#1: Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James Family Foundation
To call him a hometown hero doesn’t quite seem sufficient.
Nor are there the kind of apt descriptors that have been used to characterize the business, government and civic leaders who have topped the Power 100 over its 20-year history.
There are only two fitting words that can describe him: LeBron James. And on a world stage, those two words have become virtually synonymous with Northeast Ohio.
“More than any other athlete, relative to his region, LeBron embodies Northeast Ohio,” says David Griffin, general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers. “And he wears it on his sleeve to such a degree that he claims Northeast Ohio as well. He literally is a brand unto himself that is trying to rebrand Northeast Ohio.”
Plenty of numbers have been crunched trying to measure the regional impact of James returning to Cleveland, reinvigorating the team, winning our city’s first championship in major professional sports in more than 50 years and filling the
streets with 1.3 million fans cheering the win, to be sure, but also expressing reinvigorated civic pride.
“The whole economic environment feels like it’s taken a 180,” says Griffin. “It’s not all the basketball impact, it’s an attitude of what we can do as a city.”
But where would James want to start in a discussion of his regional influence and power? With “his kids,” as he calls them — the thousands of Akron children who have benefited from the work of the LeBron James Family Foundation.
“This is a man who’s a four-time MVP, a three-time world champion and the thing he takes the most pride in is what he’s able to do for Northeast Ohio and for the kids in his foundation,” says Griffin. “There’s a palpable change in his attitude when that topic comes up, as opposed to basketball or business.”
The foundation’s 2015-2016 fiscal year marked the fifth year of Wheels for Education, which identifies kids in third grade at long-term risk of dropping out of school and provides programming and family intervention. Its other signature program, the Akron I PROMISE Network, kicks in at sixth grade to serve the kids who have “graduated” from Wheels for Education with a new level of programming to get them through high school graduation and on to college. High schoolers known as 330 Ambassadors provide mentorship.
In October, the foundation added another level to these interventions: in partnership with the University of Akron, it created the I PROMISE Institute, a resource at UA for I PROMISE students who earn the program's guaranteed four-year tuition and general service fees scholarship to UA. The first class to benefit will be the I PROMISE Network class of 2021, currently in eighth grade. In all, the foundation says 2,300 Akron children have been served by such programs to date.
It’s not unusual for a celebrity or athlete to lend his or her name to a foundation, but Michele Campbell says it’s James’ level of involvement that makes him stand apart.
“Most people are familiar with his work on the basketball court, but if you take the same LeBron James you see on the court, it is the exact same involvement that he has in his foundation,” says Campbell, the foundation’s executive director. “He will tell you it’s the first thing on his to-do list because he’s really passionate about the work.”
The last year has also seen an increase in James’ community involvement outside of the foundation. He was executive producer for Cleveland Hustles, a CNBC reality show in which eight local companies mentored by four investors competed for four permanent Gordon Square storefronts. Old City Libations, a bar and restaurant, was one of the winners and opened in September. James also made a $2.5 million donation to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture this year, which went toward a Muhammed Ali exhibit.
Yet Campbell says James never strayed from his laser focus on serving his hometown, even during the years he played for the Miami Heat. Other cities have approached Campbell about expanding the foundation’s work in other parts of the country. But she says the authenticity of James’ local commitment and ties to the kids in his hometown have been the keys to its success.
“He’s creating a family. He went to these schools. He rode his bike on these streets,” she says. “That presence is so important to the work he’s doing.”
Perched in the seats of Quicken Loans Arena or gathered around TVs in bars and living rooms across the region, Cavs fans watch in hope that they’ll see James boost that championship trophy high in the air once again this year. But even if he doesn’t, the influence James has already had on the region — whether in dollars and cents or in pride and hope — won’t fade any time soon.
“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the impact he has on his area,” Griffin says. “Cleveland’s on a stage it’s never been on been before and he’s at the core of that.”
