Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I grew up in Philadelphia and lived in New York, Washington, DC, Miami and Jacksonville, FL, before coming here in January of 2016. I’m a warm-weather baby and a scuba diver, so when my friends heard I was leaving Florida to take this job, they couldn’t believe it. And I said, “Well this tells you how committed I am about this opportunity.”
Q: How much did you know about the area before moving to Northeast Ohio?
A: Very little. I’d been here from Jacksonville once for a meeting and got a quick tour of the University Circle area. It really impressed me. Also, I realized I had a strong connection to Cleveland—a legacy. My grandfather, Dr. Herman G. Cannady, was a college professor and mentor of former Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes [the first African American mayor in the U.S.]. Stokes gave my grandfather a key to the city and devoted a page to him in his autobiography Promises of Power. The other thing that really resonated with me is that I was Bill Clinton’s Chief Operating Officer for his 1996 presidential campaign, and my association with him started right here in Cleveland at a political convention in 1992.
Q: What has surprised you the most about living here?
A: I was expecting to see tumbleweeds, so I was shocked at the vibrancy and vitality. The friendliness of the people, the foodie scene, the extraordinary natural assets, the quality of the bones of the city. I love the historic buildings and tremendous history—like Karamu House, a nationally recognized performing arts venue. It was the first African American theater in the country—home to titans like Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Paul Robeson.
Q: In what neighborhood do you currently live?
A: Solon. We chose it for the school system, which is one of the top five in the state.
Q: What are your favorite places to go or things to do?
A: Hiking and golf. I didn’t hike much before moving here, but the natural beauty of Northeast Ohio is seductive. The summers are spectacular. Not too hot or humid. Two of my favorite places to hike are Ledges and Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My favorite golf courses are Big Met in Rocky River and Shawnee Hills in Bedford, both public courses.
Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants?
A: Yours Truly, Zanzibar, and Edwin’s, all in Shaker Square.
Q: What advice would you give someone moving to this area?
A: Dispense with any preconceived notions you may have. Lean in and embrace the diversity and history.
Q: Is there anything additional you would like to say about Northeast Ohio?
A: This is a very livable region. You don’t have the stress level that you experience elsewhere. This city probably has more resources—both civic and cultural— per capita than a lot of other cities I’ve been in. Also, the innovation assets are extraordinary, with places like NASA, ThinkBox at Case Western Reserve, Plug- N-Play and Nottingham & Spirk. The African-American history is rich, and the civic pride here, particularly around sports, is something I’ve never seen anywhere else. The Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA Championship Parade is on my list of top 10 life moments. The spirit here was unbelievable.