2019 Event


The Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) has announced the hosting of its 2019 International Life Changer Awards and Fundraising Dinner. The event will take place on Friday, October 18, 2019 at 5:30 PM at the Cleveland State University Glasscock Family Ballroom located at 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.

The organization is seeking nominees for the 2019 honorees. The award is presented annually to individuals who have dedicated their leadership and philanthropic activities to community empowerment, both locally and internationally. Our past honorees, includes, Dr. Ronald Berkman, President of Cleveland State University; Ms. Margaret Wong, Esq., Margaret Wong and Associates among others.

LEDI is seeking corporate as well as table sponsorships. Please contact Joan Curran Darkortey, Chairperson of the Event Organizing Committee or you can RSVP at events@ledinow.org | joandarkortey@ledinow.org | 404-587-2242 | 404-566-9957 | www.ledinow.org


LEDI Honors Distinguished Philanthropists

The Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) awarded its prestigious International Life Changers Awards to five (5) distinguished philanthropists within the Cleveland, Ohio area.

The awards were bestowed upon these distinguished individuals on Friday, September 22, 2017 at the Cleveland State University Glasscock Family Ballroom. Those honored are:

  • Dr. Ellen Burts-Cooper, Sr. Managing Partner, Improve Consulting
  • Ms. Kelly Falcone-Hall, CEO, Western Reserve Historical Society
  • Mr. Brian Hall, SVP, Greater Cleveland Partnership
  • Ms. Radhika Reddy, Partner, Ariel Ventures
  • Mr. Chris Ronayne, President, University Circle Inc.


The prestigious International Life Changers Award is awarded annually to individuals who exemplify leadership, community service and a commitment to LEDI’s mission to support youth scholarship, literacy, and the social and economic empowerment of less fortunate individuals.

LEDI is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt nonprofit organization founded in 2007. “Reducing poverty, changing lives” is not just our motto – it is the heart of our mission. Whether we are empowering youth, providing small business grants, or building infrastructure such as libraries, our central focus remains to reduce poverty, thereby positively changing the lives of the nearly two-thirds of Liberian people living in abject poverty.


The Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) hosted a successful International Life Changers Awards and Fundraising Dinner. The event was LEDI’s 4th annual fundraiser was intended to honor the great philanthropic and community work being done by its honorees, while at the same time raising needed funds to support the construction of its modern state of the art public library that is currently being constructed in Gbarnga, Bong County, the Republic of Liberia, West Africa.

The event was highly attended and amazingly structured to the extent that the guests at the event were so excited about attending the next event. The event was held within the Glasscock Family Ballroom at the Student Center of the Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio.

At the event, Ms. Nichelle McCall Browne, CEO of Bold Startups; Mr. Joe Cimperman, President of Global Cleveland; Mr. Kenneth J. Kovach, President of the Kenneth J. Kovach Company; and Dr. Valarie J. McCall, Chief of Government and International Affairs for Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Cleveland, Ohio, were awarded the 2018 LEDI International Life Changers Awards. This honor is the highest award that is presented by LEDI to individuals that have demonstrated a commitment to community empowerment to benefit disadvantage individuals.

This event brought together a host of community leaders and other professional leaders within Ohio, Texas, Minnesota, and Indiana. At the end of the event, some funds were raised to carry on the next phase of the LEDI ongoing library construction, which takes place in December 2018.


Atlanta, Georgia – January 19, 2019 — The Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) continue to make significant progress on its ongoing modern library construction project.

From December 20, 2018 to January 19, 2019, LEDI made incredible progress on the library construction when it built the entire ground floor of the library to window level. Click here to watch the drone video of the construction. During this period, a small team of LEDI leadership comprising Rufus Darkortey, President of LEDI and Joan Curran Darkortey, Co-founder of LEDI traveled to Liberia to supervise the construction. 7 years old Rufus N. Darkortey, Jr., was also a part of the mission trip where he donated 10 bags of cement valued at $100 to the project, while mobilizing his peers in the community to help has well for the construction

After a successful fundraiser on October 26, 2018, LEDI deplored the funds it raised to embark upon the latest construction efforts.

LEDI is an international nonprofit organization that is currently building this very large modern state of the arts public library as a self-help community-based project in Gbarnga, Bong County, Liberia as a way of helping to reduce poverty and changing lives in those countries.