2. Delos M. (Toby) Cosgrove, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic
This month marks the first meeting of the elite 16-member Strategic and Policy Forum formed by President Donald J. Trump. Cosgrove was selected for the group, which provides advice about driving economic growth. A $7.2 billion operation, Cleveland Clinic has 50,000 employees, and the Clinic’s Cole
3. Beth E. Mooney, Chairman, CEO and President, KeyCorp
One of the most powerful women in banking, Mooney oversaw KeyCorp’s recent purchase of First Niagara for $4.1 billion. She calls the move the “second-largest bank acquisition by deal value since the financial crisis” in American Banker. Mooney served as a co-chair for the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee for the RNC. She is the former chairman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s board of directors and a trustee and treasurer of the board of the Musical Arts Association (Cleveland Orchestra).
4. Ronn B. Richard, President and CEO, Cleveland Foundation
CEO since 2003, Richard’s steady leadership reminds the city not to lose its focus on its most pressing issues. Along with partners, the Cleveland Foundation sponsors the Greater Cleveland Caucus series, encouraging the community to weigh in on major concerns. His guidance at the charitable organization makes a difference for the city’s educational, social and artistic nonprofits. A former U.S. diplomat, Richard is board chair of the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine and Lake Erie Energy Development Corp.
5. Frank G. Jackson, Mayor, City of Cleveland
Sports championships, a peaceful RNC that showed off the city, a redesigned Public Square and the passage of two tax increases (an income tax that will bring in an additional $80 million annually and a tax renewal for the schools that passed by more than a 2-to-1 margin). Enough to keep any mayor busy. Jackson juggled priorities in 2016 and Cleveland came out on top. We are back to addressing serious problems in 2017 — crime, neighborhood survival, education. Is there a fourth term for Jackson on the table?
6. David E. Gilbert, President and CEO, Greater Cleveland Sports, Commission and Destination Cleveland
Gilbert was the president and CEO of the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee for the Republican National Convention, a task for which he was well prepared. He already knew how to stroke the region’s $15 billion tourism industry and how to lure more than 160 sports events to the city. Gilbert is vice president of the International Children’s Games and a board member of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. He has an interest in anything and anyone who makes Cleveland more interesting.
7. Christopher M. Connor, Former Executive Chairman and CEO, Sherwin-Williams Co.
Clevelanders are still shocked that Connor retired at the end of December 2016, although he remains a board member until April. Known for his business skills, ethics and energy, Connor was Sherwin-Williams, with the company for 34 years, the past 16 as CEO. One of the most visible co-chairs of the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, Connor is a leader’s leader. He lends much more than just his name to nonprofits and institutions, including University Hospitals Health System. Connor is the new board chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
8. Barbara Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University
The Chronicle of Higher Education lists Snyder as the highest-paid private college president in Ohio and the general consensus is she’s worth it. Since her arrival in 2007, CWRU has tripled undergraduate applications and reached its Forward Thinking capital campaign two and a half years ahead of schedule. But it’s the school’s successful collaborations with institutions including Cleveland Clinic and the Cleveland Museum of Art that got an extra push from Snyder. She serves on the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio Board of Educators and the Wexner Center for the Arts Foundation Board of Trustees.
9. Eric S. Gordon, CEO, Cleveland Metropolitan, School District
Gordon received the 2016 Green-Garner Award from the Council of the Great City Schools. Known as the Urban Educator of the Year award, it is the highest honor for his position in the U.S. Gordon was cited for making “a profound difference in the lives of thousands of Cleveland’s students.” The district’s enrollment losses have ceased and overall test score have improved. He is a member of Chiefs for Change, which consists of high-profile educators who help states work within the federal law Every Student Succeeds Act.
10. Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner, founder of Quicken Loans
Gilbert (with a little help from LeBron and company) delivered the 2016 NBA Championship, ending a drought that Clevelanders thought was a curse. The owner gave championship rings to 1,000 full-time and part-time Cavs
employees. Gilbert’s NHL affiliate team, the Cleveland Monsters, also brought home the Calder Cup. As the owner of JACK Entertainment (think casinos), Gilbert makes a lot of gamers happy. He serves on the boards of Cleveland Clinic and Children’s Hospital Foundation of Children’s National Medical Center.
11. Joseph D. Roman, President and CEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership
Roman heads one of the nation’s largest chambers of commerce. He zeros in on downtown business development, lakefront development, reforming Cleveland public schools and keeping Cleveland Hopkins International Airport competitive. The Cleveland-born Roman pushed for the recent back-office operations merge with the Council of Smaller Enterprises. He has also helped start vital economic-development organizations, including JumpStart and BioEnterprise. He served as vice president of the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee for the Republican National Convention.
12. Thomas F. Zenty III, CEO, University Hospitals
The system marked its 150-year anniversary in 2016, and Zenty’s leadership has continued UH’s relentless expansion plans outside of Cleveland. The system recently broke ground on the new Rainbow Center for Women & Children in MidTown, but is also expanding UH Geauga Medical Center, building the North Ridgeville Health Center and has finalized integrations with St. John Medical Center and Samaritan Regional Health System in Ashland County.
13. Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County Executive
As the county’s chief executive, Budish is no caretaker administrator. In 2016 alone he announced support for wind turbines on Lake Erie, saying county government would buy electricity generated through the project. His initiatives include expanding pre-kindergarten education, thanks to $12 million in donations, and hiring more minority-owned businesses. Budish and his administration created the position of head of workforce innovation, who will assist both businesses and jobseekers. Also, his administration offered incentives to companies hiring county residents.
14. Umberto Fedeli, President and CEO, The Fedeli Group
Fedeli, owner of The Fedeli Group insurance firm in Independence, made millions over the years by investing in banks. Now, he’s helping inspire the next generation of Clevelanders. In 2016, he and a group of civic leaders led by U.S. Rep Jim Renacci partnered with youth-serving nonprofits and launched Empower Cleveland’s Youth, a program that connects the city’s young people with mentorship, civic education and job training to help them become community leaders.
15. Dan Horrigan, Mayor, City of Akron
When he took office Jan. 1, 2016, Horrigan heralded a new era for the city, filling the spot occupied for nearly 30 years by Don Plusquellic. Described by some as “iron-fisted” and “bombastic,” Plusquellic resigned abruptly in May 2015, followed by a shuffling of leadership in the mayor’s office. Horrigan, the former Summit County clerk of common pleas courts, has brought stability after the tumult, along with a diplomatic and even leadership style.16. Albert Ratner, Co-Chairman Emeritus, Forest City Realty Trust Inc.
Ratner is best known for leading Forest City, a Cleveland real estate and development firm. He’s retired today but still a player. Ratner sits on the Board of Directors of Global Cleveland, a nonprofit that he helped establish in 2011, and which aims to attract immigrants to Cleveland. He’s been active in several other charitable and civic organizations and has donated to political campaigns, including that of U.S. Rep. David Joyce.
17. David Abbott, Executive Director, George Gund Foundation
Abbott didn’t appear out of nowhere to take the helm of the Gund Foundation in 2003. Previously, he was president of University Circle Inc. and executive director of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Cleveland Bicentennial Commission. In 2016, the Gund Foundation awarded $22.5 million for 216 projects, including a Cleveland Museum of Natural History expansion. The foundation supported the Ohio Theatre lobby restoration, completed in 2016.
18.Chris Ronayne, President, University Circle Inc.
Over his 11 years leading UCI, Ronayne played a key role in successfully uniting the neighborhood’s “eds, meds and arts” institutions while attracting new dining, housing and nightlife. Ronayne’s work to make University Circle a neighborhood of choice got a big boost in 2016, when, after almost five years of planning, developers broke ground on One University Circle, a 272-unit, 20-story apartment complex that will open in 2018, the city’s first high-rise in more than 40 years.
19. Rick Chiricosta, President, Chairman and CEO, Medical Mutual of Ohio
For Chiricosta and Medical Mutual of Ohio, 2016 was a busy year, starting with the agreement to insure 105,000 patients from HealthSpan, the former Kaiser Permanente after HealthSpan announced, in 2015, that it was folding its physicians’ group. Medical Mutual also partnered with The MetroHealth System to roll out a new insurance product. He was also elected as the new chairman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership Board of Directors.
20. Brian Zimmerman, CEO, Cleveland Metroparks
As it enters its centennial year, the Metroparks are stronger than ever under Zimmerman’s leadership. In 2016, it snagged a $7.95 million federal grant — its largest ever — while also acquiring 74 additional acres, breaking ground on the highly anticipated Edgewater Beach House and beginning design work on the Euclid Beach Pier. His accomplishments are turning heads outside our region too; he was named “Professional of the Year” by the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association in December.
