that I didn’t have the trust of the client, my team, so I learned to invest the time to build relationships because it will pay off. I think having my first career as a consultant taught me some principles that I’ve applied along the way.
In many ways I feel like a consultant for GCF. I thrive on problem-solving; I don't get discouraged by things. I embrace challenges; as I tell my kids, they make you better, they make you stronger, they make you wiser. If you don’t have them, then you don’t really get to practice different muscles that help you build resilience. Everything is opportunity. I think also I inherited some of my father’s diplomacy, he just had a way with words that I try to emulate.
I also realized that I’m somewhat of a change agent, because even at the Health Collaborative, I was there 14 years and I changed roles five times. I’m constantly thinking of, “What’s next?” That’s just how my mind works. So, it’s interesting that all paths have led me here because I’m able to apply all the parts of my career here.
I’ve completed nearly every leadership program of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce (WE Lead, C-Change, WE Succeed, Leadership Cincinnati) and the Urban League’s Urban Leader Institute program. I’m on the board of several organizations: Springer School, the Council on Aging, Episcopal Retirement Homes. These are organizations that are kind of in transition and have a lot of interesting growth going on. I like being part of that and helping influence that.
I always say my mother, for sure. She was an interesting mix of grace, compassion, strength and just calm, there was something about her that was just radiant and I always admired that. People just gravitated towards her very positively. I just admire that you can have all those qualities in one and it can be positive, you can be strong and not rude and not nasty and not raise your voice. She just taught me that balance that you can be all the good things at once. That’s what I teach my kids, I think that that’s our role in life is to just take the good and the best of everyone that you meet and make it your own, and that’s what I tried to do with her.
Career-wise, I’ve always worked with really smart women and I’ve always had smart women bosses. I feel like they’ve all helped shape and influence me. When I was a consultant, one of the senior project managers, Nancy Vogel, was the first person who said, “you just do it your way, kid,” and I just loved that. At the council I worked with folks like Nancy Strassel and Colleen O’Toole, and they always were inclusive. That’s why I really enjoy working with Ellen — it continues that legacy of strong, smart women that I’ve really enjoyed working with and that I really appreciate learning from. I just think that you’re a student for life and so you should be constantly learning, and I really feel that from her. Smart women that I’ve worked for, and side by side with, are an inspiration as well, but Mom first.
I really enjoy cooking extravagant meals, I just don’t have time to do it. I like to mix things up. Being from Ghana and France, I like to mix those different cuisines up; I have American kids; and I like to elevate flavors.
I’m very clumsy. At one point I use to constantly run into walls and drop everything.
My parents were friends with Richard Nixon and Shirley Temple. My dad, being a diplomat, met different heads of state and he and Nixon hit it off. I have pictures of Nixon in our house. Shirley Temple was the U.S. ambassador to Ghana, so he, as a high official, got to spend time with her and we also have pictures of her in our house, although I can’t remember meeting her.
There wasn’t a COO before me (at GCF), so I was the first. The challenge and the opportunity are super exciting to me: the potential of this foundation to really have a transformative effect on the community when you can combine resources with need; I just love that you can strategize about it in a different way, being more intentional to do greater and bigger things. I also love the view that we have from the community’s perspective to understand things at a high and wide level. We get to have access to health care, employers, education, nonprofits and donors — all the stakeholders literally are connected to the foundation and that makes what is possible impactful. The beauty of the whole community comes together here. It’s an organization with such a wonderful history and reputation that plays such an important role in the community, and I’m just honored to be part of it and support taking it to the next level.
And then I just love my coworkers. I love what we’re doing, our direction and the energy. I love how different people are here — everyone brings something unique to the table from where they’ve been. It’s a wonderfully diverse group of individuals that I also learn from and I’m humbled to work with daily.
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