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Sugar Bush Foundation taps economic development specialist Erin Rennich for director role

Published: February 1, 2022 Author: Staff reports

The Sugar Bush Foundation announced the appointment of Erin Rennich as its first director on Jan. 18.

Sugar Bush Foundation Board President Hylie Voss led the competitive search. “We are delighted to find a candidate with Erin’s deep experience facilitating collaboration and innovation between community and university partners in the Appalachian Ohio region we serve. The Sugar Bush Foundation is all about identifying and growing assets, and we couldn’t have found a better one than Erin,” Voss said.

In her role with the Sugar Bush Foundation (SBF), Rennich will provide key executive support to the SBF foundation’s board, manage proposal inquiries and submissions, promote SBF project and partnership opportunities, and oversee SBF communication and marketing efforts. Rennich will coordinate fundraising with the SBF board and Ohio University’s Advancement team. 

The Sugar Bush Foundation, a supporting organization to The Ohio University Foundation, funds sustainable economic development projects in the areas of environmental restoration and renewable energy, zero waste, and food security. Jointly designed by Ohio University faculty and students with community non-profits, these projects often evolve into business opportunities.

Rennich brings deep business modeling experience, previously serving in roles with Ohio University’s Innovation Center and Technology Transfer Office, and at Sunpower, Inc., an Athens-based research and development engineering firm. Rennich also has extensive board experience, serving as president of the Paper Circle Board of Directors, and as a board member for ACEnet, the Southeast Ohio Hope Center, and Shagbark Seed & Mill.

"Throughout my career I have gained a deep understanding and appreciation of the specific challenges that small businesses, social enterprises, and nonprofits in Appalachian Ohio face,” Rennich said. "This perspective makes me appreciate the Sugar Bush Foundation's mission to incentivize collaboration between the community and the university."   

As Sugar Bush Foundation Director, Rennich will maintain her role as a Senior Executive Coach and Strategic Advisor with the Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE) program in Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service. In her SEE work, Rennich provides client-customized, senior-level business development support to mission-based enterprises.

“By supporting SEE clients like Ohio’s Winding Road and Habitat for Humanity of Southeast Ohio, I have had the privilege of witnessing and contributing to the immense impact the Sugar Bush Foundation has made within our community through its investment in collaborations between Ohio University and community organizations like these,” Rennich explained.

Ohio University Director, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Faith Knutsen leads the Voinovich SEE team and champions cross-departmental and community collaboration.

“From the Sugar Bush Foundation’s creation through to the present day, the Voinovich School is proud to have served as a frequent partner on Foundation-funded University-community projects. Erin’s dual role with two of the University’s most community-engaged programs builds wonderfully on our collaborative work to date and adds significantly to this ongoing partnership,” Knutsen said.

Rennich holds a Master's in Business Administration from Ohio University and a BA from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.