21. Stewart Kohl, Co-CEO, The Riverside Co.
Kohl and Riverside are riding high on a thriving private equity market, with the close of its $650 million Riverside Micro-Cap Fund IV — exceeding its $500 million target — and a new fund focused on enterprise software companies, along with a busy year of acquisitions and exits. But Kohl has also remained a force in local philanthropy. The Donna and Stewart Kohl fund is an event partner for the three-year-old biking fundraiser VeloSano, which this year pulled in $3.37 million for cancer research at Cleveland Clinic.
22. Marc S. Byrnes, Chairman, Oswald Cos.
Thirty years ago this year, Byrnes merged his own small insurance agency with the James B. Oswald Co., and has since built a firm with nearly 355 full-time employees and more than $75 million in annual revenue, ranking among the 50 largest insurance brokers in the U.S. But he’s also a dedicated civic leader — currently serving as chairman of the board for United Way of Greater Cleveland, on the Executive Committee, for one — and gives employees time off to do the same.
23. Bernie Moreno, President, The Bernie Moreno Cos.
He wasn’t even 40 when he purchased his first car dealership in 2005, and since then Moreno has grown an 18-dealership empire in Ohio, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Florida while bucking auto retailing conventions. He isn’t just a business leader in Northeast Ohio, but an active civic one, with a long list of involvement that includes positions as vice chair of Cleveland State University Board of Trustees and vice chair and member of the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation board.
24. Deborah Read, Managing Partner, Thompson Hine
The first woman to lead a large Cleveland law firm when she took the helm of Thompson Hine in 2012, Read is known as a mentor who’s always ready to give a hand up to other women as they rise into leadership positions. She’s made diversity and inclusion a priority across the firm’s seven offices and approximately 400 lawyers, and in her civic life supports such causes as United Way and Greater Cleveland Partnership.
25. Dr. Akram Boutros, President and CEO, The MetroHealth System
Under Boutros’ leadership, MetroHealth made big progress this year in its long-planned transformation plan, including the push for $855 million in funding to finally build a new nine-story hospital to replace its iconic towers and open the new Critical Care Pavilion. In a competitive market for health care, Boutros is making sure Metro holds its own.
Greater Akron Area
Virginia Albanese, President and CEO, FedEx Custom Critical
David Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Daniel Colantone, President and CEO, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce
William Considine, President and CEO, Akron Children’s Hospital
Jay Gershen, President, Northeast Ohio Medical University
Chuck Jones, President and CEO, First Energy
Deborah Hoover, President and CEO, Burton D. Morgan Foundation
Dan Horrigan, Mayor, City of Akron
Joe Kanfer, Chairman and CEO, GOJO Industries
Richard Kramer, Chairman, President and CEO,
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Kyle Kutuchief, Akron Program Director, Knight Foundation
Thomas Malone, President and CEO, Summa Health
Christine Amer Mayer, President, GAR Foundation
John T. Petures Jr., President and CEO, Akron Community Foundation
Frank Sullivan, Chairman and CEO, RPM International
Ward J. “Tim” Timken Jr., Chairman, president and CEO, The Timken Co.
Beverly Warren, President, Kent State University
Matt Wilson, President, The University of Akron
David Abbott, Executive Director, George Gund Foundation
Monte Ahuja, CEO, Mura Holdings; Founder, Transtar Industries
Craig Arnold, Chairman and CEO, Eaton
Ronald Berkman, President, Cleveland State University
Fred Bidwell, Executive Director and CEO, FRONT Exhibition Co.
Dr. Akram Boutros, President and CEO, The MetroHealth System
Sherrod Brown, U.S. senator
Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County Executive
Marc S. Byrnes, Chairman, Oswald Cos.
Rick Chiricosta, President, Chairman and CEO, Medical Mutual of Ohio
Paul Clark, Regional President for Cleveland, PNC Bank
Rev. Jawanza Karriem Colvin, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
Christopher Connor, Former Executive Chairman and CEO, Sherwin-Williams Co.
Delos M. (Toby) Cosgrove, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic
Sandy Cutler, Retired Chairman and CEO, Eaton Corp.
Paul Dolan, Owner, Cleveland Indians
Art Falco, President and CEO, PlayhouseSquare Foundation
Umberto Fedeli, President and CEO, The Fedeli Group
William Friedman, President and CEO, Cleveland- Cuyahoga County Port Authority
Marcia Fudge, U.S. Representative
Greg Geis, Owner, Geis Cos.
Dan Gilbert, Majority Owner, Cleveland Cavaliers; Founder, Quicken Loans Inc.; Chairman and Founder, Rock Gaming
David Gilbert, President and CEO,Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and
Eric S. Gordon, CEO, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Brian Hall, Senior Vice President, Greater Cleveland Partnership
Frank G. Jackson, Mayor, City of Cleveland
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers; LeBron James Family Foundation
Alex Johnson, President, Cuyahoga Community College
Marcy Kaptur, U.S. Representative
Chris Kelly, Partner, Jones Day
Bob Klonk, CEO, Oswald Cos.
Stewart Kohl, Co-CEO, The Riverside Co.
Bill Koehler, CEO, Team NEO
David LaRue, President and CEO, Forest City
Ray Leach, CEO, JumpStart Inc.
Heather Lennox, Partner-in-Charge, Jones Day
Josh Mandel, State Treasurer
Ari Maron, Partner, MRN Ltd.
Randell McShepard, Vice President of Public Affairs, RPM
Loretta Mester, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Sam Miller, Co-Chairman Emeritus, Forest City Enterprises Inc.
Beth E. Mooney, Chairman, CEO and President, KeyCorp
Bernie Moreno, President, The Bernie Moreno Cos.
Fred Nance, Regional Managing Partner, Squire Patton Boggs; General Counsel, Cleveland Browns
August Napoli Jr., President and CEO, United Way
Jon Pinney, Managing Partner, Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz
Richard Pogue, Senior Adviser, Jones Day
Jim Ranacci, Congressman
Albert Ratner, Co-Chairman Emeritus, Forest City Realty Trust Inc.
Charles Ratner, Chairman, Forest City Enterprises Inc.
Deborah Read, Managing Partner, Thompson Hine
Ronn B. Richard, President and CEO, Cleveland Foundation
Joseph D. Roman, President and CEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership
Chris Ronayne, President, University Circle Inc.
Bob Smith, President and CEO, Spero-Smith Investment Advisers
Robyn Minter Smyers, Partner-in-Charge, Thompson Hine
Barbara Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University
Michael Symon, Chef and Owner, B Spot, Lola, Lolita, Mabel’s BBQ
Daniel Walsh, CEO, Citymark Capital
Scott Wolstein, President, The Wolstein Group; CEO, Starwood Retail Partners
Thomas F. Zenty III, CEO, University Hospitals
Brian Zimmerman, CEO, Cleveland Metroparks
Morris Beverage Jr., President, Lakeland Community College
Jenniffer Deckard, President and CEO, Fairmount Santrol
Cynthia Moore-Hardy, President and CEO, Lake Health
Daniel Troy, Commissioner, Lake County
Marcia Ballinger, President, Lorain County Community College
Dennis Cocco, Co-Director, GLIDE
Jim Cordes, Administrator, Lorain County
Kevin Flanigan, President, General Plug and Manufacturing Co.
John Kahl, CEO, ShurTech Brands
Ted Kalo, Commissioner, Lorain County
Ed Oley, President and CEO, Mercy Regional Medical Center
Donald Sheldon, President and CEO, University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center
Warren Anderson, President and Owner,The Anderson-DuBose Co.
Anthony Cafaro Jr., Co-President, The Cafaro Co.
Jim Cossler, CEO and Chief Evangelist, Youngstown Business Incubator
Sam Covelli, Owner and Operator, Covelli Enterprises
Denise DeBartolo York, Chairperson, The DeBartolo Corp.
Tom Fleming, President, Aim NationaLease
Thomas Humphries, President and CEO, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
Anthony Payiavlas, President and CEO, AVI Foodsystems Inc.
John Pogue, Partner, Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell
Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative
Jim Tressel, President, Youngstown State University
Gordon Wean, Chairman, The Raymond John Wean Foundation