This is the final list of conference speakers.
Last update: 9/2/2014
Lisa Adkins is the Architecture Reviews Manager of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office’s division of Resource Protection and Review. She examines federally-funded or -licensed projects in Ohio for effects on historic properties included in, or eligible for, the National Register, as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. She is available to assist Ohio land banks with evaluation of historic resources and coordinating with the Ohio office. Lisa has a B.A. in History and English from Oberlin College and has studied Historic Preservation Planning as a graduate student at Cornell University.
Sandra Albro investigates how improvements to existing soils and addition of plants improve the ecological and social value of vacant urban land. Her topics of interest include soil remediation, stormwater management, low-maintenance plants, aesthetic improvement, and human use of vacant land in urban communities. She is Project Manager for Vacant to Vibrant, a Great Lakes Protection Fund–supported initiative to evaluate the success of clusters of small green infrastructure projects to achieve multiple community benefits in Gary, IN; Cleveland, OH; and Buffalo, NY. She is also Project Manager for a US EPA Urban Waters project examining the use of soil remediation and GI for stormwater management in an intensively treated Cleveland neighborhood.
ER Beach grew up on a small farm in Kentucky and currently resides in Cincinnati. He attended Heidelberg University in Tiffin, OH, where he played basketball and earned a degree in communications. While there he was the News Director for the college TV station and the Station Manager for the radio station, winning the Distinguished Service Award for both. During his time at Heidelberg, he began his research on industrial hemp. Shortly thereafter, Beach established his first hemp business, Hemptations, in 1995 at the age of 25. Hemptations, which has two brick and mortar locations, and has an ever growing inventory online, now boasts the largest selection of hemp goods on the planet. He also currently manufactures hemp goods under the name Planet EveryWear out of Cincinnati. Beach promotes the idea any land could be used to sustain humans and the planet, equally. From cleaning the soil to feeding the neighborhood and everything in between, hemp is an environmentally friendly solution and one of the greatest natural resources available and he continues to work to bring it back to American soil.
Paul Boehnlein is a certified Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) who has worked with public park districts, local governments, non-profit organizations and private engineering firms to plan, develop and implement GIS projects. In his current role with Western Reserve Land Conservancy, he works closely with Thriving Communities Institute to provide GIS support for their work with land banks and local governments. Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in geographic information systems from the University of Akron and a master’s degree in technology from Kent State University.
Paula Boggs Muething joined the Port Authority in March 2012 to assist in redevelopment initiatives, including operating the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation. Paula previously worked in the City of Cincinnati Law Department, practicing in the areas of blight and nuisance abatement solutions and litigation. Prior to that, she was a litigator at Keating, Muething and Klekamp, PLL. Paula earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2003, where she was a Human Rights Fellow and a member of the Editorial Board of the Law Review. She studied Community Land Reform Initiatives at the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education. She serves on the boards of Talbert House, Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, and Greater Ohio Policy Center.
Carlie J. Boos, Esq. is the Neighborhood Initiative Manager at the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, implementing statewide neighborhood development and foreclosure prevention programs totaling over $500 million. After graduating cum laude from The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Ms. Boos practiced as a consumer rights attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services. During that time she obtained over $150,000 in settlements and principal reductions for her foreclosure defense clients and was featured on the CBS Evening News for her work with rural mortgage loans. She also worked as a consultant for The Ohio State University School’s Moritz College of Law’s faculty on various consumer rights issues.
Gloria Castillo is one of the founders of BioRegional Strategies (BRS), which was established in 1993. BRS offers a unique grassroots model based on Wholistic Visioning and Regenerational Planning. The BRS founders have more than forty years’ experience in agriculture, horticulture, land tenure, and scientific knowledge to assist in the regenerational planning of areas that require soil remediation, urban and rural gardens, commercial agriculture, and improving food and nutrition networks. BRS is a strategic developer of revitalizing economic development based on identifying community assets and strengthening community relationships that work together to rebuild community infrastructures. BRS offers consulting services and leadership in partnership with grassroots community leaders, non-profit organizations, and businesses to focus on the collaborative process to reclaim community assets for the purpose of re-invigorating local economies. Currently, BRS is focusing on agricultural hemp with an emphasis on new market applications for neutraceuticals, biocomposites, fibers, and non-woven textiles.
Vladimir Cica currently serves as a brownfield specialist for the Ohio EPA and is responsible for providing technical assistance to Ohio’s Development Services Agency to help implement the Clean Ohio Fund and OWDA loan programs. Vlad has worked in this capacity for over ten years, and has previously worked for the Division of Solid and Infectious Waste in the engineering unit. Vlad has a civil engineering degree from Youngstown State University, and is a registered professional engineer in Ohio.
Kathleen H. Crowther is President of the Cleveland Restoration Society, a local partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Under her leadership of 27 years, the organization has grown dramatically to cover northeast Ohio with historic preservation expertise. She has served in leadership positions on the state and national levels. She has a B.A. in English and Art History from Case Western Reserve University. She recently co-chaired the conference Historic Preservation in America’s Legacy Cities held in partnership Cleveland State University’s College of Urban Affairs. She an M.A. from the College and teaches a course there: Contemporary Issues in Historic Preservation.
Michael Fleenor is Director of Preservation Services at the Cleveland Restoration Society. In this role, he manages several program areas, including the Society’s fee-for-service activities in the region. Michael has completed building assessments and other preservation services for a number of municipalities and organizations. He manages the Society’s Sacred Landmarks Assistance Program (technical assistance and steeple lighting); real estate (acquisition, receiverships and easements); advocacy; and survey programs. Michael formerly worked for the Tennessee Historical Commission. He has degrees in English-Journalism, Educational Psychology, and Public History, with an emphasis in Historic Preservation.
Debora Flora is executive director of Mahoning County Land Bank, which promotes healthy, sustainable neighborhoods by returning vacant, abandoned property to productive use. The County Land Bank is assisting residents, businesses, churches and nonprofits with the acquisition of more than 1,000 vacant lots for greening, gardening, construction projects and business expansion. The organization is administering Mahoning County’s $1.6 million residential demolition grant, as provided by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Ten communities are beneficiaries of the grant award, which is financing strategic demolitions of blighted, abandoned houses. The County Land Bank also has secured a $4.27 million grant (which she co-wrote) from Ohio Housing Finance Agency for demolition of vacant houses in strategic locations in Youngstown, Austintown, Boardman, Campbell and Struthers. The Land Bank also is acquiring vacant houses to be renovated for owner-occupancy.
Frank Ford is Senior Policy Advisor at Thriving Communities Institute, a program of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. He also serves as the Chair of the Greater Cleveland Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council (VAPAC). He is a licensed attorney who has worked in the field of community development for 37 years. In 1986 he litigated the first case under Ohio’s Public Nuisance Receivership Law. He published one of the first studies in the U.S. to document racial disparities in small businesses lending – this study was cited by Attorney General Janet Reno in her Martin Luther King Day speech, Birmingham, Alabama, 1997. From 1999 to 2013 he served as Senior Vice President for Research and Development at Neighborhood Progress, Inc. (NPI), responding to foreclosure, abandoned property and neighborhood stabilization. From 1991to 1998 he served as Associate Director for Urban Programs at the Colorado Center for Community Development at the University of Colorado at Denver, teaching community development and conducting applied research. Between 1986 and 1990 Frank served as Executive Director of the Union-Miles Development Corporation in Cleveland. He is a graduate of Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Gus Frangos was the primary drafter of Ohio’s House Bill 294 and S.B. 353 establishing enhanced-capacity County Land Banks, and expedited administrative tax foreclosure policy. Mr. Frangos graduated with honors from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1982 whereupon he served as an associate attorney at the law firm of Ulmer & Berne from 1982 to 1986 concentrating in business law and litigation. From 1986 to 1993, Mr. Frangos served as the 13th Ward Cleveland City Councilman where he sponsored and passed an array of community development legislation. In 1993, Mr. Frangos was appointed as a Magistrate Judge in the Cleveland Municipal Court where he served with distinction. While at the Court, he established and administered the Small Claims Court’s current Small Claims Mediation Program. Mr. Frangos is the President and General Counsel of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, and his areas of legal concentration include land-related issues, Constitutional, commercial real estate, zoning, administrative and business transactional law.
Cindy Geronimo is the Vice President and Director of Community Engagement for the Lucas County Land Bank. She has over 25 years of experience working in government. She has held the positions of Civil Bailiff for the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, the Chief Deputy Recorder in the Lucas County Recorder’s Office and Director of Real Estate in the Lucas County Auditor’s Office. She also, served as both a Guardsman and Civil Service Technician in the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio National Guard. She currently serves on numerous boards in her community and is a member of both the Toledo and Lucas County Planning and Zoning Commissions. She holds a BBA, BA, and JD from the University of Toledo. Her and her husband Dave have two children and reside in Toledo, Ohio.
Jacqueline Gillon is a community builder, facilitator, trainer and published author. Appointed at 23 to the former East Cleveland City Commission, she later was elected to three terms on the City Council, focusing on environmental, youth, and safety policies. Jacquie spent 19 years with Neighborhood Centers Association and Neighborhood Leadership Institute, staffing 29 classes of Neighborhood Leadership Cleveland. Partnering with Environmental Health Watch and the Earth Day Coalition, she was involved in environmental education, helping to conceive Naturehood, an initiative promoting greening of vacant lots. She currently serves as the Community Engagement Specialist for the Thriving Communities Institute, a program of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
Mary Hada, a developer for the NRP Group LLC has over 16 years of development/construction experience. Her areas of expertise include Low Income Housing Tax Credit and student and market rate housing construction for the states of Ohio and Indiana. Duties of the job include site acquisition, rezoning, Low Income Housing Tax Credits applications, and other comprehensive funding applications for local and state funds. She has also developed an expertise of creating strategic partnerships with local municipalities as well as their community based non-profit organizations. Mary Hada has developed hundreds of residential units including single and multi-family homes and apartments for families and seniors. Prior to joining NRP, Mary worked for Hudson-Hanover as the Regional Property Manager.
Trevelle Harp serves as the Executive Director and Lead Organizer for the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope (NOAH). NOAH is a broad-based community organization that unites area residents, block clubs, churches, social service agencies, and nonprofits. NOAH is currently addressing equity issues in the city of East Cleveland, one of the poorest, disinvested communities of our region. Trevelle has organized multiple campaigns in the city of East Cleveland to help leverage resources to address Vacant and Abandoned Properties and is committed to the revitalization of East Cleveland. Trevelle resides in East Cleveland with his wife Aiesha and their one year-old son Gabriel.
Ed Herman is Law and Policy Advisor to Thriving Communities Institute. His work at TCI focuses on foreclosure matters and demolition financing. Ed is also an attorney in private practice at Herman Law Group, LLC, in Cleveland. Ed graduated from Cleveland Marshall College of Law magna cum laude and from Fordham University. He is a U.S. Army veteran of Afghanistan.
Michel Jendretzky is an attorney, and owner of Jendretzky Law LLC. Michel graduated from the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and mass communications, and she earned her Juris Doctorate from Capital University Law School. Michel began her career in public service, working for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, drafting bills and doing research for our state legislators. She then decided to enter the world of small business, and opened the doors to her own law firm. Michel has been successfully engaged in private practice now for over three years, providing legal services to individuals, families, and the business community.
Tom Jorgensen became Chief Operating Officer in 2011 after being a volunteer and trustee with the Cleveland Restoration Society for 28 years. He had a 44-year career at the Cleveland firm Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP, where he led the practice in Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation. He has served in leadership positions in the American Bar Association, the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, the International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, the International Bar Association, and the Internal Revenue Service Advisors Group. He has testified to Congress and been selected as a leading American lawyer by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and Ohio’s Super Lawyers.
James Kastelic currently serves as Program Director for Connecting Cleveland in the Ohio office of the Trust for Public Land. He also is a Fellow at the Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, where he teaches courses in community and regional planning. He formerly served as Deputy Director of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission and Senior Park Planner for Cleveland Metroparks. Mr. Kastelic holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts degree in urban geography from Kent State University. He has over 40 years of experience in city planning, land use regulation, public management, environmental resource assessment and site analysis. He has served as a board member and officer on a number of statewide and regional organizations, including the Ohio Coastal Resource Advisory Council, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, West Creek Conservancy, Scenic Ohio and the Cuyahoga Valley Regional Council of Governments.
Robert Klein is a national expert in the property preservation industry. He is the founder of Safeguard Properties and co-founder of SecureView, an alternative board-up system that is designed to look like traditional windows. Under Robert’s leadership, Safeguard Properties has grown to over 1,000 employees with an extensive network of subcontractors throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Robert has also received national acclaim for developing a model for holistic community re-vitalization and is presently implementing the approach in Cleveland’s Slavic Village, one of America’s hardest hit neighborhoods. He also served as chair of the National Vacant Properties Registration Committee of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Robert represents not only Safeguard, but the industry as a whole in national associations including MBA, USFN, CMBA, and REOMAC. He has been a session leader and panelist at yearly industry conferences, in addition to being the primary sponsor of the annual National Property Preservation Conference, which began in 2004.
Martha MacFarlane Faes is Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer at the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. She manages the Cultural Resource and Planning groups, administers Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and leads the Office’s archaeology, easement, Certified Local Government and historic preservation planning programs. Martha recently directed a citywide survey of Detroit’s historic residential resources. She focuses on creating stronger and more efficient channels for integrating historic preservation into community planning strategies. Martha received her B.A. in art and architectural history from Wellesley College, an M.A. from the University of Chicago where she is a Ph.D. candidate. She has received awards the American Association of University Women, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
David Mann is the President of the Lucas County Land Bank, having been actively involved as both a staff and Board member since its inception in 2010. Prior to his work at the Land Bank, David served in various public policy positions with the Board of Lucas County Commissioners. He earned a Juris Doctorate, summa cum laude, from The University of Toledo College of Law. He has also served on various community boards, including the Toledo-Lucas County Housing Fund, the Lucas County Law Library Board, and EqualityToledo. He is also Of Counsel with Marshall & Melhorn, LLC, one of Toledo’s oldest law firms. He lives with his partner, Eugenio, in Toledo, Ohio.
Jeff Marks has worked in housing rehabilitation for over 30 years. He has extensive experience with implementing rehab programs, specifications and procedures, and overseeing contracted work. In his present business with Marks Housing Consultants, Jeff works with non-profit and government agencies, as well as for-profit developers, to set up and implement rehab programs. He is also certified as a 203(k) consultant with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Jeff’s approach to rehab has been shaped through his experience with low-to-moderate income housing programs. He understands the importance of sound judgment and balance to keep housing affordable and safe. Furthermore, he believes that projects are best served through functional relationships with public and private entities.
Sally Martin, Housing Manager for the City of South Euclid, is in charge of residential code enforcement and neighborhood revitalization programs for the City’s 9,600 residential dwellings. She is a member of the Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council (VAPAC) of Cleveland. Sally serves on numerous working groups on behalf of VAPAC related to code enforcement, as well as the Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition. She has served on the board of the Cuyahoga Housing Consortium since 2010, and served as the co-chair of the First Suburbs Housing Committee for five years. Sally is a founding Advisory Board member of the City of South Euclid’s community development corporation, One South Euclid, and a graduate of the University of Florida.
Zoe Mueller is a Placemaking Fellow at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. Her primary charge is project management and strategic program development for Re-Imagining Cleveland, a competitive vacant land reuse grant program in its third round of grant making. In addition, Zoe manages stakeholder outreach, public engagement, and meeting coordination for a transit oriented development and wealth building initiative along West 25th Street, Cleveland’s longest north-south corridor. Zoe is also involved in multiple working groups and initiatives relating to beautification, reforestation, and greenspace planning throughout the city of Cleveland. Zoe graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a degree in urban design and cultural geography and has, since graduation, worked as an urban affairs journalist for Philadelphia-based digital magazine Next City and as a GIS data analyst for Patrick Engineering, Inc. in their Boston office where she specialized in geospatial database design and web-based mapping tool development.
Joshua Murnen serves as General Counsel of the Lucas County Land Bank. As General Counsel Josh serves as the Land Bank’s in-house legal counsel. He is responsible for managing contracts and programmatic agreements, and for the acquisition, maintenance, marketing and disposition of real property. Josh holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, the University of Toledo, and the University of Nottingham, U.K. Josh previously practiced law with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., in Toledo, before joining the Land Bank’s staff in September of 2011. Josh actively serves on the Toledo Bar Association’s Real Estate Committee.
Lisa Patt-McDaniel joined Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH) in 2011 as Director of Community Development. In this capacity, she is responsible for developing relationships and services related to community development, including working with cities and in rural areas around housing issues such as vacant housing, leveraging local community development resources, and convening community development officials around common issues. She is also responsible for overseeing OCCH’s recent OneCPD award of $750,000 for Technical Assistance from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to joining OCCH, Ms. Patt-McDaniel spent over 20 years at the Ohio Department of Development working in the areas of community, economic and workforce development, ending her career there as the Director of the Department and a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. Ms. Patt-McDaniel is a certified Economic Development Professional (EDP) through the National Development Council. She sits on the board of Heritage Ohio, Ohio Conference of Community Development, and the ODOT Access 2040 Steering Committee. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Miami University and a Masters of Public Administration from the John Glenn School of Public Policy at The Ohio State University.
Lisa Ramsey is the Development Director for Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, a nonprofit community development corporation dedicated to neighborhood revitalization efforts in the city of Warren. She works closely with the Trumbull County Land Bank in its development of acquisition and disposition strategies and in securing resources for key efforts of the Land Bank. Previously Lisa worked as a planner for the Trumbull County Planning Commission and developed community comprehensive plans and managed the housing programs for Trumbull County. She is a graduate of Youngstown State University with a degree in Geography.
Joel Ratner is the President & CEO of Neighborhood Progress Inc. (NPI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Founded in 1988, NPI’s mission is to foster communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland. NPI provides operating support, technical assistance and training for Cleveland’s community development corporations and through its subsidiaries, Village Capital and New Village Corporation, finances and develops real estate projects. NPI has an annual operating budget of $7 million and a staff of twenty-five. In 25 years, NPI and its subsidiaries have invested over $150 million in community organizations and their development agendas, creating over 7,400 housing units and over 2.5 million sq. ft. of retail/industrial space.
Jeffrey Rink joined KeyBanc Capital Markets in February of 2004 after nine years in the public sector, having previously worked as an Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Deerfield Beach, Florida (1995-2000) and as an Assistant Director of Development for the City of Lakewood, Ohio (2000-2004) where he specialized in municipal and development finance. Most recently, Jeff has been promoted to a Managing Director position in KeyBank’s Public Sector Banking Group as he is responsible for the Great Lakes Region, with an emphasis on Ohio. In doing so, Jeff provides experience in structuring and managing tax-exempt and taxable financing, both fixed and variable rate, for a wide range of projects, including traditional municipal debt, as well as development-related projects and special district (i.e. Land Bank) obligations. In addition, Mr. Rink performs advisory work for private Developers and Companies related to development bond financing. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies from the College of Wooster and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University. Additionally, Jeff holds a General Securities Registered Representative License Series 7, has a Municipal Securities License Series 63, and is a current Board Member of the First Suburbs Development Council (Greater Cleveland, OH).
Jim Rokakis is Vice President of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Director of its Thriving Communities Institute. He is involved in a variety of activities, including the establishment of 16 County Land Banks throughout Ohio and working with Ohio communities in Columbus and Washington to raise funds to deal with distressed properties. Rokakis served for 19 years on the Cleveland City Council – the last seven as chairman of the finance committee. In 1997, Rokakis took office as Cuyahoga County Treasurer. Faced with Cuyahoga County’s mortgage foreclosure crisis, Rokakis helped to write and pass House Bill 294, which streamlined the foreclosure process for abandoned properties and was the driving force behind a bill that allowed for the creation of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation. Rokakis was featured on the CBS program “60 Minutes”, discussing the need to fund demolition in distressed urban areas and was the driving force behind the Ohio Attorney General’s decision to allocate 75 million dollars of Ohio’s 98 million dollars from the robo-signing settlement for demolition. Rokakis earned his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and his Juris Doctorate degree from Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.
John Rosenberger is President of the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation (COCIC), the designated land reutilization corporation for Franklin County. Before his appointment in 2013, he divided his professional life among law, downtown redevelopment and business interests. In 1998, he concluded 25 years in the practice of law as a partner at Bricker & Eckler LLP, where he represented real estate lenders and developers and construction companies. In 2006, he concluded 22 years of service as the Executive Director at Capitol South CURC, which includes in its body of work over $400 Million of redevelopment in Downtown Columbus and notable projects that include Nationwide Arena, the North Market and the first 882 housing units of the ongoing surge in downtown housing. In addition, he was a principal in a regional mortgage banking firm with 16 offices in Ohio and adjacent states and is the developer of Treetops at German Village, an eleven-unit, residential condominium on a blighted, infill location.
Sarah Ryzner is the Director of Projects for Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute. In this role, Sarah works to integrate Thriving Communities’ urban agenda with the Conservancy’s traditional land protection programs by managing projects that promote green space and the repurposing of vacant land within northern Ohio. These projects seek to create healthy environments by connecting healthy people to healthy land. Sarah has a both a Juris Doctor and master’s degree in Urban Planning Design and Development from Cleveland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University.
Anurag Saxena is the Compliance and Information Specialist at the Cuyahoga Land Bank. In this role, he processed and managed Federal and State grants worth $75 million for revitalization of vacant properties through the process of demolition, renovation and reconstruction in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. He is also one of the people working on the development and maintenance of the nationally renowned Property Profile System – a cloud based property management software for land banks that helps in day-to-day operations, analysis, mapping, reporting, program development and planning. His skills include – data analysis, statistics, application development, database management and web application development. He holds a Master of Arts in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning from Cleveland State University.
Michael Schramm, is the Director of Information Technology and Research at the Cuyahoga Land Bank as well as a Research Associate at the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development in the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. At the County Lank Bank, Michael is currently developing information tools to help the corporation use data to make strategic acquisition decisions as well as track property status from acquisition to demolition to disposition. Recognized as a national expert in property data systems, Michael is also extensively involved in the development and maintenance of the neighborhood information system, NEO CANDO (Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing). Michael has B.S. degrees in Geography and Meteorology from Penn State University and a M.A. in Geography from Syracuse University.
Terry Schwarz, AICP is the director of Kent State University’s (KSU) Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. Her work at the CUDC includes neighborhood and campus planning, commercial and residential design guidelines, and ecological strategies for vacant land reuse. Terry launched the CUDC’s Shrinking Cities Institute in 2005 in an effort to understand and address the implications of population decline and large-scale urban vacancy in Northeast Ohio. As an outgrowth of the Shrinking Cities Institute, she established Pop Up City, a temporary use initiative for vacant and underutilized sites in Cleveland. In 2009, Terry received the Cleveland Arts Prize for Design. She teaches in the graduate design curriculum for the KSU College of Architecture and Environmental Design.
Mark Seifert joined Ocwen Financial Corporation in May, 2013 as Vice President for Community Relations after a 26 year career in the non-profit sector as a Community Organizer and Executive Director. Since joining Ocwen, he has provided an important voice to top executives about issues impacting local communities around an array of issues. Prior to joining Ocwen, Seifert was the Executive Director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People. Under his direction, the organization grew from a staff of three in one office to a staff of 55 in twelve offices around Ohio. ESOP became nationally recognized for its work on predatory lending and foreclosure prevention. ESOP’s model combined direct action organizing to partner with lenders and cutting edge housing counseling to execute those partnership agreements. Seifert sums up ESOP’s work by quoting its late founder, Inez Killingsworth: “We did it the right way. We exposed an injustice and won by teaching people it’s okay to fight back.” Mark has a B.A. in Urban Planning from Cleveland State University and a J.D. from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. As a life-long Cleveland resident, he is still waiting for just one national sport championship.
Tyler Smith is the Vice President of REO Community Development for Premiere Asset Services, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s REO disposition team. Tyler’s teams manage the donation of properties to nonprofit organizations and government entities. Since 2009, Tyler’s teams have discounted or donated over 9000 bank owned homes to qualified nonprofits. Tyler has been with Wells Fargo for 7 years. He has over 19 years of experience in the mortgage industry. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Simpson College. He currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa.
Cheryl Stephens is the Director of Acquisition, Disposition and Development at the Cuyahoga Land Bank. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and later a Master’s degree in Public Administration from The University of Dayton, Cheryl began her career in public administration and fell in love with development. She has held manager and director positions with the City of Cleveland’s Department of Economic Development, the City of Cleveland Heights Department of Planning and Development, the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, the National Development Council, and Leadership Cleveland as well as service as a member of the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision. In 2009, Cheryl was elected to the City of Cleveland Heights’ City Council. She currently serves as one of seven members of Cleveland Heights City Council and is Chair of the Finance Committee.
Dawn Stockmo is the Community Development Manager for the National Community Stabilization Trust, with responsibility for states in the Midwest and Northeast. As the Community Development Manager, her role is to work with state and local governments and nonprofit housing providers to facilitate the transfer of foreclosed and abandoned property from financial institutions nationwide to localities to promote neighborhood stability. Stockmo has served on many nonprofit boards including as chair of the National Nonprofit Unemployment Trust; member of the Nonprofits Mutual Risk Retention Group; treasurer of the Rondo Community Land Trust; and co-chair of the Affordable Housing Funders Group in Chicago. She has an MBA from the University of St Thomas in St Paul, MN and is a 2001 graduate of the Bank of America Leadership Academy.
Shirley Vaughn is a regional business developer for Davey Resource Group, working in the Southeast, Mid Atlantic, and Ohio. Shirley works with governments, nonprofits, and campuses developing urban forestry and GIS projects such as tree inventories, UTC assessments, and master and management plans. Shirley is the Vice President of the Ohio Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, serves on the ANSI A300 Committee for the Professional Grounds Management Society, and is certified in Natural Lands Management through the University of Florida IFAS and The Nature Conservancy.
