Sue Ralph hopes recognition from Heart of UA will inspire others to serve

After decades of community and public service, Sue Ralph hopes her selection as the recipient of the Heart of UA Award will inspire others to work together for the betterment of Upper Arlington and Central Ohio.

Although she was only 10, Ralph, now 70, remembers getting a Hastings pool pass and a card from the Upper Arlington Public Library during the first week of his move from Northwest Columbus.

These moments served as examples of the quality of life in Upper Arlington, as well as the opportunities the community provides for its residents. They were at the forefront of her mind when she decided to raise her children here, and those memories have helped her stay focused on serving her community over the years.

“I believe the opportunities provided by the Upper Arlington schools and library create a cohesive environment for families to thrive,” Ralph said. “I believe our community spirit here is rooted in community service.

“I think community service is in our DNA at Upper Arlington. I think it’s a thread that ties us all together.”

On September 18, the UA Community Foundation presented Ralph with the Heart of UA award.

According to the organization, it recognizes “the cumulative philanthropic and voluntary efforts of an individual, family or family foundation over a period of five years or more of exceptional generosity which, through direct financial support, demonstrates exceptional civic and charitable responsibility and whose generosity encourages others to take on philanthropic leadership roles in the community. »

In acknowledging Ralph, the UACF said it has demonstrated “meaningful, long-term involvement” with several Upper Arlington nonprofits.

“Sue embodies service as an enthusiastic, committed, and capable leader who has given her time, talent, and treasures to her community,” said Jessica Grisez, UACF Executive Director.

Ralph’s community service began in Upper Arlington in the 1980s after his daughters, Anne and Melissa, started school.

At that point, she said it was time for her to get more involved and she did so by volunteering to help promote a school levy campaign, and she didn’t stop.

Over the years, Ralph’s civic engagement has included participation in a number of parent-teacher organizations and high school scholarship committees, as well as leading school levy campaigns from 1990 to 2000. .

Among the many roles she has held locally, Ralph has served as a board member of the Upper Arlington Women’s Club (2008-11) and the Upper Arlington Education Foundation (1997-2006); a former trustee of the Rotary Club of Upper Arlington (2011-18); a director of the UAPL (January-May 2016 and January 2022 to date); former director of the UA Community Foundation (2010-15) and member of the city council (May 2016-January 2020).

Ralph also remains a trustee of I Am Boundless and Boundless Health, a position she has held since 2017. In this role, she helps create programs and services that will ensure healthy, enriched, respectful, and safe opportunities for people in the community. community of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. to live, work and enjoy life.

“His involvement includes time on numerous local non-profit boards including the AU Public Library, AU Education Foundation and I Am Boundless,” Grisez said. “She proudly embraced ‘Service Above Self’ as a longtime member of Rotary UA.”

Ralph said she started volunteering for community service opportunities because she wanted her daughters and other children to have access to the best educational opportunities possible.

For four decades, she has branched out into other areas like the library, because it’s a welcoming place for her daughter, Melissa, who has special needs, and because it’s a gathering place for community and Upper Arlington’s “first source of information”.

At the UA Educational Foundation, she was interested in supporting schools more through a nonprofit organization, and she expanded those views to the wider community by going to UACF, where she helped raise over a million dollars to build the Amelita Mirolo barn. She also helped forge a partnership with UAPL to create the UA Author Series, which brings best-selling authors to the city each year.

“It’s always been a goal of mine, wherever I go, to help create collaboration among our residents,” Ralph said. “I think the friends we make along the way are special, and I think we make friends in the community by coming together.

“No one serves alone. Community service is a team sport.”

This philosophy is one that Ralph said she tried to present to the board.

She was appointed to the board in May 2016 to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Mike Schadek, and she was elected to fill the seat in a special election in January 2017.

His foray into public service came amid an unsuccessful bid in September 2016 from citizens’ group, UA for Accountability, to recall council members John C. Adams, David DeCapua, Kip Greenhill and Debbie Johnson. At the time, one of the group’s complaints was that council members were not doing enough to communicate with residents or address their concerns about Northam Park’s redevelopment plans.

While Ralph said she was proud of the steps city leaders took during her tenure to improve the city’s infrastructure and public safety, “the most important thing” the council did was “d ‘improve our climate between citizens and city officials’.

Going forward, Ralph said she will continue to stay active and look for ways to serve and give back to a community that she feels has served her and her family well.

“I was proud to accept it,” Ralph said of the Heart of UA award. “It’s something I share with everyone in the community because no one serves alone.

“It inspires me to do more and I hope this award inspires others to do more to continue the good works here in Upper Arlington.”

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