The Cleveland Heritage Medal – the city’s highest honor – was bestowed upon four community leaders following dinner in Cleveland City Hall’s Grand Hall Rotunda on Nov. 21.
The 2019 honorees were: Thomas W. Adler, adviser at Playhouse Square Real Estate Services; Art J. Falco, senior adviser for special projects to Playhouse Square; Robert P. Madison, chair emeritus of Robert P. Madison International, Inc.; and Barbara S. Robinson, chair emeritus of the Ohio Arts Council.
It was a short ceremony, consisting of brief introductions and no acceptance speeches.
In a telephone interview with the Cleveland Jewish News on Nov. 25, community activist Enid Rosenberg, who nominated Adler, described the event as “a wonderful community evening, recognizing the best of the best of who’s doing what – over a lifetime – for the city of Cleveland.”
At 50 years old, Adler sold his interest in Cleveland Real Estate Partners, a consulting firm he founded, to his younger partners, becoming a full-time volunteer and philanthropist by the age of 60.
He helped to start what is now known as Playhouse Square Real Estate Services and later became board chair of Playhouse Square Foundation. Adler’s pro bono work at Playhouse Square led him to become involved with Cleveland State University, which ultimately moved its theater and dance program, as well as its school of film and media arts, to Playhouse Square.
He is involved with AJC, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, United Way of Greater Cleveland, University Hospitals, Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the city of Shaker Heights and its schools.
“If you take a look at everything that Tom has done for this city, both with his professional expertise and through his community service and his ... philanthropy, he is so deserving of this,” Rosenberg said. “And it’s been over a lifetime that he’s done this, and that’s why I nominated Tom Adler.”
Robinson set out to bring music education to young children in Cleveland’s public schools, ultimately founding the National Board of Young Audiences, Inc.
She also helped bring in funding for and organizing the Cleveland Ballet and has served as chair of the Ohio Arts Council and of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
Her volunteer service also includes leadership positions with the Musical Arts Association, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Arts Midwest, Leadership Cleveland, University Hospitals and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Madison’s community service includes board positions with the Cleveland Opera, the Cleveland Orchestra, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He was involved with the NAACP, Urban League, Cleveland State University and Boys & Girls Clubs. He also founded the Robert P. Madison Scholarship for Architecture for African-Americans who want to study architecture.
Falco serves as an adviser and in board roles for the Cleveland Restoration Society, Destination Cleveland, Downtown Cleveland Alliance and Playhouse Square District Development Corporation.
“What they’ve given – and giving doesn’t mean dollars – to our city in the way of expertise, professionalism (and) philanthropy, ... that’s what makes it such a special evening,” Rosenberg said. “You look at Cleveland (and) how fortunate we are to have people of this stature doing what they’re doing for not only Cleveland, but Barbara Robinson has done this for the state of Ohio.”