175 S. Main St., Suite #100
Akron OH 44308
Nicole serves as the Executive Director of ArtsNow, an organization that helps build and strengthen a thriving Summit County arts and culture scene to add economic vitality and social vibrancy to our region. In this role, she collaborates with local leaders and organizations to advocate for the arts and culture sector, connects local talent to resources, and leads a team that promotes the diverse catalog of arts and culture offerings across multiple platforms to Summit County residents.
In August of 2019, Nicole was selected by Crain’s Cleveland Business as a Notable Women in Nonprofit. Nicole was elected to the Private Sector Network Council of Americans for the Arts and will serve a two year term representing Summit County and Ohio, ending in December of 2021. In 2018, Nicole was one of 16 arts executives from across the country selected to participate in Americans for the Arts’ annual Executive Leadership Forum. In addition, she serves on the board of Ohio Citizens for the Arts.
Nicole is a graduate of Leadership Akron Class 34, serves as Secretary of the board of the Gay Community Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, and serves on the board of United Disability Services (UDS). Nicole is also a proud alumna of Torchbearers, where she served as member, committee chair, and board member from 2013 to 2017 and as president in 2016.
Community and Corporate Liaison
|VANESSA LEE ABRAHAM
Communications & Marketing
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jon Fiume has been serving Akron’s arts and culture scene for over 20 years. Besides being a patron, his past contributions have included being on the boards of the Akron Art Museum and Weathervane Playhouse. He currently is the Vice President of the board of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens as well as serving on the Executive committee and board of Leadership Akron.
Jon graduated from John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio with a degree in Spanish and a minor in Marketing. He also holds a state of Ohio medical board license to practice massage therapy. He is a past graduate of Leadership Akron and was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 under 40 in 2006.
Most recently, Jon was the Chief Operating Officer for Mustard Seed Market & Café, a local natural foods grocery store and restaurant. Prior, he was the Vice President of Retail Operations for Ritzman Pharmacies, a local independent chain pharmacy at the time. Currently, Jon is providing consultative services to organizations and individuals looking to grow and develop themselves.
In his spare time, Jon spends time with his partner Mark, a nature and landscape photographer, enjoying all facets of wellness including physical conditioning, biking, hiking, and travel. Jon resides in Akron.
Justin Hiton began his professional career as an architectural designer over 25yrs ago. Within that timeframe, he worked in the greater Akron and Cleveland areas on a plethora of projects including; The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The New Cleveland Browns Stadium, The Great Lakes Science Center, The Downtown Cleveland Public Library, Continental Airlines Concourse at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mr. Hilton then became an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Architectural Design and Orientation at Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Over a seven-year span, his work was recognized in the form of multiple Outstanding Teaching Award nominations and extended beyond the classroom in contributions to collegiate student recruitment, advising, retention and diversity efforts. Mr. Hilton was then specially selected to spend two years working with Kent State University’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, as a special analyst and success solutions consultant; after which he was promoted to Senior Associate Vice President for University Relations. In this role, he developed and implemented strategies for the university’s marketing, media relations, government relations and regional development; and was second in charge of a mission-critical area that employed and managed nearly 100 professionals and a multi-million dollar annual budget. Mr. Hilton has most recently been promoted and is now the University’s first Senior Administrator for Community Outreach, where he develops, curates and leverages community relationships resources and initiatives to execute and advance the mission and vision of the President and University at large. Mr. Hilton has continually augmented his professional career as a motivational speaker, an artist and by serving on numerous boards of directors for schools, universities, businesses, associations, foundations, and non-profit and community organizations. His awards include inductions to the Greater Akron Chamber’s 30 for the future class, Kaleidoscope’s 40 under 40 club, the 27th class of Leadership Akron, and the Cambridge Who’s Who Executive of the Year; all while also functioning as the Chief Executive Officer of two business enterprises. Among all this, Mr. Hilton has studied and lived overseas in seven different European countries, was the first and youngest African American male to ever attain a Masters of Architecture degree from Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and was the first and youngest African American Senior Associate Vice President Executive ever, in the 110 year history of Kent State University.
A Certified Public Accountant and proven executive leader in financial management and strategic development with over 20 years of experience in a leadership role with organizations from a multi-billion dollar for profit organization to nationally recognized non-profits. Sean is currently the President and Executive Director at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, with responsibility for oversight of the financial management and direction of the organization, providing leadership and oversight of operations and serves as President of Stan Hywet’s for profit subsidiary ARRC, Inc. Through his leadership, the financial stability of the organization has improved significantly and earned income has increased from previous years in a challenging economy.
