Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development, Cleveland State University
B.A., Urban Studies, Cleveland State University
B.A., History, Cleveland State University
When did you graduate?
I graduated in 2013 for my B.A. in Urban Studies and 2016 for my Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development degree.
Where are you currently residing?
Where are you from?
City of Lakewood Resiliency Task Force, Task Force Member
Levin College Alumni Advisory Board, Board Member
Director of Development, Levin Group, Inc.
Levin Group, Inc. is a real estate developer, owner, and manager of commercial and residential properties. My responsibilities are varied and focused on the day-to-day operations of our properties; long term planning for new projects; and examining issues and opportunities within our organization to increase efficiency, accountability, and sustainability. I spend most of my time putting new projects together and managing the process from acquisition to the end of construction and lease expiration. I work closely with public officials and community organizations, architects, contractors, and financial institutions to make sure our new developments meet the needs and expectations of the public while maximizing value to our partners.
Why did you decide to attend Levin?
After completing a history degree from CSU in 2003, I worked in Lorain, Ohio and became interested in economic development. I decided to return to school to learn how to create better communities. Since I already attended CSU, I was familiar with the Levin College and its national reputation for studying the issues I was interested in. The flexibility of the program made returning to school more accessible for a non-traditional student. The Levin College was truly the best choice.
How did your experience at Levin influence your career path?
Not having a linear path from undergraduate to graduate school, and being at a point in my life where I had more family and financial responsibilities, I couldn’t go the traditional route through the program. So, I reached out to about three dozen people, mostly Levin College alumni, and asked if I could speak with them to get a sense of what they did in their job and how it related to their experience at the Levin College. I met with people in economic development, community development, and planning. Many of them said it was important to understand how real estate is financed because putting land to its highest and best use was an important part of their job. I took real estate finance and marketing classes and learned how real estate development can be a catalyst for economic development, which I found very interesting.
What's your favorite Levin memory?
My first child was born while I was in the Master’s program. She came two weeks early and the weekend before finals. I will never forget sitting in a hospital room holding her in one arm and, with my other, typing on my laptop to finish my finals project while my wife slept.
What piece of advice do you have for current Levin graduate students?
The Levin College and its alumni play an important role providing research, education, and leadership throughout Northeast Ohio and are on the forefront of every major civic issue our region faces. My advice is to get to know your classmates, professors, and guest speakers because they have a wealth of knowledge and can assist in connecting you with internships and jobs. When you get a job, you will need to have contacts in related fields and it will be useful to be able to call upon someone you already know. Recognize that you and your classmates will soon be in positions of leadership throughout the region, so take the opportunity now to build important personal and professional relationships.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned at Levin?
The kinds of civic issues we research and attempt to solve are, at the end of the day, about people, so approach your work with humility and humanity.
What inspires you about Northeast Ohio? Why?
I’m paraphrasing Bruce Springsteen, but each of us has within ourselves the keys to our own destruction and salvation. There are so many resources and opportunities in Northeast Ohio, so in my opinion, our problems are mostly because we have failed to optimize what is in front of us. I think we’ve reached a tipping point and I see smart, engaged, people and groups from all communities starting to use the natural advantages we have.
What’s Northeast Ohio’s best kept secret?
I think our historic parks and public spaces. We could do better at preserving some more areas, but we are so lucky to have the places like the Metroparks, public spaces along the lakefront, Rockefeller Park, and many others. They give a balance to urban living.
What issues are you passionate about/what inspires you?
Issues about equity, access, and social justice, particularly as it relates to children. Kids don't pick where they are born but so much of their outcomes depend more on their zip code than on their aptitude. That has to change. Parents want the best for their children, but don’t always have the information to figure out how to get them connected to resources and opportunities. We will never be a great city, state, or country until we invest in all kids and fully utilize what everyone can bring to their community.