Stephanie Hightower: CEO of the Year 2020 finalist
Large nonprofit finalist: Stephanie Hightower, president, Columbus Urban League
Stephanie Hightower, the first female president of Columbus Urban League, is a tireless advocate for social justice and racial equity. Under her leadership, the league touches nearly 40,000 people a year with economic mobility initiatives, and it transformed an abandoned building into an economic hub in the King Lincoln District. It also brought the National Urban League conference—the nation’s largest annual civil rights gathering—to Columbus in 2018. During the pandemic, Hightower, who was a world-class athlete and former Columbus school board member, has connected with 4,000 Black businesses and 9,000 families. She revised delivery systems, redeployed her team to work remotely and focused on recovery issues. She’s also called for reforms in policing, eviction and benefits for those financially damaged by Covid-19. Hightower serves as a leader in the U.S. Track & Field Association, chairs the World Athletics Gender Leadership Task Force and is a member of WA Human Rights Working Group. She also serves on the boards of Celebrate One and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.