His past roles have included the Chief Financial Officer of Goodwill Industries of Akron, Chief Financial Officer of Integrity Parking Systems, LLC and Director of Accounting for Standard Parking, Inc. of which he participated in the company’s significant growth to a multi-billion dollar organization.
Sean had been able to apply his vast expertise in the for profit arena that includes strategic planning and development, business acquisitions, public financing oversight for major parking projects, project management of large construction projects and much more to increase earned income for non-profit organizations of which he has become involved.
He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Ohio Society of CPAs and past member of Rotary. Sean has contributed his expertise as the Founding Board President of Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio, a non-profit formed in 2008, Chairman of the Dancing Classrooms Global Board of Directors representing sites in over 30 major cities throughout the U.S. and 4 countries and Vice Chair of the University of Akron Finance Advisory Board. In addition to serving as Board President of Dancing Classrooms for the past five years, Sean has volunteered at Crouse Elementary School, St. Barnabas Parish, and coaches soccer, basketball and baseball.
Sean received his Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from the University of Akron. He is a two-time Crain’s CFO of the Year Nominee (2014 & 2009). In 2009, he was a recipient of the Greater Akron Chamber 30 for the Future Award. In 2010, Sean became a graduate of Leadership Akron. In 2016, he was named the Financial Management Association Outstanding Financial Executive by The University of Akron.
Sean currently resides in Macedonia, Ohio and has two children Sean and Cailin.
Appointed in September 2015, King is the seventh director of Summit Metro Parks, which was established in 1921 and is the first woman to lead the park in its history. In this role she serves as the chief executive and chief financial officer, leading and directing the organization to ensure achievement of its mission, financial viability, short and long-term growth, and stability.
An employee since 1998, King has also served as the park district’s landscape architect and its chief of planning and development. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University, a state-registered landscape architect, a champion of sustainable design, and a certified parks and recreation professional through the National Recreation and Park Association. King has managed a variety of facility and trail improvement projects for the park district including the construction and certification of two LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified “Platinum” buildings.
Rob Lehr joined GAR Foundation in 2018. As a program officer, Rob reviews and evaluates grant inquiries and applications with a focus on the Foundation’s community grantmaking in the areas of basic needs, arts and culture, and nonprofit sector advancement. He currently serves on the board of directors for ArtsNow, and on the advisory committee for the Arts/Business pathway for the College & Career Academies at Akron Public Schools. In 2019, he served on the steering committee for the Akron Cultural Plan.
Rob has over 17 years of professional experience in organizational development, community engagement, and project management for nonprofit organizations. His career has been devoted to the nonprofit sector, starting with ten years of service as an arts administrator for the National Costumers Association, where he connected with creative entrepreneurs across the country. Rob earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Akron’s Myers School of Art.
Beginning his professional career in 1981, Akron native, Gregg Mervis is an active member and advocate of the travel and tourism industry.
After 14 years of employment with the Quaker Hilton, Gregg left his position as Director of Sales in 1995 to become Director of Sales for the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau and the John S. Knight Center.
He was promoted to Vice President of the Bureau and Center in 1996 and became Vice President & Chief Operating Officer in 2008.
In 2012, Gregg was named President & Chief Executive Officer; he is responsible for the management and oversight of the organization’s three (3) business units.
Gregg is a member of various national industry organizations, including: Destination Management Association International, International Association of Assembly Managers and National Association of Consumer Shows. His involvement to foster the visitor economy at the State level includes: Ohio Travel Association, Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Akron Roundtable, Downtown Akron Partnership and ArtsNow, where he is also Vice President.
Gregg currently resides in Akron with his wife Terrill and daughter Grace.
Leianne Neff Heppner has been with The Summit County Historical Society of Akron, Ohio since 1999 first serving as curator assisting with exhibits for the city and county, as well as, county government records consultant. Leianne was promoted to executive director of the agency in 2009 and was proud to serve during its 90th anniversary in 2014. Over the last six years, she has been a part of the John Brown House preservation and restoration project and looks forward to the completion of Phase III, “Accessible to All,” recognizing the abolitionist’s commitment to absolute racial equality. Leianne considers herself blessed to be on the board of ArtsNow.
