#DaytonStrong: It’s in their DNA

Photo by Joe Weitz: “Went to Oregon District tonight during my Leadership Ohio visit to Dayton. Flowers covering bullet holes in glass. Hard stuff to see but necessary.”

Dayton made international headlines by being a city determined to move forward after processing their recent, devastating loss of 9 innocent people. It was another mass shooting in America - second in 24 hours, actually - this one focused on a trendy bar district. So, to have Dayton as the next city our Leadership Ohio class would visit in August, I felt an irreverent excitement as I realized our class was morphing into a Leadership America class... and we were heading directly into a media hot spot where tempered leadership is absolutely critical. Going in, Mayor Nan Whaley, has been an ever-present fixture on America’s newsfeed, and her resilience and ability to bring all sides together through this tragedy, has been widely noted.

I was in Dayton (on other business) just a day before shots rang out in the Oregon District. So, this tragedy got very real, and very personal for me because my kids’ dad missed potentially getting shot at by one day. Thus, coming right back to Dayton, I was unsure of how I might feel. I was quite comforted to find a city that manufactures strength as their primary industry.

The Entrepreneurs Center is one of the best run organizations for incubating researched ideas into startup companies, that I have ever seen. We learned about all the innovations happening due to the close relationship TEC has with Wright-Patterson Air Force base, like Battle Sight Technologies. Battle Sight makes visual tools for the frontline warfighter, and they are working with TEC on developing commercial applications. I started feeling Dayton Strong.

That feeling kept going at the base, a standing example of power and strength. In addition to being a fully operational military base, “Wright-Patt” has some of the highest-tech innovations on the planet, specifically into space and cyber space, where the future battles lie. Wright-Patt epitomizes strength, and it powers this city, so it would make perfect sense that smart companies would emerge, like Battle Sight, or Persistent Surveillance Systems, co-founded by LO Board Member, Dr. Ross McNutt.  

Yet, I truly felt the strength of Dayton when I visited the Oregon District with some classmates, off the clock. We experienced crowds of grieving people coming together again, recognizing the horrors of just two weeks prior, but realizing more that their unity and participation in moving forward is actually their strength. I came to realize what I was feeling was Dayton’s inherent strength; Its in their DNA. It is a DNA woven deep into this community, and whether it is Nan Whaley showcasing it on the national stage, or the bartender at Ned Peppers showing me her new staff solidarity tattoo...this city exudes real strength - and real strong women!

Bottom line: #DaytonStrong isn’t some catchy PR stunt that’s up and gone in 6 months...it’s Dayton’s brand. You can actually feel it, and in my humble opinion, brands built on substance, endure.

By: Ian Schwarber, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President, Centerlink Technologies; LO Class of 2019 

Innovation on Purpose

As a matter of leadership, I define “Innovation on Purpose,” as, when in a position to truly take a stand and make some change, a passionate person or people of character elect to create new commercial value in order to empower their causes. It is leading toward, “promised lands,” using clever, often technology-driven solutions to speak for the voiceless, persevere for the downtrodden and show up for the forgotten living all around us. For many, living a life with noble intent is the dream..and this dream is the single biggest piece of common ground we 23 share in this Leadership Ohio Class of 2019.

Spending a weekend together in Cincinnati was a very moving experience. A city enjoying its fair share of Fortune500 companies (top 5% of cities by some estimates) and hating its unfair share of people experiencing homelessness (nearly 25% by some estimates), the underlying spirit I took away from Cincy is that they, “innovate on purpose.” Daniel Meyer chooses to be innovative because there is a larger purpose driving him. He strives to build powerful products and memorable brands by creating a company, Nehemiah Manufacturing, that only hires second chance entry-level workforce. Meyer is obviously a gifted business leader, but he is also a prolific believer, utilizing his faith for the energy to keep climbing the ladder of conscious success. Forging deals with local icons like Kroger and Procter & Gamble, Meyer leverages the richness of Cincinnati’s history to create a future-ready community, and he goes straight for it, instead of waiting for someone else to come along and save the day.

Nehemiah Manufacturing gives men and women a second chance at a life enriched by the dignity of work, and with high-quality product, the culture of his company has exponentially grown into the formation of a larger corporate coalition. These many companies he has assembled “give anyone a job who wants a job.” If not at Nehemiah, at one of the companies in the network, innovating on purpose yet again, by targeting the right talent, going directly into the right job, in the right part of the greater community (52 neighborhoods make up Cincinnati proper). Powering the evolution of new hires into management roles, this vision builds up people, in addition to building up resumes. It is exactly the kind of innovation lesson we needed at the mid-point of our class journey. If the first few sessions were about the thought processes and outcomes of practical innovation (decision-making), it was quite timely that in our fourth month we entered into the arena of purposeful innovation (discernment), just as we begin figuring out class projects. And this was just one of 10 examples we found in Cincinnati that showcase a community responding to its own challenges with creative thinking.

- By Ian Schwarber, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Centerlink Technologies | Leadership Ohio Class of 2019

Please note all blogs are the sole opinions of their authors and do not claim to represent the views of Leadership Ohio.

Economic Development or Economic Divide? I call it Economic Unconsciousness! 

Photo: Derrick Shelton, then Police Officer 778 with the City of Cincinnati (1995).

As usual, it was another fulfilling experience with Leadership Ohio. As we listened to well scripted presentations, engaged in meaningful discussions, and participated in tours around the city of Cincinnati, I found it astonishing how the downtown district has been gentrified, re-defined, and rejuvenated. As I watched the pedestrians walk the streets, children play in the park, and the multitude of customers patronizing the businesses, I reflected on what was and what is now.

You see, I was not just a resident of the City of Cincinnati, but I wore the badge of honor, the badge of service to protect and serve the citizens and visitors of this fine city. Yes, I was a police officer for the City of Cincinnati for many years. I actually patrolled the very area that I sit today, Over-the-Rhine.

