Ohio Land Bank Conference Speaker Bios 2016

Information current as of 10/17/2016. Updates forthcoming. 

Lisa Adkins works as the Architecture Reviews Manager at the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, a Division of the Ohio History Connection.  A Cleveland native, her undergraduate focus was on American Studies with a B.A. in History and English from Oberlin College. Her graduate study was at Cornell University in a specialty program in Historic Preservation Planning.  For more than twenty years, she has worked in West Virginia and Ohio to assist agencies to proactively consider measures to protect historic properties as part of their planning under the National Historic Preservation Act.

Julian Agyeman Ph.D. FRSA is a Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, USA. He is the originator of the concept of ‘just sustainabilities,‘ the full integration of social justice and sustainability, defined as: the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems. As an ecologist/biogeographer turned environmental social scientist, he has both a science and social science background which helps frame his perspectives, research and scholarship. He thrives at the borders and intersections of a wide range of knowledges, disciplines and methodologies which he utilizes in creative and original ways in his research. He was co-founder in 1988, and chair until 1994, of the Black Environment Network (BEN), the first environmental justice-based organization of its kind in Britain. He was co-founder in 1996, and is now Editor-in-Chief of Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability and was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA) in the same year. The mission of the RSA is to enrich society through ideas and action. In 2016 he became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS). He is Series Editor of Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice published by Zed Books and Co-Editor of the Series Routledge Equity, Justice and the Sustainable City. He is also Contributing Editor to Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development and a member of the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Environmental Education. In addition, he is an Affiliate at the Civitas Athenaeum Laboratory at KTH – Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, a Studio Associate at The Studio at the Edge of the World, University of Tasmania Creative Exchange Institute and a Senior Scholar at The Center for Humans and Nature, Chicago. His publications, which number over 160, include books, peer reviewed articles, book chapters, published conference presentations, published reports, book reviews, newspaper articles, Op-Eds and articles in professional magazines and journals. His books include Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (co-edited with Robert D Bullard and Bob Evans: MIT Press 2003), Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice (NYU Press 2005), Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices (co-edited with JoAnn Carmin: MIT Press 2011), Cultivating Food Justice : Race, Class and Sustainability (co-edited with Alison Hope Alkon: MIT Press 2011), Introducing Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice (Zed Books 2013) and Incomplete Streets: Processes, Practices, and Possibilities (co-edited with Stephen Zavestoski: Routledge 2014) and  Sharing Cities: A Case for Truly Smart and Sustainable Cities (co-authored with Duncan McLaren: MIT Press 2015).

Karla Auker is a Project Manager/Project Officer for U.S.EPA in the Superfund Division’s Brownfields and NPL Reuse Section.  Karla works closely with governmental entities and non-profits who have received U.S.EPA Brownfields Assessment, Clean up, and Revolving Loan Funds Grants.  This work includes providing technical advice regarding assessment and clean up as well and helping grantees understand and avoid CERCLA/Superfund liability when acquiring properties for redevelopment.  Karla has worked for U.S.EPA for 23 years; 14 years in her current position and 9 conducting emergency response actions as an On-Scene Coordinator.  Karla is a Certified Professional Geologist with a B.S. in Geology and an M.S. in Environmental Geology from the University of Akron.

Will Basil joined the Port Authority in December 2012 as a Planning Associate. Will provides the Port Authority with a balanced mix of community planning and geographic information systems (GIS) mapping skills. While earning his degree, the School of Planning instilled the importance of good design throughout the program. In addition to providing Will with foundational knowledge of urban planning, he also acquired valuable graphic design skills. Will is a member of the American Planning Association and the Urban Land Institute Cincinnati’s Emerging Leaders Program. Bachelor of Urban Planning (BUP), College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), University of Cincinnati.

Nelson Beckford was appointed Senior Program Officer for A Strong Neighborhood in March 2014. He provides leadership and oversight for all aspects of the Foundation’s A Strong Neighborhood program area, the grant portfolio will the goal of making enhancements to the built environment and improving social conditions in the Buckeye, Woodland Hills and Mt Pleasant neighborhoods in Cleveland, OH. Prior to joining the Foundation, Nelson served as Program Officer for The Cleveland Foundation’s Responsive Grantmaking, where his work focused on community development, environmental sustainability and program management of The Cleveland Foundation’s nationally recognized Summer Internship program. Prior to that, Nelson worked for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. In this capacity, he managed safety, community organizing and code enforcement functions. Additionally, he has held positions with the University Hospitals Health System, Cole Managed Vision and the American Red Cross. Nelson has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State University, along with certificates in Organizational Development from Baldwin Wallace University, and Process Improvement and Six Sigma from Case Western Reserve University. He has a Graduate degree in Psychology from Cleveland State University where his thesis research was focused on the factors that contribute to neighborhood commitment.

Ian Beniston, AICP, HDFP is the Executive Director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC). Prior to becoming Executive Director, Ian spent five years as YNDC’s Deputy Director. Ian is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission and the day to day operations. Ian brings ten years of neighborhood planning, development, and finance experience in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. Previously, Ian served as Director of Policy for the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, where he worked to establish the YNDC. Ian holds a Master of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Youngstown State University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a National Development Council Housing Development Finance Professional. He was a 40 under 40 award recipient in 2009, 25 under 35 award recipient in 2013, a Next City Vanguard and OCDCA CDC of the Year in 2014, and OCDCA CDC Staff Member of the Year in 2015.

Nathan Bevil is the Community Planning & Preservation Manager for the State Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio History Connection.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Historic Preservation from Mary Washington College, and a Master of Historic Preservation degree from the University of Georgia.  He has previously served as Curator of the City of Bowie Museums; Program Assistant for the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions; and Preservation Coordinator for the Historic Macon Foundation.  His current duties at the SHPO include administering the Certified Local Government program, developing the State Historic Preservation Plan, managing the Building Doctor program, and providing technical assistance to communities on local historic preservation matters.

Jennifer Braman, ISA Certified Arborist, is the City of Cleveland’s Urban Forester.  As a Cleveland area native, Jennifer has an intimate understanding of the needs and challenges facing our community.  She is an ambitious, respected and dedicated advocate for the preservation and appreciation of our urban forest.  In 2010 she became one of the first ISA Certified Tree Risk Assessors (now called TRAQ – Tree Risk Assessor Qualification) in the state of Ohio.  A career goal for 2017 is to obtain the highest credential in arboriculture – Board Certified Master Arborist (BCMA). Jennifer resides in Shaker Heights with Liam, an 11th grader at Shaker Heights High School and Arlo, an 8th grader at Shaker Middle School.  Her oldest son, Tristan, lives in Tremont and is a free-lance motion media/graphic designer.  Not surprisingly, Jennifer spends her free time backpacking, hiking, kayaking, gardening and entertaining friends.  She and her boys also enjoy volunteering at the Cleveland Food Bank.

