SOURCE: The Cleveland Foundation

July 05, 2005 11:18 ET

Cleveland Executive Fellowship Program Announces Inaugural Class of Civic Fellows

Program Designed to Prepare Future Cleveland-Area Civic Leaders Announces First Class

CLEVELAND, OH -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 5, 2005 -- Eight talented and civically engaged future leaders have been selected as the inaugural class for the Cleveland Executive Fellowship -- A Coro Program. The year-long Fellowship, designed by The Cleveland Foundation, will arm the next generation of local leaders with insights into how the public and private sectors interact, how decisions are made, and how the people and institutions guide Cleveland's civic agenda.

The eight Fellows are Jeffrey Pesler, Jacqueline Ruiz, Diane Schorr, LaTasha Stanley, Sonja Thomas, Tyrone White, Eric Wobser and Rachel Zinn.

"Many people recognize that we have a gap in civic leadership between today's leaders and those who will follow in the years ahead," says Ronn Richard, president and CEO, The Cleveland Foundation. "It is encouraging that there is no shortage of exceptionally talented individuals in our area willing to step into those roles, given the opportunity, as demonstrated by these eight talented Executive Fellows."

To address this leadership void, the Foundation partnered with Coro, a national leader in civic training, to create a program tailored specifically to Cleveland's needs. Each Fellow will become immersed in Cleveland's decision-making processes by completing high-level placements in corporate, nonprofit and public sector workplaces. In addition, the Fellows will conduct interviews with regional citizens and leaders, design workshops for themselves on the major issues facing the region and participate in professional development seminars.

The Fellows were selected through a rigorous evaluation process. A total of 132 applications were evaluated by 54 community leaders and narrowed to 24 finalists. The finalists underwent extensive interviews and group exercises which were judged by an additional 50 community leaders on "selection day." "The evaluation process allowed us to see how each candidate interacts with a group to solve a series of challenging problems. It was creative and effective," says Ralph Johnson, director of Professional Development and administration, McKinsey & Co., a Selection Day Judge.

At the conclusion of the selection process, eight finalists emerged, resulting in a diverse class of five women, three men, four people of color, and five city of Cleveland residents. "The caliber of applicants was a great indication of the commitment and talent that exists in the region. Their interest in civic leadership bodes very well for Northeast Ohio," says JumpStart, Inc. CEO Ray Leach, who also served as a judge.

The Fellows are:

Pesler, 29, moved to Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood from North Carolina. He is a geographic information systems analyst and a phase manager for Woolpert, Inc, a consulting firm for public and private sector clients. An Akron native, Pesler is currently taking classes in urban planning at Cleveland State University (CSU) and is a member of EcoCity Cleveland.

Ruiz is a resident of the near west side of Cleveland. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from CSU. A former teacher in New York City, Ruiz returned to her native Cleveland in 2004. Currently she serves as International Program Consultant for Los Hijos de la Milpa, an organization that helps Latin American women develop economic strength. (Ms. Ruiz has requested that we not release her age.)

Schorr, 45, is a resident of South Euclid. She has a law degree from Cleveland Marshall College of Law and served as an attorney for 13 years. Schorr is currently the Coordinator of Immersion Programs at John Carroll University and a volunteer magistrate in the South Euclid Community Diversion Program.

Stanley, 25, recently moved back to Mentor after earning her Masters of Social Work at the University of Chicago. Currently she is a Justice Systems Advocacy Coordinator at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Stanley is active with the NAACP and a member of the Domestic Violence Collaborating Council.

Thomas, 29, is a resident of the West Park neighborhood in Cleveland. She is a Business Systems Analyst at NASA Glenn Research Center and teaches computer courses as an adjunct professor at Cuyahoga Community College. Thomas received her MBA from CSU.

White, 44, lives on Cleveland's east side. A former teacher and guidance counselor, he currently works as a trainer and consultant for the Ohio Welfare Training Program. White also serves as the assistant football coach at St. Ignatius High School.

Wobser, 26, just moved into Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. A Sandusky native, he recently finished law school at the University of Michigan. In 2001-2002, Wobser served as a Corps Member at City Year Cleveland.

Zinn, 26, is a reporter for The Toledo Blade and a native of Shaker Heights. She has a degree from Amherst College in Asian Languages and Civilizations. Zinn speaks Mandarin Chinese and plays the clarinet in the Maumee Community Band.

"We couldn't be more pleased with this group," says Lynne Harwell Algrant, the Fellowship's program manager. "Their backgrounds, skills, and interests are so complementary. We know that they will not only learn from their community placements, but also from each other," adds Algrant.

The Fellowship begins in September 2005.

The Cleveland Foundation is a public charity dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Greater Cleveland. It is the oldest and second-largest community foundation in the nation. Its establishment in 1914 is cited as one of 10 events that most heavily influenced the development of the nonprofit sector in the 20th Century and it continues to be a leader in its field. The Foundation has assets of approximately $1.63 billion and in 2004 awarded more than $86 million in grants and low-cost loans to Cleveland area nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, it has provided more than $1 billion to nonprofit organizations and causes.

The Cleveland Foundation is made up of more than 800 funds created by individuals, families, organizations and corporations. It offers donors of all means the opportunity to have a lasting impact on their community while maximizing income, gift and estate tax benefits.

For more information about the organization, visit

Contact Information

  • Cleveland Executive Fellowship -- A Coro Program
    Lynne Harwell Algrant
    Program Manager