When Brian Frederick moved to Lorain County in 1983 to help guide the funding needs of the mental health community by working with the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, he did so with the underlying principle of always acting in the best interest of Lorain County.
Frederick has long since taken on a new role, serving for the past 15 years as the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County. Yet, his desire to better Lorain County has not wavered.
“The work of the Community Foundation is really about building community,” said Frederick, 61, of North Ridgeville. “The county has changed a bit. The environment and economy has really suffered, but community foundations like ours are designed to be in the community forever and better the community.”
Such sentiments are why Frederick is the 2013 Ohio Philanthropy Award recipient, an honor he received Thursday at the Philanthropy Ohio annual conference in Columbus.
“I can think of no one who embodies the spirit and passion of philanthropy better than Brian,” Philanthropy Ohio President Suzanne T. Allen said in a statement announcing Frederick’s selection. “For many years, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the area served by the foundation, embracing innovative ways to use the power of philanthropy to move his community, region and state forward.”
This is the 10th year the award has been given by the statewide association of foundations, corporate contributions programs, individuals and other organizations actively involved in philanthropy in Ohio. Frederick joins other notable past recipients such as retired astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn and his wife, Annie.
“It’s a one-time deal, basically a lifetime achievement award,” Frederick said. “I really feel like I am in a fantastic group of people and I was really surprised when they told me I won it.”
Yet, to those in Lorain County who know Frederick’s and the foundation’s commitment to the area, the award comes as no surprise.
Based on the endowment funds people set up, the Community Foundation has 540 funds, $100 million in assets and awards $5 million annually. Groups that have benefited from the organization include the Oberlin Choristers, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Atmosphere Adventures, Lorain Schools and the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center.
In recent years, the Community Foundation also has taken on a role in economic development funding such groups as Team Lorain County and the Fund for Our Economic Future.
“It’s a sincere belief that if we can strengthen the economy, many of the things we are funding through grants will go away because people will have better-paying jobs,” Frederick said.
Although the award is seen as a capstone to a long career, Frederick said he has no plans to leave his post.
“We are doing things that have impact in the community,” he said. “We have strong partners and year after year we are coming up with stronger plans to make the community better.”