By SALI McSHERRY
It’s amazing the people who “perpetuate the dynamic atmosphere of University Circle, Cleveland’s cultural, educational and medical jewel;” Judson President and CEO Cynthia Dunn said at this year’s Smart Living Awards luncheon. Each year since 2006, Judson has honored people who have been exemplary in categories including arts, education, philanthropy, volunteerism and healthcare.
Joan Katz Napoli, Education
As director of education and community engagement for the Cleveland Orchestra, she has fostered a passion for music and is proud of the orchestra’s grassroots programs, including Musical Neighborhoods program in Cleveland preschools and the Neighborhood Residency in Lakewood this year.
“Working directly in the schools and neighborhoods has been a remarkable change and a deeply authentic community engagement,” she explained. “I’m very proud to work with so many musicians who are so dedicated to giving back to the community, and who really care about Cleveland.”
Serving more than 60,000 children through education and outreach program, the orchestra was the first in the country to implement “Learning through Music,” an arts integration program now in its 17th year.
Ken Koster, Volunteerism
A dedicated volunteer medical liaison to the Cleveland Sight Center’s Supported Employment Program, and a member of the board of trustees, Mr. Koster works to facilitate opportunities for people with vision impairment or who have no vision.
“I’m an interpreter, because I can take what is referred to as Medical-English and translate that into English-English,” he said, relating how he helps committee members understand vision diseases and how those affect a person’s ability to function in the world, and in a job setting. “I make it easy for the staff to know what the client is dealing with, what they are capable of, and what employment they should look for to train the client,” he said.
Doreen Cahoon, Volunteerism
Soon after discovering the Cleveland Children’s Museum in 2000 after moving into town with her family, she began working as a guest services coordinator, and then took over running the gift shop, which she treated as her “own retail store.” Her engagement in museum activities continued, and eventually her husband joined the board. CMC Executive Director Maria Campanelli said that the couple’s combined creative and business talents helped steer the museum through challenging times.
“Doreen’s sparkling eyes miss nothing, and her hands-on, problem-solving style is evident throughout the museum,” Ms. Campanelli explained. Beyond her role as a volunteer, Mrs. Cahoon and her family contributed the largest individual donor gift in the museum’s history.
Gloria Allen, Education
As leader of the progressive-learning environment of Wade Early Learning Center for preschool children, Ms. Allen is a steadfast champion of urban education and collaboration.
The center is one of the first partners with University Circle Inc.’s Early Learning Initiative that connects the Circle’s health, educational, and cultural resources to children enrolled in the center.
“The goal is to bring the connection between the cultural institutions in University Circle to our inner-city children, and this has not only opened up this area for our youngsters, but it also gives parents an opportunity to participate,” Ms. Allen explained.
Paul Brentlinger, Philanthropy
He has held leadership roles at the Cleveland Play House, the Great Lakes Theater and Cleveland Institute of Art, Ms. Dunn said.
“I have been interested in the visual arts and industrial design, and watching the graduates perform in terms of their artistic and professional development,” Mr. Brentlinger said.
“One of my primary interests is in education, in general,” he explained, relating this passion to his activity with CIA, and also the Frances Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, of which he served as director and created a doctoral scholarship in honor of his late wife, a registered nurse, Ms. Dunn reported.
He serves on the President’s Visiting Committee at CWRU. At CIA, he has worked to grow the school’s enrollment, job opportunities in the industrial design field as well as facilities.
Hunter Peckham, Healthcare
“The intersection of engineering and medicine is a sweet spot called neuromodulation, which involves electronic implants that can restore movement and body functions. In the center of this research — and particularly in the field of functional electrical stimulation (FES) — is Hunter Peckham, an FES pioneer who recognized a need for engineering in medicine, and developing devices and equipment to assist people, Ms. Dunn reported at the recent Smart Living Awards luncheon.
Dr. Peckham is a professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics at Case Western Reserve University and a founder of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center, which studies the application of electrical currents to generate or suppress nerve activity.
His research is focused on restoring movement to people with paralysis.
“There is a maxim in our field, ‘If you don’t have anything, a little bit is a lot,’” he says of “aha” technologies that are incredibly complex, yet accomplish seemingly simple tasks.
He said that University Circle is a center of innovation in this field of neuromodulation, which is the fastest growing area in the medical device development field.
Natalie Ronayne, Education
“Gardens inspire and teach — and plants do speak to us, just not in words. We have to tune in, watch, listen and immerse ourselves in the outdoor environment,” according to Natalie Ronayne, president of Cleveland Botanical Garden.
“I love nature, always have,” she said of her passion for plants. “Bringing nature to the city the way the Botanical Garden does, and being an urban botanical garden, has always inspired me.”
Last year, the garden earned “sustainable sites” certification — one of the first public spaces in the country — recognized for its commitment to sustainable operations and conservation.
Ms. Ronayne said she is proud of the garden’s Green Corps, which features six “classroom” urban farms in which teenagers who are employed there, build life, work and leadership skills.
She also was instrumental in the construction of the White Oak Walk and renovations to the original building wing and the Eleanor Squire Library.
Larry O’Neal, Arts
Chairman of the graphic design department at Cleveland Institute of Art, Mr. O’Neal managed a project to make over 22 bland utility boxes on Euclid Avenue in University Circle into ArtBoxes, as part of the Circle’s $7 million public improvements, the Euclid Gateway Vision campaign.
He encouraged his students to “go way too far” in their creative concepts that focused on a retro University Circle that included illustrations from through the ages.
“These students are so talented — you just turn them loose and sit back and get wowed by what they can do.”