Ohio CDC Association announces 2017 Member Awards

Ohio CDC Association announces 2017 Member Awards

Eight community development winners recognized during OCDCA’s 33rd Annual Conference in Toledo

The Ohio CDC Association this month announced its 2017 Member Awards during the Association’s 33rd Annual Conference Awards Breakfast at the Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel. The two-day gathering, Oct. 5-6, convened over 300 community development leaders from around Ohio and the nation under the theme, Glass Half Full: Resilience in the Face of Adversity.

The 2017 winners and their awards are:

  • Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, CDC of the Year
  • Bobbi Reichtell, Campus District, CDC Staff Member of the Year
  • Akron Community Revitalization Fund, CDC Project of the Year
  • Chef Kathryn McGushin, ACEnet, CDC Community Leader of the Year
  • Ross, Sinclaire and Associates, CDC Partner of the Year
  • Tammi Neuscheler, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Stephanie J. Bevens Award Winner
  • John Post, Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families, Ned D. Neuhausel Award
  • Tiffany Sokol, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, CDC Rising Star

“This year’s award winners inspire us all to step up our revitalization efforts,” said Nate Coffman, executive director of the Ohio CDC Association. “Their dedication and hard work give us examples of what’s possible in each of our communities. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and our members, we congratulate them for their outstanding achievements.”

The Ohio CDC Association is a statewide membership organization that fosters vibrant neighborhoods and improves the quality of life in all communities through advocacy and capacity building of our member agencies.

Information on 2017 OCDCA Member Awards:

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, CDC of the Year 

Old Brooklyn CDC receiving 2017 CDC of the Year

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBDC) has created a great balance of impactful real estate development, attractive neighborhood marketing and branding, and authentic community engagement, which is what all CDC’s work to obtain. They achieve this while honoring and exemplifying diversity in their work through their board leadership, staff members, and the community served. OBDC also willingly shares best practices and lessons learned with the CDC industry as a whole. Many of their staff participates in planning for city-wide or industry wide events that add to the knowledge base as CDCs perform this important work. OBDC has great relationships with neighborhood schools, community groups, local businesses, youth, senior citizens, and everyone in between.  Their work really helps to create a cohesive, thriving Cleveland neighborhood.

Contact: Jeff Verespej, Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, jeffv AT oldbrooklyn.com

Bobbi Reichtell, Campus District, CDC Staff Member of the Year

Bobbi’s organizing around the 222-unit Mill Creek Housing Project and the Mill Creek Falls and Park was nothing short of miraculous. She was artful in managing a community process that transformed resident opposition to unanimous support. She enrolled the City of Cleveland’s first multi-department task force to embrace a coordinated approach to the planning and implementation of both the housing project and the waterfall park (of which the latter required the diversion of a storm water overflow connector from polluting the falls). She secured the donation of an adjacent dilapidated house and raised the funds for its restoration; then organized local residents to volunteer to keep the Mill Creek Visitor Center open for over a decade – all on a volunteer basis (of which she was one). Her efforts on behalf of installing Cleveland’s only First Tee Golf Course are equally legendary. Similar to Mill Creek, she coordinated a multi-organizational strategy to advance the vision for the site, which included building off its adjacency to the Washington Park Horticultural Center. Today, this amazing community asset is enjoyed by some many in the region. She launched Cleveland’s foray into vacant land restoration that became known as “Reimagining a More Sustainable Cleveland” movement. As demolitions rose in response to the foreclosure crisis, Bobbi once again led a multi-departmental team of City and County agencies to tackle the policy issues arising from the proliferation of vacant land in the late 2000s. The term “Reimagining” became a national brand that was replicated in other cities and adopted all over the country. She was one of the co-founders of the citywide Cleveland GardenWalk in 2011. However, for three years prior to that event, Bobbi organized her own neighbors in Detroit Shoreway for an annual walk around the neighborhood that she advertised on her robust social media channels. As always, she recruited her neighbors to assist. Bobbi is not a person to sit passively by on any given day when she sees a problem that needs a solution. One simple example was her launch of the Local Fruit Share initiative. Noticing fruit from trees on vacant lots going to rot, she organized her neighbors on the near west side to embrace those abandoned trees. She would select a day, send a call through social media, and mobilize a crew to descend on those trees, pick their fruit and prune their branches. Then the bounty was divided between the workers based on who would use it for jam, juice, etc.

Contact: Bobbi Reichtell, Campus District, breichtell AT campusdistrict.org 

Ross, Sinclaire and Associates, CDC Partner of the Year

The dedicated team of Matt Staarman and Alex Stillpass at Ross, Sinclaire and Associates helped Community Matters make a miracle project possible. Their small community of Lower Price Hill is a pocket of extreme poverty in Cincinnati that has experienced long-term disinvestment and blight. Their organization had a vision to save and restore the historical Saint Michael campus into a vibrant community hub. Matt and Alex supported this “dream idea” through their expertise in tax credit development. However, their work went well beyond the paid for services. They became champions of the project and the community and worked tirelessly to secure the partners and funds needed to make this miracle project happen. Through their guidance and expertise, Community Matters was able to secure the tax credits and restore the Saint Michael campus, which now houses adult education programs, a food pantry, an employment hub, affordable housing, and a beautiful event space in the former sanctuary.

Contact: Mary Delaney, Community Matters, mary AT cmcincy.org

Akron Community Revitalization Fund, CDC Project of the Year

The Akron Community Revitalization Fund (ACRF) is designed to create a revolving loan fund to leverage other funding sources and provide loans between $750k-$1.5M with more flexibility, less stringent credit requirements, and below market interest rates. Eligible areas include downtown, North Hill, and parts of east, south and west Akron neighborhoods that have poverty rates of at least 30% along with unemployment rate of at least 10%. Each project will be reviewed by an advisory committee of Fund donors and be evaluated for community impact, number and quality of jobs created or retained, and new products and services to the area. Projects will only be undertaken if they are deemed economically viable. Potential projects may include mixed use retail, business development, and support for other non-profits. The Development Fund of the Western Reserve (DFWR) capitalized this $6.75M loan fund using a New Markets Tax Credit allocation. The tax credit investor, US Bank Community Development Corporation, bought the tax credits for $2,370,625.  DFWR needed to raise the additional $4.4M needed to make the fund operational through community investors, donors, and grants. The Fund secured $2.77M in investment loans from the Akron Development Fund (Great Akron Chamber of Commerce) and PNC Bank’s Community Development Corporation. DFWR, with help from numerous community partners, raised $2.1M in donations and grants from Akron-based companies, foundations, organizations, and individuals with vested interest in seeing Akron’s revitalization become a reality. Major funders included GAR Foundation ($500k), Medical Mutual ($500k), Huntington Bank ($250k), Summit County ($150k), Goodyear ($100k), and Akron Children’s Hospital ($100k). Approximately 6 loans ranging from $700k-$1.5M will be made from the fund over the next year. All of these loans will be interest only for 7 years to comply with New Markets Tax Credit regulations. Based on preliminary screening of potential projects, the ACRF is expected to create 60 full time quality jobs using Summit County Conexus to ensure at least 50% of the jobs are filled by residents of the low income communities. Over 400 constructions jobs are expected to be created, and services will be available to low income communities that were not available previously. The community impacts will be meticulously tracked and reported to the Federal Treasury for a minimum of 7 years. Lastly, the Akron Community Revitalization Fund will have an immediate impact by making the loans over the next year, but also as the loans are repaid, the Fund will be replenished and new loans will be generated. ACRF is a community revitalization tool that will continue in perpetuity to investments in the City of Akron for years to come.

Contact: Alyson Moritz, Development Finance Authority of Summit County, Alyson.moritz AT developmentfinanceauthority.org 

Chef Kathryn McGushin, ACEnet, CDC Community Leader of the Year

Chef Kathryn McGushin, CEC, is the Culinary Arts Instructor at Tri-County Career Center in Nelsonville, Ohio and is truly a Community Leader.  Known to ACEnet as Chef Katie, she actively serves as a member on the Board of Directors for two Southeast Ohio CDCs: The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks and Live Healthy Appalachia. Chef Katie is passionate about local food and ensuring that individuals and families throughout our Appalachian counties have access to healthy foods. Since joining the Board of Directors for the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) in 2016, Chef Katie has been integral in many ACEnet projects, such as the Appalachia Accessible Food Network, a collaborative project between ACEnet, Rural Action, and Community Food Initiatives to promote the southeast Ohio Farm to School program. Her previous role at Hocking College proved critical in creating a new model: Farm to Institution to School. This model has enabled the partners to provide local school districts with fresh cut and frozen food processed from local farmers and the Chesterhill Produce Auction. By leveraging the resources of Hocking College culinary arts students and facilities, Chef Katie has increased the purchase of local produce by local schools and deepened her students understanding of healthy food processing and the need for healthy food access in underserved communities in Appalachia Ohio. Chef Katie was also essential in the execution of ACEnet’s inaugural 2017 Women in Business microenterprise conference. Working closely with ACEnet’s 2016-2017 Workforce Development VISTA, Erin Phillips, she helped ACEnet deliver the best conference for female entrepreneurs as possible, coordinated lunch with Hocking College’s culinary program and provided event support throughout the conference. Attended by 75 women entrepreneurs, from 6 counties in southern Ohio, in all stages of business development, ACEnet’s Women in Business conference was greatly enhanced by Chef Katie’s involvement. Her commitment to the non-profit sector is impressive. Chef Katie is active on many sub-committees. She serves on ACEnet’s Audit Committee, chairs the Live Healthy Appalachia, Income Development Committee, and advises Live Healthy Appalachia cooking programs.

Contact: Larry Fisher, ACEnet, larryf AT acenetworks.org

John Post, Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families, Ned Neuhausel Award, honoring housing developers who demonstrate a lifelong commitment to people with disabilities

John Post has been the Housing Coordinator for SELF (Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families) since 2012. In this role, John has helped over 600 low-income homeowners continue to live in the safety and comfort of their own homes, improved the appearance and condition of neighborhoods in communities throughout Butler county, and has pioneered a construction job-skills training program that has helped equip scores of young adults for employment in the construction field. John came to SELF with an extensive resume of leadership and management experience in the residential housing industry, having served as the president of several national homebuilding corporations. John is not only gifted in solving housing problems, but also deeply cares about people who live in those homes, especially those who are less fortunate. Many of SELF’s Home Repair clients, besides lacking the financial resources to maintain their homes, are also dealing with the complications that come with advancing age or disability.  John is extremely compassionate towards these people, and often goes above and beyond expectations in finding ways to help them remain in their homes. If a client needs a wheelchair ramp, safety grab bars, or a smoke detector, John finds a way to make it happen. If a client is unable to remedy a problem like peeling paint or sagging gutters that has earned them a code violation, John steps in to assure the local authorities and the homeowner that the issue will soon be taken care of. He has earned the trust and respect of mayors and city managers, building and zoning officials, health department inspectors, social service providers, and residents throughout the county. John’s life has been characterized by service to others. He was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, and survived being shot down twice. He retired from his career after 40 years as a homebuilder, but has never stopped working to help people. He has been a realtor and still holds a license as a mortgage loan officer, and uses both of those skills to assist people in finding and buying their first homes. He served for 10 years of the board of directors for People Working Cooperatively, and then used the knowledge and experience he gained there to help SELF develop their Home Repair programs.

