The Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation consists of the Trustee, Grants Manager, Program Officers, and Advisory Board members. The Advisory Board meets four times a year to take an active role in reviewing grant proposals, site visits of nonprofits, participating in research and analysis, monitoring and evaluating grant success, reviewing the trust’s investments policies and returns, and the fiduciary investment responsibilities. The Foundation members represent a wide range of perspectives, backgrounds and experience.
The Trustee, Staff and Advisory Board Members immerse themselves into the philanthropic culture by attending conferences of philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and educational advancement classes at international, national, and local organizations such as: Exponent Philanthropy, Philanthropy Ohio, Grant Makers for Effective Organizations(GEO), Social Venture Partners Cincinnati, Kentucky Nonprofit Network, PEAK Grantmaking, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Cannon Financial Institute, Social Enterprise, Leadership Council of Impact 100 Cincinnati, Council on Foundations, and Foundant Technologies.
Trustee, Officers, Board of Advisors, & Attorneys
V. RUTH KLETTE, JD, LLM Tax
Trustee & CEO
In 2005 Ruth served as a Co-Trustee along with Elsa. Since Elsa’s death in 2010, Ruth has been the Trustee and CEO and also serves as a program officer. She is also a member of the executive, compliance and investment committees. Through her grandparents’ and parents’ friendships with the Heisel Sule family, she had known Elsa all of her life.
V. Ruth Klette is a native of Northern Kentucky, growing up in a close-knit family with her parents and grandparents. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1972 with a BA in Communications studies, she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Mortar Board and Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Ruth received a Masters Degree the following year from UC while attending Chase Law School of Northern Kentucky University, completing her J.D. in 1975. She was admitted to the Kentucky Bar that same year, and to the Ohio Bar the following year.
Ruth joined the law firm with her father in 1975, which was founded by her grandfather in 1912. She went on to earn her Master of Laws Degree (LLM) in taxation from New York University School of Law in 1983.
Ruth’s areas of law practice concentrate in the areas of probate, estate and trust administration, estate planning and taxation, business associations and real estate transactions and 1031 exchanges, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. She is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association (Probate and Trust Legislative Committee), Northern Kentucky Bar Association, Northern Kentucky Estate Planning Council, Cincinnati Bar Association, Cincinnati Estate Planning Council, Ohio Bar Association and was the 2015-2016 chairman of the Probate Committee of the Kentucky Bar. She is a frequent speaker on topics of probate, trusts, philanthropy and taxation for the Kentucky Bar, National Business Institute and several local legal and philanthropic associations.
Ruth has served on various planned giving committees as a professional adviser of local nonprofit organizations such as the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and the University of Cincinnati Foundation. She has also served on several nonprofit Boards including Northern Kentucky Estate Planning Council, Cincinnati Blazers Youth Baseball, Covington Ladies’ Home, and the Northern Kentucky Bar Association (formerly Kenton County Bar Association).
Ruth is a member of Impact 100 Cincinnati, a women’s collective donor’s organization promoting philanthropy by funding significant grants to Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. She serves on several impact 100 focus area grant review committees as well as the financial review committee. She is also a member of Social Venture Partners (SVP) Cincinnati, an engaged philanthropy organization, where she serves on committees for the Fast Pitch event, investment cycle, and marketing and social media committees. Recently, she has served on the NKY Funders Grants- mini Grant Competition event collaborative to help bring story telling training for non profits in the NKY area along with Horizon Community funds, The Butler Foundation, Dater Foundation, and R.C. Durr Foundation.
Ruth continues her study of philanthropy through her involvement with Exponent Philanthropy, Council on Foundations, Philanthropy Ohio, Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative, PEAK Grant making, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), Foundant Technologies, KY Nonprofit Network, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Ruth has also studied at Cannon Financial Institute for Foundation Management, CAP and Crescendo Planned Giving.
BOARD OF ADVISORS
JERRY A. BAILER, CPA
Foundation Tax Accountant
Jerry graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, and earning his qualification as a Certified Public Accountant. After graduation, Jerry joined the accounting firm founded by his father, James A. Bailer, in 1972, where two of his sisters also work as accountants. The Firm is located in Erlanger, Kentucky and services business, personal, nonprofit philanthropy, and fiduciary tax and accounting needs.
Jerry joined the board in 2012 bringing with him 30 years of experience to his position as the Elsa Sule Foundation Tax Accountant, in addition to serving on the Board of Advisors as well as the Executive compliance, and Investment Committees. Jerry volunteers for numerous conservation groups and other civic organizations. He has also been a dedicated volunteer with the Erlanger Lions Club since 1989. Jerry is active in Exponent Philanthropy and Philanthropy Ohio.
BETTE C. BRAVO, BSN
Bette is a native of Northern Kentucky, growing up in Independence. She graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Nursing. Bette recently retired after working as a Registered Nurse for over thirty years for a general surgeon. In 1999, she returned to college to earn a MA in Theology. She is a past docent for the Cincinnati Art Museum, a past board member of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. She was thrilled to serve as a board member of the Kentucky Humanities Council.
Bette joined the Elsa Sule Foundation board of advisors in 2013 and enjoys site visits to evaluate non profit, Bette hones her skills with her involvement in Exponent Philanthropy, Grant Makers for Effective Organizations, Philanthropy Ohio, and Impact 100 Cincinnati.
ANDREW J. CUSHER, DPM
Andy is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a graduate of Walnut Hills High School and graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from The Ohio State University in 1973. He worked as a Health Educator from 1973-75 at the Free Clinic of Cincinnati while attending the University of Cincinnati in Community Health. Andy then attended the Illinois College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago in 1976 and received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) degree in 1979. After a year of residency in Youngstown, Ohio he returned to Cincinnati and opened a private practice. He has been practicing podiatry for over 40 years in the Colerain Township area of Cincinnati. He is board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. He is a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, the Ohio Foot and Ankle Medical Association, and the Southern Ohio Academy of Podiatry. As of January 2020 he retired from medicine and has enjoyed spending more time involved with the board process.
Andy joined the Elsa Sule Foundation Board in 2014. He has a special interest in organizations that focus children’s welfare. He enjoys the grant review process including site visits and program evaluation. Andy lives in Blue Ash, Ohio with his wife, Ruth.
FRANKLIN D. HICKS, SR.
Frank is a native of Northern Kentucky and was a career officer in the U.S. Army after graduating from West Point. He was in Infantry and Special Forces Units, with three tours in Southeast Asia, and additional tours in Germany and Iran, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1975. After returning to Kentucky, Frank began his next career marketing Real Estate. He worked as a realtor for forty years for Coldwell Banker West Shell Realtors in Northern Kentucky. Frank was active in in the Northern Kentucky Board of Realtors, the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky, and is active in his church.
Frank joined the Elsa Sule Foundation in 2012 and enjoys learning more about the nonprofits on site visits. He keeps on current on Philanthropic issues by attending sessions at Exponent Philanthropy and Philanthropy Ohio.
CRYSTAL D. HOEFINGHOFF, RN
Crystal joined the Elsa Sule Foundation board of advisers in 2012. She is originally from Blanchester, Ohio, northeast of Cincinnati. In 1984 she earned her Registered Nursing Degree (RN) from the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati School of Nursing. Crystal became involved in the Ft.Wright Elementary PTA as well as Boy Scout Troop 236, serving on the Board for 4 years. She was a member of Impact 100 Cincinnati and active in Philanthropic studies at Exponent Philanthropy and Philanthropy Ohio. In 2004, Crystal returned to nursing at Pediatric Practice in Northern Kentucky as a staff nurse. She spends her days working in direct patient care as well as phone triage.
TYLER R. HOEFINGHOFF
Tyler joined the board in 2017. He resides in Alexandria, Kentucky and, in 2016, graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Ohio State University Honors Program with a degree in Actuarial Science and minors in General Business, Statistics, and Economics. Tyler is currently working toward his Associate of the Society of Actuaries designation and has passed four of his preliminary actuarial exams including Probability, Financial Mathematics, Models for Financial Economics, and Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models. After graduation, Tyler began his career with Willis Towers Watson. Tyler works as an analyst in the Pharmacy Practice within the Health & Benefits Line of Business where he is responsible for pharmacy benefit pricing comparisons, modeling plans, maintenance of the pharmacy benchmark database, evaluation of client deals, and working hands on with various clients.
While in high school, Tyler enjoyed assisting with various Eagle Scout projects during his time with the Boy Scouts as well as various other community service projects while enrolled at Covington Catholic. During his senior year, Tyler received a varsity letter for community service after accumulating over 120 hours during the 2011-2012 school year.
Currently, Tyler enjoys animal-related philanthropy work, whether it involves endangered species, animal shelters, education, or conservation efforts, as well as anything that directly impacts the greater Cincinnati region. Through Willis Towers Watson, Tyler volunteered at the Freestore Foodbank and plans on volunteering with his coworkers each year. Tyler enjoys following Cincinnati Professional sports and spending time with his friends and family.
VALERIE E. KLETTE-CUSHER
Valerie joined the Elsa Sule Foundation board of advisors in 2012. She is active in entrepreneurial adventures at the Business Builders Club and was a member of Impact 100 Cincinnati. She is a native of Blue Ash, Ohio and a 2013 graduate of Sycamore High School. She was a member of the competitive dance team at the Studio For Dance in Blue Ash, Ohio, competing in both Solo and Group performances. Her dance routines ranged from tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary and clogging. She graduate from The Ohio State University, Magna Cum Laude in 2017 with a degree in Strategic Communications with a minor in Design. Valerie is a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Alpha Chi Omega sorority, and the Business Builders Club. Valerie was the Magazine Layout Intern for the Fashion Meets Music Magazine (2016) and was an intern at The Shipyard, Inc. specializing in creative services and social media and content strategies. Beyond her internships, Valerie continually sharpens her skills in graphic design, page layout and copy editing. She is now employed at BlueSwitch in New York City and in her leisure time is occupied either at yoga classes or traveling.
