Press Release

The Cleveland Foundation's Ronald B. Richard to Receive Philanthropy's Highest Honor

Council on Foundations Recognizes Exceptional Leadership and Service to Philanthropy with 2017 Distinguished Service Award

The Council on Foundations is pleased to announce that Ronald B. Richard, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cleveland Foundation, will receive its Distinguished Service Award at its upcoming Annual Conference. The Award is philanthropy’s highest honor and celebrates a visionary leader who embodies the inspirational qualities that define excellence in philanthropy—commitment, courage, entrepreneurship, and impact.

“Ronn is an exceptional leader whose career has been defined by his tireless devotion to bettering his community, his willingness to take risks and innovate, his spirited championing of philanthropy, and his encouragement of excellence in others,” said Council on Foundations President and CEO Vikki Spruill. “He never shies away from a difficult issue and throughout his career has taken unequivocal stands on key issues, supporting causes ranging from environmental protection and advanced energy, public education reform, criminal justice reform and police-community relations, LGBT rights, and digital innovation and access. He is an inspiration to those who work with him and are fortunate enough to know him.”

Over the past 30 years, Ronn has held a variety of senior management positions in government, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector. He has served as President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation since 2003 and is a former member of the Council on Foundations’ board of directors.

Some of his signature achievements include launching the Greater University Circle Initiative, a multi-institutional inclusive neighborhood growth collaborative which celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2015; developing a mastery-based arts initiative to ensure every child in every Cleveland neighborhood can experience a high-quality arts education; creating the Digital Excellence Initiative to build a culture of digital innovation and equitable access; establishing the Encore Initiative which connects the aging population with roles that improve the community; initiating a career-technical education strategy to equip Cleveland students with the skills needed for the region’s in-demand, family-sustaining jobs; and founding the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship Program, which offers emerging young leaders from across the country the skills and networks needed to jumpstart their careers in public service. These initiatives have mobilized and unified people and institutions within the community to produce tangible results to improve people’s lives and raise the capacity of others to advance the common good.

The 2017 Distinguished Service Award will be presented on Tuesday, April 25, at the Council on Foundations’ Annual Conference and will be followed by a salon discussion with Ronn. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss with and learn from an experienced philanthropic leader about the trials, triumphs, and lessons learned during his tenure in the sector. To learn more, please visit


About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.

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