This phase of the construction process builds on the first two phases of the construction process, which took place from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, LEDI broke grounds and completed the construction of the foundation of the first segment of the library building. Then in 2018, the organization embarked upon the construction of the second phase by raising the walls of the first.

segment to window height level. Between December 20, 2018 and January 19, 2019, LEDI constructed the foundation of the second segment and brought the walls of the entire ground floor of the library to windows height level.

With this impressive progress that has been made in just three years of community-based fundraising and about three months of active construction in just two years, LEDI and its committed team of compassionate donors were able to reach this level of success. We want to thank all of our amazing and incredible sponsors, donors, and supporters for their remarkable contributions to the success of LEDI and this project. There is more work to be done and we are praying and counting on all of you to continue to walk with us on this journey as we walk to complete what we have started together.


LEDI Commends Ebola Fighters, Provides Monetary Assistance

Cleveland, Ohio-August 31, 2015 – The United States-based Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) has concluded providing monetary assistance to several medical institutions in Liberia in appreciation of the beneficiaries’ heroic fight against and defeat of the Ebola virus.

Organizations that benefited from the LEDI medical assistance delivered in late July 2015 include the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Samaritan Purse, Redemption Hospital, and James Davis Hospitals. Others are Jaw Community Clinic, THT Clinic, Star of the Sea, Barnersville Clinic, among others.

LEDI is a Cleveland, Ohio based nonprofit organization seeking to reduce poverty and change lives in Liberia. The primary objective of the organization is to build modern state-of-the-art public libraries across Liberia to improve the educational sector as well as the general economy indicating that an educated workforce is a basis of a sound economy.

LEDI is also currently providing scholarships through its Leann Peiffer scholarship program to impoverished students within the country. The organization is undertaking a holistic approach to reduce poverty in the country by focusing on building and supplying healthcare facilities, supporting small businesses, building and supplies schools, as well as building modern libraries across Liberia.

In delivering the funds, the LEDI Liberian staffers commended the Liberian medical organizations for their various outstanding works during the Ebola crisis. They described the clinics and hospitals as true heroes and encouraged them to remain defensive and protective of the Liberian populace who are always vulnerable to medical challenges.

In response, the organizations commended LEDI and its donors for recognizing their medical works in Liberia and for the cash donations provided. The administrators of the medical institutions that received the monetary assistance thanked LEDI and collaborating donor institutions for standing with the Liberian people in their time of need. They said such compassionate assistance from organizations within the “US is an indication that we are our brothers and sisters keepers, despite where we live.”

“We are appreciative of this contribution from LEDI and those who contributed to it,” said Proprietor of the Jaw Community Clinic. “We see this as relieving and particularly patriotic because thinking about us in this corner is an indication for love of country.”

Speaking to reporters upon receipt of the report of the full implementation of the LEDI Medical Mission, Mr. Rufus Darkortey, President of LEDI, said the donations were in partnership with many USA based organizations, including the Cleveland State University (CSU), the Margaret Wong and Associates Law firm, among others. He said the organizations are delighted to stand by the people of Liberia in the fight to eradicate the deadly Ebola disease from Liberia.

According to his official newsletter to the CSU community, Dr. Ronald Berkman, President of CSU, said even from 5,000 miles away, we can help. He therefore brought the CSU community together to aid institutions and individuals in the country who were facing the deadly Ebola virus.

Mr. Rufus Darkortey indicated that every Liberian felt the impact of the deadly Ebola virus, irrespective of their geographical location at the moment. “This created a dire desire to do something to save lives in the country. That is why LEDI galvanized the financial resources from the United States to help the vital medical institutions that supported the Ebola fight,” he said.

“Though the organization is based in the United States, its primary focus is to help reduce poverty and change lives in Liberia,” he said. He concluded by thanking the CSU, Margaret Wong and Associates, the Board of Directors, staff, and donors of LEDI, and other institutions for raising the needed funds for the medical institutions here in Liberia.

The LEDI leader also thanked the people of Liberia and the stakeholders, including the government, local and international organizations for helping to eradicate the virus from the country.



Rufus and Joan Darkortey Receive CSU Alumni Recognition Awards

The Fenn Tower ballroom was sizzling – and not because it was 60-plus degrees on a mid-January evening. It was sizzling with excitement, cheers and applause as a standing-room-only audience saluted the first recipients of CSU’s Alumni Recognition Awards.

