Each year, Crain’s Cleveland Business honors a group of women who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to Northeast Ohio. This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic turmoil, that commitment has been more critical than ever. The members of this year’s class have risen to the occasion, displaying resilience, tenacity, compassion and grace. They have helped guide nonprofits as executives or board members, worked to keep local businesses afloat and jobs intact, fed the hungry and searched for new medical treatments. These leaders, and others like them or mentored by them or inspired by them, are who will shepherd the region to emerge from the current tumult on track toward stability and a resumption of growth, leaving no Ohioan behind.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is thrilled to congratulate president Susanna Krey on her selection among these women for 2020. Nominated by board chair and former Woman of Note Robyn Gordon, Sue and the rest of the honorees will be celebrated in a virtual ceremony on July 22, 2020. Attendance is free but registration is required; register here.
Below is an edited version of the feature that appeared in Crain’s Women of Note edition. More information on Sue and the rest of the honorees can be found at the Crain’s Cleveland Business website.
Susanna Krey knows the business of hard work. As the youngest of 16 children, she grew up on a small vegetable and poultry farm outside Boston. It was there, under the direction of her immigrant parents, that she discovered her passion for nutrition and the ways that food contributes to health and community.
Today, she uses her years of experience as a clinical nutritionist and in hospital administration, marketing and management in her dual roles as senior vice president for the Sisters of Charity Health System and as president for one of its 12 subsidiaries, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.
Since moving to Cleveland in the early 1980s, Krey has worked in the ministries of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. These sisters were Cleveland’s first public health nurses, and they settled in what is now the Central neighborhood in 1861. Their commitment to serving the most marginalized communities of Cleveland has been carried through the missions of the Sisters of Charity Health System, and then through the Sisters of Charity Foundations in Cleveland, Canton and South Carolina.
In Krey’s role as a senior vice president for the health system, she was part of the team that oversaw the sisters’ establishment of these three foundations in 1996. The Cleveland foundation, which Krey has served as president since 2003, is an especially unique foundation. Its assets include the Saint Ann Foundation, founded by the sisters in 1973 as the first health care conversion foundation and the first foundation established by Catholic sisters. Krey takes seriously her commitment to carrying forward the mission and vision of the sisters.
“Sue has guided SOCF, its board and staff to partner with residents, nonprofits and community leaders to change the trajectory of poverty in Cuyahoga County,” wrote Robyn Gordon, director of operations at NASA Glenn Research Center and the foundation’s board chair, in her nomination.
She and her current team have worked with community partners to bring The Housing First Initiative to Cleveland, which anticipates an end to chronic homelessness by the end of 2020. Their success in this area has helped propel them into new partnership and relationship to evaluate all homelessness issues across Cleveland, and they have worked closely with the A Place 4 Me initiative to develop a community plan focused on preventing and ending youth homelessness in Cuyahoga County. They’ve launched The Innovation Mission, a fellowship for individuals who recognize potential pathways to systems change. They serve as the lead partner of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, a collective impact initiative to transform the educational and developmental outcomes of children in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood.
Krey has spent her life and career on a mission. “I do my best to empower our staff to grow their expertise and creativity to bring innovative ideas to the table and I am passionate about cultivating and growing our essential board leadership, all with the vision of growing Cleveland into a place every individual is proud to call home,” she said.
Krey values innovation and flexibility, and the pandemic has been an undeniable catalyst for thinking differently. “COVID-19 has only increased the community need for funding and support, especially as we learn how it affects Black and brown communities disproportionately,” she said. “This year, we sped up much of our grantmaking approval processes to ensure we could get funding to those who needed it right away. We acquired and distributed tens of thousands of masks within the homeless services community and we continue to rapidly respond to pandemic needs to help fill gaps in funding and supplies.”
Krey also serves on the boards of several other organizations, including Fund for Our Economic Future, Campus District, Applewood Centers and Cuyahoga County Partnering for Family Success, where she is also on the Governance Committee. She’s on the Opportunity Corridor Steering Committee for the Greater Cleveland Partnership, as well as on the President’s Advisory Council of Enterprise Community Partners.
Susanna Krey, President, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
The Krey file
First job: “When I was 8 years old, I had my first job selling eggs out of the basket of my bicycle.”
Surprising skill: She can bake bread from scratch and from memory.
Favorite movie: “The Sound of Music” (“As the youngest of 16 with immigrant parents, I was very familiar with the idea of morning roll call!”)
Best advice she’s received: “Move to Cleveland!”