As I reflect, I think of the days that we chased drug dealers through the streets. How we attempted to motivate the ladies of the night to seek a different profession, and how we encouraged the children to go to school to make a better life for themselves. You see, crime and poverty ravished this area with drug deals, prostitution, and other criminal activity. Needless to say, the only housing options available at that time was low income housing. One of our speakers noted that Over-the-Rhine was labeled as the worse neighborhood in Cincinnati, and it had one of the highest crime rates in the nation.

With that in mind, I was surprised to learn that there are now flats/apartments in this same neighborhood that cost up to $350 per square foot. According to the presentation by the 3CDC (Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation) representative, Over-the-Rhine is now a prosperous and growing neighborhood. To that end, there are thriving businesses and restaurants that people flock to day and night. The park that once housed the homeless and drug addicts, is now a Mecca for family entertainment and fun. There are a plethora of business partners supporting the area, and the redevelopment plan, which has been creatively developed and initiated, is like no other. In short, it is brilliant. Other cities across the U.S. actually visit Over-the-Rhine to learn how this magic works. It is truly a piece of art.

But what about the question that was asked in our 3CDC session; Where are the people who once lived here? In other words, where are the low income residents that once inhabited these streets? Interesting, no one seemed to know. The only answer we received was, “they were disbursed throughout the City.” This lack of understanding of how the redevelopment initiative affected the population that once lived here was disheartening. It was almost as devastating as the answer about diversity in Over-the-Rhine today. When asked, the only answer provided was based on per capita of the area. There was no answer to what demographic diversity looked like for the area.

It seems as though history has repeated itself on a smaller scale. The land has been taken and revived for the benefit of some, and at the detriment of others. Considering the World we live in today, a world that preaches acceptance and inclusion, why then could we not develop this area to embrace those who have their lives rooted in these streets? With the number of vacant buildings that were available to the developers, did it call for the displacement of young and old who knew nothing other than Over-the-Rhine? Where is the justice for the elderly who lived their entire lives on these streets, just to be uprooted through eminent domain, and other regulatory sanctions that forced them out of their homes?

Why does it have to be this way? Unfortunately, the saga does not end there.

During our weekend session, we were graced with the presence of Melissa Mosby. Ms. Mosby eloquently shared her life history of being homeless. For several years she slept in the doorway of a business in Over-the-Rhine. She shared deep intimate details of what it was like, and how she overcame. Long story short, she now has an apartment in another part of downtown Cincinnati, and as she put it, “her name is on the lease.” Her name being on the lease represents a level of pride and security for her. Unfortunately, she shared that her accomplishment of getting off of the streets is in jeopardy once again. As the city plans for the coming of their new soccer team, plans are to build the soccer stadium on the property where Ms. Mosby lives. The home that she has made for herself is being taken away from her to build a stadium. So once again, not knowing how this is going to pan out for her, Ms. Mosby has to deal with the thought of possibly being homeless again.

United States Congressman Bill Johnson said to the Leadership Ohio class of 2019, “we are smart people,” referring to the American citizens. Congressman Johnson went on to say, “we have the answers to the problems.” So what is the answer to this problem? How do we fix this issue? How do we join forces, rich and poor, young and old, and learn how to live together, not divided? Since we are all Americans trying to live the dream of peace, liberty and freedom, why can’t we live together in harmony? Why must there be a divide? Why must some benefit, while others suffer? Please tell me Why? Is it economic development or economic divide? I call it Economic Unconsciousness. What do you call it?

-By Dr. Derrick Shelton, Principal, Reynoldsburg City Schools | Leadership Ohio Class of 2019

Please note all blogs are the sole opinions of their authors and do not claim to represent the views of Leadership Ohio.


Departing from Technology to Discover Innovation

Approaching the first weekend experience of Leadership Ohio’s Class of 2019, designed to set the tone for a year-long study around the impactinnovation (and innovative leadership) has on organizations, societies and systems, a smart bet would have been that the day devoted to Artificial Intelligence, versus the day devoted to a study of the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW), would be the most transformational set of experiential learnings, purely from an “innovation” standpoint. But, that would only be a smart bet if one were using traditional definitions and assumptions about what innovation is, where it can be found and how it should be understood and empowered. In fact, it was quite the opposite, at least for this writer, and that may not be the universal perspective of my classmates, as I do recognize my own bias on the subject. I work in the high-tech space, and I may be well-hydrated on the “Kool-Aid” of my own everyday environment.  

With that said, what I learned about the impact innovation can have on humanity was colored much more by the day where we met women living in a rehabilitation and corrections environment (as opposed to serving time in it).  The most important innovation may be the most simplistic idea, which is that ORW, while demanding compliance, treats these inmates as people by encouraging their talents, rewarding their creativity and promising them that they are not a grand mistake, but STILL a person of great value, who made a mistake.  The mightiest innovation may be that they reward strong compliance with a variety of creative opportunities, demonstrating they value their people by investing in their personal growth.  So often, organizations on the outside divide people into groups of workers who comply, and the creatives who innovate, when perhaps a more mundane, “innovation as incentive approach,” may end up yielding profound results as it does at ORW.

The leadership (utilizing a powerful mentorship model of two Wardens - the mentor recently promoted from ORW to oversee multiple prisons, and her mentee now promoted to oversee ORW itself) does this, not because of empathy alone, but also because it produces unparalleled results.  In speaking to members of the staff, ORW greatly under-performs average recidivism rates that are uniform across the nation, and it is clearly because they offer a variety of innovative programs that arm these women with skills, discipline and self-confidence through reinforcing layers of accountability. Literally, the ORW approach to those serving on the inside, ends up serving them quite well on the outside.  

A few examples (of many) are a high-end horticulture program, a beautician school, a jewelry shop, a designer fashions outlet, dog training services, web design programs, a children’s nursery, multi-faith spiritual studies and, Tapestry, a communal living project designed for chemically dependent women, which has been featured on many news outlets and recognized by TEDxColumbusWomen.  The sheer volume of opportunities available at ORW demonstrate that this innovative environment is NOT the product of a Warden alone, but rather a culture of innovative leadership that now exists within these walls…and this is a very important distinction for two reasons:

- One, just like in businesses, organizations and societies, a culture of innovation is far superior to having a singular innovative force at the top, BUT, in order to establish such a culture, those initial sparks are needed to enlighten the masses (both inside and out) that these leaps of faith deliver exponential returns, as can now be seen in their extraordinarily low rates of re-offense, and

-  Two, these are still very real walls, and this innovative environment should NOT be confused with “Club Med,” or any other type of place that one would “want” to be; strong performance is not an easy thing to accomplish, and the reward of new opportunities, both for the inmates, and for the leaders of this institution, must be repeatedly validated by results with little recognition available on par with external society standards of gratification.

These opportunities available to most women at ORW, like the innovations themselves at their inception, are only possible because there is a near-perfect balance of passion and creativity, coupled with a strict enforcement of order, accountability and respect.  No environment thrives on innovation alone, and it is, in fact, a reward for understanding the traditions and history of an organization that leaders rise to places where they can take risks, try new things and be allowed to fail safely.  It is by doing things well within the existing parameters of an organization that leaders are entrusted with the resources required to take the leaps of faith that result in, what we eventually call, successful innovations. Thus, the moral of the story from ORW may be that our societal institutions and organizations should take a fresh approach to incorporating innovation into their culture by viewing it as an incentive program.  Perhaps, when people demonstrate their respect for the traditions of an environment they should be encouraged to apply their brightest passion and creativity toward finding new ways to achieve greater results.  

By doing things right, we should then allow people to try doing things new.  

-By Ian Schwarber, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, DriveIT | Leadership Ohio Class Of 2019


Please note all blogs are the sole opinions of their authors and do not claim to represent the views of Leadership Ohio.

2019 Leadership Ohio Cohort Takes Off With Great Momentum

The 2019 Leadership Ohio (LO) cohort is off and running. This year’s program lifted off in Union County, Ohio and the bar is set very high. Thank you Marysville, Union County, and Ohio Reformatory for Women.

On Friday, April 26th, the City of Marysville welcomed our 2019 Leadership Ohio cohort (LO’19) in high style. The five-star reception with no-topic-off-the-table made it clear to us that Union County is prepared to grow. They welcome innovation, small business, agriculture and every level of economic development. We learned of the rich cultural history of Union County as well as a forward-facing vision for where Union County plans to go in the next 10 years. The collaborative efforts of this County alone are an innovation worthy of study—and that’s topping the community’s real-world testbed of connected vehicle technology--  the largest such experiment in the United States.

Saturday, day two for LO’19 started early at the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW). The Area Director, Roni Burkes-Trowsdell (Warden of the Year 2017, Governor’s Arts Award 2019), Warden Teri Baldauf, classroom teachers and a holistic team of wrap-around service providers welcomed us and ushered LO’19 from building to building, sharing the outcomes and impact of the programs they support.

At ORW, I spent the day in a space that felt unlike any other I have ever experienced. I never realized how much happens behind these walls. I encourage more people to visit and to make the connection between the hard work and self-development happening here in relation to the work we do in our communities.

While touring the ORW, each space we visited provided us with meaningful stories of impact that touched the heart, stimulated the mind, and called us all to take action as well. Our time in TAPESTRY, a dorm for women who were once drug addicted, previously commoditized or systemically marginalized set the tone for the day.

Tapestry participants met us at their front door and they welcomed us with applause. Seventy-nine women dressed in pink and teal uniforms, symbols of status or class removed, no makeup, no name brands, no distractions. These women were fully present in their simplicity. These women, through group and individual counseling sessions, yoga and mindfulness, have gotten to know and love who THEY ARE. There is a palpable strength of self-awareness seen in each of them. Through their applause and their lyrics, the women of Tapestry reminded us that we are still in community – together. Tapestry also reminds us about the power of RESILIENCE. These women are physically removed from society, but they each spoke about how they are a part of a community they want to connect with more meaningfully. They share gifts – literally, they make items that are shared worldwide. 

Oddly, the strongest feeling one gets at the ORW despite its ground-breaking programs isn’t one of innovation, but rather a feeling of LOVE and belonging. We visited women who have learned to sew while imprisoned, work with clay to create jewelry, train dogs to assist people in the community with special needs and limited mobility, build websites, master horticulture, and master trade vocations. Many of these programs are self-sustaining and more than 50% or all funds raised by their work is donated to area nonprofits.

Marysville and Union County as a community is a special place. The leaders we spoke with made it very easy to see how we can celebrate a rich history, build a future that is inclusive to all who wish to engage, and how we can even help to rebuild those who have made mistakes along the way. 

-By Malik Wayne Moore, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader, Tailored Fit Consulting | Leadership Ohio Class of 2019

Please note all blogs are the sole opinions of their authors and do not claim to represent the views of Leadership Ohio.

Leadership Ohio Announces Class of 2019

Twenty-three scholars, activists, innovators and influencers will spend the next eight months examining challenges, assets, and forging new ground to create a more prosperous Ohio

A Doctor of Medicine and former asylum seeker who helps New Americans become successful citizens. A high-tech entrepreneur who built and sold his first company inside of one year. The manager of the Air Force employee assistance program responsible for overseeing support for 170,000 civilians and their family members worldwide. A Police Officer turned MBA, Ed.D., and school principal.

These are just a few of Leadership Ohio’s newest class members — 23 leaders in all from seven Ohio cities. Today, we’re officially announcing the 2019 cohort of Leaders.

“We’re excited by the immense talent and breadth of experience reflected in this year’s Leaders,” notes Leadership Ohio Executive Director, Dr. Lisa Duty. “Together we’re advancing a unifying movement of diverse, connected leaders who are deeply committed to making Ohio the best state to live and work.”

For the class of 2019, leaders hail from both public and private institutions, nearly one third are minorities, and more than half are women. Leadership Ohio comprises scholars, intellectual leaders, activists and influencers from some of Ohio’s leading organizations.

Over the course of the year, these Leaders will examine key issues and persistent challenges, forge new ground, and inspire community. In past cohorts, Leaders have gone on to assume elected office, launch new initiatives and organizations, champion vital issues and serve on key boards and commissions.

Leaders will begin their journey through Leadership Ohio April 26-27 in Marysville, Ohio. The leaders will examine artificial intelligence through the lens of smart mobility and economics and the role of innovation and the arts in restoring citizenship. Union County Community Improvement Corporation, DriveOhio, Honda of North America, the Ohio Reformatory for Women and more will support leaders’ examination of these issues as they begin their year-long trek.

More than ever, Ohio’s capacity for reinvention must be driven by talent from every corner of the state. Leadership Ohio serves to fuel leaders’ inspiration and opportunities to connect with their unique abilities and with each other to address our greatest challenges-- and build new opportunities in their wake.

Learn more about Leadership Ohio, how to apply for the Class of 2020, or discuss opportunities to help advance the LO Mission.

Announcing the Leadership Ohio Class of 2019

Seleshi Ayalew Asfaw, MD, MPH., President/CEO, Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services (ETSS)

As president and CEO of ETSS, Dr. Seleshi Asfaw built ETSS in 2000 from scratch to help New Americans become successful citizens and contributing members of our society. Dr. Asfaw has a good appreciation of the challenges and opportunities facing new immigrants, and is passionate about providing services to assist with the transition to life in the United States.

In addition to his leading role with ETSS, Asfaw was appointed by the Mayor of Columbus to serve as a board member for Primary One Health. He is a member of the New Americans Advisory Council established by Franklin County Commissioners and the Future Ready Columbus Community Engagement Council. He and his organization received appreciation and service recognition from Franklin County Commissioners, the Mayer’s office, City Council, Columbus Foundation, and the Governor’s Office. Dr. Asfaw is an honoree of the 2015 C-suite award of Columbus Business First; he also received the 2015 Molina HealthCare Ohio Community Champion Award, the 2016 African Distinction Humanitarian Award from the OSU African Youth League, 2016 Diversity in Business Award of Columbus Business First and Smart 50 Executive Award of 2016 for Innovation, Sustainability and Impact from Smart Business of Columbus.

Dr. Asfaw has a Doctor of Medicine from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and a Master’s in public health from Belgium Erasmus University. He practiced medicine and eventually served as Director of Gondar Regional Health Department through the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia before seeking asylum in Belgium in 1996, as Ethiopia was in crisis of civil war and human right violations. Eventually he immigrated to Columbus, Ohio in 1997 where he worked with Jewish Family Services and ECDI for five years directing IDA and the Microenterprise programs funded by ORR. He founded a number of community-based organizations tackling public health, educational and economic development issues in Central Ohio.

Kacie V. Armstrong, Euclid Public Library, Director

Kacie Armstrong is the Director of the Euclid Public Library.  Armstrong attended Notre Dame College of Ohio, and went on to earn her Master of Library and Information Science degree from Kent State University.

After graduation, she began her career at the Cleveland Public Library.  While at CPL, she served as a Teen Librarian, the Manager of six branches, and the Central Neighborhood Team Manager. After CPL, she began working for the Cuyahoga County Public Library as a Branch Manager of three suburban library branches.  After working for several years at CCPL, Armstrong accepted the position as the Director of the Euclid Public Library. As the Director of the Library, she is directly responsible for overseeing the operation of the library, which includes staffing, facility management, administering a 5.6-million-dollar budget, and providing a high-quality collection of materials and services to meet the needs of the residents of Euclid and our CLEVNET members.  

Ms. Armstrong is a member of the American Library Association, the Public Library Association, and the Ohio Library Council. She currently serves as the Board Chair of the Ohio Library Council.  Recently, she concluded board terms on the OhioNet Board and the Coretta Scott King Book Jury. In her spare time, Ms. Armstrong loves to read, travel and enjoy time with her family.

Michael K. Harlow, M.P.A., Ohio State Director, Council for a Strong America

Michael Harlow joined Council for a Strong America in March 2017, bringing nearly 20 years of policy and legislative experience to the organization.

Prior to becoming the State Director in Ohio, Michael served as a policy analyst for the Ohio Department of Education. Much of his work focused on school improvements, accountability, school governance, and educator effectiveness. He also coordinated stakeholder engagement efforts for producing Ohio’s state plan as required under the new Every Student Succeeds Act.

He has been a freelance political consultant and overseen grassroots advocacy efforts for policy victories at the state and Federal level. Early in his career, he worked in the local office for a Member of Congress in Ohio, and later as a consultant for KnowledgeWorks, a Cincinnati-based social enterprise dedicated to improving educational outcomes for children in poverty. He served on the Northwest Local Board of Education in Hamilton County, Ohio, from 2014-2018. He lives in Colerain Township, with his wife, Heather, and their two boys John (13) and James (6).  In his spare time, he likes to read, travel, and spend time with his family.

Melissa Howell MS, MBA, MPH, RN, RS, Health Commissioner, Greene County Public Health

Melissa Howell has been the Health Commissioner for Greene County Public Health since 2013. She directs over 60 full time public health professionals in daily operations, creates vision, and oversees the implementation of the strategies used to improve community health.  The organization is a local public health agency whose mission is to prevent disease, promote health in the community and protect against disease threats in the environment. For the past five years Howell has been working to modernize public health services, established a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center, accomplished national Public Health Accreditation and oversaw the construction of a $7.8 million-dollar new facility.

Howell has over 25 years of combined experience in nursing, leadership, business, and public health.  Howell is the 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for Health Commissioners in Ohio for her years spent developing Ohio public health leaders. Howell serves as Treasurer for the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners. Her most recent publication is Succession Planning for Public Health: Cost, Continuity and Compliance. One focused interest for Howell has been public health finance. She has been working since 2007 to help develop a national chart of accounts and define the gaps that exist in funding for public health.

When she is not working, Howell enjoys her time with family. She has three grown children who are married and two great grandchildren.  She has traveled extensively and supports medical missions in Central and South American countries. She likes to read, work in the yard and explore the outdoors.

Kendale Ivory, CT RT, Registered, Supervisor of Radiology, University Hospitals of Cleveland Medical Center

Kendale Ivory is the Radiology Supervisor who directs activities of a variety of diagnostic procedures producing high quality studies, and assures that the processing of radiographs meets established quality standards. He has worked in the field of Radiology for over 15 years, first joining University Hospitals in 2005 as a CT technician.

Ivory holds a bachelor of science in technology from Kent State University. He is a native of Cleveland.

Nathaniel Kaelin, AICP, Economic Development & Infrastructure Officer, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission

Nathaniel Kaelin is the Economic Development and Infrastructure Officer at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). Kaelin is part of the Transportation Systems and Funding team and assists MORPC members and communities in advancing infrastructure and job creation projects through programming, technical assistance, and coordination of agency resources. In this position, Kaelin regularly coordinates with economic development and infrastructure professionals to ensure that Central Ohio communities offer competitive infrastructure to support community and economic growth.

Kaelin joined MORPC in 2016 to launch the newly-created Competitive Advantage Projects initiative, a partnership between Columbus 2020 and MORPC to identify and advance priority infrastructure projects across thirteen counties in Central Ohio. Nathaniel also supports other key initiatives for the agency, including the Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative/hyperloop project, the Downtown C-pass, the Rickenbacker Area Study, and competitive grant writing for state and federal funding programs.

Prior to joining MORPC, Kaelin worked for the Ohio Development Services Agency where he managed the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, in addition to working on other tax incentive and urban revitalization programs. He has degrees in Urban and Regional Planning from Miami University and Ohio State University, is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), and is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Gretchen S. Klingler, Women Veterans Community Advocate at The Ohio State University

Gretchen is a 6-year veteran of the United States Air Force, transitioning from active duty service to full-time student in 2015.  She has been actively involved with Ohio State student veterans since her transition, serving as the President of the OSU Student Veterans of America chapter, Vets 4 Vets, from 2016-2018, and recently serving as the OSU Women Veterans Community Advocate.  Further, she is actively involved with her VFW post, Hilliard Memorial Post #4931 in Hilliard, Ohio, and with The Mission Continues - Columbus 1st Platoon.

Following her time at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, Gretchen also developed a passion for serving the immigrant and refugee community from the Middle East.  She has presented her research with Iraqi women immigrants and refugees, from California and Ohio, at the Society for Applied Anthropology conference in 2018, and at The Migration Conference in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018.  Through this research, Gretchen became involved with Veterans for American Ideals (VFAI), and hosted their first event in Ohio in February 2019.

Gretchen is a 2017 Pat Tillman Military Scholar, and a 2018 Veterans in Global Leadership Fellow.

Sandra Lucarelli MSN, Registered Nurse, NE-BC, Director Concierge Services, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

As Director of Concierge Services Sandra Lucarelli oversees Patient Services, Personalized Physicians Primary Care Practice and Executive Health and Wellness.

She is dedicated to providing exceptional service and process improvement. Lucarelli received her Masters of Science in Nursing from KSU and also has the credentialing of NE-BC, Nurse Executive-Board Certified.

She has worked for University Hospitals for over 25 years dedicating her initial career to bedside nursing in the specialty areas of oncology, ICU and Labor & Delivery then expanding her career to the executive administrative arena. In 2018 she won the Healthnetwork Exceptional Care Award. In 2019 she was nominated and accepted to sit on Vizient/Global Executive Services steering committee. She is currently working with BVU to connect with Volunteer opportunities.   

She currently resides in Chesterland with her husband and two children.

Stephanie S. McManus, Major Gift Officer, Ohio History Connection

The Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society, is a statewide history organization with the mission to spark discovery of Ohio’s stories. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization chartered in 1885, the Ohio History Connection carries out history services for Ohio and its citizens focused on preserving and sharing the state’s history. This includes housing the state historic preservation office, the official state archives, local history office and managing more than 50 sites and museums across Ohio. As a Major Gifts Officer, Stephanie McManus is responsible for raising funds for historic sites and programs across Ohio. McManus is currently managing the fundraising efforts for an expansion to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, OH; the construction of a brand new Warren G. Harding Presidential Center in Marion, OH; and educational programming across the state. McManus is also managing campaign planning and execution for a transformational project at the Ohio History Center campus in Columbus, OH. From April 2018 until January 2019 McManus co-directed the Ohio History Connection’s Development Office as Interim Co-Chief Development Officer.

Prior to joining the Ohio History Connection team, McManus served as Director of Development at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology in Newark, OH where she was a part of the administrative team leading all fundraising efforts for the Museum’s programming and campus. Before her time with The Works, McManus was the Government & Foundation Relations Officer and the Alumni Relations Officer at the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, OH.

McManus is an active resident in the Licking County community. She is appointed by Mayor Hall to represent The City of Newark on the Board of Directors for Explore Licking County (County Convention and Visitors Bureau). McManus recently served on the 2018 Campaign Cabinet for the United Way of Licking County. McManus has her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Auburn University in Auburn, AL and has nearly completed her Masters of Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, GA.

Melissa Miller, MBA, Associate Director, Ohio CDC Association

Melissa Miller has been with the Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) since 2012, where she began by serving her second year of national service as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader. She has held a variety of different roles during her tenure at OCDCA and is currently the Associate Director, where she helps build the capacity of community development organizations across the state of Ohio. She does this by managing membership, coordinating training opportunities, and overseeing the association’s programming.  During this time, Miller helped grow the AmeriCorps VISTA program to the one of the largest national service programs in the state of Ohio, added AmeriCorps VISTA slots to focus on rural issues, and assisted the Corporation of National and Community Service in piloting special initiative projects. In 2018, Miller oversaw the pilot of the Empowering Communities Grant Challenge, a statewide opportunity funded by the CareSource Foundation that provides funding to CDCs for innovative solutions to unique community challenges that involve the social determinants of health. Since then, CareSource Foundation has replicated this program in Indiana and Kentucky.

