Beech Brook Leader, Policy Matters Ohio Presented with 2010 Nonprofit Awards from the Mandel Center | Weatherhead

Beech Brook Leader, Policy Matters Ohio Presented with 2010 Nonprofit Awards from the Mandel Center

Posted 10.27.2010

Recipients of the 2010 Leadership in Nonprofit Management Award and Organization Innovation Award, presented by the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Case Western Reserve University, fill special niches in social services and policy research in the Cleveland nonprofit arena.

This year’s recipient of the Leadership Award was Mario Tonti, president of Beech Brook, for his over 20 years of service as a leader of one of Cleveland’s premier mental health agencies.  The Organization Award was presented to Policy Matters Ohio for its innovative work to broaden the debate about economic policy in Ohio.

Tonti and Policy Matters Ohio received the honors at the annual Mandel Center Nonprofit Awards Event on Wednesday, September 22 at Windows on the River in Cleveland.

Over 200 leaders from Cleveland’s extensive nonprofit and philanthropic community came out to honor the awardees.  The reception also featured keynote speaker Robert Egger, founder and president of DC Central Kitchen—a community kitchen that recycles over one ton of surplus food each day that would otherwise go to waste and turns it into 4,500 meals for the hungry in the greater Washington, DC, region.   Robert discussed the strength and impact of the nonprofit sector, and the importance of cooperation and coordination among our community’s great nonprofits.

Watch video of the event.


“Mario’s commitment to families and children at Beech Brook and within the community has been unwavering,” says Kathy Pender, Beech Brook board member.  “He is well respected not only as a leader at Beech Brook, but in the Greater Cleveland community as well as the State of Ohio.”

During Tonti’s 20 years at Beech Brook his innovative approach has led to the expansion of the agency’s community, school, and in-home mental health programs, in addition to enhancing the agency’s well-respected intensive treatment programs for severely disturbed children.  Under his direction, Beech Brook has grown from an agency with a staff of 85 to one with a staff of around 550, and has significantly increased its programs and services.

His commitment reaches beyond Beech Brook.  In recognition of his talents, experience and leadership, Tonti’s expertise has been sought by many organizations on the local, state and national levels.  For example, Tonti took a one year leave in 2004 from his position at Beech Brook to become Project Director of Tapestry at the Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board.  He successfully organized and launched a federally funded $17 million, six year “Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration” grant to develop a “system of care” for children with severe emotional problems and their families.  This model has received national recognition and has grown into a highly respected system of care in Cuyahoga County.

“Dr. Tonti constantly pushes for public policy, legislation and systems that truly promote mental health and effectively serve children and families,” notes Amy Nicholls Swanson, executive director of Voices for Ohio’s Children.  “I am inspired by Dr. Tonti’s exemplary community leadership and strong commitment to collaboration and partnership in support of a vision for a greater Cleveland community.”


As Policy Matters Ohio nears its tenth anniversary, the organization continues to conduct high-quality research on public policy issues that matter for communities in Ohio.  Its mission is to create a more fair, prosperous, sustainable and inclusive Ohio, through high-quality and easy to access research, media work and policy advocacy. 

Policy Matters is more than just a “think” tank or research group.  The organization innovatively couples its research with outreach, organizing and advocacy to promote change rather than just diagnosing problems.  Its reports on wage, labor, tax, budget, consumer protection and economic development issues affecting all Ohioans are not only valuable to the community, but also to the media and public policy makers.

“There are few groups who can successfully analyze policy issues and then work with policymakers, advocacy groups, businesses and other members of the community to implement policies,” says David Bergholz, Policy Matters board member.  “Policy Matters does a fantastic job of building these bridges.”

In 2008, The Nation magazine named Policy Matters Ohio the most valuable state or regional organization in the country.  In 2009, Policy Matters was presented with Greater Cleveland Community Shares Member of the Year award.

“Policy Matters Ohio has become an indispensable resource for those working for economic justice in Ohio and a powerful defender of the interests of Ohio’s working families,” says Marcia Egbert, senior program officer for The George Gund Foundation.

For more information, please visit the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations.

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