Vivian Celeste Neal Joins Knight Foundation As New Program Officer in Akron, Fort Wayne, Lexington

AKRON, Ohio – Vivian Celeste Neal, one of Akron’s leading educators most recently with the University of Akron, has joined the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as a community liaison program officer.

The community liaisons are the primary grant-making officials based in Knight foundation's 26 communities of interest. Based in Akron and Summit County, Neal will also serve as liaison in Lexington, Ky., and Fort Wayne, Ind.

Knight foundation's liaisons – now a full staff of eight with Neal’s appointment – coordinate with local community advisory committees, identifying funding priorities and developing tightly focused strategies working with potential nonprofit partners toward long-term outcomes for community improvement.

“Vivian offers Knight Foundation strong, deep ties to the citizens and neighborhoods of our birthplace community and will remain a continuing presence in Akron,” said Penelope McPhee, vice president and chief program officer. “Her expertise in community and education will be assets in Fort Wayne and Lexington as well.”

Liaisons are critical to the success of the new Community Partners Program, says Director Joe Ervin.

“We now have a full set of program officers for all 26 Knight communities, eight individuals with a variety of talents and backgrounds,” said Ervin. “Their presence in our communities, combined with the local expertise of our community advisory committees, truly strengthens our bonds to the cities and towns we serve as a local funder.”

Neal comes to Knight from the University of Akron, where she was an assistant to the senior vice president and provost for educational outreach. Prior to that, she spent 36 years working in the public school system, holding a variety of positions from principal to executive director of Community Adult Partnerships.

Neal has been active in an array of national, state, county and local educational and civic organizations. She had been a member of the foundation's new Akron Community Advisory Committee (CAC).

Neal has a bachelor’s in education from Clarion State University and a master’s in education from the University of Akron.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.