Prior to joining OCDCA, Miller served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with UGIVE.ORG, a web-based youth volunteer platform, coordinating service learning projects and connecting high school students with volunteer opportunities. She was the AmeriCorps Alums Columbus Chapter president from 2014 to 2016. She also spent time interning for State Representative Ted Celeste. She holds a master’s degree in business administration from Ohio University and bachelor’s degree in political science from Kent State University.

Outside of work, Miller volunteers her time as a Big Sister with Big Brother Big Sisters. She currently lives in Etna with her husband, Adam, her son Hugh, and her two dogs, Max and Paris.

Malik Wayne Moore, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader, Tailored Fit Consulting

Malik Wayne Moore is effecting change and strengthening community in Columbus, Ohio and throughout the world. Having spent 13 years as a YMCA Senior Leader and Executive Director, Moore is a founding member of the YMCA’s national team of social responsibility leaders. Moore is a committed student of Asset-Based Community Development and asset-mapping and he allots time to serve students in Columbus City Schools as a mentor and work-development coach. He also mentors nonprofit executives, and YMCA professionals throughout the world.

Moore believes that through mentorship, coaching, and intentional relationship-building, communities can become more closely connected - even during today’s polarizing climate.   

Moore is an experienced community leader and equity leader. He is a graduate of two of Ohio’s most reputable citizen police academies, and his professional highlights include over 20 years of leadership experience within the nonprofit world and in the YMCA.  

As a YMCA volunteer, Moore has led ”Y work” on three continents, in six countries, in over 18 states and countless cities.  During the last 15 years, he has worked for the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, and the YMCA of Central Ohio. Moore focuses on partnerships, community transformation and facilitates courageous conversations around race and equity.

He is deeply invested in developing leaders and strengthening community and he also serves as an instructor with YMCA of the USA’s Leadership and Career Development Team.

Mary B. Nippert, Honorary Consul of Estonia for Ohio and Kentucky

Ms. Nippert is currently the Honorary Consul of Estonia for the states of Ohio and Kentucky. Appointed in 2015, by the United States Department of State and Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she is the first person ever to hold that posting for those states. Recognized by various government institutions in Ohio and Kentucky for her work, personally and professionally, she has been named a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor the Governor of Kentucky can bestow upon a civilian. She has also been named an Ohio Commodore, the highest honor the Governor of Ohio can bestow upon a civilian. In 2019, she was selected by the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America, approved by Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (the governing body for the entire country of Ukraine) and participated as one of just 2,400 short-term International Election Observers (from 13 countries) for the Presidential elections in Ukraine. Sought-after as speaker on international affairs, she has been invited to speak at Stanford University and has spoken at UCLA, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and at various events throughout Ohio. In 2018, Ms. Nippert was one of three featured speakers (along with a senior diplomat from the Ukrainian Consulate {in San Francisco, California}) to speak at a Holodomor memorial and talk about Russia and current geopolitics. She has studied at the University of Cincinnati, Oxford University (England), United States Naval Academy and Gemological Institute of America. Ms. Nippert was a professional artist and commercial photographer before owning and operating a high-end boutique jewelry store, for over ten years. As a noted professional artist, many of her paintings are in private collections in Europe and The United States. Ms. Nippert has advocated for Estonia and Ukraine (on behalf of various organizations) in Washington D.C., and has participated in numerous Baltic and Ukrainian related cultural and memorial events around the United States. She made a HALO skydive on March 20, 2017 from 30,000 feet (approx. 9,144 meters) to raise money and awareness for The HALO Trust for demining (e.g. landmine removal) efforts in Ukraine. This cause became a personal interest, after she experienced driving through active landmine fields, during a trip to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2015 and she wanted to help Ukraine with this cause. The HALO Trust, a favored charity of the late Princess Diana, raises awareness, educates and removes landmines and undetonated ordinances from war torn countries. Other areas of interest are international affairs, the environment, various humanitarian causes such as anti-human trafficking, landmine removal and prevention of domestic violence/child abuse, to name a few. Additional recent honors include her selection in 2017 as a “Great Leader Under 40,” by Venue Magazine and also a 2017 “Next Generation of Community Leaders,” by LEAD Cincinnati Magazine (Sponsored by the YMCA). In 2016, she received certificates of recognition from both the State Senate of Ohio and State of Ohio House of Representatives for international efforts. In 2014, she was Volunteer Chairperson, of the 2014 Campaign Cabinet for the United Way; Cincinnati Leadership Class for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and was named “YWCA Rising Star Woman of Achievement” by the YWCA in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Danna L. Plewe, Program Manager, United States Air Force

As the program manager for the Air Force Employee Assistance Program, Danna Plewe is responsible for overseeing the primary support and referral resource for 170,000 civilians and their family members worldwide.  

Prior to serving the Air Force in this capacity, Plewe served as the Community Support Coordinator for Wright-Patterson Air Force base, the largest single-site employer in Ohio and home to ~27,000 employees. She has a passion for servant leadership and has served her community in a multitude of volunteer roles to include the Dayton Art Institute and the Women’s Board, Dayton Children’s Hospital.  

Plewe is a graduate of Old Dominion University, Virginia, and currently in the Ed.D. program for Organizational Leadership at Wright State University. She and her husband, Tom (Air Force retired), reside in Huber Heights (Dayton).  They have 26-year-old twins, Matt and Cheyanne, a new son-in-law, Ben, and an enthusiastic 6-month-old Boxer, Sage.

Lenny Schafer, M.Ed., PCC-S, Executive Director, The Ohio Council of Community Schools

Lenny Schafer has worked at OCCS for 15 years and was promoted to Executive Director in 2014. The OCCS is the first and largest authorizer of charter schools in Ohio and is a student-centered organization advocating excellence in education through strategic partnerships. Schafer leads a team of 25 employees which provides quality oversight of 46 charter schools serving 32,000 students all over Ohio.

Prior to joining OCCS, Schafer has spent more than 15 years serving urban youth as a counselor, teacher and administrator. Schafer is the founder of two dropout recovery schools in Canton.  He holds a masters of education in counseling from Kent State University and bachelor’s degree in English from Ohio University. Schafer is an independently licensed professional clinical counselor and worked his way into education through mental health.

In addition, Schafer was the owner of Life’s Behavioral Solutions, a community based private practice for family and child counseling in Canton, Ohio.

Ian Schwarber, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, DriveIT

Ian Schwarber is the Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder of DriveIT.  Schwarber also Co-Founded The EX[L] Center for Entrepreneurship and Civic Engagement at The University of Akron, in Akron, Ohio.  Graduating Summa Cum Laude from The University of Akron in 2013, Schwarber immediately began his graduate studies at the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, also at UA. Ian is also serves as the Executive Director of EcosySTEM, a 501c-3 non-profit organization focused on delivering STEM/tech learning opportunities throughout Northeast Ohio’s schools. Schwarber has driven a number of successful startups, founded non-profit organizations and held leadership roles in various campaigns, grassroots movements and community projects.  Schwarber graduated from Archbishop Hoban High School and lives in West Akron, Ohio, with his wife Mackenzie, and their children, Mary Justice and Jack.

Derrick R. Shelton, Ed.D, MBA, Principal, Reynoldsburg CSD

Dr. Derrick Shelton has over 20 years of experience in the field of education. He has served as a special education teacher, principal, superintendent, and several other positions in various school systems.  

Throughout his career Shelton has served as a Regional Vice President, Regional Operations Manager, Regional Operations Director, and Executive Vice President. His experience spans across various states to include Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and New York.  As an Executive Director, he managed 14 schools throughout the state of Florida.

Dr. Shelton recently transitioned from the positions of Superintendent of the Columbus Arts & Technology Academy (CATA) and Regional Vice President of additional schools in Ohio, to the position of Principal at Reynoldsburg City Schools. Shelton has dedicated his life to being a positive change agent, and he is committed to ensuring that all children receive a high-quality education. His commitment is driven by an indelible desire to change the face of education. That said, Shelton models the importance of education by continuing his educational journey. To that end, he completed his MBA, and his Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Phoenix.   

Shelton also served as a Police Officer for over 8 ½ years. He served for 6 years on the Cincinnati Police Department, and 2 ½ years on the Delray Beach Police Department in Delray Beach, FL.

Sharetta T. Smith, JD, MBA, Chief of Staff, City of Lima

Sharetta T.  Smith serves as the Chief of Staff for the City of Lima. Smith joined the administration in January 2017. In her role as Chief of Staff, Smith is responsible for overseeing city operations including the coordination of policy and legislation, external affairs and communications, and leading many of the Mayor Berger’s key initiatives. Prior to joining the Berger Administration, Smith served six terms as a Magistrate for Hamilton County General Sessions Court in Chattanooga, Tennessee; reporting to the county commission. As a magistrate, she presided over probable cause and bond hearings, issued arrest and search warrants, and appointed counsel for indigent defendants. Smith has earned numerous awards including being named one of Chattanooga’s Top 20 under 40, and the 2011 Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga Young Professional of the Year.  Smith is a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga and a recent graduate of Allen Lima Leadership. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in general studies/communications from the University of Toledo, a law degree from Ohio Northern University, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. Smith is also a Lima native.

Shelly Stotzer, Owner, Career Coach & Talent Strategist, Crosworks

Shelly Stotzer is Owner, Career Coach and Talent Strategist at Crosworks, where she uses her extensive executive leadership and coaching expertise to help clients gain clarity and focus to perform their best. Serving both individual and organizations, she leads the Crosworks team in guiding clients to success through proven processes – processes that explore each individual’s strengths, interests, skills and work environment needs – to gain the insight to deliver both personal fulfillment and maximum results.

Prior to acquiring Crosworks, Shelly was head of the residential solar division at IGS, a division that she launched. She also ran a consulting practice, Auxano, serving a variety of established corporations as well as startups, providing strategic business planning, executive leadership coaching and operations analysis. And, at Highlights for Children, she served as chief operating officer and chief marketing officer, appointed by the company’s CEO to drive a financial turn-around and rebranding of a decades-old magazine.

Shelly earned an MBA from the University of Dayton and a BS in business operations from DeVry University.
Deeply committed to giving back, Shelly recently joined the Leadership Worthington board. She has also served as a governance board member for the Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana region, on the board of the Worthington Resource Pantry and in other community-based leadership roles.

David Tabata, Consumer Programs Manager and Marketing, AEP Ohio

As consumer programs manager within AEP Ohio’s Distribution Technology and Innovation team, Dave Tabata leads a dedicated team responsible for providing residential consumers energy saving programs and tips to use energy more efficiently and provide increased customer satisfaction. His thirty-year career has been in the products and services industries involving technology, new product development and deployment. Tabata’s focus is to close the gap between the product or service and the customer by providing a target market approach, value propositions and benefits to the customer. Before joining AEP, he worked with Direct Energy, Time Warner Broadband and AOL.

Adrian D. Thompson, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Co-Partner-in-Charge, Cleveland office; Taft Chief Diversity Officer

Adrian Thompson joined Taft in 2006. Today, he leads 60 attorneys in Taft’s Cleveland office and serves as the firm’s Chief Diversity Officer. In this role he helps to drive the firm’s commitment and strategy regarding diversity and inclusion across Taft’s nine offices, its 460 attorneys, and in the Midwest communities that Taft serves.

In his legal practice, Thompson provides counsel for private sector clients on issues including equal employment opportunity litigation, wage-hour problems, employment of the disabled and other labor matters. He also represents school districts in contract negotiations, grievance arbitration, litigation, education of the disabled, and employment discrimination matters.

Thompson co-chairs the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Strategies Committee and is an active member of the Norman S. Minor Bar Association.

He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Education Law, and as an Ohio Super Lawyer for Labor Law. Thompson is a member of the Commission on the Rules of Superintendence for Ohio Courts and is listed in the National Black Lawyers Top 100. In February 2019, he was appointed to the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Joe Weitz, MLIS, Communications & Policy Coordinator, Educational Service Center of Central Ohio

Joe Weitz has worked for the Educational Service Center (ESC) of Central Ohio as its policy coordinator since 2008 and added communications coordination to his duties beginning in 2016.  As policy coordinator, he guides the agency in its public policy tracking, research and strategic analysis of services. He also leads the agency’s communications efforts with internal and external stakeholders and partners. In 2015, he received the Ohio Educational Service Center Association’s Torch Award, established to recognize individuals and/or organizations who have rendered outstanding service or who have made significant contributions to the association and ESCs as a whole.   

Previously, Weitz served as a library and research associate in the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) Office of Curriculum and Instruction. He also served as an assistant to the state superintendent of public instruction at ODE and to the state librarian at the State Library of Ohio.

Weitz received his undergraduate degree from Northern Kentucky University and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Kent State University. He holds an administrative specialist license in educational research and has completed graduate-level coursework at The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He also serves as a member of the City of Gahanna’s Area Commission.

Andrea White, Business Development VP, Midwest, CLEAResult

As Business Development VP, Midwest for CLEAResult, Andrea White is responsible for managing a team of over 100 energy efficiency professionals in the delivery of statewide energy efficiency programs on behalf of Ohio utilities including AEP Ohio, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Dayton Power & Light, Dominion Energy Ohio and Vectren Energy Ohio. Helping Ohioans save energy while creating a more comfortable work or home environment is White’s passion.

Prior to joining the CLEAResult family in 2010, White served as Account Services Director for two Ohio-based advertising agencies and as a Public Information Officer for the State of Ohio. She is an innovative strategist with the proven ability to generate awareness and drive results in a variety of fields from utility and retail to general services and healthcare.  Her work has garnered recognition from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Association of Energy Professionals, Building Performance Institute and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

White is a graduate of Ohio Dominican University (B.A. Political Science) and resides in Lewis Center.

Ana Claudia Zubieta, Ph.D., Ohio SNAP-Ed Director, Family and Consumer Sciences, Department Extension, The Ohio State University

Ana Claudia Zubieta has been the Ohio SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education) director for over 12 years. As the SNAP-Ed director, Zubieta offers statewide leadership to the program by coordinating program implementation and evaluation while maintaining program under federal guidelines in the 88 Ohio counties. Moreover, Zubieta has been involved in community nutrition research studies that look at best practices for nutrition education programs  (assessing optimal nutrition education dosage for SNAP-Ed participants) and in a research study, led by Case Western Reserve University, that developed a tool to assess community readiness for PSE (Policy Systems and Environmental changes) interventions (PSE READI tool).

Zubieta received her doctoral degree in the Nutrition Department at the University of California in Davis. Her doctoral and postdoctoral training at UC Davis was focused on lactation and micronutrient malnutrition. At The Ohio State University Zubieta worked in the Human Nutrition Department as a Postdoctoral Research Associate for 2 years. In this position, Zubieta focused in community nutrition research working in the evaluation of a community-based program for Latinos in Central Ohio and on the relationship of breastfeeding practices in US households by household food security status using data from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2002. In addition, Zubieta participated as a co-investigator in a research project (2008) assessing community feedback, improvement and dissemination in the transition from a traditional food pantry to a choice food pantry in Butler County, Ohio.

Zubieta has served and continues to serve in leadership positions at state and national organizations and associations.

Fifteen Reasons Leaders Join Leadership Ohio

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In the last twenty-six years, Leadership Ohio has attracted a diverse body of top talent that are a part of various professions, backgrounds, experiences, and generations. While our alumni share a commitment to making the Great State of Ohio the best place to live and work, the reasons each individual pursues the Leadership Ohio experience are relevant to the individual.

Most of our alumni identify very strongly with particular parts of this list, and found resonance with others. What are your top three reasons for joining us? What’s missing from the list?

 In no particular order:

1. I want to develop or hone my leader’s mindset and focus attention on the growth of critical leadership skills (adaptability, creativity, innovation, communication, empathy, etc.) 

 2. I want to tap into the wellspring of sources of public, private, and social innovation across Ohio.

 3. I want to gain state-wide perspective and experience while contemplating or running for an elected office.

 4. I want to build productive and valuable relationships that can help me move forward in my career across my lifetime.

5. I want to gain statewide perspective and experiences to strengthen my existing board service or potentially expand my opportunities to serve on local or state-wide boards and commissions who might view this distinction favorably. 

6. I want to elevate my performance and impact at my current organization. 

7. I’m a change-maker that’s looking for inspiration and/or my next ‘big idea’ for an existing or perhaps soon-to-be new initiative, business, or nonprofit. 

8. I have a desire to tap into my passion and expertise for community and civic innovation and problem solving that could be leveraged state-wide.

9. I’m looking for opportunities to learn about and grapple with state-wide challenges and solutions that have real impact on Ohioans.

10.  I’m a people person, and relationships are a powerful and nurturing source of energy for me; I enjoy networking and helping others.

11. I want to develop new tools, mind sets, and connections in a way that is high in value, but fits reasonably with my commitments to family, work, and life.

12.  I’m seeking ways to stand out at work and/or in my community; I want to raise my profile, for instance, when given the opportunity to be promoted to increasingly important roles or at new organizations.

13. I want to grow my knowledge and perspective by being present in actual communities with great leaders where real change and impact happens on the ground, not just in books.

14. I want to learn more about the issues we’re facing today that are complex, systemic and can’t be solved in silos—and how our institutions and systems might adapt.

15. I have a calling to public service, our democracy, and to the Great State of Ohio. 

Click to learn more about joining the Leadership Ohio Class of 2019.