Excellence in Leadership Award
Elyria native, Rick Grahovac, received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from The Columbus College of Art and Design. He went on to study art therapy, ultimately earning a Master’s Degree from Ursuline College.
His professional career began at New Life Hospice where he worked as an art therapist with hospice patients and their family members in a variety of settings. Rick was also trained as a grief counselor and worked with bereaved adults and youth. Over time, his work at New Life became focused exclusively on working with grieving children and teens.
Rick’s career in nonprofit administration began in 1996 when he was named the first Director of The Phoenix Center for Grieving Children, originally a program of New Life Hospice and later, Mercy Regional Medical Center. This program touched the lives of thousands of Lorain County residents by providing support to children, adolescents and young adults around issues of death and dying, change and loss, and growth and transformation, before its dissolution in 2005.
In 1999, Rick was certified by the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children as a Trauma and Loss Consultant and School Specialist. Later that year, he worked with area school personnel to create the Lorain County Schools Crisis Counseling Team. Rick developed and provided the training required to become a team member, led the team for several years, and later served on its Board of Directors. This team of school professionals has supported thousands of students over the years and is still in existence today.
Rick was invited in 2000 to work with the cancer treatment team at Mercy Regional Medical Center to create a complementary therapies and support services program for people with cancer and their loved ones to address non-medical issues related to a cancer diagnosis. Development of this program included the planning and oversight of the construction of one wing of The Mercy Cancer Center that opened in 2002. Rick served as the original Director of The Center for Body, Mind & Spirit from 2002-2004.
Rick became the Executive Director of Common Ground in 2005. Common Ground’s mission is to provide transformational opportunities for individuals and groups realize their potential through conscious living. Their personal and professional development programs serve nearly 3,000 individuals annually, over half of whom are children. Rick spearheaded the 2014 addition of Common Ground Canopy Tours in an effort to support Common Ground’s long-term sustainability. Almost 7,000 people participated during the first 18 months of operation.
Along with his non-profit work, Rick maintained a small private practice in Oberlin with Palmentera & Associates, Inc., from 2008-2014 providing individual art therapy sessions to clients of all ages.
In 2011, Rick became a founding Board Member and Board President of Margeau’s Free to Be Project, an organization that supports women and girls by helping them realize their full potential and appreciate the gifts they have to offer the world.
Rick continues to make art and paints in his free time. He takes the greatest pride in his three children, Greg, Stephanie, and Brad.