2014 NLC Fellows: Cleveland

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Sonny Ali, Business Development, Toshiba

Ali.jpgI was born in Cleveland, Ohio but I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. I was a very ambitious young man. I did well in school and started my first business at 16. I attended Florida A&M University on a full academic scholarship for a 5 yr MBA program. After college I started my own insurance business and later I started a clothing line. I moved to Atlanta where I had my first and only child, my daughter Maleia who is now 7. Over the past few years I have been primarily involved in investments and commercial real estate. I came back to Cleveland to be closer to my family and for a business opportunity. I am currently working at Toshiba and preparing to launch another clothing line.

Erika Anthony, Director of Business Development – Cuyahoga County, Oriana House, Inc.

Erika L. Anthony born and raised in Long Island, NY relocated to Cleveland several years ago. Erika holds a B.S. in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and a Masters of Public Administration from the Maxine G. Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Currently, Erika is the Director of Business Development at Oriana House, Inc. In this capacity, she is responsible for business development strategies, fund development, community relations and creating and maintaining collaborative relationships. Her diverse professional and community endeavors include law, advocacy, policy and civic engagement. Some of Erika’s community endeavors include: Board Chair for the Cleveland Young Professional Senate, Secretary of Cuyahoga County’s Next Generation Council, Member of the 2014 Cleveland Bridge Builders, Board Member of the Negative Space Gallery and most recently a Fellow with the New Leaders Council Class of 2014 _ Cleveland Chapter. Erika currently resides on the Westside of Cleveland with her husband and in her spare time enjoys spending time with her family, friends, travelling and exploring the historical and cultural assets of Greater Cleveland.

Mohamed Aziz, Law Student at Ohio Northern University–Claude W. Pettit College of Law

aziz.jpgA native of Cleveland, Ohio, Mohamed holds a B.A. degree in Political Science and a Dual-Minor in Management (Finance) and Legal Studies from Baldwin Wallace College, where he was Vice President of the Middle-Eastern Student Association.

Currently, Mohamed is pursuing his Juris Doctor at The Ohio Northern University—Claude W. Pettit College of Law, where he is specializing in Public law and Policy.

Mohamed’s experience includes an internship at the U.S. Senate office of Hon. Sherrod Brown, where he assisted legislative aides in addressing and recording constituent concerns and issues. Mohamed was also a policy intern at the office of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations in New York City, where among other tasks, he researched information pertaining to international missions and agencies committed to fostering a democratic and pluralistic Syria, and was tasked with consulting with experts within the U.S. Department of State to comprise information involving humanitarian agency intervention.

Mohamed is presently a law clerk at Calo & Celebrezze LLC, where he is furthering his interests in Public Law and Policy.

Paulanita Barker

Paulanita is second-to-none in engaging citizens. A Kansas University graduate with a Bachelor’s in Economics, she is at her best when she can engage community members while improving an organizations bottom line. Some of her favorite recent projects include the Shaker Heights 2012 Centennial Celebration, the development of a functional block club within the Shaker Square apartment community and working towards restoration of Cleveland’s Grand Carousel (PTC #19) with Cleveland’s Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society. Paulanita remains motivated by fond childhood memories of growing up in the most amazing part of the universe – Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Crystal Bryant, Program Officer 3, Cuyahoga County Department of Job and Family Services

Bryant.jpgCrystal Bryant is a 32 year old African American female. Crystal was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the mother of one 5 year old son by the name of Standford Barrington Proffett III. Crystal graduated from Cleveland State University with honors earning a Bachelor of Art in 2003. In 2005 Crystal obtained a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Tiffin University where again she graduated with honors.

Crystal holds a Juris Doctor in which she earned in 2011 from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law. Crystal has proudly worked in the public sector for over 10 years in multiple positions including a role as a Drug Court Case Manager with the Greater Cleveland Drug Court, an Adult Program Specialist with the Cuyahoga County Alcohol Drug Addiction Mental Health Services Board, a Vocational Coordinator with Cuyahoga County Corrections Planning Board and her most recent role as a Program Officer with the Cuyahoga County Department of Job Family Services.

Crystal is passionate about voter engagement and civic responsibility. Crystal serves on the Board for the Cleveland Young Professional Senate. She is also an active member of the Cleveland Chapter of the NAACP and she serves as Co-chair of the Community Engagement & Awareness Subcommittee under the auspices of the Greater Cleveland Reentry Leadership Coalition. Crystal has served as a volunteer for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cleveland and a host of other entities. Crystal inspires to run for office someday, believing that her biography will not be complete until she has helped to shape the life of many in a way that is pleasing to Christ.

Julie Caruso, Field Organizer, StudentsFirst Ohio

My name is Julie Caruso and I am 25 years old. I currently work at a non-profit called StudentsFirst. Previous to that, I worked on the Presidential campaign here in Akron, Ohio and managed a county wide primary. I have grown up in a labor family and have worked on campaigns since I was 13 years old. Which inspired me to major in Political Science, Pre-Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Akron. I love living in Ohio and spending time with family!

Sujata Emani

Sujata Emani is an award-winning community leader, scientist, and burgeoning social entrepreneur. Formerly a candidate for her local school board, but now directing a youth program that exposes teens to global leaders and the challenges that face youth in developing nations. Her dedication to social responsibility launched her into a non-profit business, the Global Responsibility and Innovation Network, which engaged entrepreneurs and innovators in socially responsible business practices. While completing her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Sujata was inducted into the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society for her advocacy of minorities in higher education and was awarded Outstanding Graduate Student by the UCSD-Graduate Students Association.

Sujata earned her doctorate under the mentorship of Nobel Laureate, Roger Tsien, studying how to improve the effectiveness of medicines in the body, and holds BS and MS degrees in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. She also graduated from the Startup Leadership Program and is working on a mobile diagnostics company as well as an ed-tech startup. Sujata serves as the President of Crossroads Toastmasters Club in Strongsville, OH, enjoys participating in local political campaigns, and speaking to scientific and non-scientific audiences on science and its role in society.

Liz Kantor, Development Associate, Saint Joseph Academy

kantor.jpgLiz is the Development Associate at Saint Joseph Academy, the only all-girls’ Catholic high school in the city of Cleveland. Prior to joining SJA, she held various fundraising positions at United Way and the Center for Families and Children, as well as a sales position at The Plain Dealer.

She is passionate about her volunteer work at Playhouse Square as well as in her church. She is an avid country music lover, concertgoer and reader. As a native Clevelander, Liz loves trying out all the great things Cleveland has to offer, especially its food.

Liz is a proud graduate of Shaker Heights High School and also holds a B.S. in Marketing Communications from Emerson College in Boston.

Jazmin Long

In 2012 I obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Government and certificate in Community Action and Public Police from Connecticut College, in New London, CT. In August of 2012, I began my Masters programs at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, at Case Western Reserve University, where I am a candidate for a Masters in Social Administration (MSSA) and also a Masters in Nonprofit Organization (MNO).

My principal reason for obtaining both an MSSA and an MNO is to have a well-rounded view of community development and to understand how to enhance the well being of society’s members. With a deeper understanding of what it means to be an emerging leader in the nonprofit sector and eventually in the public sector.

My nonprofit experiences ranges from serving as a development intern for a startup nonprofit, El Sistema @ University Circle to working as a community organizing intern for the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County and at Slavic Village Development, as an Americorp VISTA. Through these various opportunities I have been able to conduct community needs assessments, lead civic engagement seminars, research public policy issues, and increase the visibility of nonprofits through increasing the social networking presence. These opportunities, along with my studies, have helped me to develop a strong sense of advocating for social, economic, and environmental justice.

This past summer I worked as a campaign coordinator for a City Council hopeful and currently I am working on a campaign for the Cuyahoga County County Executive race. These experiences have helped me continue developing skills needed to advocate for social justice. In order to enhance the human condition it is important to be an advocate for social justice, value diversity in the world, and to understand the importance of research.

Samantha Mucha, Law Clerk, Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber LLP

mucha.jpgSamantha Mucha will graduate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Spring, 2014. During law school she has been active in a number of organizations, and held leadership positions in the Democratic Law Organization and the International Law Students Association. In addition, she served as a Senator for Student Bar Association and spearheaded the creation of an Academic Affairs Committee. She also worked as a mediator and law clerk for the Cleveland Municipal Court and clerked for a personal injury law firm. Samantha has earned a place on the Dean’s List since Spring 2012, and earned the highest grade in International Law and Nonprofit Organizations.

Prior to law school, Samantha graduated magna cum laude from Baldwin Wallace University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies, Spanish and Political Science. Samantha completed internships at a Congressman’s district office and her Senator’s state office. She worked as the Editor of the Journal of Research and Creative Studies. In her free time, she participated in a number of organizations including the College Democrats, Center for Innovation and Growth, Honors Program and served as President of Baldwin Wallace UniversityÕs Sigma Iota Rho International Studies Honor Society.

Tania Nemer, The Law Office of Tania T. Nemer, The Law Office of Tania T. Nemer

I am the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and I grew up spending my weekends going to work with my father and learning the “”ins and outs”" of running a small business. I have always enjoyed working and by watching my father, who came to this country at the age of 16, I learned that with hard work and perseverance, I can accomplish anything. I come from a string of family members who have come to the United States with only a few dollars in their pockets, but who have worked, with all of their heart, to become successful entrepreneurs.

I attended public grade school in Fairlawn, Ohio for 9 years. Afterward I obtained my high school diploma from a local Jesuit college prep high school named Walsh Jesuit HS. I continued with the Jesuit tradition and attended John Carroll University where I obtained my bachelor of arts in communication with a minor in English and Political Science. While in college I was privileged to study abroad in Madrid, Spain on two occasions for a total of 8 months. While studying abroad, I did not only learn the Spanish language and culture, but I also traveled to approximately 10 European countries.

After my travels to Europe I attended law school. With a concentration in litigation, I graduated, with distinction, from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2007. I worked at the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office in Michigan and later joined the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office in Ohio. In 2008, I joined McGinty, Hilow & Spellacy Co. LPA, where I remain of counsel.

I am a general practice attorney, working primarily with criminal and immigration cases of all sizes. I enjoy volunteering my time with the Cleveland Legal Aid Society and am a member of the West Shore Bar Association, The American Immigration Lawyers Association and am a board member at our Lady of the Cedars Church. I previously held the position of vice-president with the West Shore Bar Association for two years.
I am blessed in my life not only to have a successful career but mostly because I have an amazing family.

Alicia Robinson, Graduate Assistant and Executive Director, Kent State University

My name is Alicia Robinson. I am a Graduate Student at Kent State University. My program is Human Development and Family Studies. I also work for Kent State University as a Graduate Assistant for the Woman’s Center. I have a non-profit organization called Limitless Ambition, which has a mission to encourage women to dream without limits through career coaching, academic assistance, and teen mentorship programs. I am also in the beginning stages of starting a consulting company.

Christopher Smith, Entrepreneur/Teacher, Cleveland Metropolitan School District

Mr. Christopher Smith is a social entrepreneur and small business development consultant. His entrepreneurial experiences began in college competing in several business plan competitions across the nation. With experience working in all sectors he’s found that stewardship, entrepreneurship, and strengthening the human capital in our inner cities to be key components of creating sustainable communities.

Jason Russell, Urban Planner, City of Lakewood, Ohio

Russell.jpgJason Russell is an urban planner for the City of Lakewood, Ohio, an inner-ring suburb of Cleveland. In this role, he focuses on projects that improve the quality of life for its residents and revitalizes the CityÍs historic housing stock. Jason has worked with city officials to expand the use of federal funds to assist a growing number of business owners and residents.

Previously, Jason served as a Project Manager for the Civic Commons, a start-up online civic engagement platform. As a manager, he utilized technology to engage more individuals in issues in their community. The concept was to ñtime-shiftî civic engagement to allow engagement now matter the time of day, so more voices could be involved in the process. He pioneered the use of Mobile Town Halls, which utilized Skype to bring politicians to their constituents throughout the course of their normal day.

Jason has successfully managed several political campaigns at the local and federal levels. Each campaign fused the traditional canvassing, mailing and get out the vote campaign tactics, with increased use of social media and short campaign videos to boost fundraising and ballot support.

In 2012, Jason was selected as inaugural member of the Cuyahoga County Next Generation Council, which seeks to bring together the young minds of the region, to help solve the problems of today while increasing participation in governmental processes among young professionals. Jason led a group of members who lobbied county government to be more inclusive in their board and commission appointments and was successful is getting a number of young professionals appointed to influential board and commission positions.

Jason is a native of Northeast Ohio and earned a BachelorÍs degree in Urban Studies from Lehigh University as a football student athlete. He returned to Cleveland, Ohio to procure his MasterÍs in Urban Planning from Cleveland State University.

Julia Schnell, Graduate Assistant, Cleveland State University

Julia came to Cleveland from upstate New York by way of northern Wisconsin where she studied music and religion. Now studying for her Masters of Urban Planning, Design and Development at Cleveland State, she’s interested in the development of robust and equitable transportation systems.

Jay Smith, Area Manager, Sandridge Food Corporation

I was raised in Medina, Ohio by a school teacher and autoworker. I currently work as Area Manager at a food production corporation while serving the Medina County Democratic Party’s executive committee as secretary. I was a Regional Field Director for President Obama’s re-election campaign and for the We Are Ohio campaign in 2011, and a Field Organizer for former Governor Strickland’s attempted re-election campaign. I Serve on three committees for the City of Medina including the Uptown Park Advisory Committee, Cemetery Commission, and the Utility Rate Review Commission. Outside of progressive politics my interests include traveling, roller coasters, and movies. I am the proud dad of two beautiful cats, Roosevelt and Clinton.

Christopher Smith, Entrepreneur/Teacher, Cleveland Metropolitan School District

Mr. Christopher Smith is a social entrepreneur and small business development consultant. His entrepreneurial experiences began in college competing in several business plan competitions across the nation. With experience working in all sectors he’s found that stewardship, entrepreneurship, and strengthening the human capital in our inner cities to be key components of creating sustainable communities.

Bryce Sylvester, City Planner, City of Lakewood

As a City Planner in Lakewood I serve as Secretary to the Architectural Board of Review, work closely on the city’s housing and entrepreneurship initiatives, in addition to implementing the cityÍs bicycle master plan. My passion lies in revitalizing cities through collaboration with thoughtful and motivated leaders.

Coordinating commercial development projects, getting young professionals appointed to Cuyahoga County Boards as a member of the Next Generation Council, and implementing cycling infrastructure in Lakewood are three recent projects I’ve worked on. Strong work ethic, persistence, and goal oriented project management are three personal characteristics helping me to deliver results and realize established goals.

Alesha Walker, Research Assistant, State and Federal Communications

Walker.jpgAlesha Walker voluntarily works under Council Woman Margo Summerville of Ward 3. Alesha graduated from Walsh University with a Degree in Comminications, and a minor in Government and Foreign Affairs. She is also apart of the Young Democrats of Akron, while juggling the role of being the Praise and Worship Leader at Powerhouse Ministries.