News & Event
Dan and Susan Pfau joke that the front doors of their house, bought in St. Louis, were the only sticking point in their marriage.
The intricately-carved wood doors were saved from a razed building but had to be cut down to fit their Cincinnati home. The Pfaus laugh when they share that this caused some heated discussions about how to get the doors installed.
Joking aside, it’s obvious that Dan and Susan, married more than 40 years, enjoy each other’s company. They also take pleasure in the work they do through their family foundation.
“We recognize that there is a large population of people that are not as fortunate as we’ve been,” Dan said. “They are not as fortunate in the families they’ve been born into, nor as fortunate with their health and their capabilities.”
“My philosophy is ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’” Susan added.
“We had to consider what we would do with our excess resources and in our case, we felt we would share,” Dan said.
The couple established The Daniel and Susan Pfau Foundation in 1994. The independent family foundation supports their interest in programs serving disabled and disadvantaged youth, as well as programs that promote the Greater Cincinnati area.
“We’ve been conscious for a number of years that it seemed children with disabilities weren’t getting their fair share of public support, especially since they don’t vote,” Dan said. “We wanted to focus on children and adolescents,” he added. “We focus on those organizations that help their clients reach their highest potential.”
The Pfaus also started their foundation with another goal in mind — to bring their extended family together and influence the values of future generations.
Twice a year, members of the Pfau and Brill families (Nancy Brill is Susan’s sister) meet and make decisions involving grantmaking. Several family members travel from out of town. Even the Pfaus’ grandnieces and grandnephews, ages 12-16, go to meetings, read proposals and attend visits to nonprofits.
The Pfaus use The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Grantmaking Services for Private Foundations to help them achieve their charitable goals.
The Pfaus take advantage of GCF’s extensive community knowledge and its administrative services. GCF’s staff help identify grantmaking priorities, process grant requests and conduct reviews, monitor and evaluate grant recipients and administer all grantmaking activity, including board meeting management.
The couple, both Cincinnati natives, said GCF will help them leave a legacy to the city they love. “The good fortune we’ve had in this life has occurred in Cincinnati,” Dan said. “We wanted a management firm that would be here in perpetuity and we found GCF. We are very pleased with the results.”
“The resources we have are only ours temporarily,” he added. “If you’re lucky you can distribute them over the long term.”
That’s a generous way to open doors.
Originally published in the 2005 Annual Report to the Community
It’s all part of an afternoon with Riverview East Academy’s Garden Club.
The Garden Club, 20 children in grades K-4, tackles the great outdoors with shovels, seeds and a lot of enthusiasm every other week.
Under the creative guidance of Corina Bullock and Susie Kretzschmar of the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati they learn about nature through hands-on activities.
Before they begin the afternoon’s work, Corina reminds them of tool etiquette.
“Be very careful. Be respectful. Everyone gets a turn so don’t panic if someone is doing something you’re not,” she said.
Garden Club members learn the different parts and functions of plants, composting, propagation and photosynthesis. They go on nature walks, plant bulbs, and paint flower pots.
Riverview’s Garden Club grew out of community involvement.
A resident and Civic Garden Center member approached the school, hoping that the students would want to use a resource right in their back yard – the East End Veteran’s Memorial Garden.
“Our program is not just child care, it’s an academic enrichment program,” said Meg Stagnaro, CincyAfterSchool site coordinator at Riverview.
The school’s Garden Club is one of many partnerships through Riverview’s community learning center (CLC).
Cincinnati Public Schools’ CLCs are much more than school buildings. They offer academic programs, enrichment activities and support to students, families and community members – before and after school, during the evenings and on weekends.
Partnerships with local businesses, community organizations like CincyAfterSchool, public agencies, the arts community and faith-based organizations bring services and resources to the school.
A CLC becomes the heart of the neighborhood, providing opportunities for all members of the community.
At the start of the 2006-2007 academic year, CPS launched CLCs in nine pilot schools. The plan is to expand this to all schools over the next decade.
GCF decided to “lead by example” and commit $1 million over four years to CLCs. GCF made this grant because our schools and community are intrinsically linked. And for our region to thrive, its core city and schools must be healthy.
CLCs support public education, strengthen neighborhoods and help reduce racial disparities.
At Riverview, the heat and humidity rise around 3:30 p.m. and the young gardeners look a little wilted. But they are no shrinking violets. They are still hard at work and intent on digging, planting and moving mulch. They work well together, this mix of boys and girls of various ages.
A few break into a song about reading and others chime in.
“I love dirt,” sighed Joe, a second grader.
“I think the best thing we are able to provide through this partnership is a respect of nature and an understanding of nature,” Corina said.
Over by the mulch pile, third grader Tyrike takes charge, telling the other children to be careful with the worms.
He says with authority, “Remember you all, when you see a creature, put it back.”
Caring and respect. Is there any more important lesson?
From 2006 Annual Report
“I think there is a lot of stuff that could have been different if I had a male role model,” he said. “I don’t want my kids to be in the same situation.”
Owen is more than an active father; he’s a participant and volunteer with the Avondale/Every Child Succeeds (AVECS) father’s program, A Soldier (Avondale’s Strong Organized Leaders Delivering in Every Responsibility). The support group covers everything from taking care of babies, to finding employment, pursuing education, to just talking about what it’s like to be a dad.
One of the situations that Owen wishes he had avoided was going to the penitentiary for two years. At 31, he’s one of the older members of A Soldier and he often shares his story with younger dads.
“After that experience, I was like, ‘what am I doing?’” he said. “I tell that to everybody: go to school, get your education, go to college, do something positive with yourself because there isn’t anything out on the streets. I had to make a change within myself before I was even ready to have kids.”
A Soldier grew out of AVECS mom’s group, Moms on a Mission. Since 2006, AVECS has been providing services for first-time, at-risk moms. Participating mothers requested that the fathers have a similar program.
“It takes a village to raise a child” rings true in Avondale. Residents, churches, and businesses are all involved in AVECS programming. “We have taxi drivers; we have apartment managers who help with the referral process,” said Anita Brentley of Every Child Succeeds. A community liaison, Lafawnda Sanderson, refers moms.
“She lives in the community, rides the same bus, goes to the same grocery store, the same fashion store and they connect in that way.” You can see it in action on Wednesday mornings in the Carmel Presbyterian Church basement, where there is an atmosphere of productive chaos. Volunteers sort clothing donations; others prepare food for the evening meeting. Fathers, including Owen, paint bookshelves for AVECS children.
Marcus Murray is one of these fathers.
“I think the program is special because there aren’t too many that help fathers,” he said. “Nowadays, it’s rare that the father is in the house as much as the mother is, so this piece was important to help soon-to-be fathers and men that are already fathers to learn how to accept responsibility for their kids and be happy and teach them how to engage with kids in a loving, caring, cultivating way.”
“A lot of times, especially in the black community, young men don’t know how to articulate feelings and emotions and this teaches them how,” he added. “This also teaches us how to support one another as men in this community. I’m glad I’m part of it, I see participation increasing and I’m glad to be a part of everything it has to offer.”
Sounds like Marcus is a true soldier. And that’s something worth rounding up the troops for.
About Every Child Succeeds
Every Child Succeeds (ECS) was founded by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency and United Way of Greater Cincinnati. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is a long-time supporter of ECS. It received a Weathering the Economic Storm grant of $30,000 in 2010.
Originally published in the 2010 Annual Report to the Community
A conversation about sports led to new careers for Gerry and Kate Greene.
“I was about to retire from my global job at Procter & Gamble,” Gerry recalled. “Kate asked a really insightful question: ‘What are you going to do when you retire? You just can’t play softball and golf all the time.’ I thought, ‘you know, why don’t I try law school?’ The first week of classes, I knew this was it. I loved it.”
As Gerry began classes at the University of Dayton School of Law at the age of 59, Kate accepted a position as an administrative assistant at the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. The couple embarked on their new roles with great enthusiasm. Gerry helped Kate with the YWCA’s art openings by serving as bartender; she attended law school parties with his younger contemporaries. (His fellow students named their softball team Gerry’s Kids.)
“We joke that we both flunked retirement,” Gerry said.
Once he passed the bar, a neighbor suggested Gerry visit Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, which provides free legal service to economically challenged people. He told the organization he wanted to work part-time for free and there was only one caveat. He wanted to work with family law.
“I think it’s because of Kate’s job and what I’ve learned that I wanted to do family law,” he reflected. “In family law, a lot of our clients are victims of domestic violence.”
He recalls being moved by an exhibit Kate helped organize, “Empty Chairs, Painful Windows,” remembering 165 women killed in a ten-year-period due to domestic violence. “The entire exhibit got to me.”
The Greene’s new lives make for interesting dinner conversations. They share their day-to-day experiences and their computer technology learning curve with enthusiasm.
“The best part is Gerry and I have learned so much about the needs of the people of Cincinnati, especially women,” Kate said. “We understand what the other is doing.”
“Poverty, particularly with domestic violence, is a huge barrier,” Gerry said. “I always thought if your partner hits you, leave, but then you learn that economically, maybe they can’t. The batterer may bring in the only money in the family and insist that the other partner not work as a means of control. Well, if you are a victim of domestic violence and you have children and haven’t been working, the idea of leaving and going out on your own is intimidating.”
After 47 years of marriage, Gerry and Kate usually arrive at the same conclusion but take a different path.
“I describe it as, I get to ten by counting, one, two, three, four, five…Kate goes, one, eight, six, two, nine and ends up at ten,” Gerry laughed. “She’s the creative half and I’m the ‘to do’ half. She comes up with the idea and I implement it.”
Whether working for free, opening a donor advised fund at GCF, or supporting the people of the community they love, they make a united team.
“It’s a good thing to give back and we want to share that. It’s why we agreed to do this article,” Kate said. “When you really get into the community of Cincinnati and its challenges, you realize that there are opportunities there and you have to step up and help.”
Printed in the 2011 Annual Report
“Our new location aligns with our belief in the power of place — where we work, connect and the community we call home. As we move forward together, harnessing our collective power to deliver more equitable opportunities for everyone to succeed, we welcome the challenge to continue that work with a new sense of energy and urgency.” — Ellen M. Katz, GCF President/CEO
We are eagerly counting down the days until we move into our new location in the Sawyer Point Building on August 1. We also can’t wait for you to see the real-life outcome of the thoughtful and collaborative planning that has gone into its design.
We want to be clear - it’s not just the home of Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF). The doors to our dynamic new Westheimer Center of Philanthropy will be open to all of you, donors, nonprofit organizations, professional advisors, and business and community stakeholders. We aspire to be the place where convening opportunities — both deep and broad — bring new coalitions together to drive our region forward in transformational ways.
Our new location’s “power of place” will be magnified by an inspiring array of interactive features, including:
We are grateful to the generous donors who are partnering with us to achieve this vision. If you have questions about the Power of Place campaign, please contact Phillip Lanham, Vice President of Donor and Private Foundation Services. We look forward to hosting you in our new space, a place we all can call home.
Doris Leonard claims she’s ordinary.
A native of Bethel, Ohio, she was an only child raised by Depression-era parents who courted by mail.
“My mother and dad were very ordinary people, just as I am,”she said. “Nobody special, but it’s enjoyable to help someone. It really is.”
Ordinary or not, Doris has an extraordinary heart.
As a young woman, she left Washington University to return home and care for her parents until their deaths.
“I grew up with the attitude that what you have, you give back,” she said. “My parents had grownup in an era where to survive you had to share and it didn't matter if you had a lot. They never had a lot of money.”
Doris said she was also influenced by Bill Friedlander; she was his assistant for 25 years at Bartlett & Co.
She learned a lot by observing Bill and his wife Sue—she noticed that they didn't just write checks to charities, they gave of their time and influence as well.
It was also through Bill that Doris first became acquainted with GCF.
When Bill was appointed GCF’s Volunteer Director in 1990 he brought Doris with him. She got to know the Foundation and the community through her work with grants.
More than 20 years later, she’s still interested in the work of the community foundation.
“I know a lot has changed but the bottom line is the same,”she said. “You (GCF) don’t just hand out money because someone says they have a good cause. You do due diligence, you do your homework. But you also err on the side of compassion and I like that too. I like the fact that GCF is broad-based and has its fingers in so many different pies.”
When Doris found herself with extra assets, she turned to GCF for help.
“I decided, ‘let’s make this money work for somebody else,’”she said. “I know if I go through GCF, they are going to do the paperwork. They make it easier.”
By opening a donor advised fund, Doris knew she could give to the areas she’s passionate about—education, children and senior citizens. She also felt strongly about supporting the Weathering the Economic Storm Fund, established last year during the economic downturn.
Not only did this collaboration remind her of how people helped each other during the Depression, she was impressed that a group of foundations and corporations were pooling resources and making decisions together.
“I felt it was something that needed to be done,” she said. “My ten cents doesn't go very far but if you put it with somebody’s 50 cents you get 60 cents to work with and can do more with it. You leverage it.”
What would her parents think about her ability to give away money?
“They would be proud and I think they would be shocked that I have enough money to do something with,” she said. “In fact, I’m shocked.”
Doris shared that at her death, her donor advised fund will turn into an unrestricted fund and increased through a bequest.
“After I’m gone, I want the assets that I have to continue to give something back,” she explained.“God has been very good to me, much more so than I really deserve. He has blessed me in so many ways and I just want to give some of it back. I’m not a Pollyanna, I’m not a do-gooder, I’m not any of those things, I just got to thinking it would be nice.”
Not just nice. Extraordinary.
Originally published in the 2009 Annual Report to the Community
The first time Ruth Dickey saw the Clifton Cultural Arts Center (CCAC), it was “a big empty building that had been vacant for two years, surrounded by dead, scary trees.” But Ruth, “a sucker for big ambitious dreams,” didn’t find it hard to leave Seattle to become the CCAC’s Founding Executive Director.
“I think I was able to see from all the way across the country that there was something special about this organization and this group of people and how much they love this dream,” she said.
Fast forward four years and this huge building is the pulsating center of Clifton and surrounding communities. On any given day, Pilates students may walk through an art opening on their way to class, or the halls vibrate with music, the laughter of young ballerinas, or the whir of sewing machines.
The idea for CCAC evolved in 2004 during the Cincinnati Public Schools’ community engagement process and discussions concerning the former Clifton School.
“We had big dreams for it,” said CCAC Board President Cindy Herrick. “It’s a huge building − 53,000 square feet − and the idea was to have a thriving hub of programming for the community. And when we say community we’re talking about the regional area, with an emphasis on the five miles around us.”
A perfect example of this is the “Wednesdays on the Green” summer music series. Adults and children from neighborhoods around the region come to picnic, dance, make friends, and enjoy music.
“When we advertise that series, we put posters in Laundromats and check cashing places to make sure people who might really appreciate access to a free performance series have a chance to hear about it,” Ruth said. “And it’s one of the reasons we put it on the front lawn. We wanted to send a clear message that everyone is welcome, this is a free event.”
“What we want most is this building to be vibrantly used and be like a community living room where people are coming together and having exceptional experiences that connect them to art, and to themselves and to one another in new ways,” she added.
It’s working. In 2011, 2,725 people enjoyed “Wednesdays on the Green.” Forty percent of those attending were not from the local zip code. Overall, 15,646 people enjoyed events, exhibits and classes at CCAC. There were 77 community events, including four art fairs, poetry readings, improv shows, a candidate forum, concerts, book launches and parties. There were ten art exhibits. More than 150 volunteers gave 1,000 hours and four local arts organizations became tenants.
Sound impressive? GCF’s Senior Program Officer Jim Huizenga thinks so. He said CCAC is emblematic of GCF’s new grantmaking framework, particularly in the area of cultural vibrancy.
“When we look at what we want to accomplish, we’re looking to engage people in the arts and CCAC beautifully facilitates people coming together and interacting with those they might not interact with otherwise,” Jim said. “It is making a key contribution to the vibrancy of that community.”
The original deed for the land for Clifton School, built in 1906, stated it be used to “promote fine arts, science and literature. “
Big ambitious dreams do come true.
A grant from GCF allowed the CCAC to hire its executive director. A 2011 grant will fund a full-time events manager. CCAC has also received support from the Weathering the Economic Storm initiative and GCF’s private foundation clients.
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