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Past Community Connector

Award Winners

The Community Connectors receive an individual recognition plaque and designated an operating support grant of $2,500 to the nonprofit organization of their choice. 


Heather Warner


Since 2015, Heather Warner has been working in the Marietta community to fight food insecurity through GoPacks, a program that addresses the short- term effects of hunger as well as its causes and long-term effects.


As the executive director of GoPacks, Heather helps to improve the health of children by providing nutritious, consistent food throughout the school year, while simultaneously working with families to increase their resources and support networks. Heather actively uses food insecurity research, best practices from backpack feeding groups, welfare assistance, brain-behavior science, and family and school surveys to continuously improve the program year after year.

Under Heather’s leadership, GoPacks works with 27 collaborative community partners and connects families to organizations that best meet their needs. While she is the only paid staff, numerous volunteers have dedicated their time to the mission of the
program and have logged almost 1,500 service hours. Heather is a true gem in the Marietta community and works hard to ensure Ohioans have access to healthy food.

Heather Warner.jpg


Kim Baker and Alisha Harper of The Area Agency on Aging 3.

They were honored at the Community Connections Luncheon on Friday, June 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.

Kimberly Baker and Alisha Harper have worked tirelessly to connect Ohioans to community resources. In their current roles at the Area Agency on Aging 3, they have been instrumental in developing support programs and raising awareness of elder abuse.

In the past three years, they have served more than 448 older adults and disabled victims within their seven-county service area. As part of their work, Baker and Harper have developed strong working relationships with Adult Protective Services, law enforcement, county prosecutors, victim advocates, local hotel and apartment managers for emergency housing, home health providers and domestic violence shelters. These relationships have helped local community resources come together to assist victims of elder abuse.


Baker is a licensed professional clinical counselor, supervisor designation, with a Master’s degree in personnel counseling and the most advanced, independent license in the counseling field in Ohio. Harper is currently the lead behavioral health care coordinator for Area Agency on Aging 3 Awakenings and Stages Program. She has over 30 years’ experience in counseling with a special interest in working with elders, crisis situations, and grief.

Harper has over 10 years’ experience working with elders at the Area Agency on Aging. Harper is currently a care coordinator for the Awakenings Program and counselor for the Stages Program. Prior to working with Area Agency on Aging 3, she was actively involved with the local Crime Victims Services program as an advocate. Harper is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers.



Mike Espel, Cheryl Wheeler and Cheryl Jones 


Mike Espel has been connecting the under-served of Cincinnati to the pharmacy services they need to meet their health goals for over 40 years. As a former pharmacist for the Cincinnati Health Department, Mike was selected to become the founding pharmacy director of St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy in 2006. In this role, Mike opened a second location to increase medication access to neighboring communities. Mike recently opened his first satellite pharmacy inside a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to reach even more people who struggle with limited means of travel. He also developed a program serving undocumented immigrants living in Cincinnati. From procuring donated medications and grant funding to managing staff and volunteers, Mike dedicates himself to ensure the pharmacy operations run smoothly. He invests time motivating patients to achieve their health goals and truly believes anyone can make a change to better themselves.

Cheryl Wheeler and Cheryl Jones collectively boast almost 60 years of dedicated service to Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley. Wheeler works as director of Children and Senior Services and Jones is the senior manager of Youth and Senior Services. Wheeler is a former consultant and coach for the National Easter Seals Senior and Adult Day Services Network, as well as a member of the National Easter Seals Outcomes Task Force. She is a trainer for Centers Serving Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled and Older Adults as well as for Matter of Balance, an evidence-based program on falls prevention. Wheeler is past president of the Ohio Association of Adult Day Services and is a current member of the American Society on Aging, the National Council on Aging, and the National Adult Day Services Association. She also serves on the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter Board of Directors. Jones is the former manager of Outreach Services with the Community Action Agency in Cincinnati. She volunteered with the Head Start Program, assisting grandparents who were raising their grandchildren. At Lutheran Social Services, she worked with single parents and grandparents and children to facilitate and provide oversight for family advocacy, education, and community engagement. Jones works with the Miami Valley chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and will be a panelist for its 2017 Dimensions of Dementia.



Nancy Carter and Dorothy Kane


Nancy Carter, with more than three decades experience, currently serves as the associate dental director for the Cincinnati Health Department. During Nancy’s tenure, she has helped develop and implement community-wide programs directed to dental education, prevention of disease, and increasing access to dental services for the elderly, low-income, chronically ill, and disabled. In the last 30 years, Nancy has executed a Quality Assurance Program for nine Cincinnati Primary Health Care Dental Clinics and several programs as well as activities in the community and school systems. She also consults and provides training to school nurses and administrators. She is a registered dental hygienist and holds a Master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, and an Associate’s degree from The University of Cincinnati.  


Dorothy Kane is a consultant for the VIP Family Violence Prevention Coalition (formerly Tri-County FamilyViolence ), which raises awareness of family violence prevention. She has nearly two decades of experience in the industry and vast experience in the education field. Dorothy played an instrumental role in creating and managing the Coalition under the direction of the Help Hotline Crisis Center, Inc. In this role, she has developed an award-winning VIP Workplace Program, developed workplace violence prevention training modules, conducted trainings to more than 4,000  participants, provided outreach to the business community, and established meaningful relationships withall local Safety Councils and Chambers of Commerce. For more than 14 years, Dorothy has been a leader in recruiting new partners and growing the Coalition to 41 partners. Dorothy holds a Master’s degree in religious education from Loyola University and a Bachelor’s degree in education from Youngstown State University.



Kathy King of ProKids

King, Guardian ad Litem and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Manager for ProKids in Cincinnati, received the award at the Foundation’s annual Community Connections Luncheon on on October 3, 2014.

King has served children in the Hamilton County Courts since 1999 and works tirelessly through committees, trainings, and presentations to make a difference. She is on the steering committees of the Hamilton County Family Violence Prevention Project, where she serves as chair of the Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence Committee,  and the Hamilton County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.

She researched, developed, and continues to direct the Steps to Peace Program for ProKids which trains CASAs on recognizing the signs of witnessing domestic violence in children and addressing the issues that arise. 


King’s honor includes designating a grant of $2,500 to a nonprofit of her choice. The nonprofit must work in one of HealthPath’s focus areas and predominantly serve at least one of HealthPath’s 36 counties. King selected ProKids as the recipient of this grant.



Cheryl Boyce

A native of East St. Louis, Illinois, her interest in public health was a result of the premature death of her father.  She earned a B.S. in Health Education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a M.S. in Health Planning and Administration from the University of Cincinnati.

Boyce has held a number of progressively responsible positions in the health and human services field including Coordinator of the Governor’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health- Ohio and Program Director and Associate Program Director for Advocacy and Protective Services, Inc. She was also employed by the Ohio Departments of Health, Mental Retardation, and Rehabilitation Services Commission.

She has been acknowledged for her work as the recipient of numerous awards including the YWCA Women of Achievement Award for Racial Justice, the Columbus Urban League Award of Excellence, the ONI award presented by the International Black Women’s Congress, the Dr. William J. Hicks Award presented by Columbus African American Cancer Survivors, and the National Black Programming Consortium Health Award. 

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