Serving on the Lieberth Community Vision Award Committee for Leadership Akron is one of her favorite projects each year. Leianne participates in speaking engagements at local, regional and state historical meetings and conferences and she is a regional representative on the board of the Ohio Local History Alliance (under the Ohio History Connection in Columbus). Leianne is also a representative on the City of Akron Urban Design & Historic Preservation Commission.
A Leadership Akron graduate and a 30 for the Future recipient, Leianne has previously held museum positions at the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Akron, Ohio; The Castle, Marietta, Ohio; and Zoar Village State Memorial, Zoar, OH. Leianne holds a Master of Arts in Public History from Kent State University and a Bachelor of Science in Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University.
A transplant to Akron from rural southeast Ohio, Leianne and her family (a number four legged) enjoy living in Akron/Summit County where life is good.
Georgia Nix Miller will bring her passion for the arts, education and community service to The University of Akron this fall when she joins her husband, Gary, as he begins his tenure as president of the University.
Miller has a strong background in both private and non-profit sectors. She began her career in Dallas with Arthur Young in Management Consulting where she worked with teams solving complex organizational challenges for national and international clients.
Later, while living in Oxford, Mississippi, she founded Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi. The organization’s primary goal was to coordinate resources between public school districts, medical and human services providers, and law enforcement to better serve children and their families. During her time of leadership, the organization grew to a position of national prominence as a model program and provided services to thousands of children. In her honor, the Georgia Nix Miller Award was established at The University of Mississippi in recognition of a student serving the community.
Miller later served as CEO of the American Red Cross in California – San Joaquin Chapter where she organized and worked with relief workers after the California Central Valley Flood and Hurricane Katrina Disasters of 2004.
Known for serving the community, Miller has shared her expertise with a variety of boards and non-profit organizations within the various cities her family has called home.
While in Wichita, Kansas, Miller served on the boards of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, YWCA and Wichita State University’s Women’s Studies Center. She also served on the Wichita School District’s Strategic Planning Committee.
In Wilmington, NC she served on the boards of Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, Historic Wilmington Foundation and UNCW’s Women Studies Resource Center. While there, she also partnered with Judy Girard, retired president of HGTV, to found Young Women Leading – a nonprofit to create and sustain the first single sex female public charter school in North Carolina for girls from traditionally underserved families.
While in Green Bay, Miller worked as a consultant for The Greater Good, served on United Way Brown County’s Community Partnership for Children and actively participated in raising funds and distributing scholarships for local students to attend post secondary education.
Miller is a graduate of The University of Mississippi where she studied Biology and English Literature.
She and Gary have three adult children, five grandchildren and Miss Kitty. She enjoys art, music, books, traveling and exploring the great outdoors.
Steve Millard is President & CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber and in that role is responsible for leading the Greater Akron Area’s Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce serving Medina, Portage and Summit Counties. Steve’s work is focused on the chamber’s efforts to drive jobs and investment in the Greater Akron region, improve the region’s competitiveness and to advocate for the needs of the business community in the region with its elected and appointed officials.
Prior to joining the Greater Akron Chamber, Steve has served as Executive Vice President of the Greater Cleveland Partnership; President and Executive Director of COSE (the Council of Smaller Enterprises); as a supply chain management consultant with Accenture (at that time Andersen Consulting) and as a supply chain specialist with GE Healthcare (at that time GE Medical Systems).
Steve is a certified chamber executive, serves on several not for profit and for profit boards and is a frequent adviser to businesses and a regular facilitator for strategic planning and leadership team retreats.
Steve has a BS in Transportation and Distribution Management and a BS in Finance from Syracuse University and his MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
Dominic, now in his 11th season with Inlet Dance Theatre, hails from Akron, OH, where he attended the University of Akron and Firestone High School (Akron School for the Arts). Recently recognized as 2019 “New Agent” by MOCA Cleveland, Dominic has received numerous fellowships and recognitions as an emerging artist and arts leader including 2018 Commission by Akron Art Museum to his solo work, “CAUTION,” a 2018 Breakout Artist by the Devil Strip Magazine (Akron), 2016 National Arts Strategies (NAS) Creative Community Fellow (DC), 2016 Collen Porter Fellow (International Performing Arts for Youth), and an inaugural member of Leadership Akron’s Diversity on Board Program. Dominic is a graduate of the National Arts Strategies Executive in Arts Leadership Program (University of Pennsylvania) to enhance his capacity in all aspects of running a thriving arts & culture organization.
