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Next Up Columbus 2022: Hilary Stone

Hilary Stone
Hilary Stone

Photo by Mark Mineart

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Hilary Stone
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Age: 34
Profession: Senior Advisor for Donor Services at The Columbus Foundation
Neighborhood: Westerville / Polaris
Education: BA, Susquehanna University; MBA, Otterbein University; Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® Certification, The American College of Financial Services (In Process)
Community Involvement: The Columbus Foundation, Columbus Young Professionals, Colony Cats, Conscious Capitalism Columbus, Otterbein University, Philanthropy Ohio, Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce
Quote: “Having fun isn’t an enemy of efficiency. It’s fuel for finding flow.” — Adam Grant
Connect: LinkedIn

Give us a snapshot of your career path: Over the course of my career, I’ve worked at five nonprofits in four states across three regions of the United States. Through those moves, I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons. My strengths grew from those challenges. I’m deeply curious, unencumbered by the status quo, and fueled by the magic that occurs when the right ideas, people, and resources are connected at the right time.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
Everyone has a passion — a purpose that drives them. Some people know what this is, and some people are still finding that drive. I get to spend every day working with those people—helping them understand their passion, then translate purpose to action. I also get to elevate and celebrate people and organizations that are doing transformational work in our community. It’s basically the best job ever. That is what gets me through the week. That is what gets me up in the morning. That, and coffee.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
When I started working at The Columbus Foundation, one of my mentors, Michelle Cramer, President and CEO of Cramer & Associates, emailed a Foundation colleague to tell him that I’m one of the most talented, smart, witty, and strategic thinking young professionals she had ever worked with. She called me a gem. That email was read in front of the full staff at my welcome reception. It was a pivot point for me. I didn’t believe I was any of those things. (Except witty. I’m pretty funny.) I didn’t believe in myself. But Michelle did believe in me—and Michelle is smart! That unsolicited act of genuine kindness gave me permission to be confident. Now, I pay it forward any chance I get.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I unwind by doing anything outdoors — kayaking north of Alum Creek State Park, hiking around Highbanks Metro Park, playing disc golf at Blendon Woods, roller skating around the JPMorgan Chase megaship parking loop. (Yes, JPMorgan Chase, I am the uncoordinated ginger who graces your loop on Sundays.)

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I love the local brewery scene–Spires Social Brewing is my go to, and I never miss a Nando’s Tacos night at Olentangy River Brewing Company. Columbus also has some amazing social enterprise dining options—Hot Chicken Takeover and Roosevelt Coffeehouse are a couple of my favorites.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
Self-actualized. No, that’s not a “job” per se, but a specific career path was less important so long as it enabled me to become a fully-realized, independent, thriving person. Self-actualization is the highest level of development on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and I had the privilege to pursue that goal because my foundation-level needs had been met—food, water, housing, safety, belonging, esteem. There were bumps in the road, but there was a road. These needs are paramount for individuals to have opportunities and flourish. Everyone deserves that, but not everybody has it.

That is another reason I’m proud to work at The Columbus Foundation, as it works to advance equity, belonging, and family stability in central Ohio. A community flourishes when all its members have the opportunity to live up to their full potential.

And prior to 8th grade psychology class, I wanted to run an animal shelter. Love me some floofs.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
For nonfiction, I’m rereading The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee. For fiction, I’m working my way through Terry Pratchett’s library when I’m feeling mellow and Christopher Moore’s library when I’m feeling sassy. Highly recommend all three authors!

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
Being selected as a Next Up Columbus honoree is humbling. I’ve always aspired to be a connector—of people, ideas, and resources—with the ultimate goal of creating positive change in the world. But I’m just coming around to the idea of being a leader. It’s affirming—and inspiring. I’m fired up!

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
I think Columbus’s pulse is its openness. A pulse drives blood through the body, enabling life and all that entails. Columbus’s openness drives the city’s life—its creativity, its self-examination, its growth, and its determination to improve.


The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2022 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Spectrum for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2022” »

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