Congratulations to Accelerate 2016 civic pitch presenters

Twenty-five individuals shared their civic visions at Accelerate 2016: Citizens Make Change, presented by Citizens Bank and Cleveland Leadership Center at the Global Center for Health Innovation, on Wednesday, February 24, 2016.

Community leaders who served as judges, listed below, selected one finalist from each of the five categories to pitch to the full audience, which voted on an overall winner. The winner received $5,000; each runner-up received $2,000. All ideas received broad exposure to an audience of citizens committed to improving our community. Please take a look at them all and see how you can help the visions become reality!

Watch videos of the finliasts.

The winner was:

* Benjamin Colas, "Families Building Future Leaders," in the Educating for Tomorrow category, presented in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College.

The runners-up were:

* Jessica Leary Allen, "MotherBoard: Connecting Opt-In Moms with Projects that Matter," in the Community Change category.
* Pam Turos, "Good Cause CLE: A Creative Partner in Digital Marketing," in the Economic Development category, presented in partnership with Oswald Companies and Westfield Insurance Foundation.
*  Allison Lukacsy, "Bus Stop Moves: Exercise While You Wait," in the Quality of Life category, presented in partnership with The MetroHealth System.
*  Ramon Rivas II, "Cleveland as a Comedy Hub," in the Transformative Arts and Culture category.


Quick links to each category below: Community Change, Economic Development, Educating for Tomorrow, Quality of Life, Transformative Arts and Culture

Community Change

Initiatives that make a meaningful change in people's lives and neighborhoods.

Judges: Jose Feliciano, Sr., Baker & Hostetler LLP, Anne Goodman, Saint Luke’s Foundation; Chris Quinn,; Chris Ronayne, University Circle, Inc.; Ann Zoller, LAND Studio

MotherBoard: Connecting Opt-In Moms with Projects that Matter


Jessica Leary AllenAn online clearinghouse matching mothers opting back into the professional workforce with transformational projects, filling gaps for nonprofits and developing a new pool of talent for our region.


Jessica Leary Allen, Development Consultant
Social media: @jlallen123 | 


Trauma-Informed Care Training


Megan k. BrawleyTrauma-informed care training for police, fire and rescue personnel on trauma’s effects on the brain and psyche of the victim, with victims and medical professionals sharing powerful stories.


Megan K. Brawley, Registered Nurse, Cleveland Clinic
Social media:


Sanctuary: Animals and Addicts


Amelia SawyerA place where heroin addicts find solace and purpose, beating addiction while rehabilitating animals that have been abused or abandoned. Forgotten animals and forlorn people find sanctuary together.


Amelia Sawyer, Chief Marketing Officer, Team Sawyer LLC
Social media: @chefswidow




Sai SinbonditA collaboration with the refugee community, local service providers and government organizations to identify and map community resources to create an accessible visual guide for refugees.


Sai Sinbondit, Designer, Bialosky & Partners Architects
Social media:

The "Park Central" Project


Will Tarter, Jr. A pilot program in summer and fall to light up Mall C so residents, employees and visitors can use the field for recreation and demonstrate interest in using community green space as the sun sets.


William Tarter,  Jr., Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy, The Center for Community Solutions
Social media: @WillTarter |


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Oswald CompaniesEconomic Development in partnership with Oswald Companies and Westfield Insurance Foundation

Initiatives that address poverty and economic self-sufficiency or stimulate economic growth.

Westfield Insurance FoundationJudges: Micki Byrnes, WKYC; Joe Marinucci, Downtown Cleveland Alliance; Marsha Mockabee, Urban League of Greater Cleveland; Jill Rizika, Towards Employment; Brad Whitehead, The Fund for Our Economic Future

The Ireland Fellows


DeAloiaBridging new social connections between the Start-Up/Emerging Growth companies and key influencers in the large corporate, civic and nonprofit environments.


Michael C. DeAloia, Chief Evangelist, The Refinery
Social media: |




Isom and AdamsTurning a hashtag into an initiative supporting locally based businesses and establishments, and having businesses do something for the community they are located in. 

Geoffrey Isom, IT Contractor, Kforce Staffing Solutions
and Brian Adams, On-Line Division, Enterprise Rentals
Social media: @gice216 | @supportCLE  | | #SupportCLE


Cargo Van Garbage Truck


Greg JaksonContinue to recycle organic waste for celebrity chefs, businesses and schools to benefit local farms so they no longer have to purchase compost, and help to support farms that employ those with disabilities.


Greg D. Jackson, Founding Urban Farmer, Groundz
Social media: @groundzrecycle |


Solar Safety Detectors


Patrick JordonSolar technology to eliminate the need to replace batteries in a single unit for commercial and residential use that can detect dangerous carbon monoxide and smoke.

Patrick Jordan



Good Cause CLE: A Creative Partner in Digital Marketing


Pam TurosA collaborative effort to provide a powerful online presence for nonprofits and social entrepreneurs by connecting good causes with the money and resources to share their message with the world.


Pam Turos, Freelance Writer and Founder, Good Cause Creative, LLC
Social media: @goodcausecreate | Facebook:



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Cuyahoga Community CollegeEducating for Tomorrow in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College

Initiatives that advance access to educational development.

Judges: Rich Clark, St. Martin de Porres High School; Mary Ann Corrigan-Davis, Saint Joseph Academy; Annemarie Grassi, Open Doors Academy; J. Michael Thomson, Cuyahoga Community College; John Zitzner, Friends of Breakthrough Schools

STEMpower: Empowering STEM-based careers


Jackie AdamsFacilitating awareness and educational opportunities to improve the culture for all people pursuing STEM-based careers.


Jackie Adams
Social media: #TrailblazerTuesday | #GSOutdoors


Food: A Platform for Learning


Daniel BrownWorking with teachers to develop a multi-disciplinary curriculum to better connect students to their food, their health, their community and their environment.


Daniel Brown, Co-Founder, Rust Belt Riders Composting
Social media: @RustBeltRiders |


Families Building Future Leaders


Benjamin ColasAn engaging module for parents to effectively prepare their child for academic success entering school and provide rewards and experiences for families that go above and beyond.


Benjamin Colas, Teacher, Alfred A Benesch (CMSD)
Social media: @bencolas


Passion Grants


KC McKennaMotivating young people to discover what fires them up!  By pairing Passion Grant Explorers with expert mentors and essential funding, they will engage in experiences that will shape their futures.


KC McKenna, Vice President of Marketing & Admission, St. Edward High School


Music Enrichment for At-Risk Youth


Doug WoodClasses for children ages 5 through 10 who are under-served in music appreciation and would receive a music education with diverse genres of music, songwriting and a performance.


Doug Wood, Self-employed Musician
Social media: @dougwoodmusic |  


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MetroHealthQuality of Life in partnership with The MetroHealth System

Initiatives that impact life experiences, including health, recreation and social services.

Judges: Karim Botros, The MetroHealth System; Sharon Sobol Jordan, Cuyahoga County; Enid Rosenberg, Community Volunteer Leader; Robyn Minter Smyers, Thompson Hine LLP; Brian Zimmerman, CEO, Cleveland Metroparks

Cleveland Swims

Eileen BringmanA collaboration and expansion of aquatics programs to ensure that every child can learn to swim as both a life-saving skill and a form of exercise to enjoy for their entire lives.

Eileen Bringman, Head Age Group Coach, The Lake Shore Swim Club
Social media: @eileen_bringman | 




Re-establish Little League in the Lee-Harvard community


Wendell FieldsRe-establishing the B-Buzz Little League Baseball that in the 1960s and 1970s was a lifeline for many African-American males, creating a family atmosphere, safe place and lasting friendships.


Wendell H Fields, B Buzz Baseball League Chairman
Social media: @bbuzzbaseball | B Buzz Foundation


Bus Stop Moves: Exercise While You Wait


Allison LukacsyWrapping bus shelters with exercise illustrations and motivational health tips that challenge the Cleveland community to move healthy, reduce stress, improve mood and make use of idle time waiting for the bus.


Allison Lukacsy, Creative Workforce Fellow, Community Partnership for Arts & Culture
Social media: @alithearchitect |

Restoring Joy to Victims of Violence


Penny SmithAn online reporting tool to address sexual and physical violence and empower victims, enhance effectiveness of victims’ advocates, and increase victims following through with investigations.


Dr. Penny R. Smith, Executive Director & Assistant Professor, Northeast Ohio Medical University
Social media: @key2knowonline


Self Defense to Escape and Survive


Ray SzuchClasses on commonsense self-defense at no cost to underprivileged children from low-income families, as well as single mothers, victims of domestic violence and victims of violent crime.


Ray Szuch, Self-employed, Owner & Instructor
Social media:


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Transformative Arts and Culture

Initiatives that use arts and culture to transform people and places.

Judges: Raymond Bobgan, Cleveland Public Theatre; Karen Gahl-Mills, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture; Ivan Schwarz, Greater Cleveland Film Commission; Gina Vernaci, PlayhouseSquare; Sean Watterson, The Happy Dog

The Midnight Society


Adam KernAn immersive, site-specific theatrical event using storytelling through dance and music, based on the Cleveland torso murders. Guests will find and explore secret rooms while avoiding the killer himself. Co-created by Beth McGee.


Adam Kern, Actor / Producer
Social media: @adamthekern


I Am Hollywood


Michaels and PlassUnlocking imagination and creativity among youth by having them create stories and make movies that can be filmed with their phones.

Alex P. Michaels, Studio Chief, Prelude2Cinema LLC
and Sofia Plass, Actress, Student
Social media: @prelude2cinema | | | @Agent_Sofia

Cleveland as a Comedy Hub


Ramon RivasAn event (5th annual Accidental Comedy Fest, August 26-28) that enriches Cleveland’s performing arts scene and raises Cleveland’s profile in the national conversation while providing a platform for local talent to work with emerging and established artists from around the country. 


Ramon Rivas II, Curator, Accidental Comedy Club
Social media: @blazerramon | @accidentalcle | |


Collecting Cleveland: A Sustainable Arts Community


Nick RoyakConnecting Cleveland’s artists through meetings and events while creating an incubating system so artists can refine their skills, collaborate, and increase opportunities for lucrative endeavors.


Nick Royak, International Sales and Business Development Manager, Gravitas Ventures LLC


105 Alive: Transforming a Neighborhood through Arts


Gary WilliamsUtilizing local artists and arts institutions to transform East 105th Street from a distressed neighborhood into an arts destination with beautiful and uplifting monumental sized murals.


Gary R. Williams
Social media: Gary Williams


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