Throughout his career, Dennis Cuneo has devoted time and resources to supporting education, stronger communities, the arts, improved public infrastructure, and greater workforce diversity, actively seeking opportunities to positively affect lives across the United States. Over the years, he has served on over 20 boards of non-profits, universities, philanthropic organizations, chambers of commerce and economic development associations.
Dennis began his civic engagement when he was a Vice President of NUMMI, Toyota’s joint venture with General Motors in Fremont, California. He was a founding member of the Alameda County Economic Development Advisory Board. He co-chaired a blue ribbon committee to keep the Oakland A’s major league baseball team in Oakland and was later named to the Board of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which oversaw the sports facilities that were home to the Oakland A’s, Oakland Raiders, and Golden State Warriors. He was a member of a coalition that facilitated a long-stalled Port of Oakland harbor deepening project that was critical to maintaining the Port’s competitiveness. He chaired the Alameda County United Way Campaign in 1995, and was named as Campaign Volunteer of the Year. He served on the Board and was later named Vice Chair of the California Manufacturers Association, which was a leading public policy voice for California’s manufacturing sector. He was a member of the Bay Area Regional Technology Alliance, and the Team California Economic Advisory Board. When he was transferred from NUMMI to Toyota’s manufacturing headquarters in the Greater Cincinnati area, the Oakland Tribune called him “one of the East Bay’s most influential business leaders,” commenting that his departure “will create voids that stretch far beyond the giant auto plant….”
Dennis continued his civic engagement when he moved to the Greater Cincinnati area. He chaired his second United Way campaign in Northern Kentucky in 2000 and served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Cincinnati United Way from 2001 to 2004. He served on the Board of the Cincinnati Fine Arts Fund from 2001 to 2003, and helped the City of San Antonio set up a similar fund in 2005. In 2004, he was named as co-chair of a 100 person task force of business and political leaders in the Greater Cincinnati to replace a major arterial bridge between Ohio and Kentucky. He served on the Board of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, was elected to the Commercial Club of Cincinnati, where he served on the executive committee, and was a member of the Cincinnati Business Committee, which is made up of senior executives from Cincinnati’s largest companies, who focused on supporting education at the K through 12 level. He chaired the first Northern Kentucky Walk to Cure Diabetes. In 2003, he was the recipient of the Westheimer Medallion Award, at the100th Anniversary Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cincinnati, for his support of early childhood development programs. At Toyota, he was a strong supporter of the National Center for Family Literacy, a unique program that teaches Hispanic and other immigrant children and their parents basic language and literacy skills. Dennis helped launch Toyota literacy centers in Kentucky, Cincinnati and Detroit.
Dennis has been recognized as one of the country’s foremost experts in site selection and economic development. Though not as oft-discussed as some of the billion projects he has handled, Dennis has played key roles in economic development organizations at the national, state and local level. In 2003, he was appointed by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors as Chair of the Cincinnati Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, a position he held for two years. He served on the Board of the National Association of Manufacturers for 8 years, and chaired its Human Resources Policy Group for two years. In 2004, he was named as a Trustee for the Committee for Economic Development, a public policy organization based in Washington DC that promotes economic development on a national level and whose members include leading corporate executives and university leaders. He has served on economic development associations and chambers of commerce at the state and local level.
Dennis has received 3 gubernatorial appointments, all relating to education. In 1996, California Pete Wilson appointed him as Chair of the California Statewide Pupil Assessment Panel, which was tasked with reviewing achievement tests for use in California Public Schools. In 1999, Kentucky Governor Paul Patton appointed him to the Governor’s Early Childhood Task Force, and in 2003, the Governor appointed him as Chair of the Kentucky Early Childhood Education Business Council, which was charged with raising resources to fund early childhood education. In 2008, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour appointed Dennis to the Advisory Board of the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at Ole Miss, an innovative program where students are trained as interdisciplinary manufacturers, gaining not only an engineering degree with a concentration in manufacturing, but skills that will also prepare them for more company leadership roles.
Dennis has served on the Board of Trustees of four universities: Loyola University in New Orleans; Kettering University in Flint, Michigan; Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago; and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 2006, he gave the commencement address at the Rose-Hulman graduation ceremony and was awarded an honorary degree in humane letters. He has also served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago’s Physical Sciences Division and the National Advisory Board at Kent State University, College of Business Administration.
Dennis has also been active in diversity initiatives. He played a key role in Toyota’s efforts to advance diversity, particularly on the procurement side, where he led efforts to increase Toyota’s minority sourcing to over $1 billion annually. In 2006, he was named as one of the top “100 Men Impacting Supplier Diversity” by Minority Business News USA magazine. He served on the Board and raised funds for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, whose mission is to reveal stories of freedom’s heroes from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times. In 2001, he was named by the Cincinnati Enquirer as one of the new community leaders seeking “to ease the city’s racial tension” that resulted from the shooting of a 19 year old African American by a Cincinnati police officer. In 2002, Dennis was the recipient of the Human Relations Award by the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Jewish Council “for his impressive professional commitments and his devotion to civic causes.”