Good Works, Organization: The Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

A lot of supervisors may go the extra yard, or even the extra mile, for their employees.

Geri Lombard has gone over the edge-literally.

The general manager of the Renaissance Downtown Columbus Hotel actually rappelled down the side of her own building as part of a Special Olympics fundraising drive. It was just one of many ways the Renaissance has become a leader in the Columbus service industry.

"We nominated [the Renaissance] because of [Geri's] phenomenal leadership and engagement," says Karen Morrison, president of the OhioHealth Foundation and senior vice president of OhioHealth, who works with the hotel through Taste of Columbus and Experience Columbus. "I've gotten to really value and appreciate her leadership with what she does every day with the Renaissance, helping to position Columbus as a destination. The hospitality industry is a huge component of that."

The hotel's influence reflects its companywide goals to put people first, pursue excellence, embrace change, act with integrity and serve the world.To that end, the Renaissance Columbus has devoted itself to causes that touch residents across the city, especially children in need.

Among its most prominent efforts has been the Nationwide Children's Hospital Torch Relay, which raised more than $35,000, and support of the Children's Miracle network for pediatric hospitals across the country.

To help families seeking treatment in Central Ohio, Renaissance Columbus offers its "Sleep Well Get Well Program," created by the Marriott Business Council to provide accommodations for families traveling from out of town while children are at the hospital.

The Renaissance Columbus also encourages employees to get involved by having each department adopt and lead a cause. Projects have included American Red Cross blood drives and raising money for Faith Mission (led by the banquets department), volunteering at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank (front office and accounting departments) and helping Special Olympics (engineering department and executive team).

One of the efforts of which Lombard is most proud is the twice-a-year farm-to-table events at Latitude 41 restaurant, where meals are paired with local beers to benefit a charity selected by the restaurant team.

March 2012, for example, featured a beer dinner with Hugh Sisson of Heavy Seas Brewery benefiting Waves of Health, a group of surfing doctors that travels to Third World countries to provide health care for people in undeveloped areas.

"How neat is that to say you helped provide medical services for people in need but promoted your industry as well?" says Lombard.

Lombard also helps the community on her own time, through the VIP Telethon for Children's Hospital as well as selling Girl Scout cookies for her 10-year-old and raising money for the Parent Teacher Organization and sports boosters.

"To give back to your community is just the right thing to do," she says. "We have obligations as citizens to give back and help people in need, and try to make everyone's life better."

Nicole Kraft is a freelance writer.

Reprinted from the August 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.