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Spotlight on CMSD

Dr. Warren Morgan, CEO, Cleveland Metropolitan School District

Dr. Morgan discussed the progress and challenges faced by the district. He reflected on his Listen and Learn Tour and the community’s feedback on safety, communication, extracurricular activities, and the K-8 model. He shared the resulting outcomes from the listening tour, including the creation of new core values and strategic priorities, as well as the establishment of five-year goals focusing on:

  • College and career measures
  • Achievement
  • Culture and climate indicators
  • equity measures

Dr. Morgan also discussed the financial challenges faced by the district and the plan to reduce the deficit. He noted that despite these difficulties, there is a strong commitment to equity and ensuring high-quality curricular options for all students, with a focus on progress under the Cleveland plan.

He shared some reflections on his first year leading the District shared personal reflections on the essential qualities for effective leadership, including the ongoing process of listening, learning, and humility. He also talked about navigating difficult conversations by understanding the audience’s perspectives, finding common ground, and staying focused on long-term goals.

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Recorded 05/08/2024

Empowering self-sufficiency through employment

Jill Rizika, President & CEO, Towards Employment

Jill discussed the organization’s focus on helping individuals overcome barriers to employment and connecting them to career opportunities. She emphasized the importance of sharing the stories and experiences of those they work with to influence systemic change and highlighted the diverse talents and successes of their program participants.

Jill also provided an in-depth overview of the organization’s strategic plan, highlighting the multifaceted approach to addressing the challenges faced by workers in Cleveland. She discussed the importance of not only preparing workers but also improving job quality and engaging employers in creating a more equitable workforce system. She also talked about the changing needs of their clients, emphasizing the importance of technology skills and the influence of the gig economy on the workforce.

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Recorded 05/01/2024

Leading our Lakefront

Scott Skinner, Executive Director, North Coast Waterfront Development Corporation

Scott presented the vision for the lakefront development, emphasizing the focus on public space and access. He talked about how NCWDC was created as an independent organization to execute the master plan and the need to communicate the with the general public. He emphasized the organization’s dedication to ensuring equitable access by providing free and low-cost  public space to the general population.

Scott also discussed the goal of leveraging the public infrastructure to stimulate private investment and the importance of key partnerships with the Browns, Rock Hall, Great Lakes Science Center, and the Port Authority. He also shared some of the initial funding sources and the additional funding required for the project, as well as some of the challenges of managing expectations regarding the timeline, emphasizing the importance of continuously communicating progress.

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Recorded 04/24/2024

Cleveland shoots and scores: 2024 Women’s Final Four

Monica Gustin , VP Business Development & Executive Director, 2024 NCAA Women’s Final Four, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

Monica shared the significant economic impact of the Women’s Final Four event on Cleveland, highlighting its role in changing perceptions of the city and engaging both locals and visitors. She also discussed initiatives and legacy-building efforts to promoting education, sports, and community engagement. Monica talked about the rise of women’s sports in Cleveland and the importance of supporting young people in sports. She also touched on sports betting and future events the Sports Commission aims to secure.

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Recorded 04/17/2024


Patrick Shepherd, Associate Director, Cleveland International Film Festival

Patrick Shepherd, the associate director of the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), discussed the festival’s history, challenges, and future direction. He highlighted the festival’s educational initiatives, community engagement efforts, and current in-person screenings at Playhouse Square, as well as the upcoming streaming festival and the challenges of including all films in the streaming platform. Patrick discussed the changes in filmmaking accessibility over the years and the evolving partnerships at the festival. He also talked about the importance of community engagement and fundraising in both his current and future roles and explained the process of film selection and community involvement at CIFF.

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Recorded 04/10/2024

In the path of totality: the solar eclipse

Kirsten Ellenbogen, Ph.D. , President & CEO, Great Lakes Science Center

Dr. Ellenbogen provided an overview of the Science Center’s comprehensive programs and recent transformations, including the new robotics lab and Cleveland Creates gallery. She shared the optimal timing and location for viewing of the upcoming eclipse, and discussed how being directly on the lake front makes Cleveland especially well-positioned to celebrate the eclipse, including a data comparison between Cleveland and Dallas (also in the path of the totality).

She discussed the Total Eclipse Fest, that will include exhibits and interactions with NASA scientists and astronauts and art performances by organizations like the Cleveland Orchestra, Karamu House, and Cleveland Public Theater. Partners such as Cleveland State, Moen, and OhioCAT will provide additional activities, and there will be VIP observation spots, food trucks, and forums.

Dr. Ellenbogen also addressed the city’s preparations for the influx of people for the eclipse, including crowd control measures, road closures, and monitoring of highways. She also discussed the science behind the eclipse and the phenomena that can be experienced during totality.

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Recorded 04/03/2024