Program 2023

March 11, 2023
Cintas Center, XU

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Full program here

2023 Award Winners 

Lifetime Achievement Award
This award is given to an individual, inside or outside of a community organization, whose life and work has benefited all of Cincinnati, through creating inclusiveness, increasing the viability of community activities and organizations, and supporting neighborhoods and neighborhood leaders.

Ernie Barbeau
Ernie and his wife Judy moved to Kennedy Heights in 1989.  Since that time, for 30 years, Ernie has been involved in all aspects of community improvement.  He has served as President of Kennedy Heights Community Council, helped re-launch the Kennedy Heights Development Corporation after a hiatus, led the effort to create the 2003 Neighborhood Plan, and was a founder of the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.  He was always an active volunteer and present at every neighborhood event.  He is a champion for Aging in Community, not just in Kennedy Heights but throughout Cincinnati.

Community Catalyst of the Year
volunteer in a community organization whose energy and ideas led to a project or program that gets community members involved and excited, that produces good outcomes and results in increased neighborhood engagement

Julie Brown
Julie relocated from the Avondale neighborhood to College Hill in 2005. A true community activist, and a self-proclaimed ‘nosey neighbor’, Julie is an active member on multiple College Hill civic organizations including the College Hill Business Association and the College Hill Forum community council where she serves as Communications Committee Chair.  Julie is particularly passionate about increasing pedestrian safety in her neighborhood.  Her passion began ten years ago when she lead the effort to get speed bumps installed on her small residential street.  Julie has continued her efforts to accomplish several “small win” improvements around College Hill, one of which includes getting the speed limit reduced from 35mph to 25mph on Argus Road.  Julie is also an active member on several Racial Equality and Social Justice teams both at work and in her personal life.  Her favorites quotes are “each one, teach one” (African proverb) and “be the kindness you wish to see in the world” (Ghandi).

Rookie of the Year
With this award, we recognize that hard work and dedication to positive change in our neighborhoods isn’t just something undertaken by the old hats and hands. This award is for the under-30 newcomers who are bringing passion, fierce commitment, and new forms of organizing and activism to make our city a better place for all. 

Cincy Water Boys:  AKA Brothers in Motion
On a very hot day in the in the city of Cincinnati one summer, some of Cincinnati’s youth were doing something they have been doing for years: selling water.  A call was made to 911, saying the boys were disruptive and going in and out of traffic.  Police were dispatched, and the results were intense and less than desirable, and many felt the response was unacceptable, especially in light of the work of the Collaborative Agreement.  Rather than ‘yet another police incident’ fading from the headline, members of the community quickly rallied and became involved, working with the local Community Council, the Police Chief and City Administration to find a solution for these boys and others like them. 

The “Water Boys”, as these young black men were known, are now Brothers in Motion with a mission to “empower our brothers and sisters with a positive mindset through entrepreneur endeavors” and are part of a city youth employment that offers support and resources for entrepreneurship. Out of a very negative situation, a path forward emerged for these young men, and they are now part of efforts to create a model for other Cincinnati youth.

Our final award is this year’s themed award: 
Champion for Healthy Communities
This award is for an individual, community group, organization, or collaborative whose work has sought solutions to creating healthier neighborhoods.  The work should demonstrate how to overcome the disparities and barriers to healthy neighborhoods, or work that addresses the interrelated factors that contribute to a healthy neighborhood, or work that has measurable results to show sustainable change.

Tanner Yess, Executive Director, Groundwork Ohio River Valley
Tanner was raised by scientists, and grew up paddling, pedaling, and planting trees. After earning a degree in ecology, he worked on a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea. His Peace Corps service involved resource management and eco-tourism. During graduate school, Tanner helped form Greater Cincinnati’s Tri-State Trails Coalition. He is a National Park Service Mountains Ambassador; SHIFT Emerging Leader; and recipient of the 2018 Murie Center Rising Leader Award. Yess’ passion is creating new pathways for urban youth to access green careers.


7:15 – 8:00 Registration & Breakfast

8:00 – 9:00
Introduction – Invest in Neighborhoods
Welcome – Mayor Aftab Pureval 
Opening Remarks – Ashlee Young, Interact for Health

9:15 – 11:45 Breakout Sessions

12:00 – 1:30
Community Awards – presented by Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney
Speed-dating with City Council

1:45 – 4:15 Breakout Sessions


Breakout Session

9:15 – 9:50



Get to Know the CMO: A Conversation with the City Manager and Assistant City Managers
Sheryl M.M. Long, City Manager • Billy Weber, Assistant City Manager • Virginia Tallent, Interim Assistant City Manager

Join us for a moderated conversation with City Manager Sheryl Long and Assistant City Managers Virginia Tallent and Billy Weber to learn more about their roles, responsibilities, and passion for local government. You’ll hear from these top Cincinnati leaders on their backgrounds, public service journeys, and vision for the future of our city. Opportunities to ask questions and hear directly from the City Manager and her team will be provided.


Historic Preservation: A Tool for Neighborhood and Community Development 
Beth Johnson, Executive Director, Cincinnati Preservation Association • Emily Ahouse, Zoning Administrator, City of Cincinnati
Learn about how and why historic preservation is a necessary tool for Cincinnati neighborhoods to create sustainable, stable, and healthy neighborhoods. The second half of the presentation will be focused on the different types of preservation that can be implemented within a neighborhood. 

Conf 1/2

Creating a Healthy Neighborhood: Overcoming Jim Crow Healthcare
Steve Sunderland, Director, Coalition for Health Care Justice • Jada Davis, Associate Director, Cancer Justice Network • Pat Lee, Navigator, Greater Missionary Baptist Church.
Overcoming discrimination in health care is key to changing health in Neighborhoods.  The Coalition for Health Justice has been formed to a) increase health access for every faith-based institution; b) provide a Navigator to each site for the purpose of facilitating true access to healthcare; and, c) raise voices about the levels of discrimination that continue to keep the death rates so high for minorities, seniors, refugees, people with disabilities, and the poor.

Conf 4/5

Black Owned: The Importance of the Black Food Justice Movement
Dr. Francoise Knox Kazimierczuk, University of Cincinnati • Dr. Lauren Forbes, University of Cincinnati • Mona Jenkins, Queen Mother’s Market
A Longer Table: How Neighborhoods are Collaborating to Improve Food Security
Mona Jenkins, Queen Mothers Market Cooperative, Co-op Cincy • Gene Ellington, New Bond Hill Market, Community Economic Advancement Initiatives • Reba Hennessey, Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli, Your Store of the Queen City

The 1st half of this session will discuss the connection between racial health disparities and food access, focusing on institutional and systemic racism which has shaped our food ecosystem through local, state, and federal policies. Reshaping of these policies requires action across the socioecological model, which takes intentionality and considerable time. Communities need access to healthy affordable food now! Agency by Black People in Cincinnati has created a Food Justice Movement emphasizing People Power at the community level, which is making all the difference for Black communities in need, and it plays a vital role in redressing systemic inequities. 

In the 2nd half of this session, we will be exploring how neighborhood health outcomes are impacted by food apartheid; and how barriers to food security can be overcome through community organizing and resident-led design, such as in Bond Hill, Lower Price Hill, and Walnut Hills.

10:10 – 10:50



Creating Connected Communities in Cincinnati
Councilmember Reggie Harris • Katherine Keough-Jurs, Director, Dept of City Planning and Engagement • Alex Peppers, Deputy Director, Dept of City Planning and Engagement • Emily Ahouse, Zoning Administrator, Zoning Division • Billy Weber, Assistant City Manager
The City of Cincinnati has a goal to create more “Connected Communities” through potential land-use policy changes that will help guide Cincinnati’s growth towards more accessible, people-focused, diverse, healthy, and connected communities for all. Join Councilmember Reggie Harris and staff from the Department of City Planning and Engagement to learn about the process, consider future policy changes, see what we’ve learned so far, and hear about the next steps.


Healthy Neighborhoods Equals Quality Housing for All:  Dealing with Blight, Vacancy, and Poor Housing Conditions
Art Dahlberg, Buildings & Inspections • Kate Burroughs, Law Dept. Quality of Life Division
The City’s Department of Buildings and Inspections and Law Department’s Quality of Life Division will share a proposed new community-based approach to code compliance, where code enforcement plays a more intentional role in supporting community needs and property owners who want to comply. Attendees will learn how to invest time in more proactive approaches focused on providing residents with the knowledge, training, tools, and resources to play a more active role in addressing problem properties. This session will also focus on how community health and safety data can direct code enforcement and how creating opportunities to meaningfully engage in work with the community can address community-identified concerns, making neighborhoods safer, healthier, and more vibrant.

