Ryan Aroney, who took on the role of President & CEO this month, has been working with United Way of Greater Lorain County since 2011 when he started as the Development Specialist. After three years in that role, he was promoted to Marketing & Engagement Director and led communication & donor engagement efforts as we transitioned to the Community Collaborative model of community impact.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to get to know Ryan yet, here’s an introduction who he is and why our community means so much to him:
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Oberlin and graduated from Oberlin High School before going to LCCC and then CSU.
What was your first job?
My first job was during the summer as a groundskeeper at the New Castle Municipal Airport, a tiny regional airport in Western, PA where my grandpa was the GM. I basically cut grass and picked up rocks that were on the runway but I thought groundskeeper sounded pretty cool.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who are kind for no reason, who treat all people with respect and equality, and who work hard. Growing up, and still today, that is my mom. That’s also my wife. And I like to get inspired by different people every day. I just look for the good in people and try to do more of that.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about ending poverty and making sure that all people have equal access to resources. I feel lucky to have graduated from college and to now become a CEO. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who worked just as hard as I did and who are much more talented than I’ll ever be who didn’t have as much luck. I want to take the luck out of it for the next generation so that everybody can be successful. On a lighter level, I’m pretty passionate about Cleveland/Ohio State sports.
What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play?
My favorite sport to play has always been baseball. I think it’s the greatest game ever invented. My favorite sport to watch is college football. My favorite sporting event is March Madness.
What is your favorite thing about your career?
The favorite thing about my career is how United Way brings together all types of people from different backgrounds, careers and viewpoints and gives us all a common ground to make a positive difference in our own local community. I also love that I get to do this work in the area where I grew up. No matter where I go in Lorain County I have a memory that comes with it, and it just makes this work that much more special for me.
What motivates you to work hard?
I’m motivated to work hard in a few different ways. One is my family. We come from a blue collar background where people punch a clock every day and work hard to make a living. I’m proud to bring that same work ethic into this role. Two is my team at United Way. Every person on our staff cares about our work and brings it every day. I can’t let them down by not matching their effort. And three is the community. I know what it’s like to need a boost along the way, and everything I do in this role is with the people in mind who might need a hand up to get back on their feet and be successful.
Where is your favorite place to eat?
No brainer. Lorenzo’s in Oberlin. I have a framed Lorenzo’s pizza box as the centerpiece of the main wall in my office. Peperoni & mushroom, spinato and/or a margherita pizza with a salad and their house dressing. You’re welcome.
What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?
I can draw and paint a little bit. I used to draw a lot as a hobby but haven’t done much since high school. Occasionally I’ll still draw something maybe as a unique gift. I especially liked acrylic paint and charcoal for drawing.
What is your favorite family tradition?
My favorite family tradition is playing board games. My family loves games. We always play games during the holidays and I try to get us together as much as possible for game night. A family favorite is Pass the Pigs, a silly dice game where the dice are pigs. It gets pretty competitive when you need that pig to land on its back to take over the high score. I’m always down for a good game of Monopoly too.
Ryan and his wife Stacey met at Cleveland State when Ryan was working at the Rec Center and Stacey was an intern in the aquatics department. Ryan asked Stacey on a romantic date to a basketball game and a burger after. She said yes and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Stacey is now the director of aquatics and competitive swimming at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights. Ryan and Stacey live in Lakewood with Rocko the dog and Zack the cat.