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Meghan Cummings, Executive Director of The Women’s Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation, is a Cincinnati native and graduate of Miami University. She lives in Maineville with her husband, Nate, and son Cameron.
Share a few details of your personal and professional background that helped to guide your path to Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF).
My background is in non-profit fundraising and that shaped my desire to continue helping people connect to the causes they care about.
I started my career at the Alzheimer’s Association, working as a development assistant and then coordinating their charity walk. I got to experience so many different facets of fundraising there which was a great training ground for future development and leadership positions.
After that I was the development director at the Center for Addiction Treatment in the West End. I was there at the start of the opiate epidemic and I saw firsthand how complex addiction is. I also saw how treatment helped restore people and families to their healthy selves. Then, I headed to the corporate charity at Luxottica Retail called OneSight. I’ve been really fortunate to work in direct delivery environments, in corporate and now at a community foundation. I love exploring how these different sectors can work together to create new solutions to complex community problems.
Another piece that has shaped my path to GCF was two study-abroad experiences I had while at Miami. As a political science and journalism major I studied European Union politics. My studies in Europe one summer taught me how policies made at the top levels ended up affecting individuals. That was really interesting from a political point of view and it translates into my work with the Women’s Fund. When we work on policy change, how will that end up affecting individuals? Will there be unintended consequences? We have to be really thoughtful and intentional.
The next summer I studied primary education in Kenya. One of the things I learned there is that wealth is relative. People may not have a lot of material things but they may possess something so much deeper. And I think that’s a really important lesson. We tend to look at poverty from the lens of what people are lacking. How can we first appreciate their unique value and assets?
What are your professional and community affiliations, and how do they inform your role at GCF?
I’m the board president for a non-profit called Beyond Civility. We bridge political difference through effective dialogue and train community leaders to communicate with civility and thoughtfulness. The premise of Beyond Civility is not for everyone to be “politically correct” or to agree politically — because we are wired to be different political beings. Its purpose is to have a toolbox of ways we can communicate effectively and value what each person brings to the table. When we get down to the human level there’s a lot we all have in common and it’s about having that process to be able to talk to people you don’t agree with.
That’s so germane to our work at the Women’s Fund — we’re a bipartisan group and we’re always trying to find common ground. On any issue we want to bring as many people to the table as possible. We meet people where they are and we hope to be a bridge builder in everything we’re doing for the Women’s Fund, so that training has been really important.
Who or what is your inspiration, and in what ways has that driven your passion for GCF’s mission?
I have a lot of people that inspire me — for different reasons. I think that what they all have in common, though, is that they are courageous and stand up for the right thing even when it’s not easy. For example, I love the Sisters of Charity. As a group they really roll up their sleeves, authentically dive in and serve the most vulnerable people in our community. Even when it’s not popular.
What are three things about you that most people don’t know?
I lived in Australia for a while after college.
I play the violin. It’s always been a big part of my life. Currently I play with a community group called the Seven Hills Sinfonietta.
I love, love, love to travel. Growing up, my mom worked for Delta and we were fortunate to travel a lot. I have an insatiable wanderlust to explore places where everything is different — the language, the food, the religion, the climate. It’s even more fun now seeing new places through the eyes of our six-year-old, Cam.
What do you like most about working at GCF?
I love being on the GCF team. I really care about equity and social justice issues, so it is a gift that I get to work on these issues everyday as a career. It feels core to who I am as a person.
I also love working with my team and developing people. Watching people grow and learn new skills as they develop into their own authentic selves is very rewarding.
CINCINNATI (August 12, 2015) – Meghan Cummings, CFRE, has been promoted to Executive Director of The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF).
“Meghan was the clear choice” said Wijdan Jreisat, chair of the Women’s Fund Leadership Council. “Her work and leadership over the past four years demonstrated that The Women’s Fund had cultivated a true champion for our work whose vision could lead us forward. She brings a passion for our work and a dedication to taking on complex community problems that require disparate groups to find common ground. She also has a track record of leadership in diversity and inclusion which honors our goal to speak for those whose voices are not often heard.”
The Women's Fund of GCF drives systemic change to ensure the economic self-sufficiency of women in our region. Established in 1995 as a designated fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, The Women’s Fund has led the community in assessing and identifying barriers to women’s economic self-sufficiency and catalyzing the community to achieve it through innovative projects and relevant policy. It has granted more than $1 million to support programs serving women and girls in our eight-country service area.
“Meghan has worked extensively to promote diversity and inclusion among the ranks of those working in fundraising,” said Sydney Schnurr, President of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “She was instrumental in efforts to create an AFP diversity pipeline program called New Faces of Fundraising which is supported by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.”
Cummings most recently served as Assistant Executive Director of The Women’s Fund of GCF under the leadership of Vanessa Freytag, who recently became CEO of 4C for Children. She previously held positions with OneSight, Center for Chemical Addictions Treatments, and Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati.
“GCF is proud of the work The Women’s Fund has been doing for 20 years to improve the state of women and girls in Greater Cincinnati,” said Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. “I am excited for the future of The Women’s Fund with Meghan at the helm. This energetic, bright, and knowledgeable new leader will maintain and build on the impressive momentum of The Women’s Fund.”
She is a Cincinnati Business Courier 2014 Class of Forty Under 40 honoree and the immediate past president of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Her other volunteer activities include serving on the board of the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati, and committees of Philanthropy Ohio and the International Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Cummings holds a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and Master of Business Administration from Xavier University. She has earned the designation Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), the global standard for the fundraising profession.
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.
I want to take a moment to thank you for being such an important part of The Women’s Fund family. I’m tremendously honored to lead this organization comprising so many passionate donors and volunteers.
I have been with The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation for more than four years and, quite simply, I live and breathe this work. Investing in women and their families is the strongest, most effective way to make our community more prosperous.
My vision is to make women’s self-sufficiency a community imperative—an issue that is discussed in back yards and board rooms and carried out through a dynamic plan of action.
Thanks to your support, the trajectory of The Women’s Fund has been exceptional. We are changing the conversation about women and girls in Greater Cincinnati.
I am grateful that you understand and appreciate the importance of the systemic work that we do. It makes all the difference.
Although I know many of you already, I look forward to reconnecting over the next few months and discussing your hopes for The Women’s Fund in the years to come.
We have so much more to accomplish together and I’m eager to hear your ideas. You can reach me anytime at email@example.com or 513-768-6144.
Thank you for your generosity and your confidence in our work.
The Women's Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation leads our community in ensuring the economic self-sufficiency of women in our region. cincinnatiwomensfund.org
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
We are thrilled to introduce you to our two new staff members who will take the Women’s Fund to the next level.
Meet Adrienne, our new Development Director!
We are proud to welcome Adrienne Taylor who will lead our fundraising efforts. She has seven years of development experience and most recently served as the Director of Annual Giving and Business Development at the University of Cincinnati Foundation.
Adrienne’s creativity, resourcefulness and strategic planning skills will be critical as we expand our fundraising efforts which ultimately fuel our mission and impact. Adrienne earned an MA in Arts Administration and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Millikin University.
Adrienne is also a graduate of the inaugural class of New Faces of Fundraising, and now serves as the co-chair of this diversity pipeline program for development professionals. She is active at the national level for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Originally from Indianapolis, Adrienne now lives on the west side of Cincinnati with her husband, Jeff, daughter Josephine and her two cats.
Meet Sam, our new Applied Research Manager!
Research has always been a critical part of our work at the Women’s Fund and we are proud to welcome Sam Molony to our team who will lead this important effort. She will be the in-house expert on our four focus areas, manage our research projects and lead the day-to-day operations of the Employer Toolkit and Appointed.
Sam earned a master’s degree in communications from the University of Cincinnati and Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Louisville. During her time at UC, she conducted a research project that explored how women running for political office communicated about motherhood in their campaign speeches. Sam comes to us from Wordsworth Communications. During her free time, Sam enjoys playing with her golden retriever, Addie, renovating her home in Edgewood, and spending time with family and friends.
Your generosity and confidence in our work has allowed us to add this top talent to our team. We are beyond grateful for your support. We are your Women’s Fund and our six-pack is back!
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.
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.
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