2014 Smart Living Awards

Since 2006, Judson has honored individuals of all ages who perpetuate the dynamic atmosphere of University Circle, Cleveland’s cultural, educational and medical jewel.

Winners are recognized in the categories of Arts, Education, Philanthropy, Volunteerism and Healthcare.

We’re proud to announce the Judson Smart Living Awards Class of 2014. Please enjoy their inspiring stories!

Read about previous years’ winners.

napoliFostering a Passion for Music

Joan Katz Napoli
Cleveland Orchestra

While the arts are often the first budget cut when schools have to trim spending, Cleveland Orchestra has continued to enrich children’s musical experience through a wide range of programming, under the direction of Joan Katz Napoli, who has served for 19 years as Director of Education and Community Engagement.

“We want children and families to know the joy and beauty of music, and to give them a gift like that will last a lifetime,” says Napoli, who joined the Orchestra following a career in public television with Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), where she was the national director of K-12 services.

“There is some overlap there in terms of the desire to serve children and to work with both children and adults in terms of providing them with resources that teach them to learn, and to learn about the world,” says Napoli of her move to the orchestra nearly two decades go when she returned to her hometown Cleveland.

Cleveland Orchestra’s education and outreach programs serve more than 60,000 annually. The orchestra was one of the first in the country to implement an arts integration program called Learning Through Music, now in its 17th year. Napoli says these programs have grown more visual. “We live in a very visual world, and that helps enhance children’s enjoyment and their understanding of music,” she relates.

Meanwhile, the orchestra continues to offer family concerts, concert previews and music study groups for adults to expand music appreciation across generations. The outstanding Youth Orchestra, Youth Chorus and Children’s Chorus are hallmark programs that encourage young performers.

Napoli is especially proud of Cleveland Orchestra’s grassroots community engagement, through programs such as the Musical Neighborhoods program in Cleveland preschools, and the Neighborhood Residency, this year taking place in Lakewood. The orchestra infuses itself into the community—musicians’ “play” extends beyond Severance Hall. “Working directly in the schools and neighborhoods has been a remarkable change and a deeply authentic community engagement,” she says. “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.”

kosterProviding ‘Vision’ for Those in Need

Charles K. Koster, M.D.
Cleveland Sight Center

Dr. Charles K. Koster helps staff at the Cleveland Sight Center (CSC) “see” how clients’ eye conditions impact their daily functioning and employment options. As a dedicated volunteer medical liaison to the CSC’s Supported Employment Program, Dr. Koster helps facilitate employment opportunities for people with vision impairment, or no vision at all.

“I’m an interpreter, because I can take what is referred to as Medical-English and translate that into English-English,” he quips, 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 says.

Dr. Koster jointed the CSC Board of Trustees in 1999, invited by a physician colleague who happened to be blind. He has been a dedicated, supportive member since that time.

Dr. Koster is a graduate of John Carroll University and St. Louis University School of Medicine, and he completed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania.

Staying active in the medical community and bringing his expertise to the CSC is important to Dr. Koster, who retired five years ago after 45 years of serving greater Cleveland. He specialized in cataracts and general ophthalmology. He served as Chief of Ophthalmology at Lakewood Hospital, president of the Cleveland Ophthalmology Society, president of the medical staff of St. John Medical Center and was active in the Cleveland Academy of Medicine.

Staying engaged is a priority for Dr. Koster, who cites the support of fellow board members and leadership of Executive Director Steven Friedman for encouraging his involvement. He’s pleased that he can bring his skills as an experienced ophthalmologist to the board to help them gain a greater understanding of the challenges clients face, and the opportunities they could enjoy thanks to CSC’s Supported Employment program.

cahoonGiving the Gift of Wonder

Doreen Cahoon
Cleveland Children’s Museum

The Cleveland Children’s Museum is a wonderland for youngsters, targeting ages 8 and under—but avid volunteer Doreen Cahoon says the institution’s reach extends far beyond this school-aged demographic. “It’s such an important part of keeping Cleveland growing and moving forward,” she relates. “We need to have young families that want to stay in Cleveland, and a strong children’s museum is a big part of that.”

Cahoon discovered the Children’s Museum in 2000, shortly after moving to Cleveland with her family. The youngest of her two daughters had just left for college, and Cahoon was used to volunteering in the girls’ schools. “We moved a lot when the girls were growing up, and that helped us get settled wherever we went,” she says.

So, Cahoon drove down Cedar Hill one day and spotted the Cleveland Children’s Museum. She walked through the doors, and decided that is where she wanted to spend and give more of her time. Immediately, she was hooked. “It’s a fulfilling place to watch the children have fun and learn,” she says. “It’s a special place.”

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, and CMC says 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,” says Maria Campanelli, executive director of CMC.

Campanelli adds that Cahoon’s “upbeat engagement allowed continued dynamic programming” at CMC throughout the years. Aside from being a dedicated volunteer and contributor to the board, Cahoon and family contributed the largest individual donor gift in the museum’s history.

She brings an infectious energy to projects at the museum, and unwavering support of the institution’s mission to serve children and families. She gives freely of her talents to CMC and University Circle. Cahoon says, “I enjoy knowing that we are doing something that is not just helping children, but eventually helps the entire region because you give young families and children somewhere special to go and learn.”

welshCelebrating the Solstice

Cleveland Museum of Art
Summer Solstice
Represented by Tom Welsh

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Summer Solstice is a celebration of long summer days and hot summer nights. It’s a late night out at the museum with live music on two stages, food, drinks and the galleries, which stay open until 1 a.m.

In its sixth year, the event is a “celebration of life in the city,” says Thomas Welsh, director of city stages for the Cleveland Museum of Art. “In this way, we think that the event is part of the renaissance and excrement and renewal of Cleveland itself.”

This year’s event, Saturday June 21, will be the largest so far, Welsh says, calling it an “all-hands-on-deck” operation that involves everyone at the museum’s participation, from programming to facilities and beyond. “It really is everyone working together to make it an exciting evening at the museum,” he says, relating that 5,000 guests are expected at this year’s event. “I must say, it is possibly the hottest ticket in town.”

The evening is a fusion of global music, energy, diversity and an overall cosmopolitan vibe, Welsh says. “It’s a night to see and be seen at the Museum of Art, and we have tapped into an energy that is here, and Cleveland is really hungry for this type of first-class festival that’s hip and diverse and a great night out,” he says.

Welsh compares the music offerings—with an indoor and outdoor stage and ongoing live performances—as a “good-natured Lollapalooza.” Meanwhile, guests this year can wander galleries and get a sneak peek of the upcoming exhibition, Yoga: The Art of Transformation.

allenMaking Early Impressions

Gloria Allen
Wade Early Learning Center

Opening up a window of cultural opportunity to preschool children provides them with experiences that shape a lifetime of arts appreciation. For 17 years, the Wade Early Learning Center, under the leadership of Gloria Allen, has been a catalyst for progressive learning. The center is one of the first partners with University Circle Inc.’s Early Learning Initiative (ELI). This program connects the Circle’s educational, health and cultural resources to children enrolled at 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,” says Allen, a steadfast champion of urban education and collaboration. She’s passionate about serving those most in need.

Allen was a student in the Cleveland public school system, and received a scholarship to Tufts University, where she earned a degree in early childhood education. “From the time I was in college, I knew I wanted to teach,” she says, relating that a student teaching experience in Haiti encouraged her decision to serve and develop youngsters and families.

“Being in the inner-city environment is very rewarding, and it’s an opportunity for many young children and their families to grow and develop together,” Allen says, relating that the preschoolers who attend Wade Early Learning Center gain exposure to experiences because of the school’s connections with University Circle and Allen’s dedication to bringing robust resources to the center.

What’s rewarding for Allen is when she has an opportunity to serve the children of those she taught earlier in her career. She has helped guide the development of generations of young people in the city.

The center has expanded and deepened its involvement in the community since Allen joined in 172 as a kindergarten teacher. Since that time, she has worked with all of the age groups the center serves, which is now 2- to 5 year-olds. Allen has taught in classrooms, mentored other instructors, served as assistant director and has served as the site manager for the last 15 years. In that time, she has held on to the mission: to ensure that the youngest citizens begin kindergarten on a path to success in school and life.

Wade is often referred to as the great oasis of learning in the city, and that is due in part to Gloria Allen’s devotion to this community.

brentlingerA Fiscal Eye for the Arts

Paul S. Brentlinger

Education is the common strand in Paul Brentlinger’s rich tapestry of leadership roles in northeast Ohio cultural institutions, from Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), where he is an emeritus trustee, to the Great Lakes Theater and Cleveland Play House.

“I have been interested in the visual arts and industrial design, and watching the graduates perform in terms of their artistic and professional development,” says Brentlinger of being a supporter, board member and enthusiast of CIA.

“One of my primary interests is in education, in general,” he continues, 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. He serves on the President’s Visiting Committee at Case.

Meanwhile, at CIA, Brentlinger has helped the institution grow its facilities, enrollment and job opportunities industrial design field. He is focused on improving the quality of life for art lovers in northeast Ohio.

Brentlinger brings his economic expertise to the institutions he serves. He is former chief financial officer of Harris Corp. in Cleveland, and was senior partner at Morgenthaler Ventures. He served as director of corporations including Ferro, Allegheny Technologies and Teledyne.

Today, Brentlinger stays involved at Judson’s South Franklin Circle as the president of its Residents’ Association. He continues to stay involved in efforts to educate and inform area institutions and communities—particularly University Circle—to help them achieve world-class performance.

“My career has always been in the corporate world, or in industry, but with a financial point of view—I’m concerned about the financial health of the entities [in which I am involved],” he says.

peckhamEngineering a ‘Movement’ to Manage Paralysis

P. Hunter Peckham, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University

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, Ph.D., an FES pioneer who recognized a need for engineering in medicine, and developing devices and equipment to assist people.

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.

In short, Peckham’s research is focused on restoring movement to people with paralysis. (The technique of electrically exciting the nerves going to paralyzed muscles is called FES.) Ultimately, this technology can restore loss of function—such as the ability to grasp using the hand—which allows paralyzed individuals to live more independently. “You can drive better, feed yourself, brush your teeth, shave,” Peckham relates.

The FES Center includes collaborative teams of researchers who are working on restoring various basic functions, from coughing to hand and arm movement and bladder function. “Virtually all of these body functions can be restored using this FES technique,” Peckham relates.

Peckham came to Cleveland in 1966 with his mechanical engineering undergraduate degree and a desire to pursue studies in what has become biomedical engineering at Case. He initially transferred to Cleveland to study the heart valve—a team at Case was developing this technology at the time. Then, he discovered a group doing early work in restoring movement to people with paralysis. He became very interested in the subject, and that eventually grew into a passion and illustrious career, including eight patents and dozens of honors by his peers and organizations for his work.

The magic of restoring movement never gets old to Peckham. “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.
Peckham says University Circle is a center of innovation in this field of neuromodulation. “Neurostimulation began in Cleveland,” he says, proud to be working in the center of this cutting-edge technology, and leading FES research. “Cleveland has been the hub of science and engineering and clinical studies in this field,” he says, “And [neuromodulation] is the fastest growing are in the medical device development field.”

ronayneGrowing a Love of Nature in the Circle

Natalie Ronayne
Cleveland Botanical Garden

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. This is exactly the experience Natalie Ronayne works to create as President of Cleveland Botanical Garden.

“I love nature, always have,” she says 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.”

After nine years in her role, Ronayne says she is still in awe of the “moments of curiosity” and wonder the garden provides for children—and adults. When young visitors get down on their bellies and splash the floating lotus leaves and watch the buzzing dragonflies, she says, “They look like they just discovered the moon.”

“We can find delight in these little surprises and moments that make plants personal to us—and hopefully, it makes us treat the earth and creatures around us differently, or make us more aware,” she says.

Ronayne has led the Botanical Garden through a number of milestones in her time as President, and she’s proud that the garden’s surroundings in University Circle has allowed it to thrive and attract up to 180,000 people every year.

In 2013, the Botanical Garden was one of the first public spaces in the country to earn “sustainable Sites” certification for its commitment to conservation and sustainable operations. Ronayne oversaw the construction of the White Oak Walk and renovation of the Eleanor Squire Library and original building wing to make the facility more desirable for the public and for private events.

Ronayne is also proud of the garden’s Green Corps program, in is 18th year, which features six outdoor “classroom” garden sites that are urban farms. The program’s goal is to use sustainable agriculture as a vehicle for building life, work and leadership skills in youth (ages 14 to 18), who are employed at these urban learning farms.

Now, a School Garden Partnership that includes eight public and charter schools in Cleveland, will build expose more children to the joy of nature and gardening. “We hope we are growing our next group of gardening professionals and people who are inspired by the natural world,” Ronayne says.

The Botanical Garden reaches tens of thousands of students every year through its on-site learning programs, and attracts thousands of schoolchildren to University Circle for field trips. “One of the garden’s greatest assets is our location,” she says. “We are in the heart of the state’s most important cultural district, and we are proud of that.”

ciaInspiring a Community Vision

Cleveland Institute of Art
The ArtBox Project
Represented by students Brittany Lockwood and Robert Benigno

Bland utility boxes dotting Euclid Avenue in University Circle were treated to an inspired “makeover” thanks to ArtBox Project, collaboration between Cleveland Institute of Art and University Circle Inc. (UCI). CIA Assistant Professor Larry O’Neal managed the project, encouraging his talented students to “go way too far” with their concepts—that’s how progressive, creative design is born.

O’Neal, who is chair of the Graphic Design department at CIA, joined the institute four years ago, following a career as a creative director in advertising at firms including now Liggett-Stashower, Wyse and Stern. He started his own firm and approached a CIA colleague about engaging students in a project. Next thing, O’Neal is invited to guest lecture, then teach a course—and now he’s proud to chair the department and oversee courses in Community Projects and Advanced Studio.

This particular project was ambitious and involved working directly with the client, UCI, which critiqued and chose concepts. The project scope: 22 utility boxes would be converted into ArtBoxes, as part of UCI’s Euclid Gateway Vision campaign, which has introduced an excess of $7 million in public improvements to the district.

The selected concept was a retro University Circle theme, including illustrations through the ages, from 1920 to the 1960s. One depicts University Circle’s former Elysium, built in 1907 and once the world’s largest ice rink. Another shows children racing sailboats, reminiscent of boat races that once took place on the Wade Lagoon.

Fifteen scenes approved by UCI were printed on durable adhesive film and wrapped around boxes in September 2013. The project gave students practical experience designing for a client, and the bonus of receiving valuable feedback from outside of the classroom, O’Neal says. “These students are so talented—you just turn them loose and sit back and get wowed by what they can do.”