Dawn Mayes bio

Dawn Mayes (CBB 2021)

Director of Design Entrepreneurship and Inclusion at Kent State University

Dawn N. Mayes is the Director of Design Entrepreneurship and Inclusion at Kent State University. Her role includes creating viable pipelines for HBCU students to attend graduate school, providing technical assistance to startup diverse Architecture firms including Black, Hispanic, Native American, and the Asian population, and bringing lectures to the university to bring awareness to Design Entrepreneurship and Diversity.

As an advocate for true equity, this role like the many she has played before, has allowed her to be a bridge towards common solutions to meet the necessary goals to be successful. Some of her past roles include serving as the Senior Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at APB Associates. Dawn led this role for the renovations of Progressive Field as well as being apart of the Owner’s rep team for the Cleveland Guardians. This role included creating a pipeline of minority businesses to be ready to bid on the Construction project, creating capacity building workshops that assist with efficiency, scaling, and basic business necessities to scale up their businesses. As a result of her workshop series, 150 small businesses were impacted by her series.

She served as Director of Neighborhood Planning & Engagement at Burten, Bell, Carr, a local Community Development Corporation. During her tenure (2018-2022), she assisted with the facilitation of 1.2 million dollars from the City of Cleveland for allocations toward the acquisition and stabilization of commercial buildings along a main business corridor. To add to this injection of dollars and development to the Greater Buckeye community, Dawn also led the charge in penning the RFP for a long overdue masterplan, recruiting a steering committee for the process, and leading the consulting team to the finish line of a comprehensive neighborhood plan for the Buckeye-Woodhill & Buckeye Shaker communities which was adopted in 2022 by Cleveland’s City Planning Commission.

As a serial entrepreneur Dawn shares one of her natural born talents to promote healing communities. Her company, Designs by Danico is her online store that sells her original artwork on canvas. Her tagline: “Healing People and Places Through Art” allows her creative space to empower her audience. Her original works include intentional color selections, the use of symbolism, and Reiki to share messages of self-healing, self-care and empowerment.

Dawn grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. She is an Army veteran, an artist, an entrepreneur, a proud Florida A & M University graduate, where she received her Bachelors of Architectural Studies, and an alumna of Kent State University where she received her Masters in Architecture with a Certificate in Urban Design. In early 2022, she was also awarded an Artist Residency for Karamu House’s Resident in the House program. She is a graduate from Case Western Reserve University’s Executive Leadership Development Experience which is the inaugural cohort of Black and Brown leaders exclusively. She is a charter member of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of FAMU National Alumni Association and serves as the chapter President.