Eric C. Wagenbrenner is a Columbus native who has been involved in real estate for over a decade and a half since graduating from Otterbein College in 1991 with a B.S. in Business Administration. Eric had previously worked 10 years at Ohio Equities, one of the largest full service commercial brokerage firms in Central Ohio. At Ohio Equities, Eric had transactions concerning all commercial property types with concentrated efforts in land development, working with numerous local, regional and national firms in site acquisition and development. Eric is a member of the National, Ohio, and Columbus Board of Realtors and has received prestige awards including the Columbus Board of Realtors (CBR) – Largest Transaction Award, and National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) – Most Creative Real Estate Transaction. As Vice President of Wagenbrenner Development, Eric has played an instrumental role in receiving six separate state grants totaling $18,000,000 from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (“CORF”) to redevelop blighted industrial sites.
Kip Wahlers is a partner in Ice Miller’s Bond and Governmental Law Group. He specializes in development financing and has been involved in numerous projects involving Tax Increment Financing (TIF), port authority bond funds, new community authorities, special assessments, tax credits and other tools. He serves as counsel to public and private bodies, as well as underwriters and banks. Kip is the former general counsel of JobsOhio.
Jay Westbrook has been involved in issue and grassroots organizing in Cleveland since the mid 1970s. Jay was elected to the City Council in 1979 and served in the City Council for 34 years. He retired from Council at the end of 2013. Westbrook served as President of Council for 10 years from 1990 – 1999. In 2004 Westbrook was designated to head up Council’s work to attack the causes and effects of residential property abandonment. Along with others in city government, Westbrook lead efforts to reform the Department of Building and Housing, create collaborative partnerships among institutions dealing with abandonment and target limited resources to blight elimination. Jay Westbrook joined the Thriving Communities Institute in March of 2014 and is the Manager of Special Projects including a targeted initiative funded by the Saint Luke’s Foundation to reduce the number of seriously blighted properties in neighborhoods on Cleveland’s south east side.
Marc S. White is a Fashion Designer, Visual Artist and organic urban farmer. His products are classified green, focusing on providing sustainable and affordable articles made with longevity in mind. His manufacturing employs socially conscious production methods, or low impact processes as well as the use of vintage, re-purposed and or up-cycled products. Marc and his family enjoy organic farming, and working to make the world a better and more conscientiously beautiful place. Marc and his business partner, G. Keymah Durden III, work through Rid-All Green Partnership (RGP), which is an urban farming and environmental science enterprise that has been operating in Cleveland, Ohio since the summer of 2010. RGP has transformed this once desolate area into a thriving farm and environmental education center that has pumped life, jobs, revenue and hope into the community. RGP, an anchor in Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone, is actively working to expand their projects. This zone is a 26-acre area of mostly vacant city land bank and tax delinquent properties.
Marissa Williams is the Community Planning Coordinator for Trumbull neighborhood Partnership. She manages the City of Warren‘s HUD Community Challenge Grant. The Community Challenge Program works directly with the programs of the Trumbull County Land Bank to provide relevant data and community input. Marissa holds a Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology from Willamette University in Salem, OR. Her previous experience includes internship work with Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation in Cleveland and FutureHeights in Cleveland Heights, as well as AmeriCorps service through College Now Greater Cleveland.
Lilah Zautner in April of 2013, was recruited by the Cuyahoga Land Bank to join the Land Bank team as the Manager of Special Projects and Land Reuse. Lilah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies from Cleveland State University and a Masters in environmental resource geography from Arizona State University. Lilah manages the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (CCLRC) side yard program, assists the President on the advancement of special projects and is charged with building the CCLRC land reuse project portfolio. Previous to joining CCLRC, Lilah served as the Sustainability Manager for Neighborhood Progress Inc. where she managed ReImagining Cleveland – a nationally celebrated, innovative city-wide vacant land reuse program that produced over 124 federally funded, community maintained greenspaces. Lilah has also served as a Project Director for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. There she managed green building, urban agriculture, transit-oriented development and community organizing projects and programs in the Cleveland Ecovillage neighborhood. She began her career as a Community Outreach Specialist for ParkWorks Inc. Lilah is a graduate of the Cleveland Leadership Center and an active leader within the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative. She lives and volunteers in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland.