Before running for office in 2014 and 2015; I traveled the country and the world to seek a better understanding of myself, of other people and cultures, and of life in general. Frequently, I would also attend conferences, conventions and other events that supported my academic and life goals. Throughout my twenties, I began implementing the ideas that were gained from these experiences and from the many conversations I had with people along the way.
I wanted to share something with you that I believe can be a path forward for our city. Recently, a group of 15 locals left for the 2018 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin, Texas. From March 9-12, the SXSW Conference provides an opportunity for global professionals at every level to participate, learn, and network. This core group of people will bring back ideas learned from this conference and work toward putting them into action.
But here’s the thing, it’s not necessarily the conference that’s providing a path forward—it’s the people participating. Since my first year in office; I have met with or interacted with most of the 15 people. I actually met three of the individuals in 2014: Jay Allred, Cameron Haring and Nikki Lewis. In 2015, I reconnected with Damien Beauford to learn of his big ideas and heard from Matthew Stanfield for the first time. Also in 2015, relationships were developed with Bob Bianchi, Ben Davis, Jennifer Geberick Kime, Leona Smith, Maura Teynor, and Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz. In 2016, I had the honor of meeting Mansfield/Richland County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Jodie Perry; and also met Jotika Shetty, who is the Executive Director of the Richland County Regional Planning Commission. During the last months of 2016, I met one of Richland County’s 10 under 40 award recipients and the President of Renaissance Performing Arts, Chelsie Thompson.
Although SXSW is an amazing conference; I am more excited about the above people involved. The members of this team are about action, they are results-oriented. For example, Jodie Perry is a dynamic leader. As the head of our local Chamber of Commerce, she has helped to #MoveOpportunityForward for small to medium sized businesses throughout Richland County. She is our first female and youngest chamber president, and I think she’s a great person. Bob Bianchi, who is also the City of Mansfield Engineer, is a person that inspires me week after week. Bob designs, manages and oversees major city and regional projects throughout the year. He has helped the City of Mansfield acquire millions of dollars in grant funds.
In trying to keep my words of support short, here’s the point. I am encouraging you, all Mansfielders; to support this core group of young leaders. Yes, we have a city full of leaders. But this team of 15 is yet another example of leaders that have demonstrated some of the most dynamic changes to their professions in our locality. From Aurelio’s Hip-hop Dance Troupe and new downtown art gallery and dance studio; to Chelsie’s rise to become President of the historic Renaissance, once known as the Ohio Theater. From Matthew’s architectural design of the South Park Pavilion and his strong advocacy efforts in projects focusing on sustainability; to Ben's management and leadership abilities with Mansfield UMADAOP, and Jay’s masterful work in the development, establishment and direction of North Central Ohio’s first major online-only newspaper---there’s talent here and they will have ideas worth our attention and hopefully, our involvement moving forward.
This team of leaders cares about Mansfield and wants the best for our city.
Find the time to follow this group throughout the 2018 year. Here is the initial link to the Richland Source article detailing their journey: http://www.richlandsource.com/rising_from_rust/sxsw/redefining-mansfield-south-by-southwest-style/article_d64564a8-2243-11e8-9952-5be7a2910923.html