Mike was part of the small group inside the Fund for Our Economic Future that conceived of the idea that became the Civic Commons. He comes to the Commons after three years at the Fund where he managed finance and operations and ran the EfficientGovNow project, a grant contest that accelerated local government collaboration and efficiency throughout Northeast Ohio. Mike grew up in St. Louis and came to Cleveland where he studied at Case Western Reserve University. He lives on Cleveland's west side in the Edgewater neighborhood, where he keeps his neighbors awake practicing the electric bass into the wee hours.
Mike's been with the Civic Commons since the beginning, and he says he's excited "to figure out how to use new media and networking tools to collectively reimagine democracy in the 21st century."
Curator of Conversation
An award-winning journalist, author, former teacher and a California transplant, Dan joined the Civic Commons after five years at ideastream as host of 90.3 WCPN's The Sound of Ideas. In his last year, the program was named the best local public affairs program in the nation by the Public Radio News Directors. Dan is the co-author (with Ninive Calegari and Dave Eggers) of Teachers Have it Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers (New Press, 2005), a book that foreshadowed the current national debate over teacher accountability and compensation.
Dan joined The Civic Commons because "it's an opportunity to figure out how to make journalism more relevant to more people and to bring those people into the conversations that have the power to make our corner of the state a little stronger. How could I not want to be a part of that?"
Director of Partnerships
Jill’s affiliation with the Civic Commons began in August 2011 with directing the EfficientGovNetwork. Since 2010, she has been a City Council Member in Pepper Pike, Ohio and has continuously chaired its Communications Committee. As a result of using technology in an open, interactive way to inform and engage voters, she received the Campaign Innovator Award for Candidates (2011). She also has won multiple recognitions for her Writes Like She Talks blog. For over ten years, her work has been featured by local, regional and national outlets such as the Washington Post, Newsweek.com, Campaigns & Elections, the Plain Dealer, CNN, CSPAN, the BBC, Ohio News Network, WCPN and Feagler & Friends. Jill has a joint degree in law and social work from Case Western Reserve University and B.A. in government and sociology from Georgetown University.
Jill maintains two blogs (Writes Like She Talks and In The Arena) where she shares her personal opinions. The opinions she expresses on her personal blogs constitute her opinion alone and do not represent the views or opinions of The Civic Commons, the EfficientGovNetwork, The Fund for Our Economic Future, Advanced Northeast Ohio, or the view of organizations, businesses or institutions in any other way connected to those named organizations.
Manager of Marketing, Communications and Outreach
Award-winning television writer-producer and marketer Daryl Rowland comes to the Civic Commons by way of Hollywood Boulevard and Madison Avenue. Having grown tired of our nation’s side coasts, he now resides on our glorious North Coast -- where his children enjoy a school with no published policy on gang colors. Over the years he has written television scripts for Ellen Degeneres, Dave Chappelle, Helen Hunt and many other notables, as well promoting such brands as Black & Decker and McDonald's Restaurants. He joins Civic Commons to communicate its important mission to the Northeast Ohio, to help develop innovative ways to accelerate regional development, and to eat way more beef than he ever thought possible.
A graduate of Cleveland State University's Levin College of Urban Affairs, Lehigh University and Hudson High School, Jason is one of the savviest and most successful young political campaign managers around, with two unlikely wins under his belt in two years in the profession. Jason has had a passion for urban planning from a young age, having spent a significant portion of his youth playing SimCity. Joining the Commons, he says, "offered me a unique opportunity to combine my passion for Northeast Ohio with the potential to create change."
Production Maven and Community Connector
Emily comes to the Civic Commons having spent seven years at Case Western Reserve University in both undergraduate admission and alumni relations, she brings a wealth of experience gained from working in higher education. She is passionate about her work with Girls With Sole-a local non-profit that empowers girls who have experienced abuse of any kind through free fitness programs-and serves on their board of directors. Emily grew up in Kent, and has a degree in art history from The College of Wooster. Living on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie reminds her everyday why she believes in Cleveland.
She joined the Civic Commons because "she feels that it will provide our community members with the opportunity to not only have a voice, but the unique chance to impact the cities in which they live. She's excited to work with people who have a passion for Northeast Ohio and a desire to enact change."
Civic Commons Fellows
Summit County is represented by Scott Karlo, a concerned citizen who has worked diligently with residents and Board of Education members to pass a levy for the Woodridge Local Schools. His work has driven him to the conclusion that greater civic engagement is needed. Scott was a pioneer in the dial-up internet business, (remember that?) but now spends a majority of his time in the civic realm and wants to be a pioneer in a new form of engagement, ironically occurring online. Scott lives in Cuyahoga Falls.
Despite being born, raised and settled in Oberlin, Ohio, Peter Comings went to Grinnell College where he received his degree in English back in 1994. Since that time he has spent his professional life in weekly community newspapers serving as staff writer, photographer, news editor, managing editor, online media manager and coffee maker once or twice over in farm and suburban communities in Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. He now works as the managing editor for the West Life, Press and North Ridgeville Press newspapers, serving 12 communities on Cleveland's west side. He lives again in Oberlin with his wife and two children.
