2023 Outstanding Community Leader


Jeannine Marks, President & CEO of Stewart’s Caring Place                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Stewart’s Caring Place Cancer Wellness Center, named after the late Dr. Stewart Surloff, was started in 2003 by Stewart’s wife, Mimi. The mission is to provide a relaxed and caring environment for those individuals and families on the cancer journey with programs and services at no cost. Stewart expressed that there was so much more to the cancer diagnosis and treatment. Mimi set out to build his dream of supportive services for families on this journey.


Alongside founder Mimi Surloff, Jeannine has been an integral part of the growth of Stewart’s Caring Place. Because of the impact cancer has played in her own family, she understands the sheer importance of the needs of these families in our community.  Jeannine began by volunteering as a board member before becoming the President and CEO in 2016. Under her leadership, the nonprofit increased its fundraising and budget by 900%, allowing them to support thousands of families in 22 counties and establish a permanent headquarters in Fairlawn. It also allowed Stewart’s Caring Place to offer more services at no cost, including group support and counseling, fitness programs, meals, wigs, holistic services, gas and groceries, financial and legal consultations, and gathering spaces for meaningful connections and new friendships.


Those that have worked with Jeannine Marks at Stewart’s Caring Place say her superpower is her ability to connect with anyone she meets and make them feel like they are the most important person in the world. She has never met a person she can’t relate to and greets everyone with open arms. “Jeannine is kind, compassionate, devoted, and empathetic while being savvy, focused, and business-minded,” says Vice President Sarah Vojtek. “Even as the President and CEO, Jeannine is the first to greet anyone that steps through the door of Stewart’s Caring Place and offers her ear to listen.”


In October of 2022, Jeannine and her husband, Steve Marks, were honored with the Akron Community Foundation’s Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award. The couple founded the Akron Marathon in 2002. Out of their love of running, they saw an opportunity to bring their community together while bolstering the local economy. The Akron Marathon brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Akron every year, promotes community health and fitness, has raised more than $6 million for charities in Greater Akron, and has generated more than $130 million in economic impact since its inaugural race. It is currently the largest marathon relay event in the United States. 


Jeannine Marks is a lifelong Akron area resident and a graduate of The University of Akron. She and her husband, Steve, have three adult children: Wyatt, Mackenna, and Brady. Jeannine currently serves on several non-profit boards, including the Akron Marathon, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, The Jewish Community Board of Akron, the Akron/Summit Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and the Senior Leadership Council for Summa Health. She continues to serve the community she loves through philanthropic endeavors. She is devoted to promoting collaborative solutions, helping agencies achieve sustainability, and creating visibility and support for unmet community needs.


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