The Big Idea Issue: Building Community

. January 12, 2016.
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Some of these names make daily headlines. Others should make the news more often than they do. Prime movers in the development, leadership and social momentum of our city, Like Toledo itself, this is a diverse, even eclectic, group. They all share two things in common; they have big roles in our city and even bigger ideas about what is next. 

The New Boss: Paula Hicks Hudson
Mayor, City of Toledo 

Why you should know her:

A relative newcomer to city politics the city’s first African-American woman Mayor entered the scene in 2011 as an appointee to a vacant seat on Toledo City Council. A graduate of Spelman College, Colorado State University, and University of Iowa College of Law, after taking over for Mayor Collins she won the office outright in November of 2015.

What she is doing:

“Besides working hard to improve and repair our city’s infrastructure, it is imperative that we change the internal culture of city government. We must strive to integrate across all government enterprises, making our city government more holistic. We also need to look at how we use technology. I intend to make this office paperless. Technology is the key to improving “our communications and efficiency.”

Where she is going:

“We need to fix Lake Erie. I realize that this is ambitious and not just a Toledo problem. However, Toledo was founded because of the meeting of the Maumee and the Lake. It is a vital Toledo resource and we need to move toward Lake Erie’s preservation. This is a big part of my governing philosophy of thinking globally, but acting locally.”

The Power Couple: Jason Candle
UT Head Football Coach

Nicole Candle
Manager of the Women’s Initiative United Way

Why you should know them: 

Jason was promoted to Head Coach of the UT Rockets after seven years with the team, (the last four as offensive coordinator), and a 9-2 regular season and bowl game win. Nicole is from Ventura County, CA., moving here two years ago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communications and a Masters in College Student Personnel. She worked in higher education administration and was a 9-1-1 communications dispatcher prior to moving to Toledo, where she works now with United Way.

What are they doing now:

Nicole:  “I am so excited about the Women’s Initiative. Our mission is to network and mobilize women to become leaders, advocates and philanthropists around issues concerning women and children. We are currently focused on developing two children’s programs, WordShop (a creative writing program) and Imagination Library (a monthly book mailing program).”

Jason: “The Rockets already have a rich tradition and success built into their football program. I am looking forward to continuing and building upon that success. We have had an incredible year with our post season win, ranking in the top 25 for several weeks and defeating two power five teams. My job is to cultivate that culture of success, hire a qualified staff of outstanding character, stay academically focused with our student athletes and strive for the ultimate goal of a conference championship.”

Where are they going:

“Being newlyweds we look forward to establishing both our personal and professional lives here in Toledo. We are both committed to the success of the Toledo Rockets, providing the support and guidance that the players need to be successful in all of their endeavours. We think Toledo offers incredible opportunity for anyone who chooses to make this area their home and we are excited about continuing our story here.”

The champion of equal: Nick Komives
Executive Director, Equality Toledo

Why you should know him: 

A graduate of Genoa High School and the son of a Maumee jeweler, Nick spent several years away from the area working on ballot access, and Why Marriage Matters Ohio. He was the chair of Equality Toledo Community Action (lobbying and political arm of Equality Toledo) and became the ED in May of 2015. Besides his work at Equality Toledo, he now is working with and representing Jupmode, known for emblazoning T-shirts with the “You Will Do Better in Toledo” slogan. That company is currently relocating from their offices to downtown along the Adams Street corridor.

What is he doing:

“I was only a few weeks into my new role when I started speaking about the June Supreme Court decision. We thought we would be celebrating for many months but within two weeks a couple got turned away for a marriage licence. From spending so much time with lobbying and education around LGBT issues we realized we now were advocates not just for rights but also for the processes around those rights.”

Where is he going:

“Our efforts in equal rights education and protection have started to pay off. The Family Court asked us to help them retool their forms to reflect the new law. We want to be active in helping other institutions do the same. Although Toledo has had a nondiscrimination statute on the books for some time (since 1998), we know the next hurdle is moving from marriage equality to equality in general, including jobs, lending and housing.”

The Director on Dorr St.: Tom Derosa
CEO, Welltower (Formerly Health Care REIT) 

Why you should know him:

Welltower has a new name and new CEO but it is not a new Toledo company. Now located on the former Dana campus on Dorr Street just west of Richards Rd., Welltower is a global leader in healthcare real estate, with over $34 billion in assets spread across the US, UK, and Canada. Taking the helm in April of 2014, Mr. DeRosa, 56, has been on the Welltower Board of Directors since 2004. He has also held seats on the boards of four other New York Stock Exchange companies, and brings a belief that innovation and business success stems from a creative mix of personalities, skills, backgrounds and corporate diversity.

What he is doing:

“Across the world, there’s a massive need for new health care properties that keep people out of the hospital and promote wellness for an aging population. We are a leader in this area which results in more affordable and higher quality healthcare for everyone. Welltower invested more than $4 billion in 2015 with leading healthcare providers and seniors housing operators across the world. I’m particularly proud of the positive impact our growth is having on the Northwest Ohio economy. This year, we added 50 positions at our Toledo headquarters.”   

Where he is going:

“We’re very focused on addressing the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s disease on people and their families – it’s a looming epidemic that isn’t being talked about enough. We’re actively engaged in creating and promoting solutions for those who suffer from the disease. We believe environments that maintain mobility, nutrition and cognition are best suited to help seniors maintain the highest possible quality of life. In 2016, we will also make a significant philanthropic commitment to support the individuals, families and caregivers facing the daily challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Art of Business: Adam Levine
Assistant Director, Associate Curator of Ancient Art, Toledo Museum of Art

Why you should know him:

His Ph.D and Master’s degrees are from Oxford and he holds Bachelor’s degrees from Dartmouth in art history, anthropology, and mathematics. He came to Toledo from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the TMA’s Mellon Fellowship Program. He is co-founder of Art Research Technologies, an art market analytic consulting firm, and has served as an art market and policy analyst for Oxford Analytica. 

What he is doing:

“We recently launched a diversity and inclusion initiative to coincide with our board’s decision to enshrine that as a guiding principle for the TMA. A considerable amount of time has gone into exploring how we can rethink our structure and staffing to deliver programming that reaches more varied audiences. With fewer hurdles to new ideas, this museum is an unbelievably exciting platform within this community.”

Where he is going: 

“Our next step is to reassess our business model, seeking ways of offering consumable products and increasing our reliance on earned income. Some of these products could be broad and mass market—e.g., merchandise associated with an exhibition like our show The Rise of Sneaker Culture— but others could be more niche, such as the visual literacy consulting services the Museum is currently offering. We have stores of intellectual capital on our staff; one of my ambitions is to activate that expertise and productize it.”

RAISING the Bar: Megan Mattimoe
Staff Attorney and Executive Director, Advocating Opportunity

Why you should know her: 

Megan Mattimoe founded Advocating Opportunity in 2011, a program which is dedicated to advising and protecting trafficked and exploited persons. AO was the first organization in Ohio to provide holistic, comprehensive, trauma-informed legal services to all trafficked and exploited persons. Through legal advocacy, outreach, community involvement, and education, the goal is to level the playing field and create meaningful opportunity for all those who are trafficked or exploited.

What she is doing:

“When dealing with people who have been trafficked or exploited, it is important to let them lead the way.  Besides helping our clients deal with legal and social system issues, many of our clients have immediate needs that are not easily handled by the system. Our biggest project is to hire new client advocates. At the moment we have one full time advocate and we are in the process of securing funding for two part time advocates. These professionals will help administer our Health and Wellness program. Our goal is to focus on a holistic solution to our clients goals and needs. Many of the issues and barriers, and subsequently the solutions, lay outside the funding and charter of the justice system.”

Where she is going:

“First and foremost we are working to involve our clients through community partnerships. We have already started working with the Toledo Museum of Art, The Arts Commission, and The Toledo Ballet to provide classes, scholarships, and other opportunities for our clients to participate in things that interest in. These programs help establish relationships outside of our agency, which grounds our clients in the community and helps the community get to know our clients as people.  We are also trying to build a best practices model here in Toledo as guidelines for other communities to build upon, putting those practices into action.”

Head of the House: Renee Palacinos
Executive Director, Family House

Why you should know her:

As Executive Director, Renee and Family House care for and serve over 300 homeless families per year with 36 families in residence at a time (about 800 people total, 500 of them children) With a Masters in psychology and criminal justice, she originally thought she would be working in the criminal justice system. Finding a true passion, she works with families in crisis, especially the kids trapped in generational poverty or who witness abuse and violence in the home.

What she is doing:

“We are very proud to have brought back our food and kitchen services, which had been cut due to budget concerns. We had huge community involvement, with Councilwoman Spang and Councilman Ford leading the way for us to reopen our kitchen. Other partners included the Third Baptist Church on Pinewood, The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the local plumbers union, and Libbey Glass. They all came together to help us. The Maumee Rotary contributed $25,000 to pay for food for a year for our kitchen.”

