Levin College Alumni

Watch Alumni stories on YouTube.

Greg's Story | Andrea's Story | Anurag's Story

Bryce’s story | Erin's story | Jason's Story

Greg Soltis, '13

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development
RDL Architects

Watch  Greg's story

Gregory earned a master’s degree in Urban Planning, Design, & Development from Cleveland State University in 2013. Throughout his education at Cleveland State University, he held a graduate assistantship for Dr. Mark Salling as a researcher, cartographer, and graphic designer at the Northern Ohio Data & Information Service (NODIS). In addition he worked on various other projects at CSU including “Linking Land Use and Ohio’s Waters: Best Local Land Use Practices”, a document produced for the State of Ohio by CSU’s Community Planning Program. He was honored as the 2013 American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student, and also presented with the Wallace G. Teare Prize. Before attending CSU, Gregory worked as an architectural designer in Las Vegas and Washington, DC for TAL Studio, a leader in the world of hospitality design. After his return home to Cleveland he quickly became active in volunteer and advocacy work, furthering historic preservation, thoughtful planning and urban design.

Andrea Bruno, '12

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development
St. Clair Superior Development Corporation
Director of Residential Real Estate

Watch Andrea’s story

Andrea Bruno graduated from the MUPDD program in 2012 and currently works for the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation as their Director of Residential Real Estate. She managed the redevelopment of four vacant homes under the regionally recognized LoftHome Pilot Project. She also oversaw a historic restoration project of a pre-Civil War home. She is passionate about the revitalization of Cleveland! 

Anurag Saxena, '11

Major: Master of Arts in Environmental Studies
Cuyahoga County Land Re-utilization Corporation
Information Technology and Research Manager

Watch Anurag’s story

Anurag earned his MA Environmental Studies in 2011. "As an international student, I chose the Levin College because of the diversity of programs available through the college. The overall ranking of the college also played an important role in the decision. In majority of my classes we dealt with real world problems that were in proximity. This is helpful since you are applying classroom knowledge to real world problems and can share your findings with the stakeholders and also see the results since they are in the same region."  

Bryce Sylvester, '11

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development
City of Lakewood, OH
Director of Planning and Development

Watch Bryce’s story

"As a city planner in Lakewood I serve as Secretary to the Architectural Board of Review, work closely on the city’s housing and entrepreneurship initiatives, along with implementing the city’s bicycle master plan. In December 2011 I graduated from Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs with a Master’s in Urban Planning, Design, & Development. Recently, I helped lead a Residential Housing Survey in Lakewood to gain a better understanding of the state of housing in Lakewood, which will play a significant role in the city’s future planning and residential development. Additionally, I co-run Lakewood’s entrepreneurship organization Startup Lakewood, which is geared toward making Lakewood a more appealing place for entrepreneurs to build and grow ideas into legitimate businesses."

Erin Huber, '11

Major: Master of Science in Urban Studies
Drink Local. Drink Tap.
Executive Director and Founder

Watch Erin’s story

Erin earned a master's degree in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University in 2011. Throughout her education at Cleveland State University, she co-led the opening of a CSU Farmer's Market (now at Playhouse Square), started developing her current not-for-profit organization, Drink Local. Drink Tap., Inc., and worked as a graduate assistant to Dr. Nicholas Zingale teaching and updating and improving the Genuine Progress Report for Northeast Ohio with a team of students. Erin earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies in 2009 from Cleveland State University, co-implemented the 7000 square foot Huber-Westfall Rooftop Garden in 2009 at Cleveland State University, was named a "Most Interesting Person of 2012" in Cleveland Magazine, inducted into the Mentor High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012 and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Levin College in 2012. Currently, Erin works in Cleveland and Africa inspiring people to carefully value our water as a basic necessity of life and builds safe water projects for children without access to safe water in Uganda. Her documentary, "Making Waves" released in 2014 and she hopes to continue to lead fun, educational, and recreation events and programming on the shores of our Great Lake Erie.

Jason Russell, '09

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development
Van Aken District

Watch Jason’s story

Jason Russell, an Ohio native, received a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, Design, and Development at Cleveland State University with a concentration in Neighborhood Development. Through his studies he has become an advocate for social equity and affordable housing. During his time at CSU, Jason served as president of the student chapter of the American Planning Association. Under his leadership, the group has increased membership from about 10 members to 30, while implementing new programs for greater community involvement, including an urban garden project at Jane Addams High School. In 2009, Jason was awarded the American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student Award. Jason is committed to Northeast Ohio and revitalization of its older communities.

Domenic Bellone, '08

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development
Cleveland State University Division of Capital Planning
& Office of the University Architect Planner

“I am a planner within the Division of Capital Planning & Office of the University Architect. I work with all department staff on various efforts to develop program statements and planning studies. I also manage the planning and design of all way-finding and environmental graphic systems. I hold the title of Space Manager, which means I am responsible for maintaining the space inventory database, generating space utilization reports, and providing analyses to the campus community and to the Ohio Board of Regents.

