By Julia Mace, Senior Communications Officer, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Dianne Rosenberg is the Governing Board Chair of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF). She took on her role during a time of transition for the Foundation when Kathy Merchant retired as President/CEO and Ellen M. Katz took the position. In this post, she addresses her experience with The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
Why did you start volunteering at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation?
Rosenberg: I started volunteering as a board member. Following my professional retirement, I had been engaged in civic work in the arts and culture, social service and educational sectors. I wasn’t a GCF donor and nor did I serve on any of GCF’s committees before I was asked to join the Board. Ironically, it was at a time in my life when I thought I was going to retire from community volunteering. I was an empty nester, longing to reduce my golf handicap, and to garden, cook and satisfy my wanderlust. Frankly, I was surprised to be asked and very flattered. I knew by its reputation that GCF contributes enormously through the generosity of its donors and its collaborations with community organizations to improve the lives of our community. I realized it was an opportunity for me to learn, grow and engage with Cincinnati leadership around initiatives which I have had longstanding interest. My work on the board broadened my awareness of other opportunities for civic engagement and has been challenging yet gratifying. The complexity, the depth and breadth of GCF’s reach in the community is formidable. I still have so much more to learn!
- Find out more about The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s impact in 2015 Annual Report to the Community
How did you first come to know The Greater Cincinnati Foundation?
Rosenberg: The first time I learned of GCF was when I was in my late twenties. I was the board chair of a new venture, a parent learning center, affiliated with Jewish Family Service Cincinnati. This innovative program was the first of its kind in the region. It was a health-based model for teaching and supporting healthy, mothers, fathers, infants and toddlers. A team of highly qualified early childhood educators and healthcare professionals created rich program. But there was a lack of funding.
This is where GCF played an important role. At that time, a face-to-face interview was required as part of the GCF grantmaking process. We met with GCF Executive Director Carolyn McCoy, who was warm, engaging, and very intrigued by this innovative model for supporting and educating healthy thriving young families. Not only was our grant request funded, but GCF advised a number of their donors to invest in this new program which resulted in additional support as well.
Tell us about your time as board chair. What stands out to you?
Rosenberg: When I was asked to become board chair, it was with the knowledge that our executive leadership would be changing during the first half of my first year as chair. I have always been one who embraces change and views it as an opportunity for discovery and growth. Pete Strange, my predecessor, asked me to chair the executive search process before my term commenced. It was a great learning curve for me in becoming familiar with GCF’s strengths, needs, and growth opportunities. The proof of a successful search is the hire. Ellen Katz is the example of this credo. I have always held the belief that a balanced partnership with board and executive leadership is essential for the organization’s health. Ellen and I share a mutual respect for the importance and necessity of our collaborative efforts to advance GCF’s mission. It has been rewarding to learn from our board members that their work has been enriched because of this shared value. I had great confidence in Ellen when we hired her although at the time I had no idea the depth and breadth of her executive leadership skills. Ellen has packed a WHOLE LOT into her first 18 months, and she is just getting started. Honestly, I do not know when she sleeps. It is my honor and joy to serve as board chair.