NEO Rising 2024 | Agenda & Details

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  • 7:30 AM – 8:10 AM: Registration/Networking (Breakfast Buffet)
  • 8:10 AM – 8:25 AM: Presenting Sponsor Welcome | Kelly Lamirand, Cleveland Market President and Commercial Sales Leader: KeyBank
    • Team NEO Welcome | Renee Ligon, Managing Director, Partnerships & Engagement
    • First Award Presentation for Team NEO Regional Economic Development Champion
      • Inaugural” Emerging Leader |  Dr. Michele Scott Taylor, President: College Now Greater Cleveland
        • Presented by: Lee Friedman, CEO: College Now Greater Cleveland
  • 8:25 AM – 8:45 AM: Panel Discussion
    • Bill Koehler, Chief Executive Officer: Team NEO  
    • Terry Slaybaugh, President, Sites & Infrastructure: JobsOhio 
    • Kimberly Riley, Board Chair: Team NEO and COO, Property & Casualty: Hylant
  • 8:45 AM – 9:00 AM: Remaining Team NEO Regional Economic Development Champion Award Presentations:
    • Community Leader | Dr.  Marcia Ballinger, President: Lorain County Community College
      • Presented by: Dr. Michael A. Baston, President: Cuyahoga Community College
    • Economic Development Leader | Brad Ehrhart, President: Portage Development Board
      • Presented by: Sean Joyce,  President: InSite Advisory Group
    • Business Leader | Polymer Industry Cluster
      • Presented by: Rudy Bentlage, Market Executive: JPMorgan Chase
  • 9:00 AM – 9:25 AM: Keynote Speaker | James Free, Associate Administrator: NASA
  • 9:25 AM: Closing Remarks & Adjourn | Bill Koehler, CEO: Team NEO

Team NEO Regional Economic Development Champion Awardees:

Community Leader

Dr.  Marcia Ballinger
President: Lorain County Community College

Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D., Lorain County Community College’s fifth president, has more than 30 years in community college leadership roles where she has led innovative policy and program development that leverages the community college mission to drive economic growth and prosperity for communities and individuals. Most recently, Harvard’s Project on Workforce profiled LCCC as one of five exemplary community colleges in the country for innovative practices in driving shared economic prosperity in a book “America’s Hidden Economic Engines.” 

Under Dr. Ballinger’s leadership, LCCC has developed a comprehensive portfolio of programs and resources aimed at igniting economic and talent growth. These include entrepreneurial support, such as a start-up tech incubator, pre-seed funding opportunities, and a sensor/microelectronic commercialization center.  Additionally, LCCC’s Fab Lab is recognized as the nation’s first SuperLab, aiding entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas to life. 

As a result of Dr. Ballinger’s steadfast focus on student success and workforce development, more than 90% of LCCC graduates live and work in the region. Under her strategic vision, LCCC established Ohio’s first semiconductor/microelectronic manufacturing programs – 10 years before the arrival of Intel and Ohio’s Silicon Heartland. She was at the helm when LCCC was approved to offer the state’s first applied bachelor’s degree in microelectronics, which delivers a 100% employment rate with regional companies for graduates.  

 Building off this success, Dr. Ballinger led LCCC to deliver Ohio’s first Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Smart Industrial Automation Systems Engineering Technology. Additionally, she has committed to expanding College Credit Plus, whereby 47% of county high school graduates earn college credit before graduation. 

As an inaugural member of the Aspen Institute’s Presidential Fellowship, Dr. Ballinger has led LCCC to receive top national honors for student success from the American Association of Community Colleges and Achieving the Dream. An expert in workforce development, she has provided testimony for national initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Commerce Talent and Growth Task Force, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Commerce Preparing the Future Manufacturing Workforce, and others. 

Dr. Ballinger contributes to advancing workforce and economic development nationally and regionally, serving on boards including Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM), Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC), Team NEO (co-chairing Team NEO’s Talent Development Council), the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), The Fund for Our Economic Future, One Lorain County, and others. She holds a Ph.D. in Community College Leadership from Walden University, an MBA from Kent State University, and a BA in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

Economic Development Leader

Brad Ehrhart
President: Portage Development Board

Brad joined the Portage Development Board in September 2011, giving him 38 years of experience in economic development. Before the PDB, he served as the Executive Director of the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation and also as the Assistant Director of Penn- Northwest Development Corporation. Brad holds a Master of Science in Public Management and Policy degree from Carnegie-Mellon University. 

