2020 Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year: Tom Heines

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Cleveland was proud to present its second annual Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year award in 2020! Six young professionals from around the city were nominated by directors, co-workers, friends, and mentors.

The six nominees represented various causes and missions, but they all had one thing in common: they truly care about who (and what!) keeps Cleveland great!

The winner of our 2020 Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year Award is Tom Heines, Founder of Empower Sports.

Tom founded Empower Sports in 2012 with the commitment to providing sports and exercise programs for children and adults with various physical and cognitive disabilities and additional programs for typically-developing kids.

Nominated by a former consultant, the impact of Tom’s work became clear in his nomination:

“He instills a culture of kindness, teamwork, empathy, acceptance, inclusion and diversity in school and corporate teams of youth and adults that will undoubtedly carry this culture and set of values within their own circles. Tom exhibits a sincerity and depth of social responsibility beyond most I’ve encountered in over 20 years of nonprofit leadership roles. Tom was in his 20’s when I was hired as a consultant to provide the requirements for the infrastructure of a start-up nonprofit organization. He took the overview provided and led a handful of interested supporters to what I’m certain has grown to thousands of supporters and involved community members.”

His nominator raved about his motivation, compassion, and commitment to the entire community.

In addition to his work at Empower Sports, Tom supports the efforts of the entire nonprofit sector:

“Tom volunteers for numerous causes and has a deep respect for those dedicated to the nonprofit sector. He and his wife Rachel and/or staff have supported and/or volunteered with many organizations including Mother Against Drunk Driving, Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, True Freedom Ministries, and the Employment Collaborative of Cuyahoga County. He also has led Empower Sports collaborative programs with Youth Challenge and the Boys and Girls Club. As he states, “I am often on the receiving end of support and incredible volunteers, so Rachel and I always want to find ways to give back and get involved with others.”

Tom’s love and commitment to Cleveland is reflected in so many ways:

“He lives in, is raising his family in, and moved his offices to the heart of the city of Cleveland. You can usually find him enjoying Cleveland’s restaurants, attending shows at Playhouse Square, and of course being an avid Cleveland sports fans, attending several games per year. He’s the father of two little girls, and frequents Cleveland Metroparks and Cleveland’s great libraries for various programs.”

At YNPN Cleveland, we appreciate the work done by Tom Heines and all of our other nominees. These young professionals are just a few examples of the people who make Cleveland so great and we loved reading about all of them!