The Way Forward Leader Lunch Breaks take place every Wednesday at noon. Visit our calendar to see upcoming sessions.
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Preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies
Mike Parks, Regional Executive, Northern Ohio Region, American Red Cross
Rear Admiral Parks shared the mission and services of the Red Cross and highlighted their commitment to caring and its diverse range of services, including disaster relief, biomed, life-saving training, international aid, and support for the armed forces. He provided a comprehensive overview of the Red Cross’s disaster response initiatives, detailing the organization’s involvement in setting up shelters for residents affected by various disasters, including fires and hurricanes. Parks emphasized the pivotal role of volunteers and the organization’s partnerships with FEMA, local emergency responders, and nonprofit entities for successful disaster relief efforts.
He also chatted about the “Sound the Alarm” program, which provides free installation of smoke alarms in at-risk communities and teaches residents about fire safety and the importance of community engagement. Parks addressed the challenge of managing the Red Cross’s growth in the face of increasing disaster needs, highlighting the need for community resilience and partnerships to address these challenges.
Parks discussed the vision for the northern Ohio region, emphasizing the importance of community partnerships to effectively serve 31 counties and highlighted the need to expand reach through additional partnerships and community engagement.
Cleveland’s “joyful gathering” place
Tony Sias, President & CEO, Karamu House
Tony provided an update on the ongoing renovations at Karamu House, highlighting the completion of phases one through three and the plans for phase four. He emphasized their goal to create a vibrant campus environment that will attract more visitors to the Fairfax community. Additionally, he discussed the challenges faced and the efforts to engage neighbors and foster community involvement in the revitalization efforts and he touched on Karamu’s upcoming programming for children and summer camps. Tony also talked about the evolving subscription model in American theater and Karamu’s innovative approach to the pandemic. Tony highlighted their efforts to attract younger audiences to Karamu House by offering unique experiences and events.
Accelerating our community for a decade
Micki Byrnes , President & General Manager, WKYC Channel 3
Mike McIntyre, Executive Editor, Ideastream Public Media
Jim Malz, President – Ohio, Citizens
Past Accelerate emcees Micki and Mike reflect on their best Accelerate memories, talk about the impact of the event and past Accelerators, and share their thoughts on the upcoming 10th-anniversary celebration. The conversation was moderated by Jim Malz (Accelerate Co-Chair 2020-2024).
A familiar face in a new chair
Emily Campbell, President & CEO, Center for Community Solutions
Emily discussed Community Solutions’ nonpartisan stance and its commitment to providing data and analysis to inform policy and improve the lives of Ohioans. She highlighted the organization’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming initiatives, and the challenges of dealing with strong opinions and perceptions that may not align with the data. Emily also discussed successful innovations and pressing issues, emphasizing the importance of connecting various community issues and exploring innovative solutions to improve the current system.
She highlighted the urgency of expanding programs to address behavioral health needs, particularly in young girls and teens, and discussed effective advocacy work, emphasizing the significance of voting, finding a passion, and sharing stories with legislators to make a tangible impact. Finally, Emily highlighted the Center for Community Solutions’ impact in areas such as Medicaid policy and needs assessments, emphasizing the importance of regulatory changes in improving access to resources.
Standing against gun violence in our neighborhoods
Myesha Watkins, Executive Directo, Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance
Myesha provided an overview of the Peacemaker’s Alliance’s efforts to prevent violence and how social determinants of health, such as childhood poverty and lack of resources, contribute to gun violence. Watkins emphasized the need for resources and support to address the epidemic of violence, while acknowledging the limitations of individual organizations in solving population-level problems.
She called for collective responsibility in leading efforts to reduce gun violence, both locally in Cleveland and across the country, and highlighted the success stories of young people who have benefited from the mentorship and outreach work of the Cleveland Peacemakers team. Myesha also provided a detailed breakdown of the financial implications of gun violence, citing specific costs for fatal and non-fatal shootings. She urged a shift in approach, proposing that investing in community programs could be a more effective and proactive solution to addressing the high costs of violence.
Myesha also discussed the organization’s efforts to support young people involved in gun violence, emphasizing community education, court support, and partnerships to address the root causes of violence. She shared her personal journey of overcoming challenges in Cleveland, highlighting the importance of seizing opportunities, building relationships, and shifting mindsets to create change. She envisions a broad ecosystem where organizations come together to share ideas and training opportunities, supporting families across Cuyahoga County who have been victimized or are struggling due to lack of investment in their communities. She emphasized the potential for collective action to bring about a sense of safety and restore the city of Cleveland.
New leadership for America’s oldest community foundation
Lillian Kuri, President & CEO, Cleveland Foundation
Lillian Kuri discussed the Foundation’s journey and future plans, including their move to Midtown and their evolving role in the community. Kuri emphasized the foundation’s commitment to community partnerships and accessibility, as well as their focus on economic mobility and eliminating the racial wealth gap. She also discussed the foundation’s strategic shift towards transforming community philanthropy, including the importance of donor advised funds and supporting foundations, social impact investing, and collaborative strategies that align donor interests with community needs. Finally, Kuri addressed the importance of measuring impact and the need for collaboration among nonprofits to achieve greater impact, highlighting the Foundation’s goal to endow the Black Futures Fund and grow it to a significant level.