Grady Appleton to receive GAR’s Glass Half Full Award

Dina Younis \
September 30, 2015
GAR Foundation is honored to present Grady P. Appleton, president and CEO of East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation with the 2015 Glass Half Full Award. This award was created to recognize Summit County community leaders for their inspiring and optimistic leadership of nonprofit organizations.
As the founding president of EANDC, Grady has dedicated over 33 years of his career to the development of affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization. Throughout the course of his career, Grady has led dozens of successful projects impacting the lives of individuals and families in urban communities, including the thriving Middlebury Market Plaza and the Village at New Seasons, a mixed use retail and senior apartment complex.
Get to know Grady and find out what he’d cook for dinner if we ever stopped by his house, and why he always sees the glass as half full.
What song best describes your work ethic? 
“Working Day and Night” by Michael Jackson. In the 33 years I have worked for EANDC, I rarely miss work and seldom take all of my vacation. I love what I do and the joy I get from seeing tangible improvements in the neighborhoods I serve.  I also serve on boards that are about building up people and increasing self sufficiency (Akron Area YMCA, Macedonia Baptist Church, Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati).
What’s the last book you read? 
“The Practitioners Guide to Governance as Leadership. ”  I along with my board am working to build a high performing non-profit board to help sustain and ensure the life of EANDC.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I went hiking in the Grand Canyon on a vacation with my family one year and almost died. My wife saved me by coaching and encouraging me to climb back out.
Tom or Jerry? 
Jerry – Jerry is the smarter of the two and sets the trap for Tom. In my field of work I have been involved in revitalizing neighborhoods facing all odds, such as disinvestment, crime, unemployment, things that threatens the fabric of life in neighborhoods and communities. Through God’s grace and conscientious partners I have been able to put together strategies that improve the quality of life for many.
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us? 
Spaghetti – It’s my specialty and its sooo good!
What reality show is a perfect match for your talents: The Apprentice, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Ghost Hunters or Survivor? 
Home Edition-The show was about advocacy, helping people victimized by a loss or tragic event.  I am a strong advocate for helping low to moderate income people have decent safe and affordable housing. The change may require gut rehab or new construction.  Like Home Edition, it requires a passion, vision and courage to make a difference.
Why is the glass always half full? 
For me the glass is always half full because I have a passion for helping people. I like to take on projects that will make a major impact in individuals and families that live in urban neighborhoods. If someone says this is going to be hard and risky to do, I say let’s think it through and figure out how it can work and make a difference in impacting the quality of life for all. One thing that I have learned is not to get discouraged. I try to stay the course, keep the faith and strive to achieve the goal. People say there lots of problems and challenges facing this community, I only see opportunities. I think I have always been a bit optimistic. I believe it’s paying off.