Why did you choose to join SVP Cleveland?
While I have been aware of SVP Cleveland since its inception, I ended up joining because my wife, Suzanne, attended a bigBANG! fast-pitch event with Kevin and Joyce Shaw and said we needed to get involved. I always do what Suzanne tells me to do. Also I had always been impressed by the thoughtfulness that SVP brought to its philanthropy.
How has your involvement with SVP affected you?
I think it is about the depth of personal involvement that our Partners bring to the table in their commitment to improving the outcomes for organizations in our community. I have been involved in philanthropy and nonprofit organizations for over twenty-five years around the world. The work that SVP Cleveland undertakes is unique in bringing such a wide range of approaches and talents to the table. Our Partners have tremendous talents and energy that translate into enhanced results for our Investees.
What inspired your passion for philanthropy?
While our family has supported nonprofits for many years, it was the work I did for BP in London, over 25 years ago—analyzing the impact of its support for Community Relations on its global reputation—that truly sparked my enthusiasm for this field. I then had the good fortune to return to Cleveland and lead BP’s North American charitable giving. That exposed me to a breadth of charitable organizations and the insights of dedicated philanthropic leaders such as Steve Minter and Dave Bergholz. Since then, my work—in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors—has deepened my dedication to improving the lives of the people in our communities.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to social change?
This is probably best left to my son, the philosophy professor. It is too easy to point to political problems, or lack of resources, or failure to engage. All of those are real, along with a myriad of other barriers. In my view, one of the keys is to come to a common view of the goals we need to set and bring all the resources together to achieve those goals. In a single word: ALIGNMENT.
What makes Cleveland special?
I have had the good fortune to live in Cleveland for most of my adult life. I married here (Suzanne grew up here), our children were born here, and I have been blessed to be able to have some great jobs that engaged me in this caring community. We have a vibrant cultural community; expansive green spaces; fabulous medical care; and outstanding educational institutions. The good news is we have thousands of nonprofit organizations tackling a huge spectrum of issues. The other good news is that we have a generous and diverse philanthropic community to support those nonprofits. The bad news is that we have so many nonprofits and a lack of alignment. We need to do a better job of focusing our resources.
Besides SVP, in what other ways are you involved in the Cleveland area?
I am on the boards of LAND Studio, Cleveland International Fund, Great Lakes Theater, Evans Scholars Foundation, and the Treu-Mart Fund. I am on committees for Levin College of Urban Affairs at CSU, Centers for Families and Children, and Beech Brook. I also am working on projects with Academies of Cleveland and Cleveland Leadership Center.
If you could have lunch with anyone, whom would you choose?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—I would like to know how someone who admires Henry Clay could be so opposed to compromise.
What book is currently on your bedside table?
Shortest Way Home, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s memoir.
What was your childhood dream job?
Being Treasurer of SVP.