A local women’s charity organization honored Clark State Community College’s outgoing president Thursday at its first spring luncheon.
The Women’s Partnership Funds — an affiliate of the Springfield Foundation which has an endowed fund to help programs targeting women in need — created the Extraordinary Woman of Clark County Award as a way to recognize successful women in the community. This years winner is Karen Rafinski, president at Clark State.
“She is in one of the key positions in Clark County,” said Robyn Koch-Schumaker, chair of the Women’s Partnership Fund advisory council. “Clark State plays an important role in the community. She was able to bring a sleepy college to new heights.”
A committee reviewed about 25 nominations before deciding on Rafinski.
“When we saw Karen’s nomination we felt it was an opportunity as she’s leaving Clark State, for her to be a role model and example of what can be done,” said Joan Elder, director of grants and scholarship programs at the Springfield Foundation.
The luncheon was attended by more than 50 women and men, who all rose to their feet when Rafinski received her award.
“The community has been so gracious to me,” Rafinski said. “Even though I grew up in Springfield, Minnesota, Springfield, Ohio is home to me.”
Rafinski has been Clark State’s president for 16 years, and in that time Clark State’s enrollment has grown to more than $12,000 credit and non-credit students. The community college has several area branches now and has successful collaborations with major employers such as Assurant and CodeBlue.
Although Rafinski is retiring, she said she will stay in the community and perhaps do some professional consulting work.
“We’ll play it by ear,” she said.
The Women’s Partnership Fund collects money for an endowment for women, and the income made off of the endowment is used to provide grants to organizations. Koch-Schumaker said the organizations in need come up with ideas for programs, and the fund will give money in situations where the organization cannot receive government grants.
For more information on the fund, go to www.springfieldfoundation.org/wfp.