Kirby Broadnax is the Francis H. Beam Fellow of Placemaking and Equity at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. She serves the Buckeye-Shaker, Woodland Hills, and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods, assisting with creative land re-use strategies that are community-oriented.  Kirby also works with the city of Cleveland land bank to serve as a resident liaison, assist with processing side yard applications, and to support improved land bank processes. Kirby grew up in Bedford Heights, OH and now lives in Cleveland. She earned a B.A in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Miami University, and served as an elementary school  teacher with Teach For America in Connecticut. After moving back to Ohio, Kirby worked with the Cleveland Mediation Center for four years. She is an organizer with her neighborhood’s City Repair group called Bridging The Tracks, which uses art to connect residents of the Buckeye, Shaker Square, Larchmere, and Woodland Hills community across physical and perceived divides. In addition to making time for more art, books, and playtime with her cat, Kirby is continually discovering how to build community in the most human-centered ways and has found that listening knee-to-knee with an open heart is her favorite way to start.

Lisa Brownell works as the Tax Credit Application Coordinator for Ohio’s State Historic Preservation Office. She earned an MA and PhD in geography from the University of Kentucky with a focus on cultural landscapes, historic preservation, and community values for places. A constant theme throughout her research has been abandoned landscapes and she is thrilled to be working with communities to rehabilitate buildings for new uses.

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.

Andrea Bruno serves as St Clair Superior Development Corporation’s Housing Manager. She began with SCSDC in July 2011 as a summer intern through the Summer in the City program at Cleveland State University. Andrea is the lead contact person for the code enforcement partnership with SCSDC and the City of Cleveland. Andrea helps with the implementation of reutilization projects pertaining to vacant land and vacant housing reuse, such as the Reimagining Cleveland Stabilization Program, and the regionally known, LoftHome rehab project. In response to the LoftHome’s success, Andrea, in coordination with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and Kent State University, finished the first Design [re] Build house. Design [re] Build offers architecture students real life design and construction experience while saving blighted properties. Andrea sits on the Board for The Housing Research and Advocacy Center, and the Arts Commission for the City of Mentor. In 2012, Andrea completed her Master’s in Urban Planning, Design and Development at Cleveland State University. In the same year, she also completed her Master’s in Business Administration at Lake Erie College. Andrea received her Bachelors of Arts from Mount Union College in Business Administration in 2009.

Ben Calnin is a GIS and data analyst with over eleven years of experience in creating analytics-ready data architectures used for decision support. Ben’s areas of expertise include urban revitalization, asset-based economic development, population and business dynamics, and spatial and econometric modeling.  He met Nigel Griswold in 2006 while working at Michigan State University’s Land Policy Institute, where he spent eight years in cutting-edge policy innovation.  Ben’s expertise is merging data from different government offices into a unified, analysis-ready system.

Shawn Carvin is a native of Warren, Ohio. After serving on active duty in the United States Air Force as a meteorologist in Mississippi and Louisiana and serving a tour overseas, he moved back to his hometown, earned a BA in Geography and Meteorology his degree from YSU, and began working for the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) as the Trumbull County Land Bank Program Manager. TNP acts as the facilitator of all Land Bank disposition, supporting a mission of reducing blight, returning derelict property to productive use and increasing the quality of life for all residents of Trumbull County. Shawn has a passion for urban planning, grassroots neighborhood revitalization and resident driven community and economic development. Through his work he has helped develop the Trumbull County Land Bank into a high-impact and efficient revitalization entity that serves as a model for smaller counties in the region. Shawn believes that community engagement is the most powerful way to build strong, lasting projects in neighborhoods and has developed and implemented land bank programming around demolition, land use, and home ownership that is accountable to neighborhoods and accessible to residents. Shawn is active in his community, sitting on the boards of several local non-profits and volunteering in his neighborhood.

Phil Cavanagh is Director of Special Projects for Wayne County (Michigan) Treasurer Eric Sabree.  He is charged with finding solutions to the ongoing tens of thousands of tax foreclosures annually and assisting those facing foreclosure.  Additionally he assists in marketing the inventory within the Treasurer’s Office, before and after the public auction. Cavanagh is a former Wayne County Commissioner elected to four 2-year terms (2001 – 2008), and a former State Representative (2011 – 2014) where he represented both Detroit and a couple adjacent suburbs.  He was successful in passing legislation that allowed County Treasurers to establish payment plans with delinquent property tax payers wherein upon successful repayment the interest rate would be reduced from 18% to 6%.  This legislation has been quite helpful in keeping residents in their homes with the signing of over 36,000 payment plans from January 2015 to June 2016.  Now the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office is focused on assisting those with credit counseling and other social programs to help them keep current on repayments.

Andi Clark has been at the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) for 5 years working on both Save the Dream Ohio and the Neighborhood Initiative Program in the Hardest Hit Fund Department.  Her prior experience includes 10 years in the mortgage industry and 5 years in community relations.  Andi received her bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of New Mexico and certifications in Homeownership Counseling and Foreclosure Default Counseling from NeighborWorks.

Chad Clink is Community Forester with The Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio. He is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist and Registered Consulting Arborist. His primary focus is outreach, education, and community engagement around best arboriculture and urban forest management techniques. Chad has professional experience traveling the country advocating and caring for trees while concurrently assessing, planning, and promoting the many benefits of urban forests.

 Kathleen H. Crowther has been Executive Director/President of the Cleveland Restoration Society since 1987.  The Society is a heritage preservation organization affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The organization provides loans, technical assistance, education and advocacy.  In 2013, the organization received the highest honor in its field. The Society’s Heritage Home ProgramSM is a national model operating in 40+ communities.  It has provided technical assistance to over 10,000 property owners with rehabilitation projects valued at $220 million and has financed and additional 1,300 projects through its loan program for $50 million.  The Society is deeply engaged with preserving sacred landmarks and African-American cultural heritage. Ms. Crowther has served in many leadership capacities with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  She is member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), serving on its International Scientific Committee for historic cities.  Ms. Crowther is a Guest Lecturer at Cleveland State University where she obtained a MS in Urban Affairs. She has a BA (Art History & English) from Case Western Reserve University.  She took a junior year abroad at Sorbonne University in Paris, has been an Arts Fellow at Stanford University and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome.

Adam Davenport is the Project & Operations Manager at Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO). DSCDO has worked to catalyze the physical and social development of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood on Cleveland’s Near West Side since 1973. Adam holds an Environmental Studies degree from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. At DSCDO Adam manages all of the organization’s greenspace redevelopment projects, some of the small housing work, and manages the board of directors for the Business Improvement District of the Gordon Square Arts District. Since 2013, he has served on the City of Berea’s Planning & Development Commission (his hometown) and resides in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood near Edgewater Park.

Gary Davenport is the Project Coordinator at the Mahoning County Land Bank, where he oversees the on-demand acquisition, leasing, and marketing programs, manages the database, and works with residents and partners on special projects. Before joining the Land Bank, he organized residents in Youngstown with the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative to pass the foreclosure bond, legislation that has insured over 200 abandoned houses against blight.

