Helping Human Resources to Thrive



Suzette Berry, Vice President, Human Resources

Suzette Berry, Vice President, Human Resources

Every year I look forward to attending the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition. This conference allows me valuable time to reflect on best practices, expand my knowledge and network with other HR Professionals – gaining insights from their successful experiences and sharing a few of my own.

This year, the conference theme was “thrive” and the sessions were focused on helping us do exactly that – grow and develop very well in a beautiful place filled with exciting sessions and guest speakers.

Among the many takeaways:

  • It takes a seasoned and knowledgeable professionals to properly manage a Human Resources Department. To thrive, professionals must keep their skills sharpened by continuing to receive training and education.
  • As you interact with others, always seek to be fair, consistent and positive – and develop a thick skin to handle challenging personalities.
  • Confront conflict in the workplace. If it lingers it will affect employee morale and organizational success.
  • Prevent employee “weeds” from thriving in the workplace by keeping the culture respectful, positive and engaging. Weeds feed by crowding out others, bullying and negativity.
  • Use measurement tools to track everything you need to know about an organization – from employee engagement, to cash flow and client satisfaction.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, daytime Emmy Award-winning host of “The Dr. Oz Show”, was a keynote speaker. On his website, Dr. Oz offers several free programs that can be used in the workplace. He discussed “life adjustments” that can help people live mentally and physically healthier lives:

  • Achieve a blood pressure of 115/75. “You don’t want an average blood pressure of 130/80, because the average American develops heart disease.”
  • Exercise 30 minutes daily. Low to moderate exertion is OK. “Just get breathy.” Even 10 minutes of walking the stairs at work every other day is better than no activity at all.
  • Follow a healthy diet that’s easy to love.
  • Control stress and get adequate sleep because lack of sleep drives high blood pressure, cancer rates and obesity.
  • Focus on building muscle and reducing waist size instead of losing pounds.

These and many other insights will be helpful as I work with our Finance Fund staff to ensure a healthy, happy workplace.  Your comments and questions are always welcome at

Relationships Plant “Seeds for Growth”

Kimberly Scher, SVP Communications

Kimberly Scher, SVP Communications

“Making connections with funders is not about preserving your organization. It’s about two complementary missions coming together to achieve something more than they would have achieved alone.”

 ”Your organization’s goal, business strategy and message must be about solving a problem that the community believes it has.”

These and other comments (paraphrased) were shared at the recent “Seeds for Growth” community resource workshop sponsored by Huntington Bank. It’s always great to see what other nonprofits are doing in the community and get a refresher on the ways they build meaningful relationships in service to Ohio’s most vulnerable populations.

The workshop was held at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and attracted a standing room only crowd of 250+ funders and nonprofit agency representatives. With wisdom, candor, passion and humor the panelists and moderators delivered first-hand insights about how to build successful and productive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. Here are a few takeaways.

Relationship building from the agency perspective.

  • The funder’s perception of need must match your organization’s perception of need and what you offer to address it.
  • A key strategy for successfully telling your story is to get potential donors to visit your facility to see what you do. Engage them through volunteerism. Ask them to come out to paint a fence or talk with a resident. Start small and build the relationship over time. Volunteers contribute to your mission by their very presence.
  • You cannot expect to be successful by approaching a funder with, “See? We do good work. Now give us money.”
  • Ego cannot enter into relationship building with funders. It’s not about you. It’s about your organization’s mission. You must be honest, sincere, pure and passionate about what you do to connect with funders.
  • Not everyone will agree with you. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that your agency would not be a good partner with another agency or a good fit with a funder.

Relationship building from the funder perspective.

