John Gest

Name: John B. Gest, Jr.
Title: Senior Director, Northern Ohio & Statewide Strategy 
Phone: 216.367.9512

Here’s what I can help you with:

  1. Considering any civic or community issue and its potential impact and interplay within the context of philanthropy 
  2. Identifying peers within the Philanthropy Ohio network to help address pressing questions and/or maximize emerging opportunities
  3. Facilitating interesting conversations about philanthropy, especially about constantly improving our sector

What’s the best part of your job?

Working with individuals and organizations committed to addressing community issues, leveraging opportunities and making positive change.

When did you start work at Philanthropy Ohio?

August 2010

Career background/education?

Prior to joining Philanthropy Ohio, I worked in higher education, most recently as an admission officer at Case Western Reserve University. My first stop after college was a four-year stint working at the International Headquarters of Sigma Chi Fraternity in Evanston, IL. While at Sigma Chi I held various roles including director of undergraduate services, managing a staff that annually visited each of our 200 plus undergraduate campus sites and serving as chief liaison to university administrations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to an undergraduate degree in secondary education from Bowling Green State University, I earned an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at CWRU with a concentration in nonprofit organizations.

What do you love about where you live?

The fact that I see Lake Erie every day. Growing up in New England I gravitated to the ocean. In high school my friends and I took jobs with afternoon or evening hours so we could spend most days at our local beach. Each summer during my university years I retreated from Bowling Green to Stonington Harbor (CT) to captain a boat at the local marina. Maybe Jack Kennedy said it best; and unlike Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, I realize Lake Erie isn’t an ocean.

Favorite brand or flavor of ice cream?

Growing up in Rhode Island, my go-to was a coffee cabinet (pronounced cawfee). If I was at Newport Creamery I’d get an Awful Awful, which is slightly different than a cabinet. It always lived up to its slogan: “Awful Big, Awful Good!”

What do you do outside of work?

I enjoy Cleveland sports and spending time with my family which includes my wife, three adopted rescue dogs and often times an additional foster. I live in the city of Cleveland and take advantage of my walkable community, often sitting down with a newspaper and pint at a neighborhood pub. Traveling the U.S. – ideally to see the Tribe play in a new ballpark – and Europe feeds my curiosity about other places, history and culture.