Dick is a longtime resident Northern Kentucky. He joined the Elsa Sule Foundation Board of Advisors in 2019 after serving as a board ambassador since 2016. Dick is a lifelong friend of Elsa Sule and her husband Alader ever since he and Elsa started working together on the Bob Braun television show in 1968 at WLWT in Cincinnati. He remembers Elsa as the creative mind for the Bob Braun Show as she created daily commercial themes, greeted guests of the show and served as the commercial coordinator and the associate producer. She was a wonderful writer. Elsa penned musical parodies and enjoyed performing them.
He currently serves as the director of finance, operations, and marketing for Visiting Angels of Southwest Ohio. In addition to Visiting Angels, he has 50 plus years of experience in radio, television, educator, government official and event planner. He has won numerous awards for his work throughout his career including an Emmy Award, Community leadership award, volunteer of the year, lifetime achievement award from Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, and is a member of the northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame. He has served in the Kentucky House of Representatives in addition to being the Judge Executive of Kenton County.
Dick has also volunteered his time to many non-profit boards around the Greater Cincinnati area. He has served on the board of the The Point/Arc (President), Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame, Northern Kentucky Heritage League, Social Venture Partners of Cincinnati, and Bluegrass Buckeye Charity High School basketball Classic.
JUDGE PATRICIA M. SUMME
Judge Patricia M. Summe is a graduate of Notre Dame Academy ’71, Xavier University ’75 and Chase College of Law ‘79. She was elected as the first woman judge to the Kenton Circuit Court bench in 1994. Her legal background includes her private practice career with her father Joseph Summe and her brother Peter J. Summe in the areas of real estate, zoning, municipal, probate, personal injury and family law. Judge Summe received the Kentucky Bar Association 2009 “Outstanding Judge” Award, the Kentucky Post’s 1998 “Woman of the Year” Award, the 2003 “Martin Luther King Award” from the local chapter of the NAACP, the 2004 Notre Dame Academy Alumni “Women Making a Difference Award” and the 2006 Chase Alumni Association “Exceptional Service Award”.
She has been active in various charitable organizations since the age of 13. She was a Member and past President of the Redwood School and Rehabilitation Board. She was a Commencement Speaker and served on the Notre Dame Academy School Board; she is a volunteer career speaker at the school. She is a past president of the Chase Alumni Board. She has volunteered on the Foster Care Review Board for Kenton County, Women’s Crisis Center and on committees addressing Elder Care issues. She has served on the St. Agnes Parish Counsel, Survive and Thrive Day Camp Board, and Split Rock Conservation Park Board. She has volunteered for numerous charities sponsored by educational, faith, women and children’s organizations. Patricia is also active with local and state legal committees. She joined the Elsa Sule Foundation board of advisors in 2012 and is a member of Exponent Philanthropy and Impact 100 Cincinnati.
ATTORNEYS FOR THE FOUNDATION
MARGO L. GRUBBS, ESQ.
Margo Grubbs was born and raised in Northern Kentucky. She earned a BS in Psychology from Northern Kentucky University in 1975, and received her J.D. from Chase College of Law in 1980. In her more than 38 years practicing law in Northern Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio, Ms. Grubbs has earned her reputation as a fierce advocate and trusted adviser for clients. She served on the Board of Governors of the Kentucky Bar Association.
Ms. Grubbs joined the foundation legal staff in 2010 and serves on the compliance committee. She lives in Covington’s beautiful historic district and spends her free time with her extended family, as well as volunteering for a number of civic improvement, political, and humanitarian organizations. She is a member of the Impact 100 Cincinnati and is active in Exponent Philanthropy.
JOHN H. KLETTE JR., ESQ. (1917-2018)
John Klette Jr. was born and raised in Covington, Kentucky by his parents Judge John H. Klette and Ruth Stephens Klette with his two brothers. He began work as a law clerk for his father at the age of 15 while attending Holmes High School. John attended the University of Cincinnati and received his Juris Doctorate degree from Chase Law School (now affiliated with Northern Kentucky University). He was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1942, before graduation, officially joining his father’s law practice at that time.
John served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, as a B-17 pilot in 1943 flying 51 missions. He later flew the C-47 for the U.S. Air Force during the Korean Conflict in 1951 completing 50 missions. John served in the U.S. military for 10 years, as part of the Air Force Reserve. In 2018 John was inducted posthumously in the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame to be recognized for his bravery and merits of service in the Airforce and in his community. John continues to practice law after more than 75 years, focusing on real estate, probate, estate and trust administration, and estate planning, he loved to mentor young attorneys. He served on the Board of Governors of the Kentucky Bar Association. John has served on the board of Highlands Cemetery Inc. of Ft. Mitchell, KY for over 40 years. He has also been a board member of the Cincinnati AAA, and Trustee of the Covington Ladies Home. John serves as an attorney for the Elsa Sule Foundation and on the executive and investment committees 2005.
John and his family were lifelong friends and attorneys for Elsa Sule, her parents, Dr. Clifford Heisel and Elsa Groll Heisel, and her husband, Alader. John and Elsa both grew up in the “Wallace Woods” area of Covington and attended grade school (Sixth District Elementary), high school (Holmes) and college (University of Cincinnati) together. His intimate knowledge and oral history for the board ensures that her philanthropic legacy will endure for Elsa and her family.