Business Leader

Polymer Industry Cluster 

The Polymer Industry Cluster Initiative was launched in 2021 to conduct a deeper examination of the region’s polymer industry and develop a framework to leverage its full potential. Powered by the Greater Akron Chamber, the Polymer Industry Cluster works to elevate Northeast Ohio’s polymer industry into a truly dynamic enterprise that is better positioned for strong, sustainable growth in an ever-changing global economy.

‘Inaugural’ Emerging Leader

Dr. Michele Scott Taylor
President: College Now Greater Cleveland

Dr. Michele Scott Taylor is the president of College Greater Cleveland. Promoted to the position in 2013, Dr. Scott Taylor oversees the implementation of College Now’s new strategic plan, helping to ensure that anyone in Northeast Ohio who wants a meaningful career can receive the education they need to achieve their goals – contributing to the economic vitality of the region.

As College Now’s chief program officer, Dr. Scott Taylor led College Now’s unique programmatic efforts, including in-school- and community-based advising programs, as well as the federal programs GEAR Up, Talent Search and Upward Bound. College Now’s successful community-based programs, including Xplore and impact!, were developed under her leadership, and provide real-world career exploration opportunities and college entrance exam skills. Each program ends with an out-of-state trip to explore various cities, college campuses and majors needed for particular careers.

Over the last 13 years, College Now Greater Cleveland has grown nearly tenfold, with the organization increasing its footprint in five Northeast Ohio counties (Cuyahoga, Lorain, Medina, Richland, and Summit). It serves more than 31,000 middle and high school students in 200 venues and 80 schools, including all high schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

As a first-generation postsecondary student herself, Dr. Scott Taylor received her doctorate in higher education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. She also holds a master’s degree in higher education from Kent State University and received bachelor’s degrees in sociology, political science, and French from the University of Akron.

Dr. Scott Taylor currently serves as board chair of the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation, vice president of the board of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and also sits on the board of the Euclid Schools Foundation. She previously was a board member for Global Ambassadors Language Academy and was on the community advisory boards for both Ideastream Public Media and Leadership Cleveland. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc

NEO Rising Speakers

Renee Ligon

Managing Director, Partnerships and Engagement: Team NEO

Renee leads Team NEO’s engagement strategy to grow and strengthen a more inclusive coordinated regional economic development network. She utilizes her experience as a 24-year business development and sales expert as she collaborates with elected officials, community agencies, municipalities, nonprofits and small to large for-profit organizations. 

Prior to joining Team NEO, Renee was the Regional Director for the Minority Business Assistance Center at the Urban of Greater Cleveland, a program of the Ohio Development Services Agency, where she led a team of professional business advisors in the development of minority, women, disabled, and veteran owned businesses across eight counties in the state of Ohio. Prior to this she served as the Assistant Director of Diversity & Corporate Relations at Case Western Reserve University. 

The cornerstone of Renee’s career started in the financial services industry where she was Vice President, Relationship Manager at JP Morgan Chase Bank.  During her 8-year career with JP Morgan Chase, she managed the financial portfolios for commercial sector nonprofit and municipal clients.   

Her notable and numerous boards of director appointments have included, COMPACT, UNCF of Orlando, and the Citrus Club’s Women’s Executive Exchange.  She is currently a member and class officer for Leadership Cleveland Class of 2020.  

Renee holds a B.A. in Communications from John Carroll University and a M.S in Human Resources Management from Nova Southeastern University.

Bill Koehler

Chief Executive Officer: Team NEO

As Chief Executive Officer of Team NEO, Bill Koehler is focused on seeing the Northeast Ohio Region grow and thrive. He’s a collaborative economic development advocate and business leader working to create economic vibrancy in Northeast Ohio by advancing understanding of the talent gap, enhancing site preparedness, building supply chain resilience, accelerating the impact of innovation, and promoting the region as a business destination.

Leveraging more than 25 years’ experience in corporate financial services, for-profit board and private company investor roles, and education-focused not-for-profit boards and committees, Bill engages the economic development network to create coordinated, regional business development strategies to attract new business and help current Northeast Ohio companies grow.

Under Bill’s leadership, Team NEO has a track record of exceeding performance metrics for completed business investment projects in the Northeast Ohio Region. Team NEO has worked on 627 projects that will generate more than 46,000 new jobs, $2.4B in annual payroll and $11.6B in capital investments, related to JobsOhio’s financial incentive programs, since 2015.

