Cleveland, OH,
11:56 AM

José C. Feliciano Sr., George L. Forbes, Ted Ginn Sr., Stephen H. Hoffman, Sister Judith Ann Karam to receive Cleveland’s highest honor

One of the most important Black leaders in Cleveland history, the founder of the Hispanic Roundtable, a health care pioneer who has served the community for more than 60 years, a visionary and historic leader of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and a legendary high school football coach will be the recipients of the 2023 Cleveland Heritage Medal, considered the highest civilian award in Greater Cleveland.

Established in 2016, the Cleveland Heritage Medal is modeled after the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It recognizes individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the welfare and development of Greater Cleveland and its citizens. Recipients are role models who represent the core values of service to others, teamwork, courage, respect, and inclusion and diversity.

The 2023 honorees are:

José C. Feliciano Sr., chairman and founder of the Hispanic Roundtable

George L. Forbes, civil rights leader and longtime Cleveland City Council president

Ted Ginn Sr., hall of fame football coach at Glenville High School

Stephen H. Hoffman, transformational leader of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland

Sister Judith Ann Karam, leader of Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and a tireless advocate for preserving human dignity and providing compassionate health care

“The Cleveland Heritage Medal class of 2023 has had an incalculable impact on lives in our community,” said Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA, FACHE, President and CEO of The MetroHealth System. Dr. Steed serves as Cleveland Heritage Medal Committee Co-Chair alongside Robyn Minter Smyers, Partner at Thompson Hine.

“The contributions of these five individuals – in health care, government, social services, education, community service, business and beyond – will benefit Greater Cleveland for generations,” Dr. Steed said. “We are blessed to be able to thank them for their service and celebrate their accomplishments and legacies in person later this year.”

“Without the contributions of these five individuals – Cleveland would not be what it is today,” Robyn Minter Smyers said. “They have left an indelible mark across our community that will be seen and felt for years to come.”

The five honorees will be presented with the 2023 Cleveland Heritage Medal at a ceremony and celebratory dinner inside the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda on Thursday, November 16, 2023.

They will join an extraordinary list of renowned Clevelanders who have received the honor since its inception. They include:

2016 - Morton L. Mandel, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr., Sandra Pianalto, Richard W. Pogue, Sen. George V. Voinovich

2017 - Carole F. Hoover, Samuel H. Miller, Albert B. Ratner, Michael R. White

2018 - Toby Cosgrove, ­MD, Robert D. Gries, Steven A. Minter, Jerry Sue Thornton, PhD

2019 - Thomas W. Adler, Art J. Falco, Robert P. Madison, FAIA, Barbara S. Robinson

2020 - Jeanette Grasselli Brown, Bracy E. Lewis, A. Malachi Mixon III

2021 - Richard J. Bogomolny, Margot James Copeland, Beth E. Mooney, Margaret W. Wong

2022 - Alex B. Johnson, PhD, Milton S. Maltz, Joan E. Southgate

The recipients of the Cleveland Heritage Medal are chosen by selection and nominating committees made up of 30 diverse community and corporate leaders. The selection process is free of politics and bias of any kind.

More information about the Cleveland Heritage Medal and its recipients can be found at

About the MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit