Joel Ratner has led Joel Ratner Community Partnership since January 2021. In that role Joel has provided strategic support to municipalities, philanthropy and nonprofits in key community development and smart growth efforts. JRCP provides strategic planning and support, capacity building, innovative project implementation, fund development, engagement and outreach services. Clients have included the City of Elyria and the new Elyria Community Partnership, a consortium of philanthropy and the City of Akron, the First Suburbs Coalition and Vibrant NEO.
Joel Ratner was previously President and CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, a local community development funding intermediary from 2011-2020. In that role, Joel was successful in significantly advancing community development and the community development system in the City of Cleveland. Joel led dynamic efforts around community change notably in the areas of racial equity and inclusion, real estate development, wealth building, small business support and placemaking, among other successes. In his time at Neighborhood Progress Joel was known for success in fund development, capacity building and system development, and achieving concrete results.
Under Ratner’s leadership, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress broadened its programming into both people and place-based strategies of community development to respond to the varied needs of each neighborhood and to be as comprehensive as possible.
At Neighborhood Progress, Ratner supervised a staff of 25. In addition to the annual grantmaking of the parent organization ($1.5 million annually), he oversaw two real-estate related subsidiaries: Village Capital a $20 million dollar loan fund providing loans to catalytic real estate projects, and New Village a $15 million dollar real estate development entity, owning and developing key commercial and residential projects around the city of Cleveland. The consolidated budget of the organizations including the parent was approximately $50 million. During Joel’s time at Neighborhood Progress he doubled the size of the staff as well as significantly increasing the organization’s grant making and overall impact.
Before leading Neighborhood Progress, Joel was President of the Raymond John Wean Foundation leading its comprehensive effort to advance the Mahoning Valley. In that position, Joel developed the Foundation into a dynamic tool of community transformation. While there he led successful efforts to build a community development infrastructure and to initiate an independent community college. At the Wean Foundation Joel developed and transformed the organization’s grantmaking, leading the impactful distribution of approximately $4 million annually.
Prior to that, Ratner led the Neighborhood Connections Program at the Cleveland Foundation, which provides small grants to neighborhood groups working to improve their communities. In that role Joel oversaw grantmaking efforts to approximately 150 grassroots groups a year totalling over $650,000 annually.
Joel previously led the Regional office of the Anti-Defamation League covering 4 states and prior to that worked as an attorney at Vorys Sater.
Ratner is recognized for his visionary and dynamic leadership transforming the organizations he has led. In each case, the organization has deepened and broadened its impact in the community as a result of Joel’s efforts.
Throughout his career, Joel has been known for his fundraising success. When Joel began at Neighborhood Progress, he was charged with completing rehab of the old St. Luke’s hospital. To advance the project, $8 million needed to be raised. Despite the lack of fund development experience or capacity at the organization, Joel was able to raise the necessary money and complete the project according to the limited timeline. Joel continued his fund development success at Neighborhood Project both by bringing in additional core funding (a $2.1 million grant from the KeyBank Foundation as well as a $700,000 and then $1 million grant from Quicken Loans Investment Fund) and funding for defined projects. Joel also developed a relationship with the state of Ohio and through his leadership Neighborhood Progress was successful in receiving state funding four years in a row, including twice from the state capital fund.
Before his time at the Wean Foundation, Joel worked as a consultant on a number of fundraising projects, including a capital campaign feasibility study, fundraising strategy development and grant writing.