MODERATOR: Deidre McPherson is the department director of public programs at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Previously, she was the first curator of public programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Cleveland). The Cleveland Heights native has undergraduate and MBA degrees that focus on marketing. After working in advertising and market research, McPherson returned to her hometown in 2008 as marketing manager for the Cleveland Orchestra and later the Council of Smaller Enterprises. She is also the founder of the Cleveland chapter of Sistah Sinema, an organization that brings people together around films by and about LGBTQ women of color.
Honey Bell-Bey is a motivational poet, published author, community advocate and experienced trainer in the field of Substance Abuse; Youth Work; Culture and the Integration of Science and Innovative Practice. She is an Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist; Youth Advocate and Motivational poet, who employs creative arts strategies, engaging youth and adults alike. She is the founder, director and writer for the international performance troupe, The Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word (A character based performance troupe for adolescent males age 12-21). She has won numerous awards and congressional recognition for her innovative programming strategies engaging youth from high risk environments
Pamela DiPasquale, Director of Education, has led Cleveland Play House’s Educational Program for the past seven years, developing a suite of nine innovative programs that serve more than 40,000 children and adults annually. Previously she was Education Director at the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Louisville, KY. DiPasquale has developed programs for incarcerated youth and rural theatre artists, served as Artistic Director of Children’s Theatre of Maine, and presented at both state and national conferences on theatre education and community-building. She has an undergraduate degree from Boston College, MA from Emerson College, and additional coursework from Johns Hopkins University.
Faye Hargate, Director of Community Ensembles at the Cleveland Public Theatre, is a performer, installation artist, educator and community organizer who creates original work. Collaboration, experimentation, and personal connection characterize her process. Appointed to CPT’s Director of Community Ensembles in 2016, Hargate serves as Program Director of Brick City Theatre, a nationally recognized, year-round performing arts education program offered in partnership with Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, and as Program Manager of Teatro Publico de Cleveland, a Cleveland-based Latin American theatre ensemble. With over a decade of professional experience, she is a lead artist with Cleveland Core Ensemble and continues her research on female identity through interactive performance art installation.
Lisa Huisman Koops is an Associate Professor of Music Education at CWRU, specializing in early childhood music, elementary general music, and world music education. Her research focuses on parenting musically and the interplay of enjoyment and agency in children’s music making. Koops teaches early childhood music classes at The Music Settlement in Cleveland. Koops has published widely in music education journals and edited books and is the recipient of a Grammy Foundation Grant for her research on musical parenting (2017). Koops maintains the website musicplayzone.com as a means to applying research on early childhood music teaching and learning for parents and early childhood teachers.
Lee Lazar (co-presenter), JD, CNM, has been the Executive Director of Rainey Institute for over ten years. Rainey provides arts education programs for children in Cleveland and has been serving the community since 1904. He also serves on several boards throughout the city.
Jamiyah Dotson (co-presenter), an 8th grader at E-Prep Cliff Campus and Rainey attendee since kindergarten, has been an avid participant in the El Sistema@Rainey Orchestra Music program where she plays the violin and has been a Concert Master for 5 years. One of the top students in her grade, Dotson has been recognized as “Student of the Week” and a “Star Student.”
Heather Meeker (presenter), Co-Director of The Musical Theater Project, has directed strategic planning, programming, public relations, and fundraising efforts for arts, education, and cultural nonprofits for more than 25 years. She is a graduate of Hiram College, earned her MFA in theater at Virginia Tech, and served on the adjunct faculty of Hiram’s Professional and Graduate Studies Program.
Olena Zyga (co-author) is a CWRU graduate student with an emphasis on Child Clinical Psychology. Her main research interests focus on better understanding the neural correlates of processes involved in pretend play (i.e. creativity, imagination) and how they may overlap with important areas of social and emotional development.
MODERATOR: Rebekah L. Dorman, PhD, is a developmental psychologist and Director of the County Office of Early Childhood and Invest in Children, the public/private partnership focused on young children and families. She is a member of Ohio’s Early Childhood Advisory Council as well as the Steering Committee of Groundwork, the statewide early childhood advocacy campaign. She has authored numerous articles and two books: Preventing Burnout in Your Staff and Yourself: A Survival Manual for Human Services Supervisors and Planning, Funding and Implementing A Child Abuse Prevention Project. Dorman graduated degree Cum Laude from Brandeis University and received her doctorate from Cornell University.
Shari Nacson, LISW-S, is a Cleveland-based social worker, editor, public speaker, nonprofit consultant, and child development specialist. A seasoned adult educator, Nacson’s courses include infant & toddler development; partnerships between home and school; mandated reporting of child abuse & neglect; and the ethics of court-involved cases. She is a contributing writer at Safe and Sound Schools, 500 Pens, The Heights Observer, and various parenting blogs. Passionate about early intervention, Nacson thrives on social justice collaborations of all shapes and sizes. Currently, Nacson is the Board President of Caring Cubs.
Dr. Robert Needlman (co-presenter) is Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, specializing in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics. He co-founded Reach Out and Read during his fellowship at Boston University/Boston City Hospital. Needlman has spoken widely on early learning and literacy, and is the author of Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics, and co-author of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care.
Robert E. Paponetti (co-presenter) currently serves as the President & Chief Executive Officer of The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland. In this capacity, Paponetti leads an intermediary agency for literacy initiatives involving Adult Literacy and Career Pathways, Early Literacy, and Parent Engagement. He works to strengthen our community’s ability to increase literacy by engaging stakeholders, promoting promising practices, aligning actions, measuring progress, and advocating for sustained support of effective literacy efforts.
Billie Osborne-Fears is the founding Executive Director of Starting Point for Child Care and Early Education, which is the Community Based Child Care/Early Education Resource and Referral Agency, serving four counties in Ohio (Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake). She received a Master of Social Science Administration Degree from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Sciences and a Bachelor’s of Science in Child/Family and Community Services from Bowling Green State University. Osborne-Fears’ background consists of over forty years of employment in the early care and education, and social service arena. She serves on numerous boards and committees.
Meghan Salas Atwell (presenter) works at the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development (CUPCD) at CWRU. The CUPCD developed, houses and maintains the CHILD System, a county-level integrated data system on children born since 1989. Her research uses integrated data to evaluate programs aimed at alleviating the effects of poverty on individuals and families.
Elizabeth Anthony’s (co-author) research focuses on the evaluation of social interventions designed to ameliorate the effects of poverty on young children. Her work involves the application of longitudinal, integrated data to evaluate outcomes, drive decision-making and inform policy recommendations regarding early childhood education, health and wellbeing.
Camille Verbofsky, MPH, CHES, coordinates early childhood wellness initiatives at Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Previously, Verbofsky developed youth leadership programs, empowering children to act as change agents in their communities. She has trained with national coalition leaders on best practices in building effective coalitions. Verbofsky’s role in Early Ages Healthy Stages is the perfect marriage of her expertise in participatory coalition building and her passion for improving opportunities for young children. She is a strong advocate for community-driven approaches to early childhood health improvement; believing that children achieve optimal wellness when they have opportunities to grow and thrive in safe, healthy, and supportive environments.
Co-author: Alison Patrick, MPH, RD, LD- Program Manager, Cuyahoga County Board of Health
MODERATOR: Victoria Jackson joined Policy Matters Ohio as a state policy fellow in August 2016. Her research focuses on education. Jackson holds a Bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and a Master’s of Public Administration from The Ohio State University. After college, she served in AmeriCorps with College Now Greater Cleveland, doing college access advising. In graduate school, Jackson was a graduate assistant for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and Ohio Department of Education. Jackson is one of eight fellows selected nationally through a highly competitive process by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Danielle Gadomski-Littleton is a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s medical-legal partnership with MetroHealth. Danielle represents and advises clients to eliminate legal barriers to health in areas such as education, housing, and public benefits. Gadomski-Littleton came to Legal Aid in 2013 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow serving youth in and aging out of foster care. Before joining Legal Aid, Gadomski-Littleton clerked for the Honorable Michael H. Watson of the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio. She is a graduate of Denison University and the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Margie Glick is the manager of partnerships and programs at the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland where she works to promote postsecondary opportunities for students and alumni of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Glick’s previous positions include assistant director of federal relations at Vanderbilt University, legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and field organizer on President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Glick is active in Vanderbilt University’s Alumni Association, is a mentor for College Now Greater Cleveland and is a mentor volunteer for True2U. Glick has a Master’s degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University.
Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., EdD, became Superintendent of the Shaker Heights Schools in 2013. Under his leadership, Shaker became one of only eight districts in North America to offer the rigorous International Baccalaureate Programme to all students at all grade levels. Before coming to Shaker Heights, Hutchings was Director of PreK-12 Initiatives for the Alexandria (Va.) City Public Schools. Previously, he held leadership roles in the public schools of Virginia and Tennessee. The Alexandria schools recently announced Hutchings will become that district’s new superintendent, effective July 1, 2018. He and his wife Cheryl, a Certified Public Accountant, are the parents of two children.
Sandra Russ, Distinguished University Professor and Louis D. Beaumont University Professor at Case Western Reserve University, focuses her research on understanding how pretend play is involved in child development. She studies the connection between creativity and pretend play. She has developed and validated a measure of pretend play (The Affect in Play Scale) and has developed play intervention protocols to help children improve their play skills and, in turn, creativity. Her most recent book is Pretend Play in Childhood: Foundation of Adult Creativity (2014, APA Books).
Melissa Marini Švigelj-Smith has been an educator in Cleveland public high schools for two decades, and at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center for four years. Her blog is part of a national network of education bloggers. Interviews with Melissa can be found in the archives of radio shows and podcasts, and in the The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio’s KQED blog, Mindshift. She presents at convenings nationwide, and consults education policy makers on behalf of students entangled in the juvenile justice system. She also recruits her four sons and therapy dog to join her in the fight for equity and justice for all.
Marcia Zashin, EdD., is the director of Project ACT, where she designed, developed, and implemented the homeless children and youth program for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Project ACT serves homeless students from Preschool to Grade 12. Homeless students are in attendance at 108 CMSD schools. Project ACT has served over 70,000 homeless students since its inception in 1993; it has been recognized as a Model Program by the National Education of Homeless Children and Youth organization. Zashin was awarded the Life Time Achievement Award in Washington, DC from NAEHCY. She holds a BA, M.Ed., and an EdD.
MODERATOR: Terry Allan has 28 years of public health experience and has been the health commissioner at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health since 2004, which serves as the local public health authority for 883,000 citizens in 58 Greater Cleveland communities. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Public Health from the University of Hawaii. Terry is an adjunct faculty member at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine and was a Year 13 Scholar of CDC’s National Public Health Leadership Institute. Terry is a Past President of the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, and a Past President of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).
Angela Ciccia, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at CWRU and is the lead investigator for the multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional team that runs the Identification of neurodevelopmental disabilities in underserved children using telepractice(INvesT) project. Dr. Ciccia’s research considers barriers to habilitative and rehabilitative care for children with acquired and developmental disabilities and studies the implementation of technological approaches, such as telehealth, to address identified barriers.
The INvesT team also includes Elizabeth Short, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University; Nancy Roizen, M.D., Division Chief, Pediatric Developmental and Behavioral Psychology, UH Cleveland Medical Center; Roger Bielefeld, Ph.D., Senior Director, Research Computing and Cyberinfrastructure, Case Western Reserve University; and the Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services (NEON).
Trained as a public health professional, Jean L. Frank, MPH is Manager of School-Based Surveillance and Evaluation at the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods and contributes to the well-being of teenagers through community based research activities. While leading the Cuyahoga County Youth Risk Behavior Survey project, awareness among youth-focused stakeholders of the interplay of place and socio-economic status, on the overall health of teenagers, has been elevated. The success of the YRBS project has resulted in its recognition as the source of health and risk behavior data for county adolescents. Coordination of the YRBS Community Advisory Committee permits application of findings to inform policy and programs to improve adolescent health.