Contact: Jeffrey Diver, Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families, jdiver AT selfhelps.org 

Tiffany Sokol, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, CDC Rising Star

Tiffany Sokol is the Housing Director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) in Youngstown, Ohio. She began as Office Manager, was promoted to Program Coordinator, and promoted again to Housing Director in summer 2014. Since taking on the leadership role of Housing Director, she has transformed YNDC’s housing operation into something that has made a huge impact and continues to grow. Under Tiffany’s leadership, YNDC’s housing client served have increased dramatically, number of vacant home rehabilitations have increased many fold, a CDFI has been developed, and the programs continue to grow and strengthen the overall sustainability of YNDC. Tiffany has developed YNDC’s ability and capacity to serve as developer and general contractor including our own construction team composed of city residents. This new capacity has enabled YNDC to rehabilitate nearly thirty vacant homes per year without any subsidy, something generally unheard of in weak market communities throughout Ohio. She has also grown our housing counseling adding 254 new clients the past three years, creating 113 homeowners, and most importantly instituting the systems for client success. Tiffany has also led the development of our partner organization, REVITALIZE Home Mortgage Inc., a community development financial institution that does residential first mortgage lending in Youngstown. She manages our owner occupied home repair that has now repaired 246 homes. Tiffany has also developed and instituted a comprehensive and organization wide marketing strategy for YNDC which includes a robust social media presence with more than 12,000 Facebook followers, a high traffic and regularly updated website, and Twitter and Instagram. Taken together these accomplishments have dramatically strengthened and grown YNDC. The organization now has forty plus member team, will surpass $4 million in revenue in 2017, and has developed nearly $5 million in assets. This has happened in an era of shrinking community development resources and these achievements are critical to YNDC, as it means we now have a strong foundation to impact the City of Youngstown for years to come. Tiffany’s diligence, hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion for the success of her clients and community have resulted in growing opportunities for residents of Youngstown neighborhoods.

Contact: Ian Beniston, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, ibeniston AT yndc.org   

Tammi Neuscheler, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Stephanie Bevens Award, honoring strong community advocates who have demonstrated commitment and entrepreneurial spirit

Tammi Neuscheler is the Housing Client Manager for the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC). Tammi collaborates with a team of professionals to assist in the implementation of all housing, financial literacy, and community lending programming. She manages outreach and case management for all housing program clients, provides pre- and post- purchase housing and small business counseling, and facilitates financial literacy workshops. Tammi is extremely passionate about providing opportunities for low- to moderate-income individuals to attain and sustain both home and business ownership. Since joining the YNDC team in 2016, Tammi has taken an entrepreneurial approach to significantly increasing both the quality and quantity of counseling services provided by the organization to low- to moderate-income prospective homebuyers and entrepreneurs, with overwhelming results. In her first year as Housing Client Manager, Tammi increased new housing counseling client intake by three times compared to the previous three years. Tammi currently completes six times as many client intakes each quarter as was previously averaged per quarter over the previous three years of the program’s existence. This is due to Tammi’s identification of barriers in the application process that hindered low- to moderate-income individuals from applying from the program, targeted marketing, and increased word of mouth referrals from clients who have enjoyed working with Tammi and experienced tangible results from the program. In addition to new client intake, the services Tammi provides have increased client retention and ultimate success. Appointment no-shows have been minimized and an increased number of counseling clients become homeowners each quarter. Tammi also provides one-on-one financial and credit counseling for entrepreneurs and has seen similar results in this program. Tammi also provides outreach and case management for the organization’s owner-occupied repair and rehabilitation programs and has further increased the organization’s capacity to serve those residents with the highest level of need because of her drive to ensure that low- to moderate-income individuals are provided with the services they need and unwavering follow up on applications and supporting documents required to receive these services. Beyond the personal success of Tammi’s clients, her efforts have increased the capacity of YNDC’s broader neighborhood revitalization efforts and their impact on the City of Youngstown. Tammi has developed an increased pipeline of potential buyers of homes rehabilitated by YNDC in the City’s neighborhoods. She has also increased the capacity of entrepreneurs to start new small businesses in the City, spurring economic growth and increasing employment opportunities for low- to moderate-income individuals. In just the past year, Tammi has personally connected hundreds of low- to moderate-income individuals to resources and opportunities for homeownership, entrepreneurship, and a higher quality of life with a passionate and contagious entrepreneurial spirit and focused hard work that will create even more opportunities for low- to moderate-income Youngstown residents for years to come.

Contact: Ian Beniston, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, ibeniston AT yndc.org   

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