United Way of Greater Cleveland Announces the Appointment of Sharon Sobol Jordan As Incoming President & CEO

News Release              

Media contact: Katie Connell, United Way of Greater Cleveland: 404.895.5513 and kconnell@unitedwaycleveland.org

Veteran local nonprofit and human services leader to succeed Augie Napoli in September

CLEVELAND (June 27, 2022) – Paul Dolan, chairman and CEO of the Cleveland Guardians and chair of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s board of directors, announced today the appointment of Sharon Sobol Jordan as the organization’s next president and CEO. Jordan will succeed Napoli, who announced his retirement after serving in the position since June 2016.

Dolan said, “On behalf of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s board of directors, I am proud to announce Sharon Sobol Jordan’s selection as our next president and CEO. Sharon is a proven and experienced CEO and one of Cleveland’s strongest leaders in the fight against poverty. She is a veteran of nonprofits with a passion for solving big problems and has dedicated her career to advancing equity and justice – it is not only what she does, but also core to who she is as a person and as a professional.”

“Sharon has a track record of successfully leading and making change within organizations from the inside out,” Dolan continued. “Sharon is a coalition and relationship builder and has built trusted, lasting relationships across the Greater Cleveland community. She enjoys doing this important anti-poverty work in partnership with others because she knows no one organization or person can solve the big problems our community faces alone.”

United Way’s board began a rigorous and extensive national search for Napoli’s successor last fall with the goal of announcing a new president and CEO before his retirement at the end of this month. Board member Brian Richardson, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Independence, Ohio-based Covia, served as head of the 13-member search committee, with the assistance of search firm Isaacson, Miller, and received interest from a diverse pool of nearly 50 candidates. Napoli will remain president and CEO through September to ensure a smooth and seamless transition with Jordan.

“United Way of Greater Cleveland’s core belief that social and economic change cannot be achieved without racial justice, together with its focus on permanently disrupting the cycle of intergenerational poverty, deeply resonates with me,” said Jordan. “I have shared this same commitment and passion in my own work over the last 35 years and joining the United Way team is completely aligned with my values and sense of purpose. I’m truly honored the board selected me to continue United Way of Greater Cleveland’s path forward, and extremely grateful to Augie, the board, and the team for building such a strong foundation for United Way to continue to be an impactful partner and force for change in our region.”

United Way interrupts the cycle of poverty by effectively treating its symptoms, including homelessness and hunger, through its Community Hub for Basic Needs and upending its root causes, such as racism and access to stable housing, through its Impact Institute. This dual-pronged approach is moving the needle on poverty’s reach and trajectory in meaningful and measurable ways across Greater Cleveland.

With this appointment, Jordan will become the first female CEO of the organization in its 122-year history.

Jordan comes to United Way with extensive leadership experience in a wide-ranging career that has crossed sectors, disciplines, and boundaries. She is the founder and CEO of OpenSpace Solutions LLC, where she has advised and helped transformational leaders and organizations turn moments of change into opportunities to reimagine what’s possible. One such organization is DigitalC, a Cleveland-based nonprofit digital equity tech startup, where she currently serves as interim CEO. Before OpenSpace, Sharon served as president and board member at Unify Labs, where she helped its co-founders and supported the organization in launching this nonprofit tech innovation center with the mission of powering inclusive prosperity.

Jordan has held various leadership positions in the region’s social services network, including serving as chief of staff for Cuyahoga County, the No. 1 funder of human services in the region, where she drove early childhood education expansion, workforce systems transformation, the first unified strategic plan, and the formation of the county’s first Innovation Office.

She also has served as president and CEO of The Centers for Families and Children (“The Centers”), one of Ohio’s oldest and largest private nonprofit human service corporations, offering a wide range of health, education, and workforce services. In these roles, she led the successful merger and integration of three well-respected social service agencies that immediately scaled key business lines and ignited the growth of the combined organization. Jordan joined The Centers after a public service career with the City of Cleveland as director of law and special counsel to Mayor Michael R. White. She began her career as an associate at the Cleveland law firm Schneider Smeltz Speith Bell (formerly known as Schneider Smeltz Ranney & LaFond), where she became a partner.

Jordan serves on several boards, including the Bruening Foundation, City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland Jewish News, Cleveland Transformation Alliance, PolicyBridge, Temple Tifereth Israel, and University Hospitals East Market regional board. She is a leader-in-residence at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She is also a member of the Leap of Reason Ambassador Community, In Counsel with Women, and Leadership Cleveland Class of 2003.

Among her many awards and honors, she was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Woman of Note, YWCA Woman of Achievement, Smart Business Smart 50 leader in Northeast Ohio, Nortech’s Innovative Leader of the Year, and an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, and received the Ohio Glass Ceiling Award from Ohio Diversity Council.

A Cleveland native, Jordan holds a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.


About United Way of Greater Cleveland

Founded in 1900, United Way of Greater Cleveland is a local, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty across the Greater Cleveland area. The largest private-sector investor in health and human services, United Way, invests in efforts that address poverty using a two-pronged approach. The first prong focuses on the daily issues affecting those living in poverty, the Community Hub for Basic Needs. The second drives research and innovation through the Impact Institute, a think tank with an action plan focused on identifying long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty. For more information, visit unitedwaycleveland.org and twitter.com/UnitedWayCLE.

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