CINCINNATI — GreenLight Cincinnati has named a new executive director to continue the organization’s work to help the region’s low-income families and children thrive.
Clare Blankemeyer will start in the job Sept. 14. She was previously vice president of strategic initiatives at the Manuel D. & Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, where she worked for about 10 years. She has been a member of GreenLight Cincinnati’s Selection Advisory Council, or SAC, since 2016.
“I’ve worked at the intersection of nonprofits and philanthropy and have seen that the global pandemic has only exacerbated what we already know about racial and economic disparities for our neighbors,” Blankemeyer said in an interview with WCPO 9. “So when GreenLight Fund opened their executive director search and role, it seemed like an interesting opportunity and a great way to lend my time, talent and treasure to an organization that’s making a huge impact for neighbors and really tackling Cincinnati’s most challenging poverty-related issues.”
GreenLight Fund has organizations across the country and launched GreenLight Cincinnati in 2015.
So far the local organization has helped bring three nonprofit organizations to the region to help solve community problems that weren’t already being addressed locally: Center for Employment Opportunities, which provides job-training and support for people who have been incarcerated and lowers recidivism rates; Family Independence Initiative, which helps working families chart their own paths out of poverty; and First Place for Youth, a program being implemented locally by St. Joseph’s Orphanage that works with young adults aging out of the foster care system.
As executive director, Blankemeyer will continue to support those organizations while working with the local Selection Advisory Council to identify the next four nonprofits to bring to town.
GreenLight Cincinnati announced in May that dozens of philanthropic investors are pledging close to $3.5 million to help launch those new nonprofit organizations. GreenLight raised $2.5 million in its initial fund, which helped bring CEO, FII and First Place for Youth to the region over the past four years.
Blankemeyer, 34, has led a variety of local community efforts. She was previously the president of the fundraising group Impact 100 and has been a member of C-Change, Class 8 and Affordable Housing Advocates. Much of her work has focused on team building and working to ensure that people with lived experience are included in philanthropic decision-making.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Blankemeyer is a graduate of Roger Bacon High School and the University of Dayton, where she studied psychology and social work.
"One of the things that came through in the interview with her is that she's very good at listening," said John McIlwraith, managing director of Allos Ventures and a search committee member. "She knows the community and is well connected and through that is better able to understand -- not just the challenges the community is facing -- but the solutions to meet those challenges."
GreenLight Cincinnati has gotten a good start in the community, he said.
"Now the key is to expand its reach in the community," McIlwraith said. "I think that's where Clare can really excel and build."
Blankemeyer said she’s “ready to jump in” and begin working to figure out where Cincinnati could use more support in the form of new nonprofit organizations.
“GreenLight Fund is one of the only ways a region can look at the opportunities in a community and bring the best, measurable, impactful programs to a region,” she said “GreenLight’s part of a national network. So by proxy, having access to that national network tells us in Cincinnati what’s working elsewhere that might be replicable to come to our city to impact the most challenging poverty-related issues in our region.”
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for Lucy and for WCPO 9. To reach Lucy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.