“These awards recognize individuals who, through their engagement and service, are having a positive impact on CSU, its students and the community,” said Kathy Jennings, MBA ’09, president of the CSU Alumni Association.

Congratulations to the first class of Alumni Recognition Award recipients.


Monte Ahuja College of Business Chapter – During homecoming 2016, the business alumni chapter introduced a new executive speaker series focusing on timely topics for alumni of all ages. The series provides an excellent showcase for faculty and alumni experts in various fields.


Geraldine Klohs – Klohs was instrumental in helping rebrand the Student Alumni Association into the 1964 Society to better connect students and alumni. She was the first 1964 Society president and a Presidential Student Ambassador.

Paul All – All graduated this May with a degree in finance. He served as president of Sigma Phi Epsilon and was one of two student representatives to the CSU Board of Trustees. A Presidential Student Ambassador and former treasurer and president of the 1964 Society, he assisted with Senior Series events which help graduating students navigate life after CSU and with development of the Viking Traditions website.


Sherwin-Williams – CSU’s first corporate chapter has been a trailblazer for chapters that have followed. With some 650 alumni worldwide, Sherwin-Williams is a model for workplace engagement and involving alumni in social events, networking, recruiting, mentoring, education and philanthropy that benefits CSU and its students.


Jessica Sutherland – A 2006 alumna, Sutherland launched Homeless to Howard, an online fundraising campaign that in one week raised enough money to pay for freshman year at Howard University for a young man she met while volunteering at a homeless shelter. She then launched Homeless To Higher Ed, a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk students escape poverty through education.


Eugene Malinskiy – A biomedical innovator with a passion for medicine and technology, Malinskiy was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for Manufacturing and Industry. A native of Ukraine, he graduated from the Washkewicz College of Engineering with a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and founded DragonID, a Cleveland Heights-based biomedical engineering and innovation firm that has already created a device that reduces the risk of strokes following transcatheter aortic valve replacement.


Anna Gibson – Gibson is a two-time alumna with a bachelor of business administration degree in 2012 and a master’s in labor relations and human resources in 2014. She is a human resources administrator at Lincoln Electric and has been a member of CSU’s Young Alumni Council since its start in 2014.


Dave Guinther – Guinther was one of the initiators, and prime backers, of the Champions Campaign and Heritage Project which raised more than $250,000 for improvements that will keep Busbey Natatorium one of the top swimming facilities in the nation for years to come. An engaged alumnus and strong supporter of both CSU and the swim program, he lives in California and leads the Bay Area Alumni Chapter.

Dave Huiett and Bill Schutte – From their student days until the present, both men have promoted Greek life on campus. They were instrumental in starting CSU’s Greek Alumni Council and most recently worked with students on the successful rechartering of a Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter on campus. Huiett graduated in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He holds the distinction of serving as the last president of Lambda Tau Delta and the first president of the Ohio Nu (CSU chapter) of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Schutte graduated in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is equally engaged with Sigma Phi Epsilon. Both spend countless hours engaging with students to ensure that their CSU and Greek experiences are exceptional.


William Denihan – Denihan earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from the Levin College in 1998. His legacy of public service includes: director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; police chief and director of public safety and public service for the city of Cleveland; executive director of the Department of Children and Family Services; CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, and more.

Hannah Belsito – Belsito earned a master’s degree in urban planning, design and development from the Levin College in 2011. The vice president of destination development and community affairs for Destination Cleveland, she leads efforts to advance Cleveland as a visitor destination and enhance the visitor experience.

Rufus Darkortey and Joan Curran Darkortey – This alumni couple co-founded the Liberia Economic Development Initiative, a non-profit organization that works to reduce poverty and change lives by building public libraries in Liberia. He is a senior financial analyst with Forest City Realty Trust and a two-time alumnus. She is a senior RIM analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.


Steve Adams – Adams is the manager of Elements Bistro, the site of many University, Advancement and Alumni-hosted luncheons and special events. Without fail, he and his team ensure that no detail is overlooked and every event is memorable.

Gail Lill – Lill is the supervisor of CSU’s printing and duplicating department. She and her team consistently deliver a superior product and excellent customer service to Alumni Affairs and the entire University. “While Steve and Gail are not alumni, they are special friends of CSU and the Alumni Association and we are proud to salute them,” said Brian Breittholz, assistant vice president of alumni relations.


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