Spark: Grit to Great

The past two years have turned our world upside down and as we work toward a new equilibrium, our reality continues to shift at a breakneck pace.

Locally, we are coping with the long-term ramifications of the pandemic and witnessing sweeping leadership changes across our region – affecting every aspect of our businesses and our community.

How do you not just keep up but get ahead in this new and different world?

Join other local leaders at Spark to find out! Spark can help you learn how to:

  • Embrace change and become more adaptable.
  • Engage and retain the changing workforce.
  • Create a culture of innovation.
  • Take risks and embrace failure as a path toward greater successes.
  • Thrive within the changing social, civic, and corporate landscape.

September 1, 2022
7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Cleveland Metropolitan Conference Center
(1375 E 9th St Floor 2, Cleveland, OH 44114)

Individual in-person $120
Student in-person $25

In person registration is now closed. If you wish to attend Spark in person, tickets will be sold at the door (card payment only). Virtual registration is open until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 31, and includes access to the live streams of the opening and closing keynotes, fireside chat, and a pre-determined session for both break-outs.

Registration is now closed. If you wish to attend Spark in person, tickets will be sold at the door (card payment only). 

7:30 – 8:00 a.m. In-person networking & breakfast
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Opening keynote (Live stream)
9:15 – 10:15 a.m. Breakout sessions (Live stream: Take risks and fail up)
10:30 – 11:15 a.m. Fireside chat (Live stream)
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Breakout sessions (Live stream: Choose 2 lead)
1:00-1:30 p.m. Closing keynote (Live stream)

*All in-person and virtual attendees will receive post-event access to recordings of the live streamed sessions.*

Thank you to the following sponsors for making Spark possible!

  • Marcum LLP
  • Cleveland Foundation
  • The Lubrizol Corporation
  • Avient Corporation
  • City Architecture
  • Glenmede

8:00 a.m. Opening keynote

Liminal space: dispelling leadership myths and harnessing the power of the unexpected
In times of significant disequilibrium and unpredictability, we look to our community, civic, and business leaders for guidance and answers about how best to navigate these disruptive periods. In these periods, we may unconsciously rely heavily upon specific and antiquated leadership myths that do not ultimately serve us in understanding this period of discontinuity.

Collective wisdom and the growing research on liminal space directly challenge old leadership myths providing us with novel approaches, fresh tools, and larger, more inclusive perspectives. Liminal space experiences provide a unique opportunity for disproportionate change allowing us to harness the power of the unexpected and discover previously unimagined solutions.

  • Harry Pepper, Ph.D., Senior Consultant, the telos institute

9:15 a.m. Breakout sessions

Equity and access in CLE’s neighborhoods
How The Davis complex is elevating Glenville.
Neighborhood development is transcending housing and addressing issues of social determinants of health and creating equitable access to resources through innovative approaches. One local example, The Davis complex, is taking a collaborative approach to elevate Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood.

  • Celina Cunanan, Executive Director for Office of Community Impact, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, University Hospitals
  • Scott Skinner (CBB 2023, ALI 2021, CLI 2019), Vice President-Development, The NRP Group


A new model for a new world (Sponsored by Cleveland Foundation)
Cleveland as a hub for media innovation.
Journalism is evolving with a new approach of elevating voices and telling the community story and new local media outlets are leading that change. How are local journalists creatively yet accurately sharing what is happening in our community to inspire change?    

  • Jim Crutchfield, Editor-In-Chief, Cleveland, The Marshall Project
  • Mike McIntyre (LC 2022), Executive Editor, Ideastream Public Media
  • Lila Mills (CBB 2015), Cleveland Editor-In-Chief, Ohio Local News Initiative


Take risks and fail up
The story of MetroHealth’s transformation.
As MetroHealth nears completion of its reimagined main campus, what leadership lessons were learned along the way? When ideas failed, how did progress continue? And how can those who are hesitant begin to embrace risk?

  • Dr. Akram Boutros (LC 2015, CLC Board), President & CEO, The MetroHealth System
  • Micki Byrnes (LC 2005), President & General Manager, WKYC Channel 3 (interviewer)

10:30 a.m. Fireside chat

Cleveland reimagined (Sponsored in part by Glenmede)  
Bringing the new vision to life.
The sweeping leadership changes across Northeast Ohio have injected our region with an enthusiasm, hope, and renewed vigor to tackle long-standing community issues and work toward collective vision. How are the people and organizations at the forefront of these movements working together to bring about true transformation in Cleveland?

  • Laura Bloomberg, Ph.D. (LC 2023), President, Cleveland State University
  • Jeff Epstein (LC 2016, CEF 2007), Chief of Integrated Development, City of Cleveland
  • Baiju Shah, President & CEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership
  • Michael Jeans (LC 2016), President, Growth Opportunity Partners (moderator)

11:30 a.m. Breakout sessions

Collaborating for real change (Sponsored by The Lubrizol Corporation) 
The Cleveland Talent Alliance’s journey.
Collaboration is difficult and often frustrating, but when everyone is dedicated to a common goal, it can yield tremendous outcomes. The Cleveland Talent Alliance was formed through the collaboration between 11 organizations all dedicated to attracting and retaining talent in Cleveland. What leadership lessons were learned from the formation of the initiative? What were the wins along the way? What is the vision moving forward?

  • Ashley Basile Oeken (CBB 2012, CLI 2009), President, Engage! Cleveland
  • Hannah Belsito (LC 2023, CBB Honorary), Chief Experience Officer, Destination Cleveland
  • Marianne Crosley, President & CEO, Cleveland Leadership Center
  • Sara Greicius, Director, Cleveland Talent Alliance, Destination Cleveland
  • Bill Koehler (LC 2011), CEO, Team NEO


On the leading edge (Sponsored in part by City Architecture) 
The future of transportation & mobility in CLE.
To be a modern city now and in the future, transportation methods need to evolve. How are local organizations embracing innovation and focusing on equitable transportation and reducing barriers to travel? What have been the challenges to innovation in these spaces across our community?

  • Floun’say Caver, Ph.D. (LC 2017), Chief Operating Officer/ Deputy General Manager – Operations, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
  • Calley Mersmann, Senior Strategist, Transit & Mobility, City of Cleveland
  • Jacob VanSickle (LC2 2022, LC 2021), Executive Director, Bike Cleveland


Choose to lead (Sponsored in part by Avient Corporation)  
A comprehensive approach to future-oriented leadership.
Jim Kubacki recently published Choose to Lead: A Practical Guide for Educational Leadership, a compilation of lessons from across his four-decade leadership career in education. Why is effective leadership more important than ever? What does effective leadership look like in 2022 and beyond?

  • Jim Kubacki (LC2 2019, LC2 2013, LC 2011), Author, Choose to Lead

1:00 p.m. Closing keynote

Transforming how to work
Change, innovation, and learning through failure are all critical to our collective ability to move forward. How do we transform the way we work and lead in a way that’s human, helpful, and beloved? Hear lessons from the new book, Beloved Economies: Transforming How We Work that demonstrates it is not what we do but how we do it that matters.

  • Maggie Nichols, CEO, Eureka! Ranch