Prior to joining Team NEO, Bill served as President of Key Community Bank, where he led 9,000 employees across 14 states. During his banking career, Bill worked with private and public middle market companies. He earned a Master of Business Administration in Accounting and Finance from Columbia University’s Business School and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University.

Bill serves on a number of education-related, non-profit boards and committees including Col­lege Now of Greater Cleveland, Friends of Breakthrough Charter Schools, Urban Community School, and is the former Board Chair of St. Ignatius High School. His accolades include the Northeast Ohio Smart Business Smart 50 Awards and Crain’s Power 150, recognizing the most influential leaders positioned to move the Northeast Ohio Region forward.

Terry Slaybaugh

President, Sites & Infrastructure: JobsOhio

Terrence (Terry) Slaybaugh is the Vice president of Sites and Infrastructure for JobsOhio. Terry’s
team manages JobsOhio’s seven network partner contracts, the sites programs, and the small business
and community development programs. In addition to these programs, Terry manages JobsOhio’s air
service restoration program and is in contract with airport sponsors and state and federal officials
on airport, commercial air service and air cargo issues.

Before joining JobsOhio, Terry was the director of aviation for the city of Dayton where he led
economic development efforts at the airport. He also previously served as the director of aviation at
the Greater Rochester International Airport. Terry has served on state and national aviation and
airports trade association boards and committees advocating for small and medium-sized markets
for air service and funding.

He serves as the chairperson of the “First Four Dayton Hoopla” Local Organizing Committee. Terry and
his wife Donna along with their eight children reside in Dayton.

Kim Riley

Board Chair: Team NEO and COO, Property & Casualty: Hylant

Kimberly (Kim) L. Riley joined Hylant, one of the largest privately held insurance brokers in the U.S., in 2011 with over 35 years in the insurance industry. Her passion for leading evolved during her 20+ years on the insurance carrier side and 15 years in property and casualty and employee benefits brokerage. In her role, she is responsible for the overall leadership, direction, growth, and success of Property & Casualty for the organization. Kim focuses on leveraging the strengths of her teams by building on their talents, expertise, and industry specialization. Before joining Hylant, she served as the president of First Horizon Insurance Group’s property and casualty agencies and is a past vice president serving in various capacities for CNA Insurance Company.  

A visible member of the communities in which she lives and serves, Kim is an active member of the Northeast Ohio Advisory Board for the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, Destination Cleveland, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She previously served as Chairwoman of the Board for the American Red Cross, vice chair of Team NEO’s Board of Directors and was Team NEO’s Regional Economic Development Champion (business leader) in 2021. Kim was the recipient of the 2023 Prevent Blindness People of Vison award, the 2020 Women to Watch award from Business Insurance, and the 2017 Smart Business Smart Women’s Award.  She was also recognized as Business Journal’s Women of Influence and was an Athena Award nominee in 2014.  

Kim graduated from Clark State Community in Springfield, Ohio with an Associate’s Degree in Accounting and received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus in Human Resources from Trevecca University in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a graduate of Belmont University’s Scarlett Leadership Program and is certified in Harvard’s Negotiation Techniques. Kim also is a Fellow in the Life Management Institute, and holds insurance licenses in multiple states for life, health, property and casualty. Kim is also a member of Leadership Cleveland, class of 2017. 

James Free

Associate Administrator: NASA

Jim Free is NASA’s associate administrator, its third highest-ranking executive and highest-ranking civil servant. He is the senior advisor to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. In his role, Free leads the agency’s 10 center directors as well as the mission directorate associate administrators at NASA Headquarters in Washington. He acts as the agency’s chief operating officer for more than 18,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $25 billion.

Previously, Free was associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. In that role, Free was responsible for the development of NASA’s Moon to Mars architecture, defining and managing the systems development for NASA’s Artemis missions and planning for NASA’s integrated deep space exploration approach.

Prior to his selection as head of Exploration Systems Development, Free spent several years in various private sector roles after he left NASA in 2017. In his previous role at NASA, he served as the agency’s deputy associate administrator for technical in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.  

Prior to joining NASA Headquarters, he worked his way up to center director at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where he was responsible for planning, organizing, and directing the activities required to accomplish the missions assigned to the center.  Free has served a variety of roles at NASA centers since beginning his career in 1990 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

A native of Northeast Ohio, Free earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and his master’s degree in space systems engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.  

Free is the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Significant Achievement Medal, and numerous other awards.  

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