Margie Pizzuti to retire from Goodwill Columbus in early 2021

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com

Margie Pizzuti, who has led Goodwill Columbus as its president and CEO since 2005, has announced she will retire in the first quarter of 2021.

In her 15 years at the helm of Goodwill Columbus, Pizzuti said, she has striven to strengthen the central Ohio community by advocating for vulnerable populations and linking people in need to gainful employment and then help provide pathways to their “next best” jobs.

Those efforts included Goodwill Columbus’ workforce-development programs, which have been expanded to give more aid to those who formerly were homeless, new families and individuals who have been released from prison.

Additionally, Pizzuti and other leaders and staff at Franklin County’s seventh-largest nonprofit organization built an adult day services program that now serves more than 500 adults with developmental disabilities daily. It helps those individuals transition from segregated, facility-based services to integrated community-based settings to foster personal and professional growth and independence.

“Over the last 15 years, we’ve had this incredible journey through Goodwill to provide a hand up to our community,” Pizzuti said. “We’ve helped show those people can grow, learn and advance to live their best lives.”

Pizzuti’s announcement Aug. 11 that she plans to retire comes three months ahead of her 70th birthday and after 40 years of working in various capacities in the community.

She said she will retire within the first quarter of 2021.

“I have been so honored and privileged to have led this organization for 15 years and also to have had an exceptional career for 40 years,” Pizzuti said. “I’ve been very blessed to have – provided through my work – the opportunity to serve.”

Pizzuti said she has been inspired by Goodwill’s mission to transform lives through “the power of work,” as well as “embracing the ‘dignity of risk’ for individuals with developmental disabilities.”

Goodwill Columbus, according to the organization, has a $50.7 million annual operating budget, has more than 1,000 employees and serves more than 2,000 people through its programs. The nonprofit will conduct a nationwide search for Pizzuti’s successor.

Johnni Beckel, chair of Goodwill’s board of directors and who is senior vice president and chief human-resources officer with OhioHealth, said a board selection committee has retained the services of an executive search firm to assist with the selection process.

“Margie has given passionately and energetically to Goodwill as an exceptional executive leader, and her impressive legacy will forever be apparent throughout the organization and the entire community going forward,” Beckel said. “She will be deeply missed.”

In addition to Goodwill Columbus’ gains in workforce-development programs and adult day services, a news release from the organization lauded the 130,000-square-foot renovation of Goodwill’s headquarters at 1331 Edgehill Road in Grandview Heights, backed by a $10 million capital campaign, during Pizzuti’s tenure.

It also noted the agency’s annual operating budget grew from $27.9 million in 2006 to $50.7 million in 2020 and expanded Goodwill Columbus stores from four to 11 that currently generate nearly $20 million in revenue each year.

“During her tenure at Goodwill, Pizzuti has guided the agency through the most significant growth in its 80-year history,” the news release stated. “During her tenure, Pizzuti has guided many significant strategic initiatives, all of which have served to strengthen the organization as a recognized leader in providing critical programs and services to individuals in the central Ohio community.”

Pizzuti lives in Upper Arlington with her husband, Jerry. They have two children, Julia and Michael, and a granddaughter, Kylie Josephine.

Prior to joining Goodwill, Pizzuti was senior vice president of strategic marketing and community development at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for 10 years.

She said she was recruited by a search firm to come to Goodwill Columbus.

“The notion of being an executive was appealing, but I did not grasp the depth and breadth Goodwill has in terms of the ability to impact lives – particularly the opportunity to redefine diversity to include people with physical and developmental disabilities,” Pizzuti said. “That was really a gift to me to really recognize the importance of that.”

Pizzuti also has served as CEO of Ohio Professional Electronic Network and served as director of the Christopher Columbus Quincentennial Jubilee Commission for the city of Columbus, overseeing the planning and implementation of a yearlong celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas.

A former communications director for Gov. Richard Celeste, Pizzuti was a deputy director of marketing for the Ohio Department of Development, where she planned and carried out the $15 million “Ohio the Heart of It All” economic-development and tourism marketing campaign, and she’s a former vice president of public affairs for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.

Currently, Pizzuti serves on the board of the Human Services Chamber of Franklin County, and she co-chairs the city of Upper Arlington’s community-center feasibility task force.

Pizzuti also has been appointed to a number of community boards, including the Leo Yassenoff Jewish Community Center, Action for Children, Directions for Youth, the Marburn Academy, Sister Cities International, First Night Columbus, The United Way Campaign Cabinet and various United Way-affiliated committees.

She was appointed to the board of directors of Goodwill Industries International in June 2007, has served on the GII Resource Development, Branding and Strategic Issues Planning Committees and currently serves as chair of GII’s CEO Goodwill Philanthropy Council and as a member of the Ohio Association of Goodwill Industries board of directors.

From 2001 to 2013, Pizzuti was an elected member of the Upper Arlington school board and was appointed as an interim board member from August to December 2019. She also chairs the Upper Arlington Community Foundation board of directors.

She has received a number of awards and recognitions over the years, including the Columbus Jaycees’ Distinguished Service Award (1981), YWCA Women of Achievement Award (2002), an honorary doctorate of community leadership from Franklin University (2010), Rea & Associates/Smart Business Magazine Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year (2011), Columbus CEO Magazine’s CEO of the Year (2014), Columbus Foundation Nonprofit of the Year (2015) and Sunny 95’s 20 Outstanding Women Annual Award (2017).

“This has just been the most gratifying way to finish my career at this extraordinary place called Goodwill,” Pizzuti said. “From our exceedingly capable and talented leadership team to our committed, hardworking staff, dedicated board members, volunteers and collaborative community partners, I’m confident that Goodwill has a bright future and a strong foundation, rooted in 80 years of transforming lives through pathways to independence and the power of work.”

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate