Ohio Land Bank Conference Speakers – 2015

This is the final list of conference speakers.

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.

Dione Alexander is the Senior Vice President of Village Capital Corporation (VCC), one of the leading community development financial institutions (CDFI) in the Midwest, and is responsible for loan underwriting and portfolio administration. Prior to joining VCC, Ms. Alexander served as a Principal of RoundBox Consulting, an impact solutions consulting firm dedicated to the philanthropy, nonprofit, and community/social finance sectors. She previously served as the V.P. of the Midwest Region and V.P. of National Capital Asset Development for Nonprofit Finance Fund (“NFF”), a national CDFI. Ms. Alexander has also held executive level positions in banking and the public sector. Dione is a graduate of the School of Business and Industry at Florida A & M University and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University. She is also a certified small business consultant. She has served on a number of boards and committees that include the W. K Kellogg Foundation’s Mission Driven Investing Committee, The Investment Advisory Committee of Mission Throttle, L3C, National Community Development Institute, Nonprofit Enterprise at Work, and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Christopher Alvarado is the Executive Director of Slavic Village Development, the community development corporation that serves 22,000 residents living in the neighborhoods of Broadway Slavic Village, a five square mile area southeast of Downtown Cleveland. Previously, Christopher was a Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. embedded at the City of Cleveland’s Department of Community Development. Here, he designed and implemented projects to turn vacant land held by the City Of Cleveland Land Bank into assets owned and improved by Cleveland’s citizens, businesses, and organizations. In Christopher’s past capacity with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, he focused on methodologies for sustainability, determining the economic, environmental, and social impacts of development, and coordinating environmental planning with economic development. He presently serves as Board President of Bike Cleveland, Board Secretary for EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, and is past Board President for Tremont West Development Corporation. Christopher graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. and holds a Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development from Cleveland State University.

Mark Barbash is EVP of Finance Fund, a non-profit CDFI that provides financing for development projects throughout Ohio. In this position, Mark directs capital fundraising, strategic initiatives, and program development. Mark’s 30+ years of economic development experience includes senior level policy, programmatic and management responsibilities, as well as “on the ground” project development. His experience also includes Chief Economic Development Officer for the State of Ohio, City of Columbus Development Director, and VP of the National Development Council. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Economic Development Association, Community Research Partners, Parsons Avenue Redevelopment, and as Board President for CATCO, Columbus’ professional theater company. Mark has been honored as an IEDC Fellow Member and an SBA Small Business Financial Services Advocate.

Will Basil joined the Port Authority in December 2012 as a Planning Associate. He earned a bachelor of urban planning (BUP) degree from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) at the University of Cincinnati in 2011. Will’s educational background provides the Port Authority with a balanced mix of community planning, urban design, geographic information systems (GIS) mapping and research skills. Will is a member of the American Planning Association and a graduate of the Urban Land Institute Cincinnati’s Emerging Leaders.

Alexandra E. Bodie is the Communications Manager at Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland – with day to day focuses on content creation, external communications, graphic design, public relations, social media, storytelling, videography and website management. Alexandra earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Toledo in 2013 and moved to Cleveland shortly after to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Alexandra strives to maintain personal connections in an ever-increasing impersonal world; feel free to connect with her on Twitter @heyheybodie.

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.

Carlie J. Boos is the Neighborhood Initiative and Compliance Manager at the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. She oversees development and foreclosure prevention programs totaling over $570 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, obtaining over $150,000 in settlements and principal reductions for her foreclosure defense clients. She has also been featured on the CBS Evening News for her work with rural mortgage loans. Ms. Boos also worked as a consultant for The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s faculty on various consumer rights issues.

Shantae Brownlee is the Vice President & Director of Community Engagement of the Lucas County Land Bank. Shantae coordinates the land bank’s community outreach efforts, and manages major projects for the land bank, including its demolition work. Prior to the land bank, Shantae served as Executive Director of the Frederick Douglass Community Center and the Wayman Palmer YMCA. She holds a B.S. from Franklin University.

Katherine Bulava started HATHA COMMUNICATIONS, a full service public relations firm In January 2010. Offering public relations, media relations and digital media assistance, Hatha Communications helps clients working in community development, economic development, foreclosure prevention and neighborhood revitalization establish themselves as leaders and innovators by increasing their exposure and extending their reach. Ms. Bulava was Cleveland City Council’s youngest Communication Director, where she served for five years and three terms. She has more than ten years of political campaign experience and has worked with candidates on both sides of the aisle at the local, regional and state level. She started her career as a freelance journalist and editor covering local politics and community and economic development. She holds a BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Communications Management, a joint MA/MBA program, from John Carroll University.

Shawn Carvin has been the Trumbull County Land Bank Program Manager with Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) since the effort began, managing the intake, assessment, and disposition of all land bank inventory. Shawn also sits on the board of directors for the Trumbull Art Gallery, an agency that promotes arts and art organizations in the community. Prior to his work with the TNP and the Trumbull County Land Bank, Shawn served as an active duty United States Air Force meteorologist. He holds a BA in Geography and a geospatial information systems certificate from Youngstown.

Chadwick Clink is Community Forester with The Holden Arboretum. He is responsible for outreach and engagement related to the importance of trees and woody plants as sustainable components of healthy communities. His degrees are in Horticulture (B.A.H.) from Kent State University with a focus in urban forestry, and Natural Resource Management (P.S.M.) from the University of Idaho with a focus in sustainability. Clink is a Board Certified Master Arborist and Municipal Specialist through the International Society of Arboriculture and a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists. His past professional experiences were as an arborist and urban forester completing tree inventories and management plans while caring for trees in communities interested in best urban forest management and tree care.

Gary Davenport is the Project Coordinator at the Mahoning County Land Bank, where he manages the Side Lot Program and works directly with neighborhood groups and other partners on grass-roots revitalization. Before joining the land bank, he organized resident initiatives in Youngstown with the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative and worked with a group of neighborhood leaders who passed the foreclosure bond, novel legislation that has ensured over 200 vacant properties in the city against becoming blighted.

Eric Diamond serves as the Executive Vice President of Lending for The Economic and Community Development Institute. Eric’s responsibilities include managing the lending operations, partnership building, provision of direct services, and oversight of all lending staff for the organization. Eric brings nearly twenty years of banking, lending and community development experience to ECDI. Throughout his banking career Eric has developed a passion for helping small businesses and entrepreneurs start and expand their businesses. Eric states “there is no better professional feeling than knowing you played a part in helping someone fulfill their dreams of owning their own business.” In addition to his role at ECDI, Eric is a member of the management team for the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK), a commercial kitchen and food incubator located in the Midtown area of Cleveland. Eric holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Baldwin Wallace College and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Justin D. Fleming is the Director of Real Estate Services at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, a community development funding intermediary in Cleveland, Ohio. His duties include managing the Neighborhood Stabilization Team, a collaborative effort between Neighborhood Progress, Case Western Reserve University, and over 20 local community development corporations that leverages the skills and expertise of its members in order to develop and implement parcel-level stabilization strategies. He is also active in the local foreclosure and vacant property dialogue through VAPAC, and has presented at numerous national conferences and panels on these topics. Justin holds a B.A. from The Ohio State University in History with a minor in Philosophy and Latin, a M.A. in Urban Planning Development and Design and a Juris Doctor from Cleveland State University, and was licensed to practice law in Ohio in November 2010.

Debora Flora is executive director of Mahoning County Land Bank (MCLB), the fourth county land reutilization corporation to be incorporated in Ohio. As executive director of Lien Forward Ohio Regional Council of Governments from 2007 to 2012, Debora built organizational capacity and expanded the agency’s services in repurposing vacant, abandoned land. The agency helped responsible parties to acquire more than 900 tax-delinquent parcels for personal and community uses. She was retained by the County Land Bank in July 2012, and Lien Forward Ohio’s activities were absorbed by MCLB in January 2013. Debora is a lifelong resident of northeast Ohio and a graduate of Youngstown State University. She began her career as a reporter with The Vindicator, the daily newspaper in Youngstown. She is a founding member of the board of directors of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation; member of Youngstown St. Brendan Parish where she serves on Parish Pastoral Council, and has co-produced two historical publications; and member of the Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association on Youngstown’s West Side, where she and her family reside.

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 39 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 1991 to 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 graduated with honors from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1982. He worked at the law firm of Ulmer and Berne after law school, then went on to serve as a Cleveland City Councilman and later as a Municipal Court Magistrate-Judge. He now serves as President and General Counsel of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation. Mr. Frangos was the primary drafter of Ohio’s House Bills 293, 294, and S.B. 353 establishing enhanced county land banks and expedited tax foreclosure policy and the recently passed S.B. 172 expanding the reach of county land banks in the Community Development field. Mr. Frangos’ areas of concentration include Constitutional, real estate, transactional and administrative law.

Charles Frederick is the Interim Director of Kent State University’s graduate landscape architecture program. He has taught upper level and graduate design studios, technical, and seminar courses at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at KSU since 1999. Charles is a practicing landscape architect with a focus on environmental design and ecological systems. His projects range from garden design to municipal planning to watersheds studies. Mr. Frederick is actively involved in his community with a leadership role with the Kent Environmental Council and has served on Kent Dam Advisory Committee, Kent Phase II Stormwater Committee, Breakneck Creek Watershed Committee, and the Portage County Watersheds-Open Space Committee. He has a Bachelor’s in Architecture from Kent State University and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia. Currently he is pursuing a PhD that explores the roles of public participation in the planning process with novel data collection and geospatial site documentation techniques at the Department of Geography – Kent State University.

Jacqueline Gillon is a community builder, facilitator, trainer and published author. Appointed at age 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.

John Habat has served in positions in nonprofit management, higher education, public policy, law, government and economic development. John began his career as a legislative fellow in the Ohio General Assembly, moving from there to work as an Executive Assistant to Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich; thereafter he practiced law at a firm that specialized in municipal government legal matters. He moved on from the full-time practice of law to work as an advocate for Greater Cleveland in state and federal relations, eventually becoming Vice President for Government Relations and Transportation at the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. John’s career path took a new direction when he became an executive in higher education, serving first as Vice President for Administration and Finance at Youngstown State University and subsequently in two senior management positions at Cuyahoga Community College.

Jason Hackworth is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has worked with Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio since 2008. He started as a Project Leader leading volunteers on site; and currently leads the Acquisition and Project Development Teams to manage property acquisition, manage procurement, improve home performance, ensure compliance and provide training and development.

Tom Hale currently serves as Director of Community Development. Under this title he also is the Building Official for Clark County, Madison County, and City of London, Ohio. He also serves as the Flood Plain manager, and Enterprise Zone Manager for Clark County and Zoning Administrator for seven Townships. The department also administers the CDBG and CHIP grants as well as all the Land Bank responsibilities. All this is accomplished with ten well qualified full time staff and three part-time. Tom has been employed at the County for eight years. Prior to the county, he was employed at the City of Springfield and self- employed for seventeen years. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his grown son and daughter, taking people for rides in his airplane and riding his beloved orange Harley.

Darin Hall directs all facets of real estate development for the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, with an emphasis on restoring value to sites to advance the growth of the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Hall previously worked as Deputy Director of Neighborhood Transformation for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, overseeing large-scale residential revitalization efforts in Atlanta. Prior to working with the Casey Foundation, Hall founded DCH Capital Group to identify funding for businesses and high performing non-profits seeking capital. Hall has served as senior merger & acquisitions analyst for The Coca-Cola Company, and spent nearly a decade in commercial banking with Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, Bank of Boston, and Wells Fargo. He currently serves on the boards of the Cincinnati Development Fund, the Corporation for Findlay Market, the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board, and is a trustee of the Episcopal Church Foundation of Southwest Ohio.

Bart Hamilton’s “real” job is being the Richland County Treasurer (2006 – present); his passion is actuality acting as the Chairman of the Richland County Land Reutilization Corporation. He started working in the Treasurer’s office as a Delinquent Tax collector in 1992 and became Chief Deputy in 2002. Bart attended Kent State University, College of Continuing Studies, Ohio Public Finance Officer’s Training Program. He is a lifelong resident of Richland County who worked closely with a few forward thinking individuals in the county to create their land bank. In the creation of the land bank, Bart took the reins – the Treasurer’s office provides office space, supplies, and personnel to operate the day to day functions of the Land Bank. Bart is very active in the Ohio County Treasurers Association and a Member of the Richland County Advisory Board.

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 community of East Cleveland. Trevelle resides in East Cleveland with his wife Aiesha, their son Gabriel and daughter Naomi.

