Making it Happen
Many individuals with CSU connections played key roles in the collaborative effort to win the RNC and ensure a safe and successful convention. They included:
Three-time CSU alumnus Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, BA ’77/MSUS ’79/JD ’83. Welcoming the delegates on opening day, he said, “Everything we have done to be successful, including winning the opportunity to host this convention, we’ve done together as a community.”
Diane Downing, member of the CSU Foundation Board of Directors. The chief operating officer of the Cleveland Host Committee was “on loan” from her job as senior vice president and regional manager of corporate affairs for Huntington Bank of Cleveland. The RNC, she says, was an opportunity “to dispel old myths about the city, show off the city as it is now, and set the stage for more development to come.”
Two-time alumna Valarie McCall, BA ’95/MPA ’97, chief of government/international affairs for the city of Cleveland. She was a Host Committee member and the city’s point person for the RNC. Prepping for the big event and the convention itself was a “24/7, whatever is needed, get it done whatever it takes” effort, she says.
Daniel Veloski, MA ’05, leads a team of 80 officers and is responsible for the safety of more than 43 million annual visitors as chief of rangers for the Cleveland Metroparks. For the RNC, the rangers, including their mounted unit, were an integral part of safety and security operations. “Professionally, it was a chance of a lifetime to be involved in something so significant,” he says.\
Mike Brickner, MA ’09, is the Ohio senior policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He had a lead role in overseeing the ACLU’s efforts during the RNC to protect free speech and the rights of protesters. This included helping to staff the organization’s “war room,” where he and colleagues monitored protests as they developed, and the police response, to ensure that speech was not being repressed. He also spoke at a town hall meeting on voting rights held at CSU and hosted by alumna/Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, JD ’83.
Hannah Belsito, MUPDD ’11, is vice president of destination development and community affairs at Destination Cleveland. She was charged with creating an unforgettable visitor experience during the RNC. Among the tactics employed:
• We The People, which featured photos of 50 everyday Clevelanders on street pole banners and LED boards
• Large posters on buildings and windows, sharing little-known facts about Cleveland
• A beautification effort that included three gardens, 135 planters and 1.4 million LED twinkle lights throughout downtown
• Rock Box public art, which featured giant, bright loudspeakers playing music from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
Media and Social Media Were Buzzing
• Sirius XM interviewed President Ronald M. Berkman about the RNC’s impact on Cleveland. Dr. Berkman also talked to the Hechinger Report about Donald Trump’s plan to base student loans on employability. And he did an interview with a TV crew from CP24 in Toronto.
• At the TEDxSalon, Interim Dean Lee Fisher did an interview with NET TV from New York City.
• Associate Professor Ed Horowitz spoke to television crews from Tunisia and Brazil.
• A crew from Attessia TV in Tunisia interviewed assistant professor Sarah Rutherford about the Get Out the Vote exhibit in the Galleries at CSU.
• Richey Piiparinen of CSU’s Center for Population Dynamics talked with the BBC about Cleveland’s strengths and weaknesses. Also tapping his expertise were USA Today, BillMoyers.com, Agence France-Presse and the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
• Associate Professor Debbie Jackson took part in a PBS NewsHour panel on Rethinking High School.
• CBS News interviewed Ohio City restaurateur and CSU alumnus Sam McNulty, BA ’97, for a segment on Cleveland’s comeback.
• CNET plugged the Cleveland Historical app developed by CSU’s Center for Public History + Digital Humanities.