Co-Author: Briana L. McIntosh, MPH, CPH; REACH Community Health Engagement Coordinator; YRBS School-based Surveillance Field Coordinator; Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN)
A Cleveland native, Phyllis “Seven” Harris, MNO, has nearly two decades of leadership experience in local nonprofits, includes program management and development, fundraising, and senior-level executive positions. For many years, she also has played a strong role as an advocate in Cleveland’s LGBT community and is currently the executive director of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.
Previously Harris worked at Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio, where she oversaw youth engagement programming. She has served as Director of Education and Advocacy with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, was Vice President of Programs and Interim CEO with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland, and Capital Campaign Director at the Cleveland Sight Center. She lives in Larchmere and is the proud mother of two children.
Bernadette Kerrigan was chosen as the Inaugural Executive Director for First Year Cleveland in December 2016. First Year Cleveland, in partnership with the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is a collaborative organization that works to reduce infant mortality in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Kerrigan received her BSW in social work from Ohio State University and completed master-level social work courses at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She also holds certificates in project management from Kent State University. She is a single mother of two foster-to-adopt children, Emma and Kiara Kerrigan.
Lolita M. McDavid, MD, MPA is Medical Director of Child Advocacy and Protection at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, the pediatric hospital of University Hospitals/ Medical Center. She is a Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University. McDavid earned an undergraduate degree at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio. She received a master’s degree in public administration and urban development from the State University of New York and a medical degree from Case Western Reserve University. After completing a pediatric residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, McDavid was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and a Bush Fellow in child development and social policy, both at Yale University.
Co-Author: Tigee Hill, MPH, MBA; Managing Director of Program and Relationships; Health Leads
Additional Information: Health Leads
Dr. Lynn Williams is a licensed psychologist and registered yoga teacher working full time with the Ohio Department of Youth Services delivering holistic interventions to incarcerated youth and their families at Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility. She has joined with the Prison Yoga Project founded by James Fox to develop a program specific to the needs of juvenile offenders. The preliminary findings were published in the article “The Value of Alternative Therapies in Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Youths” in Corrections Today.
Additional Information: Prison Yoga Project Northern Ohio Juvenile Program
MODERATOR: Erika L. Anthony, a native New Yorker, is currently the Vice President of Government Relations and Strategy for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. Anthony is a co-founder for Cleveland VOTES and Hack Cleveland. She also sits on a number of Boards in the area, including Ideastream’s Community Advisory Board and Cuyahoga County Public Defender Commission. Anthony also serves as an Adjunct Professor for a policy class at Case Western Reserve University, Mandel School of Applied Sciences. Anthony and her husband Brian reside in Cleveland; enjoy travelling, biking and spending time with family and friends.
Elizabeth Benninger, PhD, is a research psychologist and community practitioner. She completed her B.A. in development studies from the University of the Western Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) and her M.A. in Psychology – with a specialization in Community Psychology – from Antioch University (Los Angeles, California). She then completed her doctoral degree in Psychology through the University of the Western Cape, focusing her research on issues around children’s quality of life within a South African urban environment. Her experience includes working with a number of national and international nonprofit organizations, including Youth Opportunities Unlimited, in Cleveland, where she served as the program assistant for the E CITY entrepreneurship program.
Co-author: Dominic Murray, Youth Opportunities Unlimited E CITY Program Manager
Robert L. Fischer is Associate Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University. Since 2007 he has served as Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at the Mandel School. Dr. Fischer leads a range of evaluation research studies and teaches evaluation methods to students in social science administration and nonprofit management. Dr. Fischer received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in policy development and program evaluation and holds a Master’s Degree from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Duke University, both in public policy studies.
Dr. Scott Frank is a Public Health and Family Medicine educator, researcher, and practitioner. He is the founding Director of the Master of Public Health Program at CWRU School of Medicine and served in that role for 18 years until 2017. Frank also served as Director of Health for the City of Shaker Heights from 1994 to 2017. He now serves as Director of Public Health Initiatives in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences. His effort emphasize adolescent health, social justice, and using public health informatics to pursue health equity through the Health Data Matters program.
Co-author: Kristina Knight, Kent State University School of Public Health
Moved to Cleveland with his parents as an infant, Muqit Sabur is a product of the Cleveland Public School system and has spent his formal educational life in Northeast Ohio. Parent of three girls and three boys; grandparent of four and great-grandparent of three, Sabur has utilized his practical experience in family building in his professional life: helping fathers improve their relationships within their families. As a co-creator of Fathers and Families Together program and former coordinator of Better Together, a couples parenting program, Sabur currently operates from the Center for Fatherhood and Family Dynamics serving families.
Abigail Staudt is the Managing Attorney of the Housing Practice Group at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Staudt joined Legal Aid in 2006 as a staff attorney. Her practice focuses on representing tenants at risk of losing subsidized housing, working to improve subsidized housing policies, and addressing larger systemic housing issues.
Staudt received her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. While in law school, she worked at Cabrini Green Legal Aid and was President of the Kent Justice Foundation. Before law school, Staudt served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia and Madagascar. She has a B.S. in Anthropology from Santa Clara University.
Zulma Zabala, JD, MPA is the CEO-President of East End Neighborhood House, one of Cleveland’s historical Settlement Houses, since 1907. For the past 7 years she’s collaborated with 30 staff members and 92 volunteers to yearly serve 1,200 families. As a speaker, advocate and educator, she is known for her fervent commitment to raising awareness about cultural humility, authentic engagement and advocacy of marginalized communities. She shares what she calls her “Ubuntu Spirit” to inspire collective work and responsibility for one another. She serves on various boards, and enjoys coaching in the areas of leadership, relationships and personal purpose!
MODERATOR: Lisa Damour, PhD, writes a monthly column for the Well Family section of the New York Times, serves as a regular contributor to CBS News, maintains a private psychotherapy practice, consults and speaks internationally, is a Senior Advisor to the Schubert Center for Child Studies at Case Western Reserve University, and serves as the Executive Director of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls. Damour is the author of numerous academic papers, chapters, and books related to education and child development, including her recent New York Times best seller, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood.
Amber Donovan, LISW-S is the Cuyahoga County Director of the Open Table Initiative and Executive Director of Community of Hope Inc. The Open Table model came to Cleveland in 2014. In 2016, she engaged CCDCFS around the work and together, they created a partnership—faith-based communities, nonprofits, businesses and hospitals are all interested in serving youth leaving foster care. She has recently been featured in the Cleveland.com series–A Greater Cleveland. Her goal is to expand the model to be able to offer a small community of mentors to any young person or young family impacted by foster care in Cleveland.
Co-author: Jennifer Croessmann, LSW, Special Projects Coordinator, Health and Human Services
As the Clinical Director of Beech Brook, Mark R. Groner, M.S.S.A., L.I.S.W.-S., oversees the agency’s clinical care, clinical risk management, and clinical models. He also works in a private practice, with a focus on the treatment of adolescents and adults. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Instructor, teaching child development, child welfare, and mental health courses to Master’s-level students at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at CWRU. His contributions as a trainer include presentations at local, state, and national conferences on an array of topics, such as trauma-informed care, evidence-based practice, and clinical risk management.
Charniece Holmes works as a Program Coordinator for Family Connections. She is currently pursuing a Master in Leadership and Diversity degree from Cleveland State University. Lisa Evans (co-author) is a veteran Kindergarten teacher at Gearity School in the Cleveland Heights School District (CHUH) with 27 years of teaching. Evans has a B.A. in Education at Bowling Green. She is also the school’s Tech Guru. Lisa Hunt (co-author) recently joined the CHUH School District as the Family Engagement Specialist. Hunt is a member of the District’s Equity Task Force. She has a Master’s in Non-Profit Administration and Leadership with a minor in dance from Cleveland State University. Isabela Carroll (co-author) is a high school senior, Medallion IB student at Shaker High School. She plans to major in film in college.
Steve Killpack, MS, is the Executive Director of the Healthy Fathering Collaborative of Greater Cleveland. The primary mission of the organization is to develop, promote and advocate for social and health services over the lifespan of fatherhood, beginning with young men who are not yet fathers through grandfathers and adult male mentors.
Killpack is also a founding Board Member of the Ohio Practitioners’ Network for Fathers and Families, a member of the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board, a former Community Representative to the National Children’s Study and a former member of the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood.
Jane Timmons-Mitchell (presenter), Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Senior Research Associate at the Begun Center for Violence Prevention, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University. In her 30 year career, she has addressed child welfare and juvenile justice issues both clinically and in research.
Karen Stormann (co-author), social program administrator at Cuyahoga County’s Division of Children and Family Services, is a Licensed Social Worker with over 20 years experience in the health and human services profession with a focus on children and families. She has both clinical and administrative experience with vulnerable populations including child welfare, juvenile justice, and individuals with substance use and mental health disorders.
Since 2009, Deborah Wasserman (presenter) Ph.D., Senior Research Associate Lifelong Learning Group at COSI Center for Research and Evaluation, has brought to National Rites of Passage Institute (NROPI) her practical and theoretical understanding of Rites of Passage coupled with her work commitment to Self-Determination Theory-Based program evaluation. Recently the authors have been working with the Youth Resiliency Institute’s Journey Project, a Kellogg Foundation funded family-engagement sister-city project in East Cleveland and Baltimore City. The project has generated three articles published in NROPI’s Black Child Journal. Paul Hill, Jr. (co-author), Founder and Director of NROPI and Publisher of Black Child Journal, has focused his life’s work on collaborating with communities, organizations, practitioners and scholars, to facilitate child and youth development and community building through the use of culturally-specific rites of passage.
MODERATOR: TiOlu Oresanya is a high school senior from the Solon area. She will start college this fall where she plans to study accounting, although her major is still up for consideration. She is the outgoing president of The City Club of Cleveland’s Youth Forum Council, an avenue that she has used to create dialogue for Cleveland’s youth on a myriad of topics. Under her leadership the Youth Council’s membership doubled in size. Along with all this, TiOlu is a member of the Solon speech and debate team, and works at The City Club of Cleveland.
Leila Atassi graduated from the College of Wooster in 2002 and earned a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2004. She has been reporting in Cleveland for nearly 15 years, having covered the criminal justice system, city government, poverty and social justice issues for cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer. Currently, she and a team of her colleagues are working on a long-term project called “A Greater Cleveland,” chronicling the challenges kids face growing up in impoverished neighborhoods and parents’ struggle to help their children navigate with dignity the many perils of life in poverty.
Margaret Bernstein is Director of Advocacy and Community Initiatives at WKYC. Margaret won a 2016 Emmy for her #WeReadHere campaign, which encouraged parents to read with their children. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California, she worked as a reporter/editor at The Plain Dealer until 2013. She co-authored, with The Three Doctors, The Bond, a memoir on fatherlessness. She also wrote a storybook titled “All In A Dad’s Day” that is designed to tighten the bond between fathers and their children. Margaret was named National Big Sister of the Year in 2000.
Rachel Dissell has been a reporter for The Plain Dealer since 2002 where she has written investigative pieces that have changed laws, policies and public perceptions. A series with Leila Atassi led to the testing of nearly 14,000 rape kits. Recent reporting with Brie Zeltner uncovered Cleveland’s failure to investigate lead poisoning in children. Dissell’s piece, Johanna: Facing Forward, won the 2008 Dart Award for coverage of trauma and started a conversation about teen dating abuse. Dissell is an adjunct professor at Kent State, her alma mater. She lives in Cleveland with her husband, her two children, and her niece.