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Leadership Now: OhioNews

Announcing the 2019 Leadership Now: Ohio Fellows

By July 10, 2019September 23rd, 2019No Comments
Sunset over a long, winding road.

Photo by Bryan Minear


Rockwood is proud to announce the 2019 cohort of the Leadership Now: Ohio Fellowship!

Rockwood has partnered with the Ohio Transformation Fund to offer an eight-month cross-sector fellowship program for 23 social change leaders in Ohio. Designed to create dramatic shifts in leaders’ capacity to engage their organizations and communities to build networks to drive statewide strategy, participants will develop leadership practices within a diverse cohort that is committed to building long-term civic capacity and systematic change in Ohio.

Please join us in congratulating the 2019-20 fellows:

Dkéama Alexis | Co-Founder and Core Organizer, Black Queer & Intersectional Collective

Dkéama is a Black queer and trans community organizer based in Columbus, Ohio. They co-founded Black Queer & Intersectional Collective, a grassroots community organization working towards the liberation of Black LGBTQIA+ people through community organizing, direct action, and creating spaces.


Sruti Basu | Director of Community-Building Programs, FutureHeights

Sruti aims to merge civic engagement and urban planning and development with the end result of conscious development and human-scale design to meet the needs and values of residents while addressing blight and disinvestment. She works directly with residents, community leaders, and stakeholders in the areas of FutureHeights’ community and economic development projects and programs. With a background in community and economic development, she was a National Urban Fellow at The Cleveland Foundation and foundation services manager at The Greater Houston Community Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and women’s studies from Case Western Reserve University, a Master of Science in social administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York.


Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin | Vice President of Government Affairs & Public Advocacy, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio

Lauren leads the organizing, policy, communications, electoral, and social welfare programming across the state. Lauren has worked for Planned Parenthood for the past eight years as an organizer and field director and managed the launch of the organization’s Super PAC, Planned Parenthood Votes Ohio, in 2018. She has organized hundreds of thousands of Ohioans to support reproductive health, rights, and freedom and mobilizes them to civically engage as voters and constituents.


AJ Casey | Executive Director, Stonewall Columbus

AJ has been a nonprofit leader, trainer, consultant and executive coach for more than 30 years. In January 2019, she became the executive director of Stonewall Columbus, the only LGBTQ+ community center in central Ohio. Her arrival signals a new era and fresh vision for the extended LGBTQ+ family in Columbus, Ohio. AJ and the Stonewall Columbus team are in pursuit of a united LGBTQ+ community where all of us thrive.


Rev. Daniel Clark | Ohio Director, Faith in Public Life

Dan is Ohio director at Faith in Public Life and also clergy on staff at a radically welcoming and justice oriented church in downtown Columbus, St. John’s United Church of Christ. He is from Columbus, but has lived or worked in Indiana, Virginia, Colorado, East Africa, and Eastern Europe. Dan is currently building a house in Licking County with his wife Jeannette (just married October 20, 2018) and three kids (Jude 13, Lucy 11, Sadie 10) and their 2 dogs. Dan has degrees from Valparaiso University and Fuller Theological Seminary.


Jordyn Close | State Coordinator, Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE)

Jordyn is an abortion storyteller with Youth Testify as well as state coordinator with Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE). She also serves on the board of her local abortion fund, Women Have Options Ohio.


Carol Davey | Southeast Ohio Regional Director, Ohio Environmental Council

Carol returned to the Southeast Ohio region and her hometown of Cheshire, OH to work towards implementing environmental policies and protections. As regional director; Carol traverses the whole of Appalachia Ohio focusing on energy threats and mitigating climate change by connecting communities to build power surrounding our air, water, and public lands. Before joining the OEC, Carol worked in the Appalachian Ohio region in the realms of energy efficiency, aggregation, and green economic development. She earned BA’s from Berea College in communication, peace and social justice studies, and political philosophy. She also holds a Master of Arts in international peace studies from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and has expertise in the intersections of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Crystal Davis | Policy Director, Alliance for the Great Lakes

A government affairs professional with local and national experience, Crystal currently serves as policy director for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. She spearheaded the Alliance’s commitment to diverse engagement of Great Lakes communities and authored the organization’s seminal report, “Step One: Shut Up and Listen.” In 2016, Crystal founded the Thornton Buckeye Group, a government relations and public affairs firm advising local and national clients on strategic advocacy, policy, and communications. Previously, Crystal served as federal relations director for Kent State University, where she established KSU’s first federal office and policy agenda on Capitol Hill. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and their two young children.


Marcia Dinkins | Executive Director, Black Women Rising

Reverend Marcia is the founder of Black Women Rising, a grassroots organization that centers the voices of black women and women of color on issues that directly impact their lives.  Since 2012, she has been putting her faith in action to protect and defend the rights of women, and help to lift people, in particular, black women and women of color out of poverty on the national, state and local level.  Marcia holds an associates’ degree in liberal arts, a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in women and gender studies, and a Master in criminal justice and policy, and a certificate in executive leadership management. Marcia resides in Toledo, Ohio with her two sons and serves as an associate minister.


Dionne Dowdy | Executive Director, United Returning Citizens

Dionne has been a part of United Returning Citizens since its inception and has had various roles in the organization leading up to the Executive Director position which she currently holds. She is actively the President of the Community Legal Aid board and has been an AmeriCorps Vista for Taft Promise Neighborhood for the past three years. Where she worked closely with Sa6 at Taft elementary School. Ms. Dowdy also started GOOD Homes, a program that uses ex-offenders to restore vacant properties for the reentry community to occupy, and finally she developed URC Basic Lawn Care Inc. which is a sub-business that introduces re-entry stakeholders to entrepreneurship. She has formed partnerships for URC with several local agencies to streamline services for the reentry community she serves. Some of these partnerships include, The Youngstown Ohio Land Bank, Citizens Uniting Citizens, Trumbull Correctional Institution, Taft Promise Neighborhood, Youngstown Metropolitan Housing, Citizens Circle, Signature Workforce Solutions, CIRV, ACTION, Small Village Properties, Starting Over Again and The Oakhill Collaborative.


Raymond Greene Jr. | Organizing Director, Ohio Organizing Collaborative

Ray is the field director for and co-founder of Black Fork Strategies. He has been working as an organizer and electoral operative in Ohio for more than 15 years. Ray has founded grassroots organizations such as My Brother’s Keeper Northeast Ohio, focused on training and supporting formerly incarcerated men. He also serves as a pastor of his local church, and has worked as an organizer and field staff for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and Stand Up for Ohio. In 2018, Ray led Black Fork’s voter registration program that successfully registered over 140,000 voters, served as the deputy director for signature collection for Issue 1 that successfully qualified for the ballot, and led the GOTV operation which knocked on more than 350,000 doors.


Tammy Holder | Chief Executive Officer, Beach House, Inc. DBA Leading Families Home

Tammy’s leadership mottos are “Always Have Fun” and “Lift While Climbing.” When Tammy was 5 years old, she told her mother that she was going to be a writer and have her own Beach House. She has since learned to be very specific when praying. Tammy’s favorite hobby is intentional time traveling, laughing and loving with her family and friends. She is a native of Toledo and is a “Frocket” (Falcon and a Rocket). She holds a graduate degree in organizational development from Bowling Green State University, and a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Toledo. Tammy has been in her current role since 2009 and has held other leadership roles in both the nonprofit and private sectors. Her favorite role is playing Gram-Tam a-k-a Robin to her grandson Grayson’s batman, they really are a dynamic duo!


Miles Johnson | Community Organizer, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership

Miles has been an organizer for TNP since 2016.  He graduated from Warren G. Harding High School and Trumbull Career & Tech Center with a certificate in carpentry. His first job after high school was working with youth in the community at Career Paths, an after-school program assisting youth with study & social skills support.  Miles then worked for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) where he began to realize his passion for grassroots organizing in efforts to bring down Senate Bill 5 (S.B.5) in 2011. In 2012, Miles was recruited to work with incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Recent awards and special recognitions achieved include: Trumbull County African American Achievers Award, 2018 Ohio CDC Rising Star Award, 97.4 Unsung Community Hero Award Hosted by The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Community Application Award, Raymond John Wean Foundation Emerging Leader Class of 2016, 25 under 35 Mahoning Valley Young Professionals.


Keland Logan | Executive Director, The Colony Youngstown (TCY)

Keland leads a grassroots non-profit organization that focuses on community development, cultural enrichment, and engagement. He is a graduate of Youngstown State University, where he studied community health and business. Before his work at TCY, he developed a diverse skill-set including emceeing, leadership, management, program development, needs assessment, team and network building. His unique perspective comes from overcoming past (felony) mistakes to become a change leader in his community. He is establishing TCY as a regional player in the sustainable green sector by partnering with The Water Environment Federation and local stakeholders to create a Green Infrastructure certification course to help build a workforce comprised of local emerging and displaced members of the community. Keland’s vision for the future of the Mahoning Valley is “An informed and engaged population of Youngstown residents whose health, communities and a strong economy are sustained by synergistic local, national, and global relationships.”


Avery Martens | Organizer, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Avery is a radical genderqueer community organizer and strategist who builds power with people and communities most vulnerable to and targeted by structural violence, working toward collective liberation for all people and the planet. Avery grew up in southwestern Ohio, lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 6 years, and currently resides in Cleveland, OH.


Kevin O’Donnell | Deputy Director, Ohio Student Association

Kevin organizes around the intersection of criminal justice reform and education with the Ohio Student Association, which is building a political and cultural home for young people who want a world that doesn’t throw them away. His north star is building an education system where everyone can find joy, purpose, and community. He was born in Dayton and technically lives in Columbus, but basically organizes out of his car.


Daniel Ortiz | Outreach Director, Policy Matters Ohio

Daniel is a native of Lorain, Ohio, and graduate of Oberlin College. He joined Policy Matters Ohio in 2016, and brings 14 years’ experience in organizing, campaign strategy and education. Before his work with Policy Matters, Daniel worked at the local, state and national level leading campaigns and managing partnerships across the Midwest and the South. He draws from experience as a teacher, work as an organizer and campaign data professional, and experience developing culturally relevant programs to best connect Policy Matters research with the community.


Tyra Patterson | Community Outreach Specialist, Ohio Justice & Policy Center

Tyra was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. On December 25, 2017, she walked out of prison after serving 23 years for crimes she did not commit. Today, Tyra travels all over the country speaking at law schools, colleges, prisons, conferences, and high schools, leveraging her story to educate people on social justice, mass incarceration and wrongful convictions. She currently lives in Cincinnati and works at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, where she serves as their community strategy outreach director. Tyra also maintains paralegal duties at OJPC working on cases on behalf of people, both guilty and innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. Tyra is also involved in the arts community of Cincinnati, specifically using art to educate people on the issues of social justice.


Andrea Reany | Program Manager, Rural Action

Born and raised in Toledo, OH, Andrea now calls Athens County home, where she has worked in sustainable community development for 5 years at Rural Action’s Zero Waste Program. She is now transitioning from that position to become a Community Health Worker and spend more time organizing for racial justice. In her spare time, she enjoys being in and learning about nature and reading voraciously.


Erin Scott | Executive Director, Ohio Women’s Alliance

Whether it’s connecting nonprofit organizations to funding or badass women to each other, Erin loves bringing the right people to the table and watching the sparks fly. She founded the Ohio Women’s Alliance in 2019, after searching for a community to support and invest in women and femme individuals leading in grassroots spaces. Previously, Erin has worked to build a more just and vibrant Ohio through founding the Bad Bish Network—a young professional networking group in central Ohio—and through working with the Ohio Progressive Collaborative, LEAD Ohio, the Ohio Democratic Party, and The Columbus Foundation in the community research and grants management department. Erin also teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs for nonprofit studies at her alma mater, The Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs, where she earned her Master of Public Administration degree.


Alicia Smith | Community Liaison, Junction Coalition

Alicia resides in Toledo, Ohio with her husband of twenty-six years and young adult children, Major, Alexis and Joseph (Elyse-granddaughter). She is a graduate student at the University of Toledo, studying the development and foundation of education through peace and justice. Alicia’s work in the Junction community is focused on the upward mobility of disenfranchised neighborhoods and is led by her scholarship and life-long lessons. Alicia is currently the associate policy director for Freshwater Future a nonprofit organization located in Petoskey, Michigan focused on environmental health.


Christopher Tennant | Director, Thrive Mahoning Valley

For over 15 years, Chris has worked as a social worker and business development professional in the healthcare industry. Upon completion of his master’s degree in 2017, Chris found himself seeking new opportunities that support his goal of a healthier and more equitable Mahoning Valley. Upon completing the Emerging Leader Program offered by the Raymond John Wean Foundation, Chris, along with a fellow program alum, started Thrive Mahoning Valley, a nonprofit with the mission of providing accessibility to equitable resources to those moving to the Mahoning Valley. He also currently works as director of social services for Altercare Integrated Health Services and makes a point to substitute teach several times a year to foster the growth of our next generation.


Miguel “Geno” Tucker | Organizing Director, Juvenile Justice Coalition

Geno is organizing director for the Juvenile Justice Coalition. He is committed to purposely shifting power to Ohio’s youth, to fight against issues that directly impact them.



Ashley Underwood | Project Coordinator, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Ashley is a public health professional specializing in reproductive health and justice. Currently, she is the research and program manager at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, where she is responsible for Patients to Advocates, a civic engagement and leadership development program for people who have had abortions, NARAL’s research endeavors, and forming relationships with the academic community. Relatively new to the world of abortion advocacy, she brings with her an intersectional lens on maternal health disparities, cultural competency for effective program management, and a personal desire to eradicate stigma surrounding abortion and sex. Ashley is a graduate of Tennessee State University and Case Western Reserve University, where she received her Masters of Public Health.

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