Gregory J. DeGulis is a partner at McMahon DeGulis LLP, Ohio’s largest environmental and related litigation firm.  Greg has 30 years of experience prosecuting and defending environmental and toxic exposure claims, with significant experience in environmental cost recovery matters, environmental insurance litigation, construction litigation and natural resource damage cases.  Clients include manufacturers, real estate developers, paper companies, contractors and municipalities.  Greg leads the firm’s insurance recovery practice. In 2002, Greg co-founded the Environmental Network (elnonline.com) which consists of 26 US law firms and 6 international affiliates. Greg is widely recognized as a practitioner and litigator in the Superfund arena.  Greg and his team have successfully handled several multi-million Superfund matters working on behalf of national railroad, defense contractors and other large PRPs.  Greg also has significant experience defending against Natural Resource Damages claims, negotiating the purchase and divesture of contaminated parcels, and navigating the Ohio VAP cost recovery process.

Savannah Diamond joined the Montgomery County Land Bank in early 2016 bringing a wide variety of both creative and technical expertise. In addition to marketing and graphic design skills, the Land Bank has come to rely on Savannah’s proficiency with computer software, website administration and data management. Prior to coming to the Land Bank, Savannah worked with the Montgomery County Building Regulations, processing permit applications for both residential and commercial real estate. She is a recent graduate of the City of Dayton’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute program in 2016 and studied International Business with a minor in Political Science.

Jim Durham joined OHFA in June 2014 after more than 30 years in the banking industry, having most recently served as the Vice President of Commercial Banking Operations and Administration for Fifth Third Bank. Under his leadership, the Office of Homeownership works with mortgage lenders throughout the state of Ohio to assist First-Time Homebuyers with low- to moderate-incomes by providing Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance, Grants for Grads, Ohio Heroes loans and other interest rate subsidies. Active in the community, Durham has volunteered at the North YMCA in Columbus for more than 20 years and currently serves as Chair of the Consulting Board. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Mount Union and resides in Worthington.

Benjamin D. Faller is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University, where he co-teaches the Community Development Clinic, supervising and mentoring third-year law students as they represent community-focused non-profits and businesses in the Cleveland area.  He received his B.A. from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN and his J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, between which he worked as a bicycle mechanic, founded and ran his own business as general contractor and carpenter in Western Montana, almost became a plumber, and lived in Southern Africa for a time.  After finding a passion for housing law as a student in the CWRU Law Clinic and at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Faller began his legal career as a Staff Attorney and the Chief Housing Specialist for the Cleveland Housing Court, where he worked to expand the Court’s problem-solving programs and engaged in a range of outreach and policy work on housing and property issues.  He subsequently served as the Executive Director for Home Repair Resource Center, where he led the organization to expand its reach and profile, while also teaching Community Development Law and Mediation at CWRU as an adjunct professor of law.  A strong believer in the power of the arts to bring people together, he served as the first Chairperson of the Board of Larchmere PorchFest, a non-profit neighborhood-focused music festival.  Faller is a member of the City of Cleveland’s Consumer Council, sits on the planning committee for the Fair Lending and Vital Communities Conference and Forum Series, and serves as the co-chair of the Tax Lien/Delinquent Tax Working Group for the Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council (VAPAC).

Dr. Ernest L Fields, Pastor, Calvary Hill Church of God in Christ; Coordinator, BMMA, has a B. A. in Political Science from Kent State University, and a Ph. D. in Public Administration with a concentration in Urban Studies from The Ohio State University. Prior to his appointment as pastor of Calvary Hill in 1988, Dr. Fields worked at Ohio State University as a Research Specialist at its National Center for Research in Vocational Education. He has published professionally in the areas of Industry-Based Adult Literacy, and State-Level Economic Development. Prior to that, he worked as a Community Organizer, and as Director of Economic Development in the Columbus, Ohio Community Action Organization. Currently, Dr. Fields is Coordinator of the Buckeye Ministry in Missions Alliance, a collaboration of churches and community agencies working to bring together resources to revitalize a five-street area in Cleveland’s Buckeye-Woodland Hills community, the Rosehill to Crestwood Re-Vision. Dr. Fields has been married to Iris (Brown) Fields, since 1964. The couple has a son, Chad, daughter-in-law Michele, and daughter Marka. Granddaughters are Kendall and Sydney.

Justin D. Fleming, Esq. is the Director of Real Estate at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, where his primary duty is to ensure that CNP’s real estate and development agenda is aligned with the organization’s broader goal of fostering communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods.  He holds a master’s in urban planning, development and design as well as a law degree from Cleveland State University, and a bachelor’s in history and philosophy from the Ohio State University.  Since joining CNP in 2009, Mr. Fleming has focused on the development and implementation of stabilization and sustainable redevelopment strategies, and fortunate enough have shared his experience in Cleveland at conferences and panels around the country.

Frank Ford is Senior Policy Advisor for the Thriving Communities 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 40 years.  Mr. Ford was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1981 and in the State of Colorado in 1994.    His work with communities has included housing development, commercial retail development, organizational development, human capital development and applied research.  Mr. Ford graduated from Kenyon College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, and received his Juris Doctor Degree from 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 also 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, 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.

Jacqueline Gillon is a community builder, facilitator, trainer and published poet. She currently serves as the Community Engagement Specialist for Thriving Communities Institute, a program of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, focusing on the physical restoration of Buckeye, Woodland Hills and Mount Pleasant. Jacquie spent a total of 19 years with Neighborhood Centers Association and Neighborhood Leadership Institute, co-facilitating and mentoring 29 classes of Neighborhood Leadership Cleveland. Partnering with Environmental Health Watch and the Earth Day Coalition, she was involved in environmental education through the Sustainable Cleveland Partnership and helped the Coalition to conceive Nature hood, an initiative promoting greening of vacant lots. Appointed at 23 to the former East Cleveland City Commission, she was elected at 31 and completed three consecutive terms on the East Cleveland City Council, focusing on community development, youth, environmental policy, as well as safety and law enforcement. She is a graduate of Hiram College and completed the Wilder Foundation’s Shannon Leadership Institute in Minnesota. She serves as the linkage coordinator for her church, Elizabeth Baptist in Slavic Village.

Matt Gray serves as Director in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland. Working on all things urban sustainability, Matt helps lead the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative and implementation of the Cleveland Climate Action Plan. This position follows completion of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Mauritius where he researched climate change. Prior to receiving this grant, he served four years with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Joe Gregory is the assistant manager for Davey Resource Group’s Natural Resource Consulting team. Joe is a planner and an urban forester by training and has coordinated numerous municipal inventory projects throughout the United States. He has extensive experience with GIS and GPS technologies, several types of field data collection computers/units, tree inventories, tree inventory management software, urban tree risk assessment, urban tree canopy analyses, and the i-Tree suite of software. He is proficient at writing urban and community forestry management plans, benefit analyses, and urban forest master plans for municipal and non-profit clientele. Joe is a Certified Arborist and Municipal Specialist (OH-1420AM) with the International Society of Arboriculture, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in conservation from Kent State University, and a Master of Arts in geography and urban planning from The University of Akron.

Nigel Grisowld is an Economist and Managing Director at Dynamo Metrics. Nigel is an innovator in the field of spatial econometrics, the study of the effects of distance and proximity on economic activity.  Nigel’s work in urban policy began in 2004, when he examined the relationship between blight abatement and housing values in Flint, Michigan, at the behest of Congressman Dan Kildee, who was then treasurer of Genesee County.  Nigel’s subsequent research culminated in decision of U.S. Treasury to allow Hardest Hit Fund money to be spent on demolition of blight.  Nigel now focuses on building decision support tools for local governments.

Brandon Gumm joined the Port Authority in 2016 as a Development Associate. He has been a valuable addition to the real estate team bringing his public policy and urban planning experience alongside a focus on sustainability and data-driven approaches. Brandon earned a B.A. in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy and a B.A. in Comparative Cultures and Politics from Michigan State University’s James Madison College of Public Affairs in 2013. In 2016 he received a Master’s in Urban Sustainability and Resilience at Xavier University. He previously interned at the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation where he gained valuable insight into Cincinnati’s neighborhood revitalization efforts. Brandon is currently a Board Member and Bass Singer for the Young Professionals Choral Collective (YPCC) in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. He is a founding member of Northside Nerds, a data collaborative focused on improving the Northside community. Lastly, he is a proud co-leader of Bootcamp Warriors fitness classes in Clifton.

John Habat, J.D. has led the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity since October 2011.  During this time, he has evolved the focus of Habitat from home building to fully rehabbing homes as part of a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy that also includes helping existing residents in target areas with critical exterior home repairs.  Additionally, he has focused on building Habitat’s ReStore thrift retail operation by more than doubling annual sales and opening a second store on the county’s east side. John has served in positions in nonprofit management, higher education, public policy, law, government and economic development.  He has had a diverse professional life spanning a variety of administrative and financial management positions.  During a thirty-year career, he has helped shape and advance institutional vision, built and directed staff and volunteer resources and formed internal and external partnerships throughout Northeast Ohio.  As an advocate for Greater Cleveland in Columbus and Washington, D.C., John was active in many economic and community initiatives.  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.

Darin Hall directs all facets of real estate development for the Port Authority, with an emphasis on repositioning and restoring value to sites to support the growth of the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Through comprehensive development strategies and proactive community partnerships, Darin approaches projects in a way that accomplishes financial sustainability and enhances the well-being of residents. He previously directed community revitalization in Atlanta for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Sustainable Neighborhood Development Strategies, Inc., with an emphasis on procuring capital and investing in key neighborhood assets. Prior to the Casey Foundation, Darin held senior management positions in investment banking, corporate real estate analysis, project consultancy, and non-profit community development. B.S. Banking & Finance, Morehouse College, MBA, Clark Atlanta University

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.

Ed Herman is a real estate and policy lawyer with a background in residential real estate.  From 2011 to 2016 Ed worked as law and policy advisor to Thriving Communities Institute.  During that period he proposed and helped craft the federal and Ohio programs to demolish blight.

 Tom Hetrick is the Neighborhood Planner for the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC). He collaborates with a team of professional staff to provide general planning services for the City of Youngstown, Ohio. The planning services include: resident engagement, development of neighborhood action plans, grant writing, and management of neighborhood action teams. Tom holds a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education from Youngstown State University. In addition to his work and studies in Ohio, he spent two years living in Asia followed by a year in Europe teaching ESL.

Nina Holzer is the Manager of CDC Advancement at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, where she works to support and improve Cleveland’s CDC network through grant-making, technical assistance, and capacity-building. A social worker and Cleveland-native, Nina has long been passionate about neighborhood revitalization and equitable development for Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Nina’s background is in community development, program management, research and evaluation. In 2016, she received a dual-master’s degree in Social Administration (with an emphasis in Community and Social Development) and Management of Nonprofit Organizations from the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.  While at the Mandel School, she worked for the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development where she trained and provided technical assistance to users on the Center’s data systems, contributed to housing research, and managed community capacity-building projects. She has also taught English with Cleveland’s Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services, served as an Evaluation Coordinator for City Year Chicago, and managed fundraising events for Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.

Tom Jorgensen has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Cleveland Restoration Society since November 2011. Tom has played an integral role in the growth of the Cleveland Restoration Society for over thirty years, during which time CRS has progressed from being a volunteer-run organization to its current form of twelve professional staff members, a headquarters building, endowment and programs in the community. His record of trusteeship in terms of dedication, commitment and strategic focus is unsurpassed. His focus of operations with CRS currently is the Heritage Home ProgramSM, which he has worked to reinvigorate, Real Estate Activities and the Small Deals Program. Tom has had a forty-four-year legal career at the Cleveland firm Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP, where he led the practice in Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation. His record of leadership in the field is extensive – he has served in numerous roles for the International Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, the International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Internal Revenue Advisors Group. He has testified to Congress, lectured throughout the world, and has been selected as a leading American lawyer for decades by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and Ohio’s Super Lawyers.

David Jurca is the Associate Director at the CUDC, where his work integrates professional practice, applied research, and teaching. Responding to dynamic community needs, David advances the CUDC’s various advocacy initiatives and spearheads efforts to develop effective techniques for public engagement. In 2013, David launched COLDSCAPES.org, a multileveled initiative to spur creative engagement and livability in winter cities. He also co-founded Design Diversity, an initiative to promote people of color in architecture and design professions in Northeast Ohio. Appointed Assistant Professor of Urban Design in Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, David teaches graduate studios, community charrette courses, and advises MUD capstone projects. He also taught the Designing Urban Green Spaces course for three years at Case Western Reserve University as a part-time lecturer in the SAGES program. David serves on the City of Cleveland’s Near West Design Review Committee, the Franklin Boulevard – West Clinton Landmarks Advisory Committee, and volunteers for a number of organizations dedicated to community service. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from The Ohio State University and received his M.Arch from Kent State University.

Jelani Karamoko is a native Detroiter and a success story from Detroit Public Schools, taking his Renaissance High School education all the way to Harvard Law School and earning his law degree. Jelani came back with his experiences and knowledge to where his heart is, to the City of Detroit; where he is not only committed to his work, but also to its people. Jelani Karamoko now serves as the Executive Director for the Wayne County Land Bank whose mission is to eliminate blight and promote economic growth across all of the cities in Wayne County.

Lee A. Kay, MSSA, LISW-S is a graduate of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, with a concentration in community development. She has had many opportunities to participate in the launch and development of a wide variety of new and innovative initiatives serving Greater Cleveland residents.  Shortly after graduation, as Consortia Organizer of Healthy Family/Healthy Start, Lee supported work to reduce infant mortality in Cleveland’s Glenville and Forest Hills neighborhoods; and helped launch the Early Start Program (Help Me Grow) at the St. Martin de Porres Family Center where she trained and supervised community workers to teach mothers of newborn children about infant development.  At the Shaker Heights Youth and Family Counseling Center, Lee was the Coordinator of the Intensive Intervention Prevention Program where she managed and implemented a program designed to prevent the suspensions of children with behavioral issues in elementary school. From 2003 -2006 she was the Director of Community Resources and Assets at the Neighborhood Leadership Institute where she implemented programs, conducted workshops, and first provided technical assistance for grassroots grantees of Neighborhood Connections. In her work at the Centers for Families and Children, Lee was the Manager of the Returning Home Program where she implemented a new community reentry program for women returning home from prison. As a managing partner of Kay Coaching, LLC, her extensive community and social development work experience has positioned her well to provide coaching and consultation services to a wide variety of human service, grassroots and community-based organizations and neighborhood leaders in the areas of program development, community engagement, and network-centric organizing practices. Kay Coaching has continued to work with Neighborhood Connections, and has also provided support to the Raymond John Wean Foundation Neighborhood Success & Leadership Program and the City of Shaker Heights.

Robert Klein is a successful entrepreneur, having created one of the greatest success stories in Cleveland. Robert is the Founder and Chairman of Safeguard Properties.  Under Robert’s leadership as CEO, Safeguard grew from a handful of employees in 1990 to over 1500 today.  Robert developed Safeguard around the motto “Customer Service = Resolution” with the mission of creating a company focused on client satisfaction and strong business relationships.  Safeguard is acknowledged to be the leading mortgage field servicing company in the United States. Since Safeguard’s inception, Robert has developed and maintained a reputation as an innovator and is recognized as an industry pioneer and advocate for the property preservation industry.  Robert’s vision and ingenuity continue with the creation of Community Blight Solutions, a company focused on understanding, solving, and eliminating the problems of communities experiencing blight.  Prominent solutions currently include the Slavic Village Recovery Project, SecureView, and fast track to foreclosure legislation. Robert currently serves as the Founder and Chairman of both Community Blight Solutions and SecureView and is a frequent speaker at field service industry conferences, because of his deep and rich background.

Jacqui Knettel is Executive Assistant to both the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s President and its Chief Operating Officer. Jacqui was instrumental in the creation of 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 management and tracking systems. During Jacqui’s watch and with her supervision, the staff at the Cuyahoga Land Bank grew from the 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. Jacqui schedules and manages the quarterly Board meetings of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and serves as the Assistant Secretary to the Board. She is involved in executive‐level decision making with the President and assists with Board communications. Jacqui is highly sensitive to, and interacts with elected officials and administrators at all levels. Jacqui has 16 years of legal secretarial experience, office management, classroom management as well as 7 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 or taking in the cultural arts around northeast Ohio with her daughter. Jacqui also enjoys travelling to North Carolina to visit her son and his new bride!

Dan Kuhlmann is a PhD Candidate in the department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. His research focuses on housing and public finance. Dan spent the summer in Cleveland, OH doing research for his dissertation which examines the causes, consequences, and policies that address the presence of low-quality and blighted housing. A Minnesota native, Dan holds a BA from Carleton College and his MA in City and Regional Planning from Cornell.

Margaret Lann joined the staff of the Cleveland Restoration Society in May of 2013.  As Heritage Home Program Associate, her duties include facilitating the home loan process, providing on-site technical assistance, and advising homeowners regarding preservation practices.  She also performs community outreach and development by creating educational workshops, giving presentations, and representing CRS at area events. Margaret has prior preservation experience assisting with the rehabilitation of commercial buildings and sacred structures, researching historic properties, and specifying appropriate restoration materials. Margaret has been serving as a member of the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission since 2014, and holds a Master of Arts in Historic Preservation from Ursuline College.

Jane Larson is the Financial Analyst for the department of Acquisition, Disposition, and Development.  Jane began her career as a legal assistant and accounts receivable specialist at an East-side law firm, and she attained an A.B.A in Paralegal Studies at Lakeland Community College.  Jane then joined the Land Bank as a Disposition Assistant, specializing in demolition-related invoicing, and maximized departmental payables to over $11,000,000 annually.  She has since developed to specialize in troubleshooting contractor accounts, analyzing departmental workflow data and expenditures, and grant management.  Jane will graduate in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Nonprofit Administration from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Matt Lasko is currently the Chief Development Officer for the City of Sandusky – and has been with the City since December of 2014.  In that role, he oversees the Department of Community Development including housing and economic development, planning & zoning, transit, code enforcement and building and housing divisions.  The Department of Community Development most notably manages and implements all housing and economic redevelopment incentive programs, tax abatement requests, residential and commercial demolition activities, brownfield redevelopment, all City related real estate transactions, the county-wide Sandusky Transit System and the Community Development Block Grant program.  Prior to joining the City of Sandusky, he served as the Assistant Executive Director for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and had been with the organization since 2007.  Matt holds a bachelor’s degree (Political Science & Sociology) from Baldwin-Wallace University (2005), a Master’s degree in Social Science Administration from Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (2007), a Certificate of Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management (2007) and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, Design and Development from Cleveland State University’s Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs (2012). Matt, born and raised in Vermilion, currently resides in Carlisle Township in Lorain County with his wife Kasey and two sons – Tatum (4 years) and Kellen (2 years).

Kamla Lewis is the Director of Neighborhood Revitalization for the City of Shaker Heights, Ohio, with responsibility for housing preservation. She has over 25 years of experience in community development, working at municipal, county, regional and international governmental agencies. She has worked in Ohio, in California and in Jamaica on issues related to housing, transportation, food banking, economic development and strengthening neighborhoods. She currently serves on the boards of Policy Matters Ohio, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland and the Shaker Heights Development Corporation. Ms. Lewis is a graduate of Princeton University in New Jersey, and Cambridge University in England, with an academic background in both political science and development economics.

Robert Linn is the Assistant Director for Inventory at the Detroit Land Bank Authority, where he manages an inventory of 94,000 parcels and oversees the development and application of land use policies within the land bank.  At the DLBA, Robert’s work is focused on economic development strategy, vacant land planning, demographic and real estate analysis, and leveraging data to create more granular and proactive responses to the city’s vacant properties.  In addition to his work at the land bank, Robert serves as an adjunct professor of GIS and statistics at Lawrence Technological University and the University of Michigan Dearborn.  He is also an author of Mapping Detroit: Land, Community, and Shaping a City (2015), and Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider’s Guide to Detroit (2012).  Robert’s work has appeared in a number of media outlets, including: Next City, National Public Radio, the Detroit Free Press, The Atlantic, Citylab, and the Journal of the American Planning Association.  Robert holds a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.  He can be reached at

Jim Maher is the Commercial Demolition Officer for the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp. Jim grew up in Akron and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in in urban planning.  For over 30 years, Jim has worked in the Cleveland area in both construction management and community development.   Initially with Zaremba Communities of Ohio, contracting the construction of residential developments and later with community development corporations such as Broadway Area Housing Coalition, Neighborhood Progress Incorporated and Glenville Development, Jim has managed the construction and renovation of residential developments from single-family homes to multi acre apartment and condominium sites.  In 2009, Jim joined the CCLRC and currently uses this experience in construction toward contracting of commercial demolition activity and providing support on construction industry standards.

David Mann is the President of the Lucas County Land Bank, an innovative organization based in Toledo, Ohio whose twin goals are to strengthen neighborhoods and preserve property values in a challenged Midwestern legacy city.  The Land Bank has made impressive strides in the 6 years since its creation, returning more than 3,000 vacant properties to productive use, including thousands of side lots, hundreds of renovated homes, and even a massive solar field providing clean power to the Toledo Zoo. In his role as President, David manages a staff of 10 accomplished professionals and an annual budget of more than $8 million.  David has been actively involved in housing, redevelopment, public policy, and land banking issues for over a decade. A recipient of numerous awards including Toledo’s 20 Under 40, David also serves as an of counsel member of a local law firm and graduated from the University of Toledo College of Law, summa cum laude.  He lives with his partner, Eugenio, in one of Toledo’s great neighborhoods, Library Village.

Matt Martin has been the Executive Director of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership since its launch in 2010 and has directed the organizations management of the Trumbull County Land Bank since 2013 . Prior to joining TNP, he was a Land Re-utilization 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. He sits in the Board of Directors of the United Way of Trumbull County. Matt lives in downtown Warren with his wife and 4 kids, ages 4 months to 15 years old.

Camille Maxwell serves as Assistant Director at Northeast Shores Development Corporation, where she is responsible for overseeing the conversion of multiple residential properties in the North Shore Collinwood neighborhood, often in poor condition and with obsolete floor plans, into modernized, energy-efficiency buildings. She has acquired, renovated, leased and sold over $ 3 million dollars in residential development. In this role, Camille has implemented a do-it-yourself program that allows buyers to purchase a property for $8,500 that allows the homeowner to invest sweat equity and build wealth without securing a mortgage. Through Camille’s efforts, Northeast Shores has successfully helped dozens of low- and moderate-income individuals, including nearly 20 artists, purchase space and expand their personal wealth in this up-and-coming neighborhood. Prior to working with Northeast Shores, Camille worked for Cleveland Housing Network for seven years as a Lending Specialist/Homeward Sales Agent. Camille participated in the inaugural REAP (Real Estate Associate Program) held in Cleveland, Ohio, graduating in 2012. She holds a Master’s of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University.

Mark McArdle is the Chief of the Homeownership Preservation Office in the Office of Financial Stability of the United States Department of the Treasury. In this role, McArdle oversees the management of Treasury’s Making Home Affordable program and the HFA Hardest-Hit Fund, and advises on housing finance reform matters. While at Treasury, McArdle has played a key role in the policy development for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and oversaw the creation of the Hardest Hit Fund, which provides funding to state housing finance agencies to prevent foreclosures. McArdle began his career as a fair lending test coordinator for the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and since then has worked in nonprofits and government in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. As a policy analyst with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), he worked on issues related to housing, welfare reform, and economic development. While Director of Research for a large homeless services provider in New York City (BRC), he oversaw the performance management process for 23 programs providing housing and other services to homeless clients. Immediately before coming to Treasury, he was a Senior Research Analyst with the National Urban League, focusing on economic and housing policy.

Amanda McClain graduated from Ashland University’s Paralegal Program in 1999 and from Bowling Green State University in 2006.  After completing an internship with the City of Sandusky’s Law Department in 1999, she was hired as a research paralegal. For the past 16 years she has assisted in providing legal support to various city departments under the supervision of the Law Director. When the foreclosure crisis hit, she began researching the State of Ohio’s land reutilization law and developed and implemented the City of Sandusky’s Land Reutilization Program in 2007.  Amanda recently transitioned from the Law Department into the Department of Community Development as the Housing Manager for the Division of Code Enforcement and continues to administer the City of Sandusky’s Land Reutilization Program.

 Kerry McCormack was unanimously appointed to the Cleveland City Council April 4 to represent Cleveland’s Ward 3, one of the most diverse wards in the City. Ward 3 includes the Downtown, Tremont, Ohio City and Flats neighborhoods, as well as a portion of Clark-Fulton and the Stockyards. McCormack, 28, resigned from his job as Director of Community Affairs for Ohio City Inc., the neighborhood community development corporation, where he works with area businesses, residents, non-profits and elected officials on both economic development as well as quality of life issues. During his tenure at Ohio City Inc., McCormack, who is fluent in Spanish, created new community-based programming as well as strengthened existing ones including the Near West Recreation League, which has grown to include 1,000 children from the near west side participating in T-ball, basketball, softball and other sports. He has worked to expand and grow the Ohio City Fresh Food Collaborative, the six acre farm, and farmers market, just one mile from downtown Cleveland. Councilman McCormack is a graduate of Villa Angela – St. Joseph High School in Cleveland and Miami University of Ohio, where he majored in International Studies (International Development), with minors in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Following his graduation from Miami, Councilman McCormack spent about two years in Madrid, Spain, working with approximately two hundred students, teachers and administrators enhancing their understanding of American culture and the English language. After returning to the United States, Councilman McCormack worked as a field organizer in for the Ohio Democratic Party and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. Councilman McCormack lives in Ohio City.

Domenick Mucci Jr. is the Mayor of Steubenville, Ohio. The Mayor of Steubenville is the official head of the city for all ceremonial purposes and by the Governor for all purposes of military law and shall receive all legal documents. The Mayor presides over Council meetings, represents the city at regional and state meetings, appoints members to various boards and commissions, and serves as President of the Board of Health. Mayor Domenick Mucci, Jr. began his service in city government in 1982 and has served as Mayor since 1993. Mayor Mucci is the Director of the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission, he serves on various boards and commissions, and was appointed by Governor Taft to the Ohio Urban Revitalization Task Force.

Joshua Murnen is the Vice President and General Counsel of the Lucas County Land Bank.  Josh coordinates many of the day-to-day operations of the Land Bank, including the acquisition, marketing and disposition of commercial and industrial properties.  Josh joined the Land Bank’s staff in September of 2011.  He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD, 2007), the University of Toledo (BA, 2004), and the University of Nottingham, U.K. (LLM, 2006).  In addition to his work with the Land Bank, Josh sits on the Steering Committee for Welcome Toledo-Lucas County and the Advisory Board for the Toledo Design Center, and serves as Chair of the Toledo Bar Association’s Real Estate Committee.  He lives with his wife Shelley and their sons Oliver and Owen in Toledo’s Old Orchard neighborhood.

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, OH with the teens, a border collie, and her husband, Forrest.

Mary Ogle is a Project Reviews Manager in the Resource Protection and Review Department at the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the Ohio History Connection. She earned a Master of Historic Preservation degree from Ursuline College. Prior to joining SHPO staff in September 2015, Mary worked for four years as the Heritage Home Program Specialist at the Cleveland Restoration Society, where she helped homeowners understand older home construction and facilitated rehabilitation loan projects.

Victoria Olivier is Deputy Director for Neighborhoods for the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office, working on neighborhood and capacity building initiatives with a focus on vacant land reuse, community planning, arts and culture, and building renovation and reuse. Victoria leads numerous initiatives including implementation of the Field Guide to Working with Lots and Brick+Beam Detroit. Victoria was selected as a 2013-2015 Detroit Revitalization Fellow at Detroit Future City where she helped connect neighborhood leaders and residents to the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework through developing resources and projects across the city. Prior to moving to Detroit, Victoria lived in New Orleans for eight years where she worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Louisiana Recovery Office as a historic preservation specialist and the project manager for the implementation of the $1.8 billion FEMA funded master plan for the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District. Victoria has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in urban and environmental planning and American studies at the University of Virginia. Victoria is also a certified urban planner and a member of the City of Detroit’s Historic Designation Advisory Board.

 Jerry Paffendorf is an American mutt from the forested farmlands of New Jersey who’s lived around the country in Portland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Detroit, where he moved in 2009 and started building what’s evolved into LOVELAND Technologies. Jerry dropped out of high school, got turned on by Ray Kurzweil’s “The Age of Spiritual Machines” while in art school, and earned a Master of Science in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Working at the Acceleration Studies Foundation for two years, Jerry gained a deep view on how each generation of technology builds the next with increasing speed. Jerry gravitated towards the virtual worlds industry where he pioneered many projects and experiments within the Second Life user-created 3D world, and researched convergences between maps, virtual reality, and social networks. Jerry earned a purple heart in Silicon Valley after co-founding a venture capital-funded company you’ve never heard of, an experience which made him even more passionate about putting the world online outside of what’s currently trendy in the Bay Area. Detroit has become an endless education and influence for thinking about how information systems can help improve the function of cities, the agency of residents, and the use of physical space. He likes reading books and watching documentaries about all kinds of things, road tripping, running around in circles, and growing LOVELAND into something more and more meaningful all the time.

Francisca Garca-Cobin Richter is a Research Assistant Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University. A native of Peru, she earned an undergraduate degree in statistics from the Universidad Catlica del Per (1994). Her M.S. in statistics (1997) and Ph.D. in agricultural economics (2000) are both from Oklahoma State University. Prior to coming to CWRU, she was a Research Economist in Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. She is currently affiliated with the Bank in the same role, on a project-basis. Dr. Richter’s research focuses on the analysis of social interventions and the environments in which they operate. Her recent work is centered on low-income housing programs, mobility in low-income neighborhoods, and neighborhood effects. Her current projects include (1) an evaluation of the effects of social services and neighborhood context on child maltreatment rates, (2) an analysis of housing quality and instability experienced at an early age, and its relationship to school readiness, (3) the evaluation of a social investment experiment that aims to improve outcomes for families in the foster care system. Dr. Richter is also associate director of the Math Corps at Cleveland State University, a branch of Wayne State University’s highly successful program for middle and high-school students, providing academic enrichment and mentorship in a community-oriented setting.

Cory Riordan has served as Executive Director of Tremont West Development Corporation since 2012.  During his tenure with the organization he has worked to expand quality of life initiatives for all residents throughout the socioeconomic spectrum through expansion of healthy food access, creation of recreation programs, and development of commercial activity that serves the residents of the neighborhood.  Cory has also guided planning and development processes that have resulted in over $150 million dollars of investment in the Tremont neighborhood.  As the market has recovered, the organization is taking a more active role in ensuring affordable housing is part of the long-term future of the neighborhood by leveraging assets and working with partners. Previously, Cory served as the Executive Director of St. Clair Superior Development Corporation on the near east side of Cleveland. He spent two years as Executive Director and six years with the organization, starting as an organizer going door to door and interacting with neighborhood residents. He believes strongly in the work of community development corporations and their ability to help build great neighborhoods. He believes in the people of Cleveland and their communities to overcome challenges and work together for a bright future. Cory obtained his Master’s Degree in Urban Planning Design and Development in 2007 from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Ohio University in 2002. He lives in Cleveland with his wife and two children.

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 circa 3 million dollars 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. Finally, Mr. Roberts is married to his lovely wife Sabrina and has one cute daughter named Morgan Roberts, age 10.

Deborah Robb’s responsibilities for economic inclusion and community outreach are woven into every Port Authority area of operation. She also directs the construction, renovation and demolition related activities critical to revitalizing Cincinnati and Hamilton County neighborhoods. As Port Authority team lead on the REACH project (Rehab Across Cincinnati and Hamilton County) Deborah works closely with owner’s representatives, contractors and support services to oversee the acquisition, remediation and cleanout, planning and renovation of homes within a community target area. In Evanston, this has included more than 30 properties—with 15 renovations completed or under way to date.

Isaac Robb is the Manager of Urban Projects for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Isaac is responsible for redevelopment scenario planning, supporting urban open space projects, as well as assisting with the Land Conservancy’s property inventory program. A native Oregonian, Isaac holds a BA in Economics from Willamette University and his MA in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University. While pursuing his Master’s degree he was a planning consultant for the Town of Caroline, New York and he was also a policy and planning intern for the City of Seattle, Washington. Isaac also has experience teaching English as a second language to students in China and South Korea.

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 almost 40 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 dollars from 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. Working with the Ohio Congressional delegation he led the effort to reallocate an additional 2 billion dollars to the Hardest Hit Funds last December—with 192 million of those dollars coming to Ohio.  To date, Rokakis has raised almost 450 million for the demolition of over 20,000 blighted structures in Ohio. He is the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards, including being named “County Leader of the Year” by American City and County Magazine in 2007, and the recipient of the Cleveland Foundation’s Wadsworth Award in 2016  In December 2011, Rokakis was featured on the CBS program “60 Minutes”, discussing the need to fund demolition in distressed urban areas. Rokakis earned his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and his Juris Doctorate degree from Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.

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 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 the neighborhood information system, NEO CANDO (Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing). Michael’s expertise on foreclosure, subprime mortgages, and other real property data has been extensively utilized by the Neighborhood Stabilization Team sponsored by Neighborhood Progress, Inc, the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program as well as the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. He is also active in the local foreclosure and vacant property dialogue through VAPAC (Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council) and has presented at numerous national meeting and conferences on these topics. Michael has B.S. degrees in Geography and Meteorology from Penn State University and a M.A. in Geography from Syracuse University.

Terry Schwarz is the Director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). Her work at the CUDC includes neighborhood and campus planning, commercial and residential design guidelines, stormwater management and green infrastructure strategies. 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 in English from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University.

Akshai Singh lives in Cleveland Heights and organizes on issues of community benefits, transportation equity, and environmental and climate justice. Akshai grew up in Northeast Ohio and attended Case Western Reserve for undergrad and grad studies in economics and finance. He is an avid fan, player, and sometimes coach of soccer in Cleveland.

Larry S. Smith is a Principal Consultant with GT Environmental, Inc.’s Westerville, Ohio office.  He has 28 years of experience working for clients in the areas of brownfields, environmental compliance, and remediation.  For 15 years, Larry has focused on providing smaller communities the resources needed to initiate and complete brownfield projects for redevelopment.  He has helped communities secure 17 USEPA Brownfield Assessment Grants and 16 Clean Ohio/Jobs Ohio Grants.  Recently, he assisted the Ashtabula County Port Authority receive a grant for the first round of the new ODSA Abandoned Gas Station Fund.  Larry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Cincinnati.  He is a Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Ohio, a Certified Professional (CP133) under the Ohio EPA VAP, and a Licensed Remediation Specialist (LRS) in West Virginia.

Cheryl Stephens is the Director of Acquisition, Disposition and Development. 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. She is often called on by members of the Ohio business community to provide research and strategic development services. Cheryl has been a key player in ushering more than $100,000,000 of investment to growing businesses and real estate developments in Ohio. Cheryl has served on volunteer committees, boards, and commissions over the years and 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.

Holly Swisher joined the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) in 2013 as the Compliance Manager over the Hardest Hit Fund. Prior to joining OHFA she spent 15 years with a private sector credit processing company. Holly holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Governors University in Business Management and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. In her free time she is a scout leader and is an active member in her local school’s athletic and music boosters.

Robin Darden Thomas brings a background in education and 28 years experience in county government to Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities.  She served as Interim County Treasurer and as Chief Deputy Treasurer of Cuyahoga County, where she was responsible for the collection of nearly $2 billion of taxes annually and the investment of Cuyahoga County’s $500 million portfolio.  Robin negotiated the first tax lien sale/purchase agreement in Cuyahoga County and was instrumental in establishing a funding mechanism for the county land bank.  She streamlined the activities of the Treasurer’s office, drastically reducing the time required to disburse tax revenue to local schools, municipalities and other taxing entities.  Prior to joining the Cuyahoga County Treasurer’s office, her public service experience included the coordination of property assessments and real estate taxation for the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s office.  Robin joined Jim Rokakis at Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities in August 2011 following her retirement from government service.  Her primary role is working with Ohio counties in establishing county land banks.  She is also an integral part of the operation of Thriving Communities.  Robin received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia, and an MBA from Cleveland State University.  She has three adult sons and lives in Parma, OH.

Ernest Turner has lived in the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood since he was 14 years old — the only exception was when he was away at college and in the army. His mother helped organize the Buckeye Woodland Community Congress in the late 60s, and Mr. Turner has continued her legacy of advocacy. He serves as the Ward 6 Precinct representative, and is also the block club leader for his street. Mr. Turner retired from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District after serving as a teacher for 30 years.

April Urban, M.S.S.A from Case Western Reserve University, is a research assistant specializing in property research and consultation, focusing on code enforcement, foreclosure and REO properties and works closely with the community development industry to provide data and technical assistance in neighborhood stabilization. She most enjoys projects where she can work to aid communities in building their capacity to work with data, helping teach them how to use information to improve their practices and better the lives of people impacted by their work. She currently serves on the board of FutureHeights and volunteers with Open Cleveland, Cleveland’s Code for America brigade. In her spare time, she is a tap dancer (no joke).

Regina M. VanVorous has been an assistant Summit County Prosecutor in the Tax division since November 2007, and is now the in-house prosecutor for the Summit County Fiscal Office.  She graduated from the University of Akron, College of Law in 1983.  She was admitted to the US District Court, Northern District of Ohio that same year, and to the Central District of Illinois in 1985.  Her areas of practice have been in Real Estate, Bankruptcy, and Commercial Collections in both private practice as well as current government practice.

 Amanda White became the Planning and Community Development Administrator for the City of Geneva in 2014. Her duties include zoning administration and grant writing/administration for Geneva. She serves on the Ashtabula County Leadership board as well as Pairings – Ohio’s Wine and Culinary Experience board. With a keen interest in building walkable communities, she is an active member of her community’s Active Transportation Committee and most recently spearheaded a sidewalk audit using GIS smartphone apps wielded by high school volunteers on skateboards and in wheelchairs. Amanda earned a B.A. in Mediterranean Archaeology from the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University and a M.A. in Bronze Age and Classical Archaeology from the University of Cincinnati in 2009.

Deidre Lightning-Whitted is the Senior Demolition Inspector for the Cuyahoga County land Reutilization Corporation (CCLRC).  She began working for the CCLRC as a private contractor performing Level 1 Assessments and vacant lot inspections in 2012.  She currently coordinates the scheduling of demolition related activity with  contractors, troubleshoots any issues that occur before, during or after demolition has been completed and organizes all follow up inspections with staff and outside contractors. Prior to working for the CCLRC Deidre has held various positions with the East Cleveland Municipal Court, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, and with her family’s business Board Em Up/Clean Em Out.

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.

Eric Wobser is a Sandusky native with significant experience in municipal government and community development. Prior to joining the City of Sandusky, Eric served as Executive Director of Ohio City Incorporated from late 2009 until June 2014.  Before that, he worked under the Mayor of the City of Cleveland as the Special Projects Manager from 2006 to 2009. In 2013, he spent several weeks in Europe analyzing Transatlantic relations as an American Marshall Memorial Fellow, a program of the German Marshall Fund. Eric is a graduate of Ohio University (B.A. Political Science – 2002) and the University of Michigan Law School (J.D. – 2005). He is married to Jennifer, a Huron, Ohio, native. Eric and Jennifer have two sons, Perry and Hayes, and a Basset Hound, Clementine. Eric and his family live near downtown Sandusky and he enjoys walking to work, restaurants, shops, church, the library, downtown parks and the waterfront.

Rosemary Woodruff, Senior Environmental Property Specialist, joined the Cuyahoga Land Bank in 2010. She handles asbestos surveys and abatement, as well as projects requiring environmental assessments. A graduate of Oberlin College, Rosemary holds a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly Pomona. She previously managed the Housing Preservation Office and CDBG Program for the City of Cleveland Heights, and earned her field work stripes as a rehab spec writer for Cleveland Action to Support Housing, a local non-profit. During her stint as a stay-at-home mom, Rosemary co-chaired the West Nile Virus Community Task Force of Shaker Heights and championed the creation of the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership.

Lilah Zautner is the Manager of Special Projects and Land Reuse for the Cuyahoga Land Bank.  Lilah assists the President of the Land Bank on the advancement of special projects related to neighborhood stabilization, non-profit and economic development. Lilah also manages the Land Bank Side Yard program and greening programs.  Previous to joining the Land Bank, Lilah served as the Sustainability Manager for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress where she managed ReImagining Cleveland – a nationally celebrated, innovative city-wide vacant land reuse program.  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 programs in the Cleveland Ecovillage neighborhood. She began her career as a Community Outreach Specialist for ParkWorks (now LAND Studio). 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.  She and her family live and volunteer in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland.