I’ve been involved with the Fund for Our Economic Future since its inception in 2004 and I’m terribly proud of what we are accomplishing. I use the term “we” in the broadest sense possible to include all of Northeast Ohio because transformation of a region is a team sport.

I vividly remember what Northeast Ohio was like in 2004. Truly, we were in a Quiet Crisis. I look at my community and our region today and frankly, I’m split between optimism and concern. On one hand I see tremendous improvement in many areas such as our entrepreneurial ecosystem and our understanding of what it takes to transform a regional economy. What’s more, a palpable sense of pride is replacing the general malaise that pervaded the region a decade ago. On the other hand, I know too many people who are un-employed or under-employed, and they represent only a small percentage of our friends and neighbors who are not yet benefiting from our collective efforts.

The Fund is focused in the right direction. From research and experience, we know that growing an economy without economic opportunity leads to fragile gains and increased disparity. The Fund’s Growth and Opportunity agenda can be functionally defined as work in the creation of jobs, preparation for jobs, and ensuring access to jobs. This is tough work, requires complex alignment, and will likely take a long time to accomplish. With a more than 10-year track record of effective collaboration, convening and grantmaking, the Fund is well positioned to make a real dent in this work.

I’m honored to be asked to serve as chair of the Fund because I believe not only in the work but in what the Fund stands for: collective deliberations and decision-making; transparency and accountability; diversity, equity and inclusiveness. Being a part of the Fund means being a part of something bigger; collectively, we can accomplish far more than we can accomplish individually. We are BETTER TOGETHER. That is authentic synergy, and the kind of effort I’m excited to serve.