Tad Herold has served as Columbiana County’s Director of Economic Development for two years. He also serves as the Executive Director of the Columbiana County Land Reutilization Corporation. Previously, Mr. Herold was an Assistant Prosecutor in the Columbiana County Prosecutor’s Office and maintained a private law practice in the City of Columbiana. Mr. Herold earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from Youngstown State University and an M.B.A. and J.D. from The Ohio State University.

Jacqui Knettel is Executive Assistant to both the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s President and its Chief Operating Officer. Jacqui helped create many of the systems currently in place at the Cuyahoga Land Bank including office management, Property Profile System, records management system and the tax foreclosure affidavit management system. Under Jacqui’s watch, the staff at the Cuyahoga Land Bank grew from an initial nine people to an office of thirty. Jacqui expertly administers the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s HR affairs and Employee Manual for this growing staff. In attending and administering the quarterly Board meetings of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, Jacqui is Assistant Secretary to the Board. Jacqui has sixteen years of legal secretarial experience, office management, classroom management as well as six years of executive assisting. When not assisting with the day-to-day management of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, you can find Jacqui running the trails in the Cuyahoga National Park, watching a baseball game with her son or taking in the cultural arts around northeast Ohio with her daughter.

Sam Lamancusa is the current Treasurer of Trumbull County and Chairman of the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corporation. Sam joined the Treasurer’s office in 2001, first serving as Chief Deputy Treasurer before being elected to the office. Sam also served as the Girard City Auditor for thirteen years. As Treasurer and Land Bank Chairman, Sam is in a position to help and work with the public in one of the most trying times in Trumbull County history. Sam has been a lifelong resident of Girard. He and his wife Nicci have two children and four very spoiled grandchildren. Sam is often heard saying that we must work to save Trumbull County and bring back the neighborhood environment that he grew up in, for the sake of our grandchildren.

David Mann is the President of the Lucas County Land Bank. Mr. Mann is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the land bank, supervision of the land bank’s staff, and overall policy and budget planning. David was previously the Vice President of the Lucas County Land Bank and a member of the Board. He has worked in local government for the past 10 years, and is an attorney Of Counsel with Marshall & Melhorn, LLC. He holds a B.A. and a J.D., summa cum laude, from the University of Toledo.

Matt Martin has been the Director of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) since its launch in 2010. Prior to joining TNP, he was a Land Reutilization Manager for Stockyard Redevelopment Organization, a Cleveland CDC. He has a BA in Liberal Studies from Cleveland State and an MA in Environmental Studies from Cleveland State’s Levin College of Urban Affairs.

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.

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 Lucas County Land Bank staff in September of 2011. Josh actively serves on the Toledo Bar Association’s Real Estate Committee.

Paula Boggs Muething was appointed City Solicitor on December 29, 2014. Prior to joining the City she was General Counsel and Vice-President of Community Revitalization of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, a county-wide economic development agency. While at the Port Authority she worked on a number of redevelopment initiatives, including operating the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation (“Land Bank”) on behalf of the Land Bank Board. Paula was previously a litigator for the City of Cincinnati Law Department; an associate at Keating, Muething and Klekamp, PLL; and a law clerk for the Honorable James E. Keller of the Kentucky Supreme Court. Paula earned a Juris Doctorate 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 later studied Community Land Reform Initiatives at the Harvard Kennedy School, Executive Education. She is on the boards of the Greater Ohio Policy Center and the Cincinnati Development Fund.

Sarah G. Norman is a graduate of Goucher College (Baltimore) and CWRU Law School. Sarah is admitted to the practice of law in Ohio and her home state of Indiana. After nearly a decade as a solo practitioner focused on historic preservation, she went into “recovery” for her litigating habits and spent time nurturing 4 children into teenhood. The Cuyahoga Land Bank hired Sarah in 2013 as its first “Document Support Specialist” — a job that has grown with the times to encompass both document management and public records compliance. Sarah lives in Hudson, Ohio, with the teens, a border collie, and her husband, Forrest.

Jerry Paffendorf is Co-Founder and CEO of LOVELAND Technologies, a software company based in Detroit, Michigan, whose mission is to map and survey every parcel of property on the planet. LOVELAND built the technology that powers Motor City Mapping, an effort to survey and keep updated information and photography about every single property in the City of Detroit, including vacancy and blight indicators, and the status of land bank and publicly owned land. This database is accessible to and updatable by city departments as well as city residents, and has proven fundamental to the city’s recent blight removal and land use planning efforts. The software is now available to any community in the country that wants to do something similar, and Jerry spends his time making that happen. He has a Master of Science in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, is very friendly, and can be reached at jerry@makeloveland.com.

Lisa Ramsey is the Assistant Director for Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership. She manages all fiscal responsibilities for the organization, including securing funding, reporting, and tracking. She assists the Executive Director with programming strategies and management. She is a graduate of Youngstown State University with a BA in Geography and a BS in Social Studies Education, and a graduate of Hiram College with an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Community Development and Public Art.

Chase Ritenauer took office as the City of Lorain’s 50th mayor on January 1, 2012 at the age of 27 as the youngest mayor in Lorain’s history, and one of the country’s youngest big city mayors. Mayor Ritenauer and the City of Lorain led the effort alongside the City of Elyria and Lorain County to create the Lorain County Land Bank. As a result, Lorain neighborhoods have benefitted from over 100 demolitions within the last year. He received a B.A. from Heidelberg University and his Master’s Degree from the University of Akron. Mayor Ritenauer currently is an adjuct teacher at Lorain County Community College. Prior to taking office as Mayor, Ritenauer served as the Director of Public Safety and Service for the City of North Olmsted and as a Deputy Safety and Service Director for the City of Lorain.

Deborah Robb directs the construction, renovation, and demolition activities critical to revitalizing neighborhoods in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. As team lead for the Housing and Urban Redevelopment Corporation (HURC) and for Hamilton County Land Bank’s Rehab Across Cincinnati and Hamilton County (REACH) program, she works closely with owners’ representatives, contractors, and support services to oversee the acquisition, remediation and cleanout, planning, and renovation of homes within community target areas. Deborah joined the Port Authority in 2004, and throughout her career has contributed significantly to the areas of economic inclusion and supplier diversity. Deborah’s experience includes working with and establishing valued relationships with Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Women Business Enterprises (WBE), and Small Business Enterprises (SBE) as well as corporate stakeholders and various community leaders and constituent groups. 

Dennis Roberts, a practicing attorney, is the Director of Programs and Property Management for the historic Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (“land bank”), one of the largest land banks in the country. In this position, Mr. Roberts is responsible for the property management of the land bank’s entire property portfolio; the land bank currently owns over 1,300 properties. This management includes ensuring that every structure undergoes an interior inspection, external inspection, proper securing and the development of rehabilitation specifications as a prerequisite to sale. In addition, Roberts developed and manages the land bank’s property sales disposition process. To date, the land bank has successfully facilitated the renovation and sale of over 1,100 homes through its many land mark disposition programs. Under Roberts’ leadership the land bank has raised approximately $3 million via the sale of its properties. In addition to the disposition of these properties, Roberts is also responsible for the development and implementation of the land bank’s workforce development training initiatives, as well as other creative partnerships with non-profits organizations. Mr. Roberts received his Juris Doctorate from Cleveland Marshall College of Law, cum laude, and is a graduate of William Paterson College in New Jersey with a Bachelor’s in History and a minor in Education.

Jim Rokakis is Vice President of Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Director of its Thriving Communities Institute. He is involved in a number of activities, including the establishment of 24 County Land Banks throughout Ohio and working in Columbus and Washington, D.C. to raise funds for Ohio communities 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. Additionally, Rokakis was the driving force behind a bill that allowed for the creation of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank. Attorney General Mike DeWine recently stated that Rokakis was the reason behind his decision to allocate 75 million dollars of Ohio’s $98 million rom the robo-signing settlement for demolition. Rokakis helped to put the Ohio program and its rules into place. He played an integral role in the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to allocate a portion of the Hardest Hit Fund for demolition and in Cuyahoga County’s issuance of a $50 million county bond for demolition. To date, Rokakis has raised $238 million for the demolition of over 23,000 blighted structures in Ohio.  

Colby Sattler is Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Urban Forestry and Natural Resources Project Manager. He leads urban reforestation efforts throughout Greater Cleveland, fostering a culture of change by working closely with community development, non-profit, foundational and other regional assets. His work further includes conducting training workshops on proper tree care and maintenance activities and assisting on natural resources projects including invasive species management, restoration services, native plant installations, and tree inventories. Mr. Sattler is a Certified Arborist (OH-6020A) through the International Society of Arboriculture and a licensed Commercial Applicator (#108891) through the Ohio Department of Agriculture. After time as a Watershed Coordinator working on land conservation and preservation, Mr. Sattler was then involved in sustainable redevelopment of vacant lots in Cleveland’s urban core. With a background that also includes working on natural stormwater capture and filtration as well as the design, implementation and maintenance of bioswales, rain gardens and bioretention cells, Mr. Sattler is currently focused on increasing the urban tree canopy of Greater Cleveland and inspiring area residents to become Certified Tree Stewards.

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 Cuyahog 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, NEOCANDO (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 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. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University.


Tiffany Sokol is the Housing Director for the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC). Under the direction of the Executive Director, she leads a team of professional staff in the development and implementation of housing programming, pursuit and administration of grant funding, financial management, and management of organizational communications and marketing. Prior to joining the YNDC team, Tiffany gained diverse experience with careers in sales, business administration, and marketing project management. Tiffany is an active member of Tabernacle Evangelical Presbyterian Church. She also enjoys performing in Youngstown’s various community theaters. Tiffany holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Youngstown State University in Marketing Management and Advertising and Public Relations. She has also obtained Housing Development Finance Professional certification from the National Development Council. Tiffany currently resides in Youngstown.

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.

April Urban, MSSA, Case Western Reserve University, is a researcher at the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University. She aids in the development of community data information systems, NEO CANDO and the Neighborhood Stabilization Team, serving as the liaison between the community and the technology, ensuring the data systems meet the needs of community development practitioners. She also aids in community responsive research on housing and neighborhood trends in Cuyahoga County.

Linda Warren is currently the Senior Vice-President of Placemaking for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP), a non-profit intermediary supporting the redevelopment of Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Ms. Warren is also the President of Village Capital Corporation (VCC), NPI’s lending subsidiary with $20 million of loan capital available for community development real estate projects, as well as New Village Corporation (NVC), CNP’s real estate development subsidiary. Prior to joining CNP, Ms. Warren was the Director of Community Development for the City of Cleveland, responsible for administering the City’s annual $40 million of federal consolidated grant funding and for advancing the City’s neighborhood development agenda and related initiatives. Ms. Warren has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a master’s degree in Business Administration, both from Cleveland State University. She has a certificate in real estate development finance from the National Development Council and attended Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government’s Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government as a Fannie Mae Fellow in 1996. She was inducted into Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja Business College Hall of Fame in 2011. Ms. Warren and her husband, Christopher, live in the City of Cleveland in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

Anne Wistow is the Projects Manager and Secretary of the Board of the Lucas County Land Bank. Anne oversees the acquisition and disposition of all Land Bank properties, coordinates its information systems, and provides regular input from the perspective of planning and land use. Prior to her work with the land bank, Anne assisted local government projects in Lucas County. She holds a B.S. from Michigan State University and a M.P.A. from the University of Toledo.

Ken Wood is an award-winning journalist, writing coach and nonprofit communications professional. Following a seven-year stint as director of communications and marketing for the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy and its Thriving Communities Institute, he was recently named communications director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. Wood had a 25-year career with Advance Publications Inc. (Sun News/cleveland.com), where he was honored as Suburban Journalist of the Year for the United States and Canada. He served as the chain’s head enterprise writer, an editor-level position in which he wrote investigative stories and in-depth features in addition to coaching reporters.  He also served as the chain’s primary liaison to media partner WKYC-TV (Channel 3). He was an 11-time national award-winner for in-depth and feature reporting and was honored 19 times by The Press Club of Cleveland for investigative, breaking news, feature, public service and sports reporting in that organization’s statewide competition. Wood, who holds a journalism degree from Bowling Green State University, lives in Brunswick with his wife, Debbie, and their son Brandon.

Kristen Zeiber is an Urban Designer and Project Manager at Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. She has over 6 years of experience working in Community Design and Design/Build, including projects in Ohio, Vermont, Mississippi, Appalachia, and Peru. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Penn State University and a Master of Science from MIT.