Community Works Akron Manager

After 23 years of youth and community development, I joined OPEN M in August of 2019 to return to a passion of my early career…assisting motivated individuals who are ready to change with economic success through learning, overcoming challenges, sustained employment with fun but firm support. As a kid in poverty, I relied on God, mentors and non-profit organizations in East Cleveland to survive. The best ones gave me nothing that I did not earn and taught me to grow away from my reliance on them. Moving 5 times in 6 years in elementary school, life at home was a struggle that I only survived with fun, firm and caring guidance. Since obtaining a social work degree in 1996 at Malone College, I have served as a caseworker in both the mental health and foster care fields, in juvenile justice as a Director of a nationally successful community re-entry and employment program for juveniles ages 17-21 in Massillon, OH, as the Director of Planning and Community Outreach for SARTA in Canton, OH and as both a Club Director and the Director of Operations/Programming for the Boys & Girls Clubs in Akron.

Personality type: ESFJ “The Consul”

Three things people would be surprised to know about James include:

"1. I met Denzel Washington and Misty Copeland once at a national conference. Once Misty Copeland started talking about the poverty/racism challenges that she overcame to become the best ballerina on planet earth, I forgot that Denzel was even there. She and Harriet Tubman are my heroes. 2. I ONLY wear used clothes, coats, suits and shoes. I will always have a “That cost way too much!” frugal mentality unless Jay Z and Beyonce come to town. 3. I have a goal to read 40 books by the end of this year. I am WAY behind schedule. Fear by Bob Woodward, Rise and Grind by Daymond John, Life Lessons by Kevin Hart and Becoming by Michelle Obama were my favorites so far this year.”