Celebrating the thoughtful leadership of Nancy Kramer
For anyone who’s had the pleasure of working with Nancy Kramer, Chief Evangelist for IBM Consulting and founder and former CEO of Resource/Ammirati, one of the best and most endearing parts about her is her infectious laugh.
Her laugh makes me happy just thinking about it.
Kramer’s dedication to and passion for her work and community is no laughing matter, though. A pioneer in a field dominated by men in the early 1980s, Kramer founded, developed, and led a world-renowned digital marketing company, Resource/Ammirati, which IBM acquired in 2016. Her first client was an up-and-coming company called Apple. Thanks to her thoughtful, strategic guidance, Resource’s growth cemented her as one of the best and brightest in the tech world (P.S. she still is). At the same time, she was committed to strengthening her hometown of Columbus through financial support, civic leadership, and coming up with big ideas that helped move the needle locally, nationally, and internationally.
Appointed to The Columbus Foundation Governing Committee in 2014, Kramer has served as both Vice Chairperson and, for the past two years, as Chairperson, leading the nine-member volunteer committee that is so instrumental to the ongoing success and longevity of our work.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Kramer many times over the past 15 years. Every single time I come away wanting to know more and learn more from her.
As her time with the Governing Committee concludes at the end of 2022, we wanted to capture a few closing thoughts. Thank you, Nancy Kramer, for your extraordinary leadership and warm and thoughtful spirit.
You've dedicated your time and expertise as a valuable member of The Columbus Foundation's Governing Committee since 2014 and have served the past two years as Chairperson. Why do you think The Columbus Foundation plays an essential role in the community?
I feel like the Foundation is, on one level, here to help the community rise to the unexpected. There are so many things that happen with humanity that are unpredictable. The Foundation is like a safety net. Like the city is on a trapeze, and the Foundation is this giant net that is there to help catch whatever falls. The Foundation is also very proactive. When it sees a critical need, it is able to raise that up to others. Other examples of being proactive are Gifts of Kindness, The Big Table, and The Big Give. The Columbus Foundation can convene in a way that no one else can—with no agenda, political affiliation, or economic affiliation.
During your tenure, The Columbus Foundation has doubled in asset size. How do you feel that speaks to the spirit of generosity in our community?
What I've seen over the last 10 years is that part of that growth is a result of the Foundation’s convening nature. The Columbus Foundation strikes me a little bit like the embassy of Columbus, a neutral space to connect with and explore the challenges our communities are facing. And over time, convening and building that creates an emotional connection to the community. And so, as the needs of the community expand, I think people are leaning in. There's just this power in convening that motivates and inspires action and behaviors.
One of the things I know you're passionate about is The Columbus Foundation’s groundbreaking work around human-centered design and the idea of making sure that everyone’s voices are heard when not only identifying but coming up with solutions for challenges in the community. Can you share why this work is important to you?
Well, I think this is the next generation of philanthropic giving. We have seen that simply putting money toward something is only part of the equation. We can't possibly know the challenges, the struggles, the issues that the constituencies that we're trying to help are facing—what their situation is, what their daily lives are like, what, you know, their struggles are. Until we design solutions that are co-created shoulder-to-shoulder with that constituency, I think we'll continue to see under-leveraged resources. So, in an effort to effectively leverage those resources, I'm super passionate about this. I think it is a big unlock for the community—to think about how many of our solutions can be co-created with the constituencies because it's been proven that it's a more sustainable outcome. And I think that's what we're all looking for.
We are on the cusp of unparalleled growth in central Ohio. What opportunities do you think it brings to our community?
Well, I think that the opportunity really is to continue what I believe is an important mindset for the community, which is that our best days are ahead of us. I think that the Intel announcement just put some gasoline on a fire that's always been burning. So the fire is getting bigger, and it's spreading. I think that people can feel that, and I think that’s contagious.
What will you miss about being part of the Governing Committee at The Columbus Foundation?
The team is amazing. I love it when we're thinking about something new, and we're kind of marinating on it, and different opportunities are shared with the group and you think, ‘Oh, that's really cool.' As part of the Governing Committee, there’s a feeling like you have a unique window into what's happening in the community. That's what I’ll really miss.