  • A corporation’s ability to thrive is inextricably linked to the health of their community.
  • Success revolves around relationships.
  • Funders want to know that their corporate philanthropy makes a difference – an improvement in the communities they serve.
  • Do your homework. Know the priorities of the funding organization before making an approach. But also know that giving priorities and opinions of what matters can change along with changes in Board members and corporate leadership.
  • Sometimes corporations donate to a cause outside of their stated funding priorities simply because someone influential asked for support.
  • As a funder, we always look at who is on the agency’s Board.
  • Board members are passionate and well-connected advocates. When an agency adds a corporate executive to their Board they get:
    • A smart person to help lead the organization
    • Personal philanthropy
    • A corporate gift
  • Don’t send unsolicited requests. Talk to the potential funder first. The better the relationship, the more difficult it is for the funder to say “no.”  Begin a process of dialogue and match the funder’s interests with your organization’s needs in a very compelling way. Then show the funder the success of past donations.
  • Funders must see demonstrated continuity and success/results that were made possible with their support.
  • Events are a great way for funders to receive recognition for their philanthropy and they appreciate the public acknowledgement.
  • Make certain that a major corporate funder is given the opportunity to be the lead giver or on a level comparable with other leading funders.

Many thanks to Huntington for providing this enlightening and inspiring workshop. You can reach me with comments at

Rethinking What’s Possible


17136440609_cdb990fccc_zI’ve discovered that one of the great values of connecting to the Oxford University community is the almost indelible mark it leaves on your sensitivity of thought. Maybe it has something to do with the institution’s remarkable legacy or the academic environment or enormity of resources available, or some other ethereal element that connects so directly to the psyche that it changes perception.

For nearly 40 years, I have been figuring out ways to enable equal access to economic prosperity within social and cultural constructs, mainly in the United States but also in other places around the world.  Through observation and direct involvement in a wide range of economic systems and communities, my ideology and methodology have evolved to a fairly simple set of axioms.

  1. People are important.
  2. Circumstance limits people’s access to basic human needs; i.e. food, shelter, health, wellbeing.
  3. It is our responsibility to help each other regardless of who or where we or they may be.
  4. All sustainable change is local.

During the development of these truths, the answer to the question, “how can we help?” has shaken down into two widely accepted approaches – address the dysfunctional local systems, or address the symptoms that arise from those dysfunctional systems.

To me, changing systems seems to be the best long-term and sustainable approach to lasting social impact, and so I have dedicated my career to addressing that challenge. I considered myself a leader in the field of social impact investing and remained more interested in hearing ideas that increased the quantity, and not so much the quality, of my perceptions.

During my first visit to Oxford last year, my confidence in what I knew about social impact investing was fairly high. From a deep well of experience, I looked more for confirmation than reformation – to teach rather than to learn. I freely confess at this point that “I was wrong!” It didn’t take but 15 minutes into the first day when I began to hear things that challenged my basic perception of what was possible. That revelation was also evident to my cohort. This deepened our conversations, interactions, and total experience. I came away from the first encounter with a changed cognizance, capacity, countenance, and courage in what potentials, possibilities, and opportunities were available. 

Oxford University

Oxford University

After I returned from Oxford, time began to do its work and continued to expand my thinking. Additional discoveries burst into my consciousness as conversations continued with Oxford staff, faculty, coaches, and fellow cohort members. They not added to the initial experience but were still an integral part of it. The community and discussions continued throughout the year via conference calls that connected our global cohort across all time zones. Some participants arose at 3 a.m. local time to participate in our robust discussions. Together, we expanded on the opportunities, through thinking, testing, unlearning and learning and arrived at a shared perception of what’s possible on a global scale.

This then is the true value of the Oxford experience.  It goes well beyond the academics, legacy, and tradition of this esteemed institution. Oxford’s true value is in its ability to bring thinkers, learners, and leaders from around the globe together to enable new possibilities to emerge – possibilities that could change socioeconomic systems in every nation and improve the quality of life for people.  Your thoughts and comments are always welcome. You can reach me at

Curators of the Creative

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund
CEO James R. Klein

England, and particularly Oxford, are really quite beautiful at this time of year. On the drive from Heathrow to Oxford, I followed the line and light of the passing scene in my eye and in my mind. I kept examining the physical and mental landscape of this last year and comparing the similarities and differences since I last passed this way.  

Even though the line and light weren’t dramatically altered, my mental perspective had changed. This was due to much time spent processing the insights gained and intents formulated through my participation in the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Program (OAMLP) last June and again this year. The individual and group process of discovery enabled me to see with new clarity and adopt a unique and revelatory new vision. Members of my Oxford cohort continued to share and interact with each other online after our formal time of meeting was concluded. This added to the vitality of the process of understanding.

I’ve always had the tendency to think and process in pictures. I don’t expect that this is unique, but for me this works as an expressive tool as well as a thinking process tool. The result of my remembrance yielded five drawings that I shared with the Egrove Park campus of the Oxford Said Business School. To my delight, the drawings were accepted for exhibition at the campus facility.

Gul-Franthe bearTeaEgrovepunting 1





I  was asked to lead a joint discussion with the 2014 and 2015 cohorts about the importance of creativity in leadership. The discussion centered around how leaders exhibit creativity in their leadership styles. It yielded many interesting results, for example:

  • “Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. The ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena and generate solutions.”
  • “Leadership creativity is making connections outside of what you already know. It is finding answers where there is no prior correct solution and thinking outside the box.”
  • “Creative leaders see things differently. They look in all directions at the same time. They see in four dimensions. They understand the value of all input and are able to interpret the environment and create new solutions. Just like an artist interprets reality.”
  • “Creativity lives in all of us.”

Leaders must be:

  • Curators of the Creative
  • Chancellors of Change
  • Malcontents of Mediocrity
  • Consummate Connectors

It was an exhilarating discussion and hopefully offered new perspectives for the participating learners.

Ohio Creates Healthy Food Initiative

Director of Development Valerie Heiby

Director of Development Valerie Heiby

We have good news to share. On Tuesday evening, Gov. John Kasich signed the FY 2016-17 operating budget that includes a $2 million provision of state seed capital to create a Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

This is a tremendous accomplishment made possible through Finance Fund’s work alongside The Food Trust and the statewide Healthy Food Financing Task Force to identify and quantify the need for increased access to healthy affordable food, frame public policy, rally a strong and diverse statewide coalition, and engage legislators to take action.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our efforts to bring healthy, affordable food to underserved communities throughout Ohio. If you represent a potential public or private funder of this Initiative, would you please contact me at 614.568.5055,

An American at Oxford

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

It was my good fortune to attend the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Program (OAMLP) last June with 33 other individuals from around the world. The OAMLP is offered through the Said Business School and invites selected candidates each year to study and learn principles of management and leadership through an innovative and practical methodology. All of us practitioners are actively involved as business leaders primarily at the executive level. The experience was both insightful and impactful on my perspective on thinking and leadership.

In what appears to be somewhat of an anomaly, my “class” has kept in contact for the past year. Many members of the contingent of 2014 met back at Oxford’s Egrove Park in Kennington this June to compare notes and share our experiences in integrating some of the principles presented into our environments. We renewed relationships, reported on the where and what of our lives, and we thought together.

Maybe it was the place. Maybe it was the plan. Maybe it was the people. Whatever it was, we again came together quickly and picked up where we had left off.

Lalit Johri and Sue Dopson from Said Business School convened a pair of discussions that rekindled the passion of thought and purpose we experienced in 2014. The formal thinking time enabled a phenomenal view into the evolving face of leadership worldwide. My only complaint was that the time was too short. However, the formal time was not the only time we shared thought, experience, and inquiries about how we can be better leaders and how better leaders are the hope of the planet.

It is my intent to share some of the unique interactive experiences and foundational principles that are becoming the new leadership challenge.

Finance Fund Awarded $55 Million NMTC Allocation

Diana Turoff, Finance Fund President

Diana Turoff, Finance Fund President

Yesterday, we received the good news that Finance Fund was awarded $55 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation authority from the US Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. This is the ninth round of federal NMTC allocation Finance Fund has received, totaling $295 million since 2004.

The NMTC program enables Finance Fund to help create jobs and attract critical private investment in economically distressed and low-income communities throughout Ohio. CDFI FUnd LogoFinance Fund is Ohio’s only community development entity with a statewide service area. We are one of 76 allocatees across the country, including six in Ohio, that received tax credit allocation authority under the 2014 round of the New Markets Tax Credit Program. 

Finance Fund plans to award NMTC allocation to nonprofit organizations, for profit operating businesses and real estate development covering a broad range of industries and services from healthy foods, community facilities, health and wellness, education and manufacturing. The NMTC program provides the incentive of a federal income tax credit to individuals or corporations that invest in CDEs, such as Finance Fund. The NMTC investor indirectly finances a project through the CDE.

This targeted and cost-efficient financing tool benefits businesses, communities and investors. It brings opportunity to areas in greatest need that might not otherwise have access to capital. Here are examples of NMTC projects made possible through Finance Fund’s use of the NMTC allocation.

Through the NMTC program, Finance Fund has leveraged $750 million on an investment of $228 million for 55 projects providing 384 housing units, creating 8,927 direct jobs, serving 536 children and providing services to 39,830 patients.  We congratulate the other allocatees and look forward to putting NMTC to work in Ohio.  As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or comments at

Finance Fund Takes Aim at Ohio Senate Budget Proposals


Ohio-State-House-1_webYesterday, I testified on behalf of the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee. The aim of this testimony is to restore state budget support provided in the House version of the two-year budget bill (HB 64) for the Healthy Foods Financing Initiative (HFFI) which was deleted in the Senate version of the budget. The HFFI will enable the state to create or expand healthy food retail projects in Ohio’s urban neighborhoods and small communities. We know from examples of similar initiatives created in other states that an Ohio HFFI would have a positive impact on job creation and help reduce diet-related disease and death.

In addition to advocacy work on behalf of HFFI, Finance Fund is providing our perspective on two other provisions in the Ohio Senate’s budget bill that can potentially impact community and economic development in the state.

  • The first provision is related to Senate’s proposed changes to the operation of the Ohio Housing Trust Fund (OHTF). The change would provide that 50 percent of the proceeds would be allocated at the county level for housing purposes. While the amount in the Ohio Housing Trust Fund has not been growing much over the years, it’s of significant value when the funds are aggregated at the state level to leverage additional project support from other public and private investors. Protections that are currently built into the OHTF assure that funds are well-managed at a low cost, invested for the purposes intended, and are focused on rural and urban projects with a great deal of transparency. We believe that it makes sense to maintain this program at the state level. It’s unclear whether any of these assurances could be accomplished by taking a large part of the funds and allocating them to 88 counties.
  • The second provision is the Senate’s proposed change in the way that the state would support historic preservation through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Essentially, the bill would put a moratorium on the tax-credit program, barring the state from issuing project certificates starting July 1. After a two-year suspension, the program could be revived to offer grants instead of tax credits.This state tax credit has been of significant value in leveraging private investment for redevelopment of existing structures, rather than forcing them to be demolished. Heritage Ohio has provided information showing that since 2007, more than 8.7 million square feet has been redeveloped into productive assets, 3,419 units of housing units have been created, with an overall ROI of 6.7 to 1. Because of a tax credit’s ability to leverage private investment, we believe that it is a much more effective tool than would be a grant program.

Programs that spur community and economic development such as healthy foods retail, housing for vulnerable populations and rehabilitation of existing structures are some of the best investments the State of Ohio can make. I hope you will join me in contacting your State Senator to encourage support for these programs.  Follow this link to a state map that has contact information. As always, with questions please contact me or Director of Public Affairs Andy Hardy at

Jeni’s Reopens for Business with Emergency Financing Help from Finance Fund


jenis-ice-cream-leadjpg-3107e469ad83e50eWe made a decision to recall all of our frozen product, and to shutter our shops following news of Listeria in a pint of our ice cream. The decision meant our company would have no revenue, and no immediate plan for when we would have revenue again. We immediately turned to Finance Fund for emergency capital to help see us through. 

Without Finance Fund’s flexibility and rapid response to our request, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams would not have been able to so quickly create a recovery plan. The immediate access to capital was instrumental in enabling us to avoid layoffs during the shutdown.

Finance Fund moved through the loan origination and closing process quickly and efficiently thanks to its in-house underwriting, legal counsel and flat management structure. From start to finish, the financing was completed in under a week. Through their Small Business Loan Program, Finance Fund provided Jeni’s with a total of $1.5 million in short-term, emergency financing which we used for working capital purposes. Jeni's CustomersFinance Fund also provided an additional $199,000 loan through the City of Columbus loan program.

With short term emergency financing secured, we were able to put our employees at ease right away. We told them not to worry about losing their jobs – to put their focus on being spectacular for Jeni’s.

We sincerely thank Finance Fund for coming alongside Jeni’s – even though emergency capital is not the normal use of their Small Business Loan Program. As Finance Fund President Diana Turoff explains, “Finance Fund’s mission provides the flexibility to offer financing such as this to retain jobs and keep a strong small business going during a time of crisis.”

Nconeow, that our commercial kitchen and production facility are back in operation after improvements in our safety measures, we are making the world’s greatest ice cream again and have reopened our scoop shops.  It is difficult to express the gratitude I have for Finance Fund.

Going Farther by Going Together

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

In one way or another, I’ve been a relationship builder throughout my career.  It’s what I do best — probably because I work at it every day, in every situation, with everyone I meet.

I am in the business of connecting people, businesses and communities in need with public and private sources of capital. That takes a lot of relationship building. It takes a lot of time and trust. And because we live in a global economy, and we can learn a lot from diversity, it also takes a fair amount of travel. Everyone has something to teach us. Someone from DC or Australia or Africa may have something to share that will benefit our economic development work in Ohio.

But relationship building isn’t just about getting. It’s about giving as well. It’s about being generous with your time. Exchange makes relationships work.  Makes them lasting. Personal. Real and enduring. Deals come and go, but relationships go on, sometimes for a lifetime if they are mutually nurtured.

Last summer, I was honored to be among the 35 people selected to attend the Oxford University Advanced Management and Leadership Program in the UK. I began many friendships there, and learned many things about leadership and how to connect strategy to measurable performance standards from experts and critical thinkers from around the globe. 17136440609_cdb990fccc_z

Over the past year, we alumni have stayed in touch because we value what each other thinks and says and does and observes. Earlier this month, I attended a convening at the 2015 Oxford in North America Chicago event. There were many discussions and we had ample opportunity to meet with other Oxford alumni, reconnect with old friends and introduce ourselves to new people.

In just a few weeks, I will be back at Oxford University in the UK to present my thinking to the class of 2015, and spark discussion about the necessity of pursuing inclusive capitalism. It is through discussions such as this that we can begin to know, understand and appreciate the breadth of thinking and cultural influences that shape us personally, in business and in our communities.

I hope you make the most of your travels to seek out new relationships. Meeting people from different life experiences and cultural influences will expand your thinking immeasurably and bring long-term benefit to your organization and the people you serve.

I am reminded of an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” In a world where human interaction is increasingly happening online through social media and video, it’s important to be reminded of the power of simply getting together with other people. There’s real value in a spoken “Hello,” a handshake, a smile, a shared meal, a laugh, an impassioned discussion punctuated with waving hands and raised eyebrows – this is how meaningful relationships are born and nurtured, regardless of where we call home. And its value is beyond calculation.

Contact Us

P: 614.221.1114 | 800.959.2333
A: Finance Fund
175 South Third Street, Suite 1200
Columbus, Ohio 43215

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