COLUMN: CEO Kathryn Merchant's influence will be missed at helm of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

She helped move 'us towards the future we want'

Chances are you don't know the name Kathryn Merchant.

And that's too bad because she has spent the past 17 years as CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation figuring out how to spend other people's money to make the region a better place.

With Merchant at the helm, the downtown-based foundation has tackled everything from racial unrest to poverty to educational attainment and job readiness.

She and the foundation's board created the "Weathering the Economic Storm Fund" in 2009 to help the region cope with its worst economic crisis in 60 years, bringing other funders together to help address Greater Cincinnati's desperate, immediate needs.

Just this year, the foundation served as "co-convener" of the Cultural Facilities Task Force, the group that's working to preserve Union Terminal and Music Hall.

After all that, Merchant is planning to retire in June 2015. By that point, she'll have had the job for 18 years and will be 63 years old.

"I've done what I set out to do," Merchant told me during a recent interview at her office. "I've had fun making change and making this community better. I'm proud of it."

When I got the announcement June 9 that Merchant was retiring, I was a little stunned. It's not exactly that I thought she would be the foundation's CEO forever. It just felt a little like she had always been there.

See, I grew up in Northern Kentucky. I left to go to college and worked in a few different cities before I moved back about 18 years ago. So it felt like for just about as long as I had been a reporter back in my hometown, Kathy Merchant had been here at GCF.

She helped redefine what a community foundation should be here and made GCF something of a model for the nation as a result.

Insiders can read more about how Merchant did that and what she plans to do after she retires from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation next year.


Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.

More Local News
Bengals ninth in AP preseason poll
Bengals ninth in AP preseason poll

The Cincinnati Bengals are ranked ninth in the Associated Press' preseason NFL poll released Tuesday.

McDonald latest P&G exec called on to serve
McDonald latest P&G exec called on to serve

If Bob McDonald is confirmed to lead the Veterans Administration, and indications are he will be, he'll be the latest P&G chief…

Former P&G boss impresses Senate committee
Former P&G boss impresses Senate committee

Former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald appears headed to easy confirmation as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Girl mauled by dogs healing, may go home soon
Girl mauled by dogs healing, may go home soon

A 6-year-old girl mauled by pit bulls in early June is healing well and may return home soon, family members said.

New stores coming to Kenwood Towne Centre
New stores coming to Kenwood Towne Centre

Jackets, hats and cheese steaks, oh my! The Kenwood Towne Centre is bringing multiple big name shops to the community, including The North…

A look at texting while driving in SW Ohio
A look at texting while driving in SW Ohio

In the first six months of 2014, two out of every 1,000 accidents in Southwestern Ohio involved texting while driving.

Playing in summer heat no game
Playing in summer heat no game

Jacob Dienfenbacher is ready for battle, dressed in his uniform. He’s not in the military though. He dresses up like this for fun.

Win now or bust for Reds
Win now or bust for Reds

It looks like the Reds' season is coming down to the next 10 days.

Layoffs, growth issues hit Tom + Chee HQ
Layoffs, growth issues hit Tom + Chee HQ

Despite a wave of national exposure, grilled cheese chain Tom + Chee laid off six people from its downtown Cincinnati headquarters Tuesday.

Indiana couple killed in Waynesville crash
Indiana couple killed in Waynesville crash

A married couple from Indiana was killed Tuesday afternoon in a crash involving a box truck, car and minivan.