Dominic is the founder and creator of “The ‘Black Card’ Project.” A large-scale community-based dance theatre project exploring black identity as it relates to economic development in the black community. In partnership with arts, education, and business institutions/corporations, Dominic is working to create conversation around the solutions we can generate to cultivate a more diverse and successful future for black Americans.
Dominic is involved in the collaborative creative process Inlet is known for, been a lead instructor in numerous Outflow residency programs for children, and he has performed and taught across the country, including Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out series in August of 2017. Dominic feels strongly about designing, creating, and executing human-centered artwork and programming in his practice. His long-term goal is “to become a world-class artist and arts leader who understands the needs of the people. And to position myself as a beacon who can lead our communities into a time of hope, humility, trust, and radical reconciliation.
The Testa Companies is an umbrella brand that represents a collection of companies related to the real estate development industry. From design, development and construction to branding, marketing, sales, management and building maintenance.
Testa Companies was founded in 1967 with the creation of Testa Builders, Inc. and has twice made the INC Magazines list of fastest growing privately held companies in the US. Along with many other accolades both locally and nationally, Testa is the only contractor to be named Builder of the Year 4 times by the Home Builders Association. Testa’s portfolio spans several states, includes over 700 properties and more than 2 million square feet of office, retail, medical and educational facilities. Testa has developed over 6,000 mixed use and residential units and at one time was producing as many as 1,500 homes per year. They have developed several notable projects including the first aids housing facility and first vertical parade of homes site in the country along with the first for sale urban housing product in downtown Akron and the city’s first new hotel in 40 years. Most recently Cassie and her husband Joel developed The Northside Marketplace, a retail incubator that that assisted eBay in selecting Akron as the first pilot city in the US for a retail revival program and is currently being featured in a documentary about small businesses by American Express.
Cassie is a graduate of Kent State University and a licensed REALTOR in Ohio. She oversees the residential sales and leasing for Testa Companies and directly manages several properties in their Midwest portfolio. In addition to setting several performance records at Testa, she has been honored with the Rookie of the Year and Gold Sales Level awards by the Home Builders Association. She is an active member of the Akron-Cleveland Association Board of Realtors, Home Builder’s Association Board of Trustee, HBA Membership, Leadership and Engagement Committees, sits as a Board of Directors for the non-profit, Formerly Homeless Foundation, which has effectively end homelessness in Akron. Additionally, Cassie and her husband have co-chaired the Summa Sapphire Ball Corporate Committee raising over one million dollars for the Hospital Foundation.
Cassie and Joel are avid runners who enjoy traveling to new cities, spending time with their three beautiful children, and love helping to grow the Akron Community!
Kendra is a native of Dayton, Ohio and moved to Akron to attend the University of Akron where she graduated with a degree in accounting. She is a license CPA and works for Meaden & Moore as a Senior Manager in the Assurance Services practice.
Over her 16 years with the firm, Kendra has worked directly with numerous privately held corporations and not-for-profit organizations performing both attestation and tax services. She’s also a member of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Her current community and philanthropic pursuits include President of the Women’s Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, Board and Finance Member of the United Way of Summit County, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Leadership Akron Class XXXIII, and Torchbearers Alumni. She has been recognized as a 2019 Crain’s Cleveland 40 Under 40 and 2016 Greater Akron Chamber 30 For the Future.
Shane Wynn is an artist/photographer from Akron, Oh. Her work includes several large scale public installations displayed throughout Akron. She is a two-time Knight Arts Challenge winner. Shane was the juried award Akron Art Prize winner in 2017. She was the Arts Alive Visual Artist awardee in 2018 for Summit Art Space and most recently placed in the Parallax Contemporary Art Show as part of the FRONT Triennial Art Fair. Shane has been a photojournalist in Akron for 24 years contributing to 15 local publications. In 2017 she was awarded first place in portraiture with an Ohio Excellence in Journalism Award by the Cleveland Press Club. In addition, she was recognized with local ADDYS in 2012, 2013 and 2018 for her contributions to local print and media. In 2016 Shane contributed photography to a campaign securing the first-place RUBY award for the Ohio Travel Association. She is a local activist, currently serving on the board for ArtsNow, CANAPI and The Akron Press Club. She is a graduate of the University of Akron with a Fine Arts Degree. Shane is happiest when the worlds of art and journalism collide and she is able to make expanded series reflecting social issues aligning with her beliefs. She is currently working on a project in collaboration with the North Hill CDC in Akron to create multigenerational portraits of the North Hill refugee population.