The Environmental Planning classes I took really advanced my knowledge in understanding symbiotic relationships between the built and natural environments. We studied site planning, which is a skill I use when participating in campuswide planning exercises. The Urban Design class taught me the solid principles related to such things as street layout, aesthetics, and hand drawing techniques. In the Division of Capital Planning, we engage the core planning principles taught by the College of Urban Affairs every single day as our office looks to develop the CSU campus.”

Cheryl Jannette, '08

Major: Master of Arts in Environmental Studies
GIS Analyst

“The College of Urban Affairs' Environmental Studies Program helped me make sense of the world around me by helping to synthesize multiple disciplines. It also opened my mind and enabled me to think of other perspectives and agendas. In fact, not only did I receive my bachelor's degree from the College of Urban Affairs, I also thought enough of my previous experiences to attend the College's master’s program in Environmental Studies. In addition, the College ended up being a valuable resource to me since it posted the job I have now.

I am currently a GIS Analyst and part of the Research Services team at Colliers Ostendorf-Morris in Cleveland. Our group provides specialized research services in order to supply brokers and their clients with current information critical to their decision-making processes. As a GIS Analyst, I provide comprehensive analysis based on geography and data to create interactive queries used to analyze the spatial information and maps, and present the results of all these operations to brokers and their clients. The results of the analysis are used to create geographic references to make critical decisions in commercial real estate.”

Kelly Snider, '08

Major: Master of Public Administration

Internal Revenue Service
Public Affairs Specialist

“The MPA program at the College of Urban Affairs helped to prepare me for a career in the federal government by teaching the fundamentals of public service. Skills that I obtained from courses in such things as public finance, budget management, public sector human resources management, and policy are skills I use on a daily basis in my current position. These skills and knowledge also helped me to become a Presidential Management Fellow and to obtain a fellowship with the Internal Revenue Service.

"I am a Public Affairs Specialist in the Agency-Wide Shared Services division of the IRS. I prepare communications for multiple divisions and business units, and I promote and market such things as our mission statement and fiscal year business plan. Additionally, I will be completing rotations in other areas of the IRS, as well as a developmental rotation on Capitol Hill.”

Vince Tenaglia, '07

Major: Master of Public Administration
City of Largo, Florida
Management Analyst

"I can point to one class in particular that helped immensely with preparing me for my current role. In Dr. Caver's budgeting course, I learned to perform revenue and expenditure analysis at a high level, which I now do on a daily basis. I also had the honor to work as Professor Sy Murray's graduate assistant at the Levin College, which provided countless networking opportunities to meet and learn from some of the finest municipal leaders across the country. My experiences in graduate school affirmed my interest in the city management profession and I am now on that path, thanks in large part to the opportunities provided by Cleveland State and its professors.

I currently administer the city's Capital Improvements Program (CIP), which includes all of the city's $100,000+ projects and all vehicle replacements over a five-year period, supported by nearly 20 different funding sources. I also manage the Environmental Services department's $24 million budget and represent the department before the City Commission. I have been involved in various challenging administrative processes, including contract negotiations with the City's largest labor union."

Sashank Garikapati, '07

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development
TouchPoint Solutions, Inc.
Strategic Planner/Business Analyst

"The level of ‘information and experience’ ‘gained and exchanged’ during my master's program at Levin College of Urban Affairs has helped me interact with leaders and chief company executives with comfort and confidence in meeting their project planning and business requirements. My education at the Levin College has elevated my knowledge base, skill set and the pattern in which I present my ideologies to build key strategic solutions for the business teams I deal with. Coursework concerning real estate, GIS, transportation, risk & decision making, economic development, and interactive studios have taught me the correct manner to handle situations and explicitly how to get the best product delivered on time. Apart from all this, the professional ethics learned from being a graduate assistant to Dr. Brian Mikelbank and the continued support and pertinent mentorship that the College grants me, is immense and unsurpassed."

"As a Strategic Planner and Business Analyst of the team, I provide effective planning of resources, budgeting and cost and benefit analysis for the projects already being designed or for the projects in pipeline. I conduct organizational studies and evaluate industry best practices. Utilizing my knowledge of corporate functions, I design, develop and implement applications in the area of business/planning/information systems, develop methodologies for functional systems, conduct business analysis, interact with clients and handle off-shore management and development strategies."

Chris Bongorno, '07

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development

“I was able to make connections and grow my network of peers and professional contacts through the courses I took and the other various college events I attended. The ongoing research and interaction I had through the MUPDD program helped me to expand my areas of expertise and stay up-to-date on current issues and trends in the world of planning and development.

Currently, I focus primarily on transportation issues and sustainability initiatives in University Circle. I am focused on measures that will help enhance a pedestrian-oriented environment, while at the same time accommodating for the large influx of other transportation modes that will come with the growing development in the neighborhood. Beyond this, I work day-to-day on other planning and development-related projects that will help the neighborhood grow and become a more complete and vibrant urban district.”

Jacob Duritsky, '07

Major: Master of Urban Studies
The Center for Public Management
Research Assistant

“My experience at the College of Urban Affairs prepared me for my position as a research assistant in a variety of ways. It provided me with a solid foundation of theoretical and applied knowledge that is vital in thinking through complex issues. I also developed a unique skill set that is applicable in many areas of research. My experience as a graduate assistant provided me with an opportunity to work on real-world policy issues. I work on a variety of economic and fiscal impact studies, benchmarking studies, economic development strategies and policy analysis reports.”

Graduate students are involved in administrative and research projects that enhance their academic learning and provide valuable networking opportunities.

Karen Johnston, '07

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development
The Coral Company
Development Associate

“My coursework further developed my critical thinking skills and increased my knowledge of the neighborhoods of the City of Cleveland. As a development associate with The Coral Company, I manage multiple commercial and residential and development projects, and I research potential development projects.”

Hands-on learning is the predominant feature of the curriculum at the Levin College. Professors involve students in finding solutions to real problems faced by local agencies and governments.

Ellen Evans, '06

Major: Master of Urban Studies
Colliers Ostendorf-Morris
Associate Director, Data & Information Management

“The faculty provided many community contacts through the various speakers who presented to my classes.”

The College of Urban Affairs is located in downtown Cleveland where students benefit from the expertise of the College’s faculty and its partnerships with public, private and nonprofit organizations."

Maria Haller, '06

Major: Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration
Certificate of Local and Urban Management
The Cleveland Foundation
Fellow, Cleveland Executive Fellowship

”The Cleveland Foundation selection committee noted my keen awareness of history and a sense of duty to use my skills and resources to their fullest potential. Linking my law education with practical policy considerations gives me the opportunity to advocate in a principled manner while still thinking globally about the bigger issues.”

Erik Janas, '06

Major: Master of Public Administration
Deputy County Administrator for Regional Collaboration
Franklin County Board of Commissioners

"My experience at Levin was fantastic. I went to school while working, and the college developed both my analytical skills and my understanding of administrative theory, which I would take with me the next day to the office. I still take it with me to the office to this day."

Erik Janas serves as Deputy County Administrator for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, with a focus on developing external partnerships to promote the Board's policy agenda. He is the liaison to the 67 boards and commissions to which the BOC appoints, and is a board member of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. Erik regularly works with business organizations for the BOC and served on the transition committee for Columbus 2020. Erik also directs government affairs for the BOC at the federal, state, regional and municipal level.

Trevor McAleer, '06

Major: Master of Public Administration
Cuyahoga County Board of County Commissioners
Office of Budget & Management
Budget Management Analyst

“I was able to network through my graduate internship with Cuyahoga County. The networking allowed people to see my work ethic and have the trust in me that I could do the job.”

Networking opportunities available in internships provided Trevor with the visibility he needed to land the job. The Office of Student and Enrollment Services in the Levin College coordinates internships, assistantships, and research projects, which provide valuable networking opportunities and possible placement upon graduation.

Joe McRae, '06

Major: Master of Public Administration
Catawba County, North Carolina
ICMA 2005 Local Government Management Fellow/Management Analyst

“Working as a City Management graduate assistant at the Levin College with Professor Sylvester Murray is a BIG key to my current success.”

Graduate students are involved in administrative and research projects that enhance their academic learning and provide valuable networking opportunities.

Jerry Rugley, '06

Major: Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies
MPA Student

“My experience at the College equipped me with the educational foundation to pursue law school and a future career in politics. Professors and staff were readily available to assist me with issues related to class and beyond.

The Levin College’s faculty and staff provide students with opportunities to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, and each of those degrees is designed to train individuals to make a difference in the development of their communities.

Jesse Saginor, '06

Major: Ph.D. in Urban Studies & Master of Public Administration
Texas A&M University
College of Architecture
Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning
Assistant Professor

“My experience at CSU, especially my dissertation topic, enabled me to be competitive in the academic job market, especially in regards to land development and land use. Given the timely nature of my dissertation topic, several colleges were interested in me as a possible new faculty member. This background provided me with the ability to obtain a tenure-track position at an excellent university. The main responsibilities of my position focus on teaching existing classes as well as proposing and developing new courses to expand the Master of Science in Land Development Program.”

Career opportunities for individuals receiving a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary urban affairs programs are expanding. The demand for urban and public affairs Ph.D.’s in the traditional academic market continues. Ph.D.’s are also in demand in the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

Jeffrey Sugalski, '06

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development
Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc.
Real Estate Development Specialist

“The College of Urban Affairs helped lay the foundation for me to become an effective young professional in the field of community development. Through my courses and employment at the College, I learned how to approach problems both creatively and analytically. My college experience also afforded me the opportunity to build a network of skilled professionals to support me in my current and future career endeavors.

Hands-on learning is the predominant feature of the curriculum at the Levin College. Professors involve students in finding solutions to real problems faced by local agencies and governments."

Anthony Zampedro, '06

Major: Master of Public Administration
Certificate of Local and Urban Management
City of Mentor, Ohio
Assistant City Manager

“I am a career public servant. My MPA has daily application in my work! The degree I earned at the College of Urban Affairs greatly assisted my career transition from City Attorney to City Manager.”

The Levin College of Urban Affairs develops leaders for public service through the College’s nationally ranked MPA program. Anthony is part of a growing number of alumni who are committed to excellence in public service.

Kelly La Rosa, '04

Major: Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development
The Nord Center Supