Stephanie is the Executive Director and Founder of Near West Theatre. She grew up in East Lansing, Michigan where her parents, both ministers, built and served Edgewood United Church of Christ. The involvement of her family in the struggle for human rights shaped who Stephanie is today and her calling to a life’s work that engages her in building community rooted in justice. Near West Theatre reflects Stephanie’s commitment to living and serving in an urban setting rich in diversity. Stephanie founded Near West Theatre in 1978 on the principle of providing access to all interested, regardless of economic status, to an experience of the theatre arts. Over the years of Near West’s development, Stephanie has served as director, actress, playwright, choreographer and producer. She has co-authored several award-winning oral history productions. Today, as Executive Director, she is responsible for its overall operations and has remained involved artistically as choreographer. She is thrilled that the organization now has a fully accessible facility as a result of the formation and development of the Gordon Square Arts District where she has represented Near West Theatre as a founding partner since 2001. The level of participation already demonstrated by the community and partners, new and former, has continued to inspire since the building’s opening. She looks forward to continuing to expand Near West’s 38 year track record of “creating extraordinary theatre with ordinary people.” Stephanie is the recipient of a 2010 Cleveland Arts Prize for her work with the Gordon Square Arts District, a 2009 Cleveland Arts Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts, and a 2001 Lifetime of Idealism Award from City Year. Stephanie has been married to Rev. George T. Hrbek since 1978. They are homeowners in Ohio City since 1979. They are delighted that their two sons, Seth (and wife Bridget) and Noah (and daughter Lydia) have chosen to make their home in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood!
Dr. Annemarie M. Grassi is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Open Doors Academy (ODA). She is a dynamic and caring individual who works passionately and tirelessly to build this successful organization, which was once earmarked for closure. At 23-years-old, she started the non-profit ODA and grew it from 20 kids to over 500.
Today, ODA is thriving and she has an exceptional relationship with inner city students in providing friendship, caring and directing programs, which help them believe in themselves to graduate high school and go on to college. To say that Dr. Grassi has made a difference in hundreds of challenged students’ lives… is an understatement.
Prior to ODA, Dr. Grassi worked as an educational consultant and therapist with children and adolescents living with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Traumatic Brain Injury at Integrations Treatment Center, in Willoughby, Ohio. She has extensive experience in youth development, program development, evaluation and performance management, grant writing, and strategic visioning.
Dr. Grassi holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Psychology from Ohio University, where she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society and Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society. Upon completion of her degree, Dr. Grassi attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her Masters of Science in Education in Child and Adolescent Psychology. While there, she developed and successfully implemented a violence prevention program for inner-city youth through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which still runs today.
In addition to her master’s degree, Dr. Grassi holds a Certificate in Non Profit Management from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Cleveland State University. Dr. Grassi currently serves as the Funding and Policy Chair for the Ohio Afterschool Network, serves on the executive committee and steering council of the Slavic Village P-16 Council, is a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2016, is a fellow of the Treumart Foundation and Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organization’s Youth Resiliency Fellowship and is a trained facilitator in the Youth Resiliency Model. In addition, she is an alumna of the Cleveland Bridge Builders Flagship Program; a member of the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organization’s Leader’s Links, National Afterschool Association, Afterschool Alliance, and National Middle School Association.
Dr. Grassi is actively involved in her community, serving on various boards and committees. As an active member of the Junior League of Cleveland, she served two years as Board President, co-chair of Cleveland’s Girl Culture Photography Exhibit, board membership director, training director, and and co-chair of the Girls Make Great Leaders project, mentoring young women through middle school. She currently is chairing the JLC signature initiative, Girl League. In addition to her role with the Junior League of Cleveland, she serves as a board member with Hands on Northeast Ohio, Hope for Honduras Children and University Circle, Inc. As a strong advocate for equality in education, Dr. Grassi travels twice a year to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to advocate for those children who have been abandoned and are provided limited access to an education.
Dr. Grassi is the recipient of the 2015 Reminger Women’s Initiative Vanguard Award, the 2015 Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio Women of Distinction recipient, 2014 Crain’s Cleveland 40 under 40, the 2012 Athena Young Professional Leadership Award, a two-time recipient of the Cleveland Young Professionals 20/30 Club Movers and Shakers Award, and was selected as a 2013 “One to Watch” by Crain’s Cleveland. Dr. Grassi speaks locally, regionally, and nationally on the importance of creating a safe culture for our youth, promoting education, and building strong nonprofits. As stated by Deborah Vesy, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Deaconess Foundation, “Annemarie is one of Cleveland’s strongest visionary leaders”.
Michael Hoffman is vice president and charitable planning consultant for Fidelity Charitable®, an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 190,000 nonprofit organizations with nearly $19 billion in grants since its inception in 1991. The mission of Fidelity Charitable is to further the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving simple and effective. Mr. Hoffman assumed his current role in 2010.
Mr. Hoffman serves as a premier charitable planning resource to advisors and their clients in the Great Lakes region. In this role he is responsible for building relationships with advisors, enhancing their understanding of Fidelity Charitable’s donor-advised fund program and discussing ways to incorporate charitable giving strategies into clients’ overall financial and wealth management plans.
Prior to joining Fidelity Charitable in 2010, Mr. Hoffman was senior vice president for Deutsche Bank in Pittsburgh and Upstate New York. Before that he was vice president of Fidelity Investments Institutional Services in Orlando. In both of these roles Mr. Hoffman was responsible for developing and maintaining institutional client relationships.
Mr. Hoffman received a bachelor of arts degree in history from Villanova University and a master’s of science degree in education from Duquesne University. He holds the designation of Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP). Mr. Hoffman has been a partner with Social Ventures Partners Pittsburgh since 2010 and has served on their board. Social Ventures Partners Pittsburgh helps individuals amplify their giving, funds and strengthens nonprofits and equips communities to tackle social challenges.
In 2004, after nearly a decade working as a chef in Boston, Miami Beach, and Madrid, Spain, Michael Fleming moved back to his hometown of Cleveland in order to be a part of the city’s revival. He found his way into urban redevelopment, working for a private developer and at one point converting a 19th Century “Odd Fellows” hall into residences on his own. In 2011, Michael received his Masters of Urban Planning, Design and Development at Cleveland State University and in 2012, he accepted the position of Executive Director of St Clair Superior Development Corporation. Michael and his team have since worked tirelessly to build a dynamic neighborhood around the many assets within their service area, which encompasses AsiaTown and the historic Slovenian neighborhood. Michael’s introduction of an urban grazing program – using sheep to maintain vacant land in the city at a fraction of the cost of traditional mowing – garnered national attention for the organization. St Clair Superior has since introduced new residential living in once-abandoned homes, brought the concept of “instant retail” to St Clair Avenue, and is currently working on Upcycle St Clair – a comprehensive arts-based strategy that will show how creative reuse can lift an entire East Side neighborhood. Upcycle St Clair is a 2013 winner of the national ArtPlace America grant, which supports arts-based strategies for neighborhood revitalization.
Michael currently sits on the board of directors for Project Learn, the adult literacy organization, and for Bike Cleveland, the city’s primary advocate for the cycling community.
Randell McShepard was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from John F. Kennedy High School he attended Baldwin-Wallace College, where he received Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Psychology and Communications. Mr. McShepard also attended Cleveland State University and received a Master of Science Degree in Urban Studies with a concentration in Organizational Leadership from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.
Mr. McShepard is currently employed as the Vice President of Public Affairs for RPM International Inc., a $4 billion dollar chemical coatings/paint company headquartered in Medina, Ohio. In this post, he is responsible for managing external and government affairs for the company. His duties also include leading the corporate philanthropy program and facilitating corporate purchasing initiatives with over 15 of RPM’s subsidiary business units. Prior to joining RPM, Randell worked for 15 years in nonprofit management positions focused on workforce development, economic development, government affairs and community service.
An active community and corporate leader, Mr. McShepard is currently serving on several boards in Northeast Ohio including Baldwin-Wallace University, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, The John Hay School of Science and Medicine, The George Gund Foundation and Taylor Oswald LLC. He is also a Co-Founder and Chairman of PolicyBridge, a public policy think tank serving the Northeast Ohio region. Mr. McShepard’s previous community/civic leadership roles have included Past Chairman of the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board, Past Chairman of the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Past Vice Chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future and Past Vice Chairman of Business Volunteers Unlimited. He also served on the Executive Committee for the Cuyahoga County Government Reform transition in 2010.
Among his many honors, Mr. McShepard was inducted into the John F. Kennedy High School Hall of Fame and was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Cleveland State University. He also received the 2011 “Black Professional of the Year” Award from the Black Professional Association Charitable Foundation and is a graduate of Leadership Cleveland.
Mr. McShepard is currently serving as a member of the Public Affairs Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers, and as the Cleveland representative for the Transatlantic Cities Network, which brings together 25 European and American cities annually to share best practices for urban revitalization and growth. He is also active in his church, St. James AME in Cleveland, where he serves on the Steward Board.
Randell and his wife Gail reside in Beachwood, Ohio with their three children – Anthony, Madison and Avery.
An award-winning journalist, author, former teacher and a California transplant, Dan joined The Civic Commons after five years at ideastream as host of 90.3 WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas. In his last year, the program was named the best local public affairs program in the nation by the Public Radio News Directors. Dan is the co-author (with Ninive Calegari and Dave Eggers) of “Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers” (New Press, 2005), a book that foreshadowed the current national debate over teacher accountability and compensation. “American Teacher,” the documentary based on the book, has just been released.