Long-time Beech Brook supporters and well-known community philanthropists Kathy and Jim Pender have been selected to receive the 2016 Philanthropist Leadership Award, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) of Greater Cleveland. The award will be presented at the AFP annual awards luncheon in November.

Following is the nomination, submitted jointly by Beech Brook and Playhouse Square, that earned this high and well-deserved honor for the Penders.

Katherine C. and James R. Pender – Philanthropist Leadership Award

Outstanding Commitment

Beech Brook and Playhouse Square are honored to nominate Katherine C. and James R. Pender for the 2016 Philanthropist Leadership Award. The Pender’s commitment to Beech Brook and to the children and families we serve has been a lifelong passion for both Kathy and Jim. Their dedication is unparalleled. Their philanthropy and community involvement are exceptionally noteworthy because of their personal story – they have been able to turn family tragedy into healing and hope.

In 1980 the Pender’s youngest child Michael James was severely injured in a tragic boating accident. Michael died of complications from the accident eleven years later at the age of 19. The Penders created the Michael Pender Memorial Foundation in his memory in 1998. In 2002 the Penders converted this private foundation into a donor advised fund with the Cleveland Foundation. Dozens of Northeast Ohio organizations in the arts, social services, health care and education have benefitted through funding from the Michael Pender Memorial Foundation.

Kathy and Jim have combined service to Beech Brook of more than 100 years. Over the years they have been enormously generous to the organization. The Penders are members of The Jeptha Homer Wade Society, with cumulative giving well in excess of $400,000; The Suzanne B. Harrison Society, with more than 25 consecutive years of giving; and The Children’s Hope Society, indicating that they have made a legacy gift to Beech Brook. Kathy has served on the Beech Brook Board of Directors and as the Board Chair. She has served on numerous committees and has served as Chair or Co-Chair of the Development Committee. Jim is a long time member of Beech Brook’s Leadership Advisory Committee.

Kathy and Jim have been active participants and supporters of Playhouse Square for over 35 years. Their dedication to arts education, as demonstrated by their commitment of time, talent and philanthropic support, has enabled Playhouse Square to reach thousands of students and community members through engaging and valuable arts programming.

Motivation to Others

Because of the personal foundation of their philanthropy, Kathy and Jim motivate others quietly, through the example that they set.

Several years ago, as a result of their own experience with their son Michael, Kathy worked with the staff at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital to help them better understand the needs of families who have children in the pediatric intensive care unit. Through her efforts, a more family-centered care unit was created. The Penders also created the “Quiet Room,” a place of respite where families in crisis can be alone. The Quiet Room is presently located just outside of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital

Jim and Kathy’s ongoing commitment to providing unique arts education opportunities to the community, and especially to students, is inspiring. Their support for programs such as Slam U, a teen performance poetry program, and new and inspiring works such as Wonderland and Tap into Peace, integrating the art of dance and new learning styles into the classroom, has helped expand Playhouse Square’s reach, often to under-served schools. Most recently, Kathy and Jim have provided substantial support through the Michael Pender Memorial Fund for Playhouse Square’s International Children’s Theater Festival, featuring live performances, free workshops and special exhibits from artists around the world. Now in its seventh year, each May the Festival attracts more than 25,000 guests via school and public performances.

Leadership Role

As part of Beech Brook’s 150th anniversary, and to create greater awareness of the work that Beech Brook does, the Penders sponsored a special exhibit and video at the Western Reserve Historical Society through the Michael Pender Memorial Fund. The exhibit, Beech Brook: A History of Hope for Children, traced the evolution of the agency from its earliest days as the Cleveland Orphan Asylum to its present status as a leading mental health center for children and families. The exhibition also demonstrated the critical legacy of the Wade family in establishing and sustaining Beech Brook throughout its history. After almost two years at the museum, that exhibit was reinstalled at Beech Brook as a permanent tribute to the agency’s role in Cleveland’s history and to honor the spirit of philanthropy on which it was built.

As enthusiastic ambassadors and spokespeople, the Penders have hosted a number get-acquainted dinners to introduce Beech Brook to their friends and colleagues.

Most recently, Kathy has played an essential role in the sustained impact of Beech Brook as a member of the Futures Committee. The Futures Committee addresses the changes, challenges and impact brought about by the transition of Medicaid into a managed care model. They develop and study options within this new environment for the long term viability of Beech Brook’s historic mission of serving vulnerable children. Through their work, the committee will generate a set of viable alternative futures to recommend to the Board for consideration.

Jim has served on the Playhouse Square Board of Trustees since 1997 and chaired the Community Engagement and Education Committee for several years and was a member of the Executive Committee. Kathy currently serves as a non-trustee member on the Community Engagement and Education Committee. Jim and Kathy’s commitment to Playhouse Square has been vital to inspiring additional funds for arts education programs from individuals, foundations and corporations. Kathy and Jim are also members of the Muse Society, establishing a gift in their estate to continue advancing the legacy of Playhouse Square.

Philanthropic Impact

Kathy and Jim have served together on the board of Camp Ho Mita Koda (where Jim was chairman of the board), which merged with the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland in 2006. To recognize his impact, Jim received a leadership and development award from the Diabetes Association.

Kathy has served on the boards of Heather Hill, Alcoholism Services (now Recovery Resources), Children’s Aid Society, Michael’s House, Laurel School, and New Directions, and has been a volunteer at Hospice of the Western Reserve. She is currently on the Leadership Council at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, The Leadership Board of the Children’s Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic, the Promoting Philanthropy Committee at the Cleveland Foundation, the Psychiatry Advisory Committee at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals, and the Family Advisory Committee at Rainbow, Babies & Children’s Hospital.

As a lasting tribute to Michael, the Penders have created and maintain the Pathway to Hope, a beautifully landscaped brick patio and gazebo on Beech Brook’s main campus. The Pathway to Hope is a serene, quiet area for relaxation and reflection. It serves as a beautiful and compelling reminder of the Pender’s message of love, resiliency and hope for Beech Brook residents, clients, staff and visitors.

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