Conf 1/2

Community Power Building
Julian Collins, Interact for Health • Carlton Collins, The Heights Movement • Marche Gendrew, Cradle Cincinnati
A key element of building a healthy community is the people. Join Interact for Health for a conversation about the importance and urgency of people power. 

Conf 4/5

Resilient Neighborhoods: The Lower Mill Creek Valley Brownfield Revitalization
Howard Miller, Snr Environmental Specialist, Office of Environment & Sustainability • Amanda Testerman, Snr Environmental Specialist, Office of Environment and Sustainability • Taylor German, Development Manager, Dept of Community and Economic Development •  Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson, Community & Climate Resilience Program Director, Groundworks Ohio River Valley • Ihor Melnyk, Snr Environmental Dept Manager, Terracon Consultants • Jim Zentmeyer, Environmental Practice Lead, Civil and Environmental Consultants
Resilient neighborhoods are healthy, socially cohesive neighborhoods. Cleanup and reuse of vacant or underutilized contaminated industrial properties, commonly referred to as brownfields, is a top priority in the resilience movement to holistically revitalize a neighborhood’s health. This movement is exciting and is filled with recent success stories, transformative projects currently being conducted, and important opportunities to seize upon.

11:05 – 11:45



Balance: The City Budget Game Show
Dr. Andrew M. Dudas, Budget Director, Office of Budget & Evaluation • Brian N. Gay, Division Manager, Office of Budget & Evaluation • Special Guest Appearance: Sheryl  Long, City Manager
Inspired by the engaging format of a game show, this session will involve contestants from the audience in a series of games intended to entertain while educating the audience on various attributes of the City of Cincinnati’s Budget. Games will touch on subjects like budget composition and the costs associated with offering and supporting critical City services such as public safety, health services, parks, recreational spaces, and transportation infrastructure. Balance: The City Budget Game Show aims to put the FUN in funding!


How Neighborhoods Can Keep Housing Affordable
Margie Spinney, Carol Smith, co-founders, Renting Partnerships • residents
Founders of Renting Partnerships will discuss how to overcome housing inequities related to social, racial, income and wealth inequality.  How to provide an alternative to owning or renting that allows low-income households to build financial equity and sustain the quality and affordability of their housing.

Conf 1/2

Fostering Community Leadership Through Strengths
Jameela Salaah, Youth and Family Director, Center for Great Neighborhoods • Rosie Santos, Mayerson Academy • William Stone • Lennette Beasley
Healthy neighborhoods are driven by active and engaged residents. Covington Leads is a program whose goal is to identify, train, nurture, and energize new civic leaders in Covington during a 13-week session period. 20+ participants have used their strengths and passion to implement neighborhood improvement projects ranging from health, financial security, creative writing, neighborhood engagement, beautification, and more.

Conf 4/5

Healthy Neighborhoods!  That’s cool, but…  Definitions and Measures Workshop
Jeffrey Stec, Citizens for Civic Renewal • Peter Hames, OTR Community Council
Just what is a healthy neighborhood?  How will we know if we live in one?  Join us for this interactive workshop where participants will define a healthy neighborhood and begin to identify measures that will tell us if we live in one. The results will be used to stimulate further discussion after submission to Council.

1:45 – 2:25



Creating Community: Community Engagement Framework for the Future
Kait Bell, Human- Centered Design Lead, Office of the City Manager •  Jeremiyah Hairston, Community Engagement Specialist, Dept of City Planning & Engagement
Join us for a session on the City’s progress to create more collaborative and inclusive community engagement practices. Hear the latest on the City’s year-long cross-departmental research and how those community insights are propelling us forward to create a new framework for community engagement. This session will include an interactive activity to involve attendees in the creation of the new city-wide engagement framework.


Invisible Infrastructure: How Community Partners Collaborate for Neighborhood Improvement
Nick Johnson, Founder & CEO, BOC Development Company • Carol Gibbs, President & CEO, Mt Auburn CDC • Liz Eddy, Directory of Residential Development, the Port • Jake Hodesh, Developer • Tom Millikin, VP of Communications & Marketing, the Port
In this panel discussion, community partners including The Port, neighborhood Community Development Corporations, and small developers will look at the multifaceted connection between healthy neighborhoods and a healthy real estate market, including the systemic issues faced by neighborhoods experiencing disinvested real estate and exploring examples of how communities are fighting back. The session will focus on how thriving residential, commercial, and industrial real estate markets interact and mutually reinforce stable communities while exploring the various tools available to Cincinnati neighborhoods for directing better community outcomes.

Conf 1/2

The Power of Art and Storytelling to Help Build Diverse, Inclusive, and Healthy Neighborhoods
Deqah Hussein-Wetzel, Urbanist Media • Dr. Eric Jackson, Prof. Black History, NKU • Dr. LaVerne Summerlin, Prof. English, UC • Ke Parks, Cincinnati & Hamilton Co Library -West End • ROMAC
This cultural preservation panel discussion will center around the themes of African American history, cultural heritage, community resilience, storytelling, and oral histories. Specifically, this moderated panel focuses on the importance of preserving Black cultural heritage in the West End through storytelling and podcasting, in an effort to build healthier neighborhoods.

Conf 4/5

Healthy Schools + Healthy Neighborhoods
Elisa Hoffman, Executive Director, School Board School; Christopher Grant, Principal, Westwood School; Amber Simpson, Principal, Pleasant Ridge Montessori School; Stacey Hill-Simmons, Director of School Leadership, CPS, former Principal Evanston Academy
We know that education is a social determinant of health, and, therefore, if we want to build healthy neighborhoods, we need to build strong neighborhood schools. In this moderated panel conversation, we will learn from three Cincinnati Public Schools principals who have led their neighborhood schools to increased academic outcomes, and whose schools have become centerpieces of their neighborhoods. We will dive into their evaluations of what they are doing at their schools that they believe is replicable elsewhere, how they have seen their schools’ performance impact their neighborhoods, and the connections they see on a daily basis between health and education.

2:40 – 3:20



Pedestrian Safety
Councilmember Mark Jeffreys • Angie Strunc, Vision Zero/Pedestrian Safety Program, DOTE •  Bryan Williams, Vision Zero/Pedestrian Safety Program, DOTE • Julie Brown, College Hill Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee • Felicia Eschenlohr, College Hill Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee
City staff will share information about new traffic calming tools and describe the Cincinnati’s Vision Zero/Pedestrian Safety Program and how to apply for funding.  Community advocates from Cincinnati’s College Hill neighborhood will share upcoming projects and their work to be a successful advocate for your neighborhood.


Connecting Our Neighbors to Community Service Systems
Rev Sarah Beach, Executive Director, My Neighbor’s Place • Noel Beyer, Executive Director, Neighborhood Allies • Paul Komarek, Consultant, Human Intervention
This session shows how My Neighbor’s Place, a church-sponsored food pantry in Westwood, is helping many of its poorest clients work their way through complicated application processes and access public service systems. The ultimate answer involves much more than “navigation assistance.” It’s about building a community where people help each other

Conf 1/2

Empowering Communities Through Gardening
Shannon Carr, Founder/CEO Isaiah 55
Community gardens are about building social ties, sharing skills and experience, and taking proactive measures to improve our physical and mental well-being. They provide the opportunity for people in marginalized groups to fully participate and to take on leadership roles in their community and empower us to organize and advocate for ourselves and our communities. 

3:35 – 4:15



Resilient Neighborhoods, Sustainable City: The 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan
Councilwoman Meeka D. Owens • Oliver Kroner, Director, Office of Environment and Sustainability • Ashlee Young, Interact for Health • Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson, Groundwork Ohio River Valley • Savannah Sullivan, Green Umbrella
Sustainable and resilient neighborhoods are better for the individual health of their residents and the health and well-being of the community. With the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan, the City is prioritizing frontline communities like never before to create jobs, increase greenspace and tree canopy, improve air quality, and so much more. City leaders and community partners will discuss the City’s upcoming presentation and adoption of the 2023GCP, the Climate Safe Neighborhoods model, and what the next steps are for building Cincinnati’s neighborhoods into the green climate centers of the nation.


The Community Builders: The Power of the Home-Resident Approach—the Health Champions Model
Jennifer Foster  •  Luz Elena Schemmel
The power of the home is when stable housing and opportunity come together for residents to form their own horizon of a better future. The community builders is a place -base model that use stable housing as a platform for residents and neighborhoods to achieve success. We will share how does it work and how we measure impact. The Health Champions is a model that works

Conf 1/2

Measuring Community Health:  a Conversation with the Cincinnati Health Department  
Grant Mussman, Health Commissioner, Cincinnati Health Dept • Maryse Amin, Asst. Health Commissioner, Cincinnati Health Dept
Part of the Cincinnati Health Department’s work is to find ways to assess community health with the goal of improvement.  This session will be a preview of the department’s current community health assessment in order to facilitate a conversation about the data and what measures may be needed for the future.

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