2019 Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award Recipient
Dave Lieberth, a civic activist who has volunteered thousands of hours and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Akron civic, cultural and charitable organizations, is the 2019 recipient of Akron Community Foundation’s Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award.
Lieberth, who wrote and produced the Polsky awards program for nearly three decades, will be the 52nd recipient of the award, which Akron Community Foundation presents each year to an individual or couple who has shown selfless dedication to humanitarian causes in Akron.
Over a vast and varied career as a broadcast journalist, lawyer and civic leader, Lieberth has become one of the most recognized individuals in Summit County. In addition to his prominent professional career, including his stint as deputy mayor of Akron, Lieberth has made a name for himself for his dedication to community service, particularly as a veritable walking history book for the community.
A longtime member and former chair of the Summit County Historical Society, Lieberth has been part of several monumental projects to preserve the community’s history, including the development of an endowment for the society, writing three recent books of Akron history, and producing two television documentaries for Western Reserve Public Media.
As a new lawyer in 1978, he was instrumental in spurring the Supreme Court decision to open Ohio courtrooms to television. He was selected by the White House to moderate President Bill Clinton’s first Town Meeting on Race at E.J. Thomas Hall, which was aired live nationally on C-SPAN in 1997.
Lieberth led several initiatives in the 1980s to advance child advocacy in Summit County and served on the boards of Children’s Services and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority. In addition, he has served on the board of Summa Health for 20 years and currently chairs its Community Engagement Committee.
Lieberth also chaired volunteer groups that won Akron’s designation as an "All-America City" by the National Civic League in 1995 and 2008. He was the first president of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron.
In 1984, Lieberth became the youngest board member of Akron Community Foundation, and in recent years has served on the boards of Downtown Akron Partnership and the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau. He coordinated the first bikeathon sponsored by LeBron James and has been part of James’ philanthropy since 2005, serving as a charter member of the advisory board of the LeBron James Family Foundation.
Lieberth has received numerous awards for his professional accomplishments and commitment to the community, including the Sir Thomas More Award from the Akron Bar Association; the H. Peter Burg Award from the American Red Cross Summit County Chapter; the John S. Knight Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; and the Community Medal Award from the Salvation Army.
One of the founders of Leadership Akron, Lieberth has participated in every one of its 36 signature classes. In 2012, following his retirement, Leadership Akron created The Lieberth Community Vision Award, which is given annually to a local leader who models Lieberth’s pragmatic and visionary commitment to the community.