LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS

Stacy Adam has served as the Executive Director of the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation since January 2017 where she supports the development efforts for both the city and county of Van Wert. With 30 years of diverse business experience at TruGreen LandCare, she has a record of accomplishments in operations, sales and process improvement. She last served as Division Vice President of Operations, responsible for locations across the eastern U.S. Adam received Six Sigma training, a disciplined approach to business process improvement that uses statistical analysis rather than guesswork, and became a certified Six Sigma Black Belt.

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.

Glen F. Alban, Esq. Partner Alban & Alban, LLP. Ohio State University 1988 & Juris Doctorate Capital Law School 1992. Licensed title insurance agent 2005; 29 years real estate & title insurance; 26 years foreclosures. Prequalified by Ohio Department of Transportation/Right of Way Acquisition Services, title exams & real estate closings; Clients include Franklin & Delaware County Engineer, Franklin County Land Bank, City of Columbus. Member American Land Title Association; OSBA/Corporate Counsel Section; CBA/Real Property Committee, Bankruptcy Committee, Common Pleas Court Committee. Speaker/lecturer R/E & Title at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law & Real Estate Law Institute at CBA.

Will Basil joined The Port in 2012 as a Planning Associate. Will supports The Port’s neighborhood revitalization strategy through community and stakeholder engagement, property research, and mapping for small and large-scale redevelopment opportunities. Working with CDCs and community partners, Will helps manage Hamilton County Land Bank programs focused on returning vacant properties to productive use. He supports the Homesteading and Urban Redevelopment Corporation mission through evaluation of properties for neighborhood impact.

Ian Beniston, AICP, HDFP is the Executive Director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC). Ian is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission and the day to day operations. Ian holds a Master of City and Regional Planning degree 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 resides in Youngstown with his wife, Krista and Irish Wolfhound, Keira. When he is not busy revitalizing, Ian enjoys kayaking, Mill Creek Park, and restoring metal furniture.

Lisa Brownell works as the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program Manager at the Ohio Development Services Agency. 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.

Shawn Carvin is a native of Warren, Ohio and has worked at Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership as the Land Bank Program Director since the program's infancy. The land bank works diligently to return derelict, vacant properties back to productive use and increasing the quality of life in Trumbull County. Through his work, he has helped develop the Trumbull County Land Bank into a high-impact and efficient revitalization entity. Shawn believes that community engagement is the most powerful way to build strong, lasting communities. He has developed and implemented land bank programming that is accountable to neighborhoods and accessible to residents.

John Collier | As Manager of Research, John develops, manages, and conducts high-quality research projects focused on local, state, and national issues and best practices related to urban revitalization and sustainable growth. Since joining GOPC in 2016, John has provided data-driven research on a variety of GOPC’s core issues and was the primary author of "$180 Million and Growing: The Beneficial Impacts of the Land Banks of Franklin County and City of Columbus". John is an Ohio native, born and raised in Toledo and a graduate of The Ohio State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a minor in City and Regional Planning.

Katie Courtright | Within Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization, the Brownfields section assists communities and their partners through Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA) services, technical assistance, education and outreach. Katie Courtright serves as a Brownfield Coordinator for the Targeted Brownfield Assessment program and a liaison with other state and federal organizations. Katie has over 14 years’ experience managing brownfield projects and financial programs such as the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund, USEPA Brownfield Grants as well as other redevelopment initiatives. Katie holds a B.S. in environmental geography and environmental studies from Ohio University and is certified by the National Development Council as an Economic Development Finance Professional

Kathleen H. Crowther is President of the Cleveland Restoration Society, a partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (US). Under her leadership of thirteen professional staff, the organization has developed a wide range of heritage programs which support sustainable community development. She is educated in Art & Architectural History and Urban Studies with Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees. She is an Adjunct Instructor at Cleveland State University.

 

James Downing is a Project Manager at CHN Housing Partners where he shepherds affordable housing developments from conception through occupancy and program close out. James has particular experience in scattered site, single family developments and rehabilitation of occupied, HUD-financed buildings. James previously worked for the City of Cleveland in both their Land Bank Program and Housing Development Office. He practiced municipal and real estate law in Massachusetts. He holds a law degree from Boston College Law School, a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College, and is a certified Housing Development Finance Professional by the National Development Council.