Where she is going:

“I am determined to resurrect our preschool. It was closed two year ago due to funding and we were serving about 95 kids. With the average age of a homeless child being four, having a preschool back on site is a huge service. Transportation is the number one problem for someone who is homeless. To provide our young residents a good basis to start school right here in our house is the next great service we can do for these kids.”

Rocket’s Mission Controller: Dr. Sharon Gaber 
President, University of Toledo

Why you should know her: 

 Dr. Sharon L. Gaber began her tenure as the 17th president of The University of Toledo in July 2015. A city and regional planning expert, Gaber came to the UT presidency following six years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Gaber is the author of 40 peer-reviewed articles researching and analyzing regional and urban planning, public policy, and the social dynamics that affect community decision-making.

What she is doing:

“My primary focus is on the students at The University of Toledo. How do we recruit more students to enjoy the wonderful opportunities we have for them here at UT and how do we provide the best resources to our current students to ensure they succeed in their studies and graduate on time? We are investing in the academic and research core of our institution and celebrating the accomplishments of our students, as well as faculty, staff and alumni. It is an exciting time as the entire campus rallies around this culture of student success.”

Where she is going:

 “Since I visited the City of Toledo for the very first time I’ve heard people talk about The University of Toledo as a best-kept secret and a hidden jewel in this community. But we do not want to be a secret or hidden. I’m taking that challenge head on to raise the standing of UT on the national stage by championing all of the great stories we have to tell. We have one-of-a-kind programs like the country’s first bachelor’s degree in disability studies and our Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute. And with the academic affiliation with ProMedica, we are developing one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. UT’s students and faculty are engaged in truly cutting-edge research that will have great impacts on our world. With our community’s support, we’ll build the reputation of UT so that others see what I see – a strong University with an incredible potential for greatness.”

Director of Difference : Guisselle Mendoza
Executive Director, Adelante

Why you should know her:

Born in Nicaragua, Mendoza moved to the United States in the late 80’s. Serving for eight years as Director of Programs for Adelante, the area’s Latino & Community Resource Center, Guisselle took the helm of the organization as Executive Director in 2013. Adelante’s wide array of services and programs include Nosotras, providing holistic support services to pregnant Latina woman; Leamos Juntos, an early literacy program to Spanish-monolingual children up to age 5; and the Latino Community Liaison program, helping clients navigate the maze of social and governmental programming available including city government, SSA, and Job and Family Services. The liaison program helps with budget preparation, translation and interpretation services as well as housing/foreclosure and credit counseling. 

What she is doing: 

“My grandmother always told us to make a difference in your community. Adelante is my direct way of doing that. Our many programs include our Buena Vida (“The Good Life”) program for youth which uses evidence based curriculum to promote healthy lifestyle choices and prevent early onset experimentation with alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.”

Where she is going: 

“I am very excited about becoming president of the newly reconstituted Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio. Although the name has changed we have been around for over 10 years. We are making an exciting start in bringing together 40 plus members and 13 organizations all as friends of the Latino community. I am also part of the Welcome Toledo Lucas County Steering Committee which welcomes and helps immigrants relocate to our area.”

Doctor of Research: Dr. Christopher Cooper
Dean of College of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Toledo

Why you should know him:

Dr. Cooper is another transplant who came to Toledo and stayed. He joined the staff at the then Medical College of Ohio in 1994 and was appointed as Dean of the College of Medicine in 2014. Along with his medical practice, he is a natural academic and prolific researcher. He has authored or co-authored 67 journal articles and recently announced results of a study on the necessity for surgical correction in certain types of hypertension. The 10 year long study was funded by a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, for which he was the principal investigator.

What he is doing:

“The primary project in front of us is the Academic Affiliation with Promedica Health System. We will begin to transition some residents, about 30, into the Toledo Hospital and Toledo Children’s Hospital next summer. This is a transformational project for UT medical and health science students, faculty at UT, physicians at ProMedica, and the long-term health of the community. This affiliation will provide our learners additional clinical learning experiences that are more varied and more local. The result will be more caregivers and more care options for Northwest Ohio.”

Where he is going:

“We have begun a process for updating the curriculum for our medical students. We are intentionally revising it to give our student the very best educational experience possible. In addition, the College of Medicine is collaborating with investigators from other UT Colleges such as Engineering, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Health and Human Services, Law and Business on innovative projects.”