Servant Leader. Connector. Dedicated. Humble.
These are just some of the adjectives used by 4C for Children and other local nonprofits to describe Digi Schueler in letters supporting her successful nomination by 4C as Philanthropist of the Year.
Her 30 years of volunteering with local organizations that support the arts, education and women will be honored on Nov. 7 at the National Philanthropy Day luncheon sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
A native of Illinois, Schueler relocated from Houston to Cincinnati three decades ago for a job opportunity. She immediately found ways to meet people and support things she was passionate about. Her first step was joining the Junior League where she met others committed to outreach. Those connections led to other outreach opportunities.
“I really enjoy working with people—it’s what in part drives philanthropy work,” she says. “But I firmly believe what really drives it is a desire to give back to the community. In my adopted community, I discovered and fully embraced opportunities to do just that.”
She was very surprised when the award was announced and says she’s humbled by the recognition. “Recognition isn’t why I do what I do,” she says, “but I’m pleased to be honored and I hope that with this award, others will become more familiar with the organizations that I am passionate about supporting.”
One of those organizations is 4C for Children. A key supporter, she has served two six-year terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, co-chaired the 4C for Children Champions Gala and was named a 4C Champion for Children in 2011. She and her husband Mike are also active donors as individuals and on the corporate level through the Schueler Group. Her current involvement with the 4C board includes chairing the Advancement Committee and serving on the Executive Committee.
“Digi is that board member that sends me an email with three ideas of how she can help before I’ve even had a moment to send an email asking for help,” says Vanessa Freytag, president and CEO of 4C for Children. Through her work with 4C, “Digi has chosen to focus on the future of children. Her talents and passion are a gift to those children and their families—and frankly a gift to our entire community.”
Her support of 4C is tied to her firm belief that 4C’s work of educating child care providers and linking parents to quality child care is critical to helping all kids—but especially at risk kids—get a “head start in life. I’m honored to be part of supporting this work that has had—and continues to have—such a huge impact on our community’s families and children.”
In addition to 4C for Children, Schueler is also an active supporter of Every Child Succeeds, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The Playhouse in the Park, the YWCA and Dress for Success.
In her letter of support, Schueler’s longtime friend Penny Pensak writes: “She takes the volunteer/philanthropist role seriously and encourages others to do the same as she leads by example…Digi can appear quiet, always unassuming and self-effacing. But don’t be fooled. Her strength holds others up and encourages others to follow.”
Reflecting on her years of volunteering and charitable giving, Schueler says it’s been her experience that “no volunteer contribution is too small. I’ve been part of doing everything from helping stuff envelopes and answering phones to planning galas and leading fundraising campaigns. It’s all important because when combined with the work of a particular group or agency, the end result is giving joy to or helping another person in a profound way.”
That, she says, is what philanthropy is all about.