Donor Spotlight

Donor Spotlight

Jo Ellen Diehl Yeary | Generosity rooted in pride, remembrance, dedication to home

Learn more

News & Happenings

Foundation for Appalachian Ohio presents 2023 awards

Giving Tuesday celebration includes announcement about new matching funds

NELSONVILLE, Ohio – The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) presented its 2023 awards to several donors and doers who are improving lives and communities throughout the 32-county region.

The awards were presented Nov. 28 during FAO’s Giving Tuesday virtual celebration.

“We are proud and honored to recognize those who are planting seeds of love and generosity whose harvests will ripple across generations,” said Ron Strickmaker, FAO Board chair. “Each of these champions of our region reaffirms what we already know: The people of this region are the heart of Appalachia, and there is no limit to what we can achieve together and the good we can do for others.”

Child of Appalachia Honoree

FAO’s newest Child of Appalachia Honoree is Dr. John Kopchick, a distinguished professor of molecular biology at Ohio University.

The Child of Appalachia honor recognizes an individual or individuals whose stories are exceptional examples of what Appalachian Ohioans can achieve and those whose commitment to the region has paved the way for remarkable achievements by the people who live here.

Born into a coal-mining family in western Pennsylvania, Kopchick was called home to Appalachia by opportunity and has been building opportunities in the region ever since. One of Ohio University’s first eminent scholars, Kopchick’s ground-breaking discovery of a growth hormone antagonist has made him a world-renowned scientist, has opened doors of opportunity for students in Appalachian Ohio and beyond, and has literally saved lives.

Kopchick’s scientific breakthrough became a life-saving drug used to treat acromegaly, a rare condition caused by excess growth hormone, that also shows remarkable promise for the treatment of other diseases, including cancer. He has received numerous awards and has used the royalties he’s earned to create scholarships that are nurturing future scientists and innovators.

“I just encourage other children of Appalachia to go with your passion. Go where your heart leads, and do something that may change the world,” Kopchick said.

Watch Dr. Kopchick’s award acceptance video at  

Chaddock Philanthropist of the Year

The Chaddock Philanthropist of the Year Award, celebrating those who have made an outsized difference in Appalachia through philanthropy, was presented to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District Board of Directors for its transformative gift and partnership that will forever protect the environment and natural beauty of Appalachian Ohio.

Earlier this year, the district’s board invested $5 million to create the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District Fund for Environmental Stewardship, which is managed by FAO. The new fund will advance the district’s and FAO’s commitment to enhancing conservation efforts throughout the region.

“We’re exceptionally proud to receive the Chaddock Philanthropist of the Year Award,” said Craig Butler, executive director of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. “It’s a reflection of our entire team and our ethic around how we want the organization to not only be a part of the community but to uplift the community. We are excited to witness the transformative impact this investment will contribute to the region’s communities for years, if not decades, to come.”

Watch the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District’s award acceptance video at

Changemaker of the Year Award

The Changemaker of the Year Award, given to those who are advancing transformative changes in the region, was presented to the Ohio Optometric Association and Foundation, Vision To Learn and the Ohio Treasurer of State’s office/ResultsOHIO – the visionaries and collaborators behind FAO’s iSee with Vision To Learn program.

iSee with Vision To Learn provides students with free vision screenings, eye exams and prescription glasses through mobile vision clinics at schools. To date, the program has enabled more than 5,800 students to receive vision exams, and more than 4,600 students have received glasses.

The program is the first project to successfully complete the Treasurer of State’s ResultsOHIO pay-for-success model, and the Ohio Legislature has appropriated funds to expand the mobile vision clinics statewide.

“We’re well on our way to the day when all children in Ohio will have access to essential vision care, and it’s happening because of the innovation and partnership that began here in Appalachian Ohio,” said Cara Dingus Brook, FAO president and CEO.

Watch the Changemaker of the Year Award acceptance video at

Special announcement

Another highlight of FAO’s Giving Tuesday celebration was the announcement of two matching fund opportunities.

Through Dec. 31, FAO is matching 50 cents on every $1 given to any endowment at FAO, including those that support local communities, nonprofits or scholarship programs. Matching funds also are available for new endowments. A total of $500,000 in match funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, with up to $25,000 in match available per household.  

FAO is also matching $2 for every $1 given to its Pillars of Prosperity funds, which support programming and grants for arts and culture, community and economic development, education, environmental stewardship, and health and human services.

To see highlights from FAO’s Giving Tuesday celebration, to watch the event in its entirety and for more information about the matching funds available, visit

For more information about FAO and how you can create opportunities for the people and communities of Appalachian Ohio, visit, email or call 740.753.1111.