Andrew Samtoy grew up in El Cajon, California and went to Pitzer college in Claremont, California, where he was student body president and co-founded the Pitzer Tea Association. He lived in Portland, Oregon; San Diego and Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.; Cardiff, Wales; and Barcelona, Spain before coming to Cleveland for law school. He is now an attorney for Dworken & Bernstein, L.P.A., with offices in Cleveland and Painesville. He also started the Cash Mobs movement while a member of the Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2012, co-founded the Cleveland sandwich board, is chief American correspondent for the London Review of Breakfasts, co-founded the Booker T. Cleveland Society For The Learned and started the Cleveland Salon at Ingenuity Fest.
Erstwhile journalist Ben Schmitt graduated from Pittsburgh's former Peabody High School in 1988 and Michigan State University in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He worked as a reporter at the Sandusky Register, Concord Monitor, Savannah Morning News, American Lawyer Media and the Detroit Free Press and won a national Emmy award in 2008 for two video stories about pit bulls. He also helped report on the downfall of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, which earned the Free Press a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. He is now a marketing specialist for Chorus Call in Pittsburgh, assigned to help build a new web conferencing social media site, concert-oh.com. He is married with two daughters.
Clevelander Teleange' Thomas is the program officer for health at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, where she focuses on reducing the impact of health disparities through systems change and strategic investments. Thomas was raised in Alliance, Ohio, in ways that ultimately steered her from a career in business to a career focused on community, service, young people, social justice, family and faith. Before joining the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Thomas served for four years in leadership positions with the Cleveland Department of Public Health, addressing infant mortality and chronic disease, particularly among African Americans. She was a key force in the creation of Ohio Homecoming--a diverse and inclusive movement that began in Cleveland and engaged over 30,000 Ohioans, 800 volunteers, provided hundreds of hours in community service and donated over $50,000 to local causes and organizations throughout Ohio.
Steph Mukenyi Wahome was raised in Cleveland and earned a BA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After graduation, she worked for City Year Inc. in Detroit, Michigan and Seattle, Washington, managing AmeriCorps members to serve under-served youth. Steph later combined her Executive Masters in Not-For-Profit Leadership and Masters in Education to help start up a charter school in D.C. After many years of serving other communities, Steph returned to her home in Cleveland to community magnify youth voice through Scenarios USA. With the incredible support of her mentees and community leaders, she organizes the yearly "Pleasantly Different and Proud of It" Girl's Health Summit for the Greater Cleveland area.
No stranger to the Commons, Tunde Wey is a writer and community manager at the Urban Innovation Exchange, a Detroit-based, Knight Foundation-funded project to create a learning network for the creative people rebuilding and reimagining Detroit. Tunde is the engine behind the web-based startups Detroit Big F Deal.
Becca Braun helped Civic Commons bring a bit more order to our creative chaos by providing short-term paid consulting for operations and business planning in 2010. She hopes the users of Civic Commons will create a new, 2.0 type of conversational engagement. That they will bring their ideas to a platform where they can have meaningful conversations, conversations that create change, like the town hall meeting of yesteryear.
Malissa Bodmann runs Compelling Communications, which helps a variety of clients meet strategic marketplace needs. A resident of Shaker Heights, Malissa volunteers as a leader on the Commons communications team. She says she "believes in the power of everyday people to improve their communities," and she thinks the Commons can be a vehicle for that.
Lisa Canter* is a native of Madison, WI, who moved to Cleveland just last year and loves it! She's stepped in to project manage the website application into existence. Always interested in media and the web, she's enjoying the challenge of launching Civic Commons and hopes it becomes an effective tool and media destination, that helps people communicate in meaningful ways that affect constructive change in our communities. Lisa is currently providing quality assurance testing support.
Christopher Celeste is a champion of good ideas and innovation, an entrepreneur who, since he left advertising years ago, has launched and helped to launch a diverse group of companies and organizations. He served as our Volunteer Launch Director in 2010.
Noelle Celeste joined the Civic Commons on day one, providing strategic guidance and operational leadership as the Commons' founding Director of Engagement. She was instrumental in developing the concept for and relationships with the Commons' "Partners in Principle" and served as a co-host on the Civic Commons radio show and podcast. When she has a moment away from her gig as Publisher of Edible Cleveland, she provides strategic insight and engagement assistance to the Commons.
Winston Tsang* has been crafting software professionally for over a decade at Fortune 500 companies such as Electronic Data Systems and Borders Group. He has worked on a wide variety of large systems, including billing & accounts receivable, warehouse management, and e-commerce. Before founding Radberry, Winston led teams in the development of several e-commerce systems, as well as taking responsibility for major Fortune 500 web sites. Winston is an active member of the SouthEast Michigan Ruby community as an organizer and speaker. Winston is a co-organizer of the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Ruby Bash.
Parama "Perry" Danoesubroto* grew up in Jakarta, Boston and Chicago and makes his home now in Toronto, Ontario. He is working on the code that supports the commons and describes himself as "passionate about building social media related technologies." He says he hopes the Commons can become "the de-facto standard in which people can interact with their government easily, just like people interacting with others on Facebook."
Jerry D'Antonio of Virtual Hold was our Director of Software Development from January through August, 2011. Jerry has been helping to build the web since the mid-90's. He experienced both the boom and the bust of the Internet bubble first hand. It was the bust that brought Jerry back to the region of his early youth and he now happily resides in Akron. During his time as a software developer Jerry has worked at small startups and big established companies. Jerry is a proud veteran of the US Navy where he was stationed on the amphibious ship USS Duluth LPD-6.
Luke Frazier* is the principal at NOW productions, a multi media production company. He worked with the Commons and WJCU to produce a weekly program and podcast. He makes his home in Cleveland Heights.
Taryn Higgins Gress was with the Commons from June 2011 - July 2012 as the Operations and Communications Coordinator. She also helped coordinate our initial efforts with community champions and assisted on a number of key projects.
Parag Jagdale is a coding wizard from Wooster, capable of aligning disparate technologies, which actually explains his interest in this project. The Commons, he says, "connects disconnected voices, opinions or issues together. I am a fan of diversity, collaboration and openness and the Civic Commons' goals are parallel with mine."
Krystin Jarrell is a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University and the Akron Digital Media Center's citizen journalism program. She has been helping the Civic Commons recruit and organize citizen journalists.
Erica Jones was a part of the launch team providing crucial day-to-day support coordination as paid executive assistant to the entire Commons team. Erica is a Dayton native, a recent graduate of Smith College, and a Summer on the Cuyahoga alum, who is now living in Japan participating in a one-year fellowship. Erica has big dreams for the Commons. "I hope that the Civic Commons helps revitalize people's hopes for Cleveland and region," she says, "and that the idea of civic engagement becomes a more tangible reality for every community in Northeast Ohio."
Chris Jungjohann recently left the 9-5 world to start up the digital agency, Recess Creative, teach design at Tri C, and even while doing that, he managed to eke out time to do some paid work to make sure our web site is well-designed. He is formerly an associate creative director at Rosetta and also worked at Melamed Riley advertising. The Civic Commons, he says is "a one-of-a-kind experience,… a great opportunity to be a part of something special." Chris offered his design talents to help us create final graphics for the launch of our website.
Jonathan Knapp of Wadsworth provided key programming support linking the various aspects of the Commons.
Lia Lockert was a Project Director with the Civic Commons. She recently returned to her hometown of Peninsula after a number of years producing documentaries, wrangling feature film crews, observing international elections, organizing political campaigns, and making mischief on a global scale, as well as picking up a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins. "We're fortunate to live in one of the most resource-rich areas of the country," Lia says, "and I'm excited to partner with people who believe in further strengthening NEO through positive thinking, innovative action and the sharing of ideas."
Nainita Madura Nainita was an intern with the Summer on the Cuyahoga program and attends Case Western Reserve University. She iworked with the Commons on the NOCMES project, providing research and outreach support. When asked why she joined the Civic Commons, Nainita says, “I wanted to learn more about Cleveland and participate more in the area. I feel that what the Civic Commons does is vital to improving the city and surrounding areas.” Nainita hopes to meet many new and important people through the Civic Commons and plans to pursue a career in the Middle East.
Kurt Pettit designed our logo. He is one of the first volunteers to join the Civic Commons. When he's not answering pesky emails from us, he runs the design team at Findaway World or designing neat devices to make the world both prettier and easier to use. He grew up in Bridgeport, and has bounced around Greater Cleveland, now making his home in Mayfield Heights. He says he hopes the Commons "can help Northeast Ohio become a viable community and prosper."
Josh Schramm of Eastlake was smitten by the chance to work on a significant coding challenge that has the end goal of exposing citizens online to civic issues.
Brian Stack is a student at Case Western Reserve University working on the code that makes the Commons possible. He says he hopes the project "can improve communication and increase activism among citizens."
Graham Veysey is a talented writer, multi-media producer and civic activist who contributes his creative genius to various Commons projects, including our hand-crafted introductory videos. "Northeast Ohio has a great story to tell," he says, "and Civic Commons will be a great platform to bring people together to tell that story."
Josh Walsh was the guy responsible for helping us design how the site feels and works. Josh makes his home in North Ridgeville and he says he hopes the Commons will help bring better leadership to our corner of the state. "The beliefs and opinions of its residents are valuable to improving the economy in our region," Josh says, "This project will give the community a voice."
Marc Canter is CEO of Digital City Mechanics (DCM) and is a more than 25-year veteran of the software business. Marc was the original founder of a company called MacroMind which became Macromedia [MACR]. In that regard, you could say Marc was instrumental in giving birth to the multimedia industry. Marc has recently moved from California to the Northeast Ohio area to launch DCM and pursue a PhD in "How to Create New Kinds of Jobs." Marc helped us begin to envision the web environment for the Civic Commons and recruited great developers to bring that vision to life.
Other designers, developers, and testers who helped make the Civic Commons possible
- Owen Bell
- Brad Dielman*
- Tom Dooner
- Joe Fiorini
- Priyanka Jagdale
- Steve Schwartz
- Joseph Sheppa
- Len Smith
- Kevin Solorio
- Max Thom Stahl
- Jeff Zellman