Phil Downing is a 1983 graduate of the College of Wooster and a 35-year veteran of the community development industry. Mr. Downing began his career with the City of Cleveland and later worked for Enterprise Community Partners directing their Columbus office. He was responsible for developing the CDC training curriculum and managing the direct technical assistance program for Community Development Collaborative of Greater Columbus (CDCGC). In 2010, he reconstituted his consulting practice, Downing Community Advisors. DCA currently provides direct technical assistance to a variety of organizations in Ohio and has offices in Columbus and Dayton.

Nancy Bowen Ellzey is an Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics for the Ohio State University Extension. Her areas of program specialization include community and regional planning, Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E), economic impact analysis, and renewable energy development. Nancy obtained a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of New Orleans in 1990. In 1993, she became a certified economic developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council. She has over 30 years experience as practitioner and educator in the field of community economic development.

Leah F. Evans joined Homeport in 2013 as the Director of Home Ownership and in 2018 was promoted to V.P. of Real Estate Development. She oversees the financing, development and implementation of Homeport’s residential development and neighborhood revitalization strategies and leads Homeport’s business development strategies to support the targets of Homeport’s strategic plan and increase investment and impact in Central Ohio communities. In addition, Ms. Evans oversees Homeport’s for-sale housing development and sales of for-sale and lease option homes. Ms. Evans previously served as Deputy Director of Planning & Development for the City of Gahanna and was the city’s first Economic Development Manager. She held several positions in community and economic development with the Ohio Department of Development. Ms. Evans holds a master’s degree in City & Regional Planning from The Ohio State University, is a trained Project Management Professional and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional. She has over 15 years of experience in the community and economic development field and is committed to building and sustaining strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities.

Erica Faaborg has practiced law since 2007, beginning her career at a boutique civil rights law firm in Chicago. In 2011, she returned to her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio to serve as a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. As a law clerk, Erica researched and drafted opinions on a wide variety of matters including civil rights prisoner issues, corporate and employment litigation, and social security appeals. She is now with the City of Cincinnati Law Department’s Quality of Life Division, where her focus is abating public nuisance properties and improving neighborhoods through affirmative litigation.

Debora Flora is Executive Director of Mahoning County Land Bank (MCLB), the fourth county land bank incorporated in Ohio. MCLB assists residents, businesses, churches, local governments and nonprofits with the acquisition of vacant lots for business expansion, construction projects, greening and gardening. MCLB is managing $14.7 million of residential demolition and greening activities with an award from Ohio Housing Finance Agency. MCLB also assembled land for the inventor of a self-chilling beverage can who is building a state-of-the-art production facility in Youngstown, his home town.

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.

Jacqueline Gillon is the Community Engagement Specialist for Western Reserve Land Conservancies’ Thriving Communities program.  She serves on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Land Conservancy and co-chairs Black Environmental Leaders, an association dedicated to the stewardship of the natural and built environment. Jacquie spent a total of 19 years with Neighborhood Centers Association and Neighborhood Leadership Institute (NLI), co-facilitating and staffing 29 classes of Neighborhood Leadership Cleveland, a grassroots leadership program in partnership with the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. She now serves on the board of NLI. Jacquie is a graduate of Hiram College and completed the Wilder Foundation’s Shannon Leadership Institute in Minnesota.

Mike Grauwelman | From 1993-2013 Mike was the President of Mound Development Corporation. Its mission was to redevelop a Department of Energy nuclear weapons superfund site into a privately owned, economically viable, technology park. During his tenure, the first parcel transferred, $1B environmental remediation was completed, $40M in redevelopment was realized, and 13 businesses occupied the site. Mike has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning and Economics minor from University of Cincinnati. He serves on the Ohio and Dayton boards of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, and the Greater Ohio Policy Center Revitalization Steering Committee.

Nigel Griswold | An innovator in the field of spatial econometrics, Nigel studies the effects of distance and proximity on economic activity. Nigel’s urban policy work 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 the decision of U.S. Treasury to allow Hardest Hit Fund money to be spent on demolition of blight. As cofounder at Dynamo Metrics, Nigel now focuses on building decision support tools for local government and furthering the use of spatial time series metrics in urban and regional social science research.

Tom Hale is the Executive Director of the Clark County Land Bank which contracts with Clark County Community and Economic Development, which he also leads. He serves as Building Official for Clark and Madison Counties as well as the City of London and the Village of West Jefferson Ohio. He also serves Clark County as Zoning Administrator for 7 townships along with Flood Plain Administrator.

Josh Harmon | With 18 years of experience in local property maintenance and housing code enforcement, Mr. Harmon served for 10 years as president of the Ohio Code Enforcement Officials Association, a state-wide educational/training organization for local government code enforcement agencies. Currently as a consultant, he works with communities and organizations on a variety of projects and remains engaged in efficient and effective utilization of code enforcement strategies.

Ethan Harris started with the Clark County Land Bank in 2015 as an intern for the Clark County Community and Economic Development Department. Upon completion of his Master of Public Administration degree, he was hired by the County. He currently holds the title of Planning and Development Administrator and is the Land Bank Assistant Executive Director. His responsibilities include the Community Development Block Grant, Retail Recruitment, Neighborhood Initiative Program, and Project Path (returning property along the bike path to a productive use). Prior to joining the County, Mr. Harris worked as a Graduate and Research Assistant at Wright State University’s Urban Affairs Department.

Hope Kingsborough is Vice President of Programs and Housing for the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation (COCIC)-The Franklin County Land Bank. Hope is responsible for the oversite of COCIC’s property portfolio and administers programs addressing blighted, tax delinquent properties. She has been instrumental in creating programs to support housing stabilization efforts in Franklin County and currently administers a Neighborhood Initiative Program provided by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Prior to her work in Columbus, Hope administered multiple programs across several counties in Northwest Ohio for WSOS Community Action, Inc. where she provided oversite for affordable housing rehab and repair programs, homebuyer education programs, and housing revitalization programs. In partnership with the City of Columbus and Franklin County, Hope is currently contributing to the creation of the Central Ohio Community Land Trust; a subsidiary of COCIC. A native of Ohio, Hope received her BA from Tiffin University and considers running, biking, and spending time with her children and grandchildren among her myriad of interests.

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. 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.

Joe Leslie | As Director of Acquisitions for Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Joe Leslie plays a lead role in structuring opportunities, and overseeing all land acquisition work in support of the organization’s conservation goals. Joe’s work involves conducting and assisting with negotiations, working to secure land rights, evaluating contract changes, assessing land value, and guiding multi-faceted and dynamic transactions through to closing on time, and on budget.

Suzanne Mandros currently serves as Deputy Chief of the Civil Division in the Lucas County Prosecutor’s office. She is responsible for filing and monitoring real estate tax foreclosure cases. She developed both the expedited tax foreclosure process for abandoned land and a bankruptcy collection practice for Lucas County. Previously, she handled bankruptcy cases and general civil matters as a partner with Brown, Baker, Schlageter & Craig of Toledo; served as law clerk to the Honorable Richard L. Speer, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in Ohio’s Western District and is a Chapter 12 bankruptcy trustee.

David Mann is the President of the Lucas County Land Bank where he manages a talented staff of 10, an annual budget of $7 million, and property acquisition and disposition of over 1500 parcels of land annually. He is also an accomplished attorney. Like you, he hates long and boring bios.

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 Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Cleveland State and an Master of Arts in Environmental Studies from Cleveland State's Levin College of Urban Affairs.

Sally Martin has been the Housing Director for the City of South Euclid since 2008, where she is in charge of housing programs and housing code enforcement for the city, and was one of the founders of the city’s affiliate non-profit community development corporation, One South Euclid. In addition, she serves on the boards of the Cuyahoga Housing Consortium, Key Bank Great Lakes Advisory Board, and Solutions At Work, Inc. She serves on the Executive Committee for the Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council and is the co-chair of VAPAC’s Delinquent Tax Working Group, and the Chair of the Executive Committee for the Greater Cleveland Reinvestment Coalition. Sally is a graduate of the University Florida and has lived in South Euclid since 2001.

Andy McDowell is the Land Conservancy’s Vice President of Western Field Operations and liaison to farmland preservation relationships. He provides direction and leadership of the Land Conservancy’s efforts in 10 counties.

Michael McNamara is Chief Administrative Officer for the Butler County Land Bank and Port Authority. A graduate of Miami University and master’s student at Ohio University, McNamara served in the Ohio Treasurer’s office and was Chief Deputy of the Butler County Treasurer’s office before moving to his current role. He helped start the Butler County Land Bank and forged a relationship with nearby Miami University. This relationship led to Miami University’s Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs teaming with the Center for Analytics and Data Science to publish a study of the effects of Butler County Land Bank activities. The land bank and the university continue working together.

Justin Metzler joined Homeport in June of 2014 as a Project Manager for the Rental Development team. As Project Manager, he brings 20 years of experience in the architecture, construction and real estate development industries. The primary responsibility of his role consists of managing the development team and overall process from pre-acquisition through construction. Prior to joining Homeport, Mr. Metzler had worked as a Project Manager and Real Estate Development Associate on a variety of project types including student housing, single- and multi-family housing, retail, medical, office and municipal buildings of up to $30M in size. Mr. Metzler holds Master of Business Administration and Master of Architecture degrees from Kent State University and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University.

Megan Meyer joined the Port in 2015 as Real Estate Counsel. She is experienced in all aspects of real estate and business transaction law, with a special focus on property tax foreclosure policy. At the Port, Megan’s responsibilities include drafting contracts and agreements to support Port projects and advising on policies around land bank programming, acquisitions, property management, and dispositions. Megan most recently served as associate at Stagnaro, Saba & Patterson Co., L.P.A. in Cincinnati. She was an active member of the firm’s real estate group that represents owners, lenders, investors, developers, and entrepreneurs in all phases of ownership and development. Megan earned her Juris Doctor from University of Notre Dame Law School. She graduated with honors from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Classics. 

Stephanie Moes is a senior attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, LLC. Stephanie started with the Legal Aid Society as an Equal Justice Works fellow in 2004. Her fellowship focused on stabilizing neighborhoods suffering from predatory real estate practices. Since 2004, Stephanie has provided legal representation to Price Hill Will, a nonprofit Community Development Corporation working in Cincinnati. Stephanie also represents individual homeowners in foreclosure and clients who are victims of predatory lease options or land installment contracts. Stephanie has a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in social work from the Ohio State University.

Josh 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 marketing and disposition of residential and commercial properties. An accomplished attorney, he is involved locally with the Toledo Bar Association, the Advisory Board of the Toledo Design Center, and the Welcome Toledo-Lucas County Steering Committee. He lives with his wife Shelley and their sons Oliver and Owen in Toledo’s Old Orchard neighborhood.

Robert Nau began his tenure as Executive Director of the Stark County Regional Planning Commission (SCRPC) in 2004. He is responsible for the overall direction of the SCRPC and the Stark County Area Transportation Study, the local Metropolitan Planning Organization. Prior to starting at the SCRPC, Mr. Nau served as City Manager for the City of Louisville, Ohio where he oversaw the safety forces, community planning, finance, parks, recreation and utilities. Before being promoted to City Manager, he served as the City’s Planning Director. Mr. Nau served as President of the Ohio Association of Regional Councils (OARC) in 2015-2016. OARC is comprised of 24 agencies serving more than 1,500 municipalities, villages, townships and counties and representing over 10 million residents of those communities around the state. Mr. Nau also served as past Vice Chair of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium Initiative (NEOSCC). The NEOSCC led a three-year regional planning initiative, Vibrant NEO 2040, which in 2015 received the American Planning Association (APA) Daniel Burnham Award. Mr. Nau holds a Master of Arts Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Akron and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geology from Oberlin College.

Lisa Nelson is a community development research manager in the Community Development Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. In this role, she coordinates the strategic development and execution of the department’s research initiatives and conducts data analysis and applied research on a range of issues impacting low- and moderate-income communities. Her most recent work includes research on land contracts and neighborhood stabilization efforts. Ms. Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Sarah Norman | 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. 

Jessica Powell joined the Port in 2017 to manage the Hamilton County Landbank. In this role, Jessica works closely with the City of Cincinnati, other Hamilton County jurisdictions, and community stakeholders. Jessica has over 15 years of legal experience in the areas of housing and neighborhood improvement. She served as a Chief Counsel at the City of Cincinnati’s Law Department, where she focused on improving neighborhood quality of life through affirmative litigation and other strategic advocacy. Before that, she served as Senior Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. Jessica’s experience includes advocacy related to affordable housing and neighborhood blight.

Brian Potasiewicz is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Laudan's national inspection, preservation and REO services business. Brian is charged with continued expansion of its mortgage field service business by adding new bank direct, GSE and investor clients, as well as streamlining operations through integrated technology and process efficiency. Brian also works with communities and neighborhood organizations on blight mitigation and community revitalization tactics. Prior to joining Laudan Properties, Potasiewicz worked as the Chief Operating Officer of SecureView LLC, the first national ClearBoarding company of its kind. Mr. Potasiewicz and his team helped create incredible demand for this new securing method that continues to reduce blight and build strong and beautiful communities.

Deborah Robb joined the Port in 2004. A long-time housing and neighborhood advocate, Deborah is the Port’s director of the Homesteading and Urban Redevelopment Corporation (HURC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on community housing improvement and the renovation of homes in low and moderate-income areas. She serves as the listing and sales agent for all Port residential properties. Deborah earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from the University of Cincinnati and is also a graduate of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati African American Leadership Development Program and Leadership Cincinnati. 

Isaac Robb is the Manager of Urban Projects for Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Isaac is responsible for redevelopment scenario planning, structuring land transactions for urban open space projects, as well as assisting with the Land Conservancy’s property inventory program. A native Oregonian, Isaac holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Willamette University and his Master of Arts in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University. Isaac also has experience teaching English as a second language to students in China and South Korea.

Dennis Roberts, a practicing attorney, is the Director of Programs and Property Management for the historic Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, 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. To date, the land bank has successfully facilitated the renovation and sale of over 1,100 homes through its many land mark disposition programs. 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 degree in History and a minor in Education. 

Jennifer Robison is the Administrative Coordinator at Neighborhood Development Services, Inc. (NDS). She handles the day-to-day operations and all administrative duties required for the successful implementation of the Portage County Land Bank’s mission. NDS is a private 501(c)(3) agency based in Ravenna, and serves as the administrator for the Land Bank. NDS’s diverse program portfolio also includes homebuyer education and counseling, downtown revitalization, economic development and more. Ravenna is Jennifer’s hometown. She says, “It is very rewarding to see positive changes in our community and returning Portage properties to productive use through the Portage County Land Bank.” 

Brett Rodstrom’s passion for the outdoors has led him to a career in which he helps preserve some of northern Ohio’s natural treasures. Rodstrom, Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Vice President of Eastern Operations leads the organization’s land-preservation efforts in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Trumbull, Portage, Mahoning, Columbiana, Carroll and Jefferson counties. He is the go-to person on land conservation issues ranging from conservation easements on private family lands to the acquisition of sensitive properties which ultimately become public parks and wildlife areas. Rodstrom holds a degree in environmental science from Allegheny College where he focused on stream ecology and environmental policy.

Jim Rokakis is Vice President of Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Director of its Thriving Communities Program. He is involved in a number of activities, including the establishment of 54 county land banks throughout Ohio and working to raise funds for Ohio communities to deal with distressed properties. Rokakis has raised almost $450 million for the demolition of nearly 30,000 blighted structures in Ohio. Rokakis helped to write HB 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. 

Josh Rubin founded The CJR Group after serving two years as vice-president of a Washington-based government relations firm. Prior to his work in the private sector, Josh worked for Senator Mike DeWine and then-Governor George Voinovich. Josh served as campaign manager for Senator DeWine’s successful re-election campaign in 2000. From 1995 to 1999, Josh served as a legislative aide and directed the Senator’s Northeast Ohio office. From 1991 to 1994, Josh served in the administration of Gov. Voinovich as a personal assistant to the Governor, and then as a member of the Governor’s legislative team. Josh earned an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Colorado. He has also studied at the London School of Economics.

Robert Sanders | With a varied career anchored in financing commercial real estate and business expansion, Robert is The Port’s Director of Commercial Development. At The Port, Robert manages commercial development projects from inception to completion, including project budgets and pro formas, design, zoning, marketing and leasing efforts. He assists in all aspects of the pursuit of land acquisition and repurposing in alignment with The Port’s Neighborhood Revitalization initiative. Previously, Robert was SBA Development Officer at U.S. Bank in Cincinnati, where he specialized in providing financing for owner occupied commercial real estate, business acquisitions, equipment working capital, and refinancing of existing debt through the SBA program. His experience includes business lending, financial analysis and commercial real estate development. Robert earned Credit Risk Certification through Risk Management Association. He is a member of UC Real Estate Roundtable; a board member of Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati; and treasurer of The Ohio State University’s Young Scholars Program Alumni Society. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, Business Administration/Real Estate & Urban Analysis.

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.

Michael Schramm is the Director of IT and Research at the Cuyahoga Land Bank and Researcher at Case Western Reserve University. Michael develops tools that use data to make acquisition decisions and has also developed the Property Profile System, a property management system used by numerous land banks to manage their portfolios. Recognized as a national expert, he is also involved in the development of the NEO CANDO neighborhood data system. He is active in the local vacant property dialogue through VAPAC and has presented at national meetings and conferences. Michael has Bachelor of Science degrees in Geography and Meteorology from Penn State University and a Master of Arts in Geography from Syracuse University. 

Terry Schwarz is the Director of Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. The CUDC provides planning and design services to communities throughout Northeast Ohio. For the past 10 years, she has led Pop Up City, a temporary use initiative for vacant properties and underutilized infrastructure in Cleveland.

Eric Skidmore has been with FUEL, formerly Franklinton Development Association, since 2012. He currently serves as Assistant Director with responsibility for all affordable housing. Eric has worked to build a balance of homeownership and rental projects in an effort to best manage the role of a Community Development Corporation in the rapidly evolving housing market in the Columbus neighborhood of Franklinton. This has included the development of both new construction, and rehabilitation of vacant and abandoned homes. Prior to his work in affordable housing Eric was a seventh grade social studies teacher in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Roger G. Smith is director of Planning, Acquisition & Disposition at the Mahoning County Land Bank. He oversees vacant land acquisition projects and manages the day-to-day activities of the land bank’s demolition and housing rehabilitation programs. He has been with the Mahoning Land Bank since its 2013 inception after joining the land bank’s predecessor organization in 2008. He began his community development career in 2005 with a neighborhood CDC following 13 years as a newspaper reporter.

Tiffany Sokol, HDFP is the Housing Director for the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) where she has served in various capacities for the past 6 years. At YNDC, Tiffany is responsible for the development and implementation of all of the organization's housing programming. She is an NCHEC-Certified Housing Counselor and National Development Council Housing Development Finance Professional. In addition to revitalization, Tiffany enjoys long walks in Mill Creek Park with her puppy Fiona, kayaking, mentoring neighborhood youth, and making renovations to her historic residence in Youngstown.

Cheryl Stephens comes from an Air Force family stationed in Japan, Germany, Spain and the U.S. over a 16 year period. After receiving her master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Dayton, her first job was with the Ohio Department of Development. Since that time, Stephens has worked for the 5 different government and nonprofit entities in the field of community and economic development. In January, she was named the President/CEO of the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation, an organization that focuses on affordable housing and economic development. She was previously employed by the Cuyahoga Land Bank as the Director of Acquisition, Disposition and Development. In 2009, Cheryl ran for city council in the City of Cleveland Heights, serving 6 years on council and 2 as council president/mayor. She is currently running unopposed for Cuyahoga County Council.

April Stevens joined the Ohio Development Services Agency in June 2011. Through her roles in the Energy and Environmental Sections in the Office of Community Assistance, she works to connect companies and communities to financial and technical resources to improve land and buildings. In her current role, she administers the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant Program which helps communities revitalize vacant contaminated properties and readies them for redevelopment. Prior to working at the Ohio Development Services Agency, she spent six years as an advertising sales consultant in radio and print advertising. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science.

Dawn Stockmo is currently the Community Development Director at NCST where she oversees work for the Trust in the Midwest. Previous experiences include Senior Director at the Fannie Mae Foundation; Executive Director at North End Area Revitalization; Neighborhood Services Manager at the Village of Oak Park. She has a MBA in nonprofit management and plays classical piano as much as possible. 

Cristin C. Sturtz, ESQ. Ms. Sturtz received her Bachelor of Arts from The Ohio State University in 1989, and her Juris Doctorate from Capital University Law School in 1992. Ms. Sturtz practices in the areas of estate planning, business planning, real estate and probate.

Alyssa Taylor is the Program & Property Specialist for the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation (COCIC), which serves as the Franklin County Land Bank. She joined COCIC as an intern in 2014 before starting full-time in 2015. Alyssa’s work with COCIC includes property acquisition and disposition strategies, administration of grant funds, and coordination of demolition processes such as contracting and bidding. Alyssa studied City & Regional Planning and Public Administration at The Ohio State University, graduating with her master’s degree in 2015. She’s a dedicated Buckeyes fan and loves to spoil her dog, Barrett.

Robin Darden Thomas is the Land Bank Program Director at Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Program. 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. She negotiated the first tax lien sale/purchase agreement in Cuyahoga County and was instrumental in establishing a funding mechanism for the county land bank. 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 Institute in August 2011 following her retirement from government service.

John Turner started with the Columbus Land Bank in 2007, before becoming the office Administrator in 2011. John has over 20 years’ experience in planning, community development, and real estate. He is a former project manager for a local Community Development Corporation, Planner with the City of Columbus, Zoning Consultant for Cell Tower industry, and project manager for a small development company. The land bank program has experienced enormous growth under John’s leadership, including the number of blighted structures demolished, properties sold for renovation and new construction, and parcels used as community gardens.

Mattijs van Maasakkers is an assistant professor in the City and Regional Planning Section at the Knowlton School. Van Maasakkers’ research and teaching focus on the role of science in environmental decision-making, specifically in the context of complex public disputes. Before moving to Columbus, Van Maasakkers was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In 2013, he received his doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also received a Master in City Planning degree in 2009.

Jason Warner is the Manager of Government Affairs at Greater Ohio Policy Center. A veteran of more than 15 years working in and around state government, Jason has spent the past seven years working as a policy advocate, addressing issues including housing, transportation, community revitalization and brownfield redevelopment. A graduate of the University of Akron, he holds both a Bachelor of Arts in American Political Science and a certificate in Applied Politics from the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. In addition, he has served on the board of directors of the Oakstone Community School since 2012 and as President of the board since 2018.

Curtiss Williams is currently serving as President/CEO of COCIC, The Land Reutilization Corporation of Franklin County (The Franklin County Land Bank). For the past five years Curtiss served as COCIC’s Vice President. Curtiss is a highly respected economic development/development practitioner with over thirty years of experience. His professional work history in the private, public and quasi-public sectors has given him insights into the many issues facing communities and development organizations as they consider their planning, development and economic development agendas. He has served on the Board of Directors of national, statewide, regional and local organizations. He has a BA from Ohio State University and has completed the curriculum for a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from OSU. He has received his certification as a Housing Development Finance Professional (HDFP) from the National Development Council.

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, creative land reuse and greening programs. Previous to joining the land bank, Lilah served as the Sustainability Manager for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Project Director for the Detroit Shoreway CDC and Community Outreach Specialist for ParkWorks Inc. Lilah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cleveland State University and a master’s degree in geography from Arizona State University.

 

 

Thanks to our 2018 Ohio Land Bank Conference Sponsors

Western Reserve Land Conservancy works to transform some of the areas hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis by revitalizing and restoring safe, green, vibrant communities. These efforts include our work to support county land banks. Learn more by visiting our website.