Donor Spotlight

Donor Spotlight

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

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2021 I’m a Child of Appalachia Event

Watch FAO’s 2021 Giving Tuesday Event!

Thank you for attending the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio’s virtual annual event!

Our foundation, The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, was created to address a challenge that is too often invisible, under-appreciated and without a voice. That is the challenge of the rural philanthropy gap.

But, where there is a gap, there is an opportunity.

And, like anything else, it takes creativity.

The creation of the I’m a Child of Appalachia (ICA) Fund is a dream realized for the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. To finally have a fund focused on the greatest needs and most promising opportunities across all our communities will accelerate our mission on an exceptional scale. And now, we have the great opportunity to invite donors to join us in growing this fund from the ground up with a dollar-for-dollar match! The I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund is dedicated to unleashing the potential of the children of Appalachia.

ICA makes opportunities like our mobile vision clinic possible. Foundation for Appalachian Ohio has partnered with Vision to Learn (VTL) and the Ohio Optometric Foundation (OOF) to launch a mobile vision clinic. This partnership will focus on providing mobile eye exams and glasses to children in K-12th grade. The clinic will travel directly to schools and summer program sites, providing direct access to critical vision care services. Every year, it will help more than 2,500 children who need glasses but do not have them across the 32 Appalachian Ohio counties.

Watch the video below to hear more about the mobile vision clinic’s impact from Cambridge City Schools District Nurse, Jen Howell. Join us on November 30th for our virtual annual event to hear more ICA stories of impact.

Mike Workman is a recipient of our 2021 Chaddock Philanthropy Award. A champion of Morgan County, Mike’s work as an entrepreneur is an incredible example of economic development success. With a keen focus on local skills and the local economy, Mike’s company, Contraxx Furniture, employs hundreds of people across our region. Additionally, Mike was the founder of the Morgan Community Fund, one of FAO’s community fund partners. He has long been a leader for FAO, serving as a Board Chair and helping to drive the strategic direction of the Foundation. Mike recognizes the critical role that philanthropic resources play in a community’s economic development. His philanthropic acts, including his own planned gift, will provide the Morgan Community Fund a home for generations to come.

This year, we honor an anonymous donor as a 2021 Chaddock Philanthropy Award recipient. This individual has long been a supporter of Appalachian Ohio and FAO’s mission. The honoree’s giving spans many areas of interest, from the county they call home, to initiatives across our Education and Environmental Stewardship Pillars of Prosperity. We particularly celebrate this philanthropist for an anonymous gift and “vision” in helping FAO explore access to vision care across the region. The donor’s own experience, with how eyeglasses greatly impacted their education as a child, compelled them to invest in vision care for the next generation of Appalachian Ohioans. Nancy Lahmers, FAO Board Secretary and Guernsey County native, will accept this award on the donor’s behalf.

Cara Dingus Brook, President & CEO, and ex-officio board member.  Over the past fifteen years, Cara has led FAO in developing a series of social innovations, including the world’s first nonprofit “IPO,” an Initial Philanthropic Offering that raised an additional $150 million. FAO’s most recent innovation is Cause Connector, an Etsy-like platform advancing philanthropic projects region-wide.

Partnerships are the hallmark of Cara’s leadership and have enabled FAO to incubate twelve new foundations, launch a regional economic development organization, start an African American Community Foundation, create a supportive ecosystem for social enterprises and secure significant investment from the Ohio legislature to advance prosperity in Appalachia.

With Cara’s leadership, FAO has leveraged market-based solutions to connect children with vision care, educational resources and much more. Cara’s work as a community builder was recently featured by journalist David Brooks in his 2019 book The Second Mountain.  

Prior to FAO, Cara served as a representative for U.S. Senator Voinovich. She has worked with the Aspen Institute, The Healthy Democracy Coalition and The Center for Creative Leadership.  Her global experience includes participating in the American Swiss Foundation’s young leaders program and service with the Global Fund for Community Foundations as part of a U.S. delegation supporting developing foundations in Africa.

Cara is a serial social entrepreneur. She finds joy as a champion for philanthropy and Appalachia. Cara and her husband, Dominick, have two young children, Hugh (age 4) and Lucie (1 year).

Ron Strickmaker, FAO Board Chair, is a business partner in StoreLynx LLC, a technology information company that helps businesses gather and analyze information about product placement and promotions using smartphones.  He was the executive vice president, secretary and director of Kerr Companies, Inc., a group of wholesale beverage distributors servicing 30 counties in Ohio with warehouse locations in Athens, Chillicothe and Lorain.

Strickmaker is past chair of the National Beer Wholesalers of America, has chaired its Membership Services and Political Action committees and served on the organization’s education, public affairs, government affairs, planning, and management committees. As a member of the Whole Beer & Wine Associations of Ohio, Ron held numerous leadership positions, including director, secretary, treasurer, PAC Chair, and president. Strickmaker also served as director with Ohioans for Responsible Drinking.

Ron’s involvement in the community has included the Special Olympics, the Appalachian Community Visiting Nurses Association (ACVNA), Athens Rotary, Order of Symposiarchs and the Athens Chamber of Commerce.

The I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund is dedicated to unleashing the potential of the children of Appalachia. Giving FAO the resources needed to address the areas of greatest need and opportunity in the region, the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund supports:

  • FAO’s work to build local capacity by nurturing local community foundations and connecting partners around issue of regional importance;
  • Programmatic initiatives and grant programs creating opportunities across our 32 counties in Arts and Culture, Community and Economic Development, Education, Environmental Stewardship, and Health & Human Services; and
  • FAO’s work to encourage high expectations among all the region’s residents, including FAO’s I’m a Child of Appalachia campaign.

And now, we have the great opportunity to invite donors to join us in growing this fund from the ground up! All gifts to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar, and there is no limit to how much a donor can give and see matched while matching funds lasts.

Other Ways To Give

To mail your donation, please write ‘ICA Fund’ in the memo line and mail to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, 35 Public Sq., Nelsonville, OH 45764. To learn about other ways to give, including gifts of appreciated stock, IRA transfers, and more, click here or contact FAO at 740.753.1111.