Kay Mlakar, At the Heart of Community [Cleveland, OH}

Kay Mlakar is proving that the thoroughly modern woman can embrace a traditional role in her family as wife, mother and grandmother while actively serving in a pivotal role in the family business and embracing community involvement. I first caught up with Kay this summer at a Regional Development Initiative update meeting. She had just assumed her new role on the Board of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. This leading business alliance is largely responsible for the advocacy and design needed to reshape Northeast Ohio’s economy. It’s only one of the many duties she has undertaken.

Kay has taken a chief role in the family business. The Millcraft Group, founded by her grandparents, is headquartered in Cleveland with offices and plants in Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Baltimore, New York, West Virginia and Michigan. Seeing the writing on the wall for evolving markets as the internet exploded, the family has taken steps to reposition the company. These steps have ensured the company’s continued legacy of excellence in the community as the needs of consumers changed. Kay, in her position as Chairman of the Board, has led the company in obtaining WBE (women business enterprise) certification. As a WBE certified company the Millcraft Group was able to expand its.

The Millcraft Group has been certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council since 2005. It is a process that began in 1990 with a carefully crafted mission that embraced sustainability – well before “going green” became a catch phrase for marketing firms. The board and staff see sustainability as a central tenet for their operations. Kay is especially proud of successfully completing an environmental audit that highlighted the company’s environmental successes.

You can check out more about Millcraft’s commitment to the environment on their website. Be sure to look for their Project 2010. Millcraft is committed in 2010 to work with 20 companies to shift 10% of their business to locally owned and operated companies. Studies have shown that for every $100 spent locally, $68 is returned to the community. Kay recognizes that she has a responsibility to do as much as she can to ensure that the company focuses on creating a vibrant community.

“It is in our best interest to be a part of a vibrant community,” says Kay. “As a family, we rely on successful businesses, our police and fire departments and our schools systems. I am first and foremost a family person. I choose my projects by asking myself how they will benefit my family.”

Kay demonstrates this in her board role on the Positive Education Program (PEP). PEP has won national awards for its model in working with troubled children and adolescents. Its blended educational and mental health program is implemented locally in 10 Day Treatment Centers, two Early Childhood Centers, Day Care Plus, Connections, Tapestry, and PEP Assist. Kay’s involvement initially stems from the special needs of one of her grandchildren. She is especially proud that her daughter, Nancy, has decided to focus her energies is becoming a nurse practitioner to augment her skills as the mother of a special needs child. Perhaps Kay’s greatest joy and legacy will be that her daughter continues to develop this strong sense of family and passes this on to the younger generation.

Brenda is the force behind Gemma Event Marketing Associates. She launched Oh!! Gemma to highlight how her buddies and associates are using event marketing to extend their conversations with their clients and customers.