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Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative Welcomes Three New Fellows

(February 6, 2024) Three highly skilled older adults have been selected as the newest Fellows for The Dayton Foundation’s Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative, which deploys retired or career-transitioning older adults to work on significant community issues. Each Fellow brings new sources of talent and experience to nonprofit organizations tackling critical needs in Greater Dayton.

Since its launch in 2017, the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative has placed Fellows with 18 organizations and have contributed more than 35,000 hours of work, providing an estimated $2.5 million in value to the Greater Dayton economy. This work is made possible by a generous grant from the DMH-Dayton Fund of The Dayton Foundation.

Serving for the next two years as Del Mar Encore Fellows are Brett Hart, Wendy Hornung and Cathy Ponitz.


Brett Hart is working with the University of Dayton’s Brain Health Collective to help coordinate services for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. Hart has over 35 years of corporate experience in a diverse range of ventures, including animal nutrition, information technology, retail entrepreneurship, ERP implementations and consumer-packaged goods industries.


Wendy Hornung is working on a Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) initiative focused on workforce development opportunities that support maximizing all the talents available for an anticipated shrinking workforce. Her research explores employment barriers for people with disabilities, veterans, reentry citizens and older adults. The goal is to support existing programs and identify collaborative strategies to build bridges, bypass barriers and expand opportunities. Hornung, who is a Gallup Certified Strength Coach and works as part of a consulting consortium that grows businesses, has 40 years of combined teaching experience in higher education, executive coaching, leadership development and creating workforce development plans. She helps executives take their businesses to the next dimension by integrating human potential into a vision that connects to the future where every person is a resource.


Cathy Ponitz is helping Omega Community Development Corporation, specifically by working with the Hope Zone Promise Neighborhood team on policy development and partnerships. Hope Zone is centered on creating measurable and improved economic, education and health outcomes for 3,400 historically underserved families in Northwest Dayton. Ponitz has been a Greater Dayton champion for more than 30 years, most recently as the vice president of CareSource Foundation for community relations and diversity. Prior to that she was the director of community affairs for Reynolds & Reynolds Foundation.

These three new Fellows join six current Fellows who have been working for the past year to enhance literacy programs for regional youth, conduct in-depth research on alternative housing solutions for homeless persons with disabilities and develop a think tank to address regional health inequities, such as black infant, child and maternal mortality.

For more information about the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative, contact Senior Fellow Leigh Sempeles at or (937) 225-9949.

About The Dayton Foundation

For over 100 years, The Dayton Foundation has been the trusted charitable giving resource for more than 4,100 individuals, families and organizations. As the largest grantmaker and community foundation in Greater Dayton, the Foundation has awarded nearly $1.3 billion in grants since its founding in 1921, with current assets from all funds exceeding $1 billion. For more information about The Dayton Foundation, visit or follow the Foundation on Facebook, X or LinkedIn.