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 Lynsey Pipino, The Columbus Foundation
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A Gift For Columbus’ Future

A Gift For Columbus’ Future
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The walls in Joe Chlapaty’s office in Dublin are adorned with striking paintings of buildings on the University of Dubuque’s campus. A passionate alumnus, Joe has been a longtime supporter of the university, and an avid football fan, which is appropriate since he once took the field as a Spartan himself.

While a piece of his heart will always be in Iowa, Joe has called Columbus home for nearly four decades now. And, thanks to an incredibly generous bequest to The Columbus Foundation, he will continue to support central Ohio for generations to come.

A native of Illinois, Joe was the first in his family to attend college. His dad, a tool and die maker, never made it past the ninth grade, quitting school to go to work and support his family during the Great Depression. Raised in a traditional, blue collar Chicago-area family, Joe set his sights on working hard and playing football in college. It was a connection his Dad had with a work colleague, whose son played at the University of Dubuque, that led him there.

After graduating cum laude in 1968, Joe went to work for Arthur Andersen and then took a job with a publicly owned commercial heat treating company in Chicago. He received his MBA from DePaul University in 1976. In 1980, he was recruited by Frank Eck to join Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS) in Columbus as its Chief Financial Officer. Joe became President in 1994 and CEO in 2004. He retired in 2017, and today serves in an advisory role as Chairman Emeritus.

Joe and his wife, Linda, have been very supportive of the community through their Donor Advised Fund, established at The Columbus Foundation in 2014. In addition to his financial contributions, Joe has served on several nonprofit boards, and has been a member of the Foundation’s Governing Committee since 2013.

“When I came to Columbus and things were going well at ADS, I became involved in a number of philanthropic organizations, which today are very strong in my mind,” he said.

Already a supporter of United Way, Joe became very involved with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the American Heart Association, and KIPP Columbus, and serves on the board of all three. He is a former board member of Lutheran Social Services as well.

“I’ve tried to focus on things where there really was a need,” Joe said. “I’ve enjoyed it, and met a lot of nice people over the course of time.”

Through his bequest, currently the largest unrestricted gift in The Columbus Foundation’s 75-year history, Joe will help address emerging needs in the community for years to come. His fund will enable the Foundation to respond to unforeseen community challenges, creating a lasting legacy for him and his family.

“I’ve always felt an obligation, to the extent that you can, to give back.”


“The Foundation is in the best position to make those decisions,” Joe said. “Who knows what the needs of a city will be years from now. How can I say that I should put something to one specific thing or another? To me, it makes the most sense to leave the flexibility with the organization that is going to manage the money.”

“This is an extraordinary gift to the community,” said Angela Parsons, Vice President for Donor Services and Development at The Columbus Foundation. “Joe’s generosity will provide The Columbus Foundation, through the Chlapaty Family Fund, with the flexibility to address ever-evolving needs, promote innovation, and invest in the future of our city.”

Read more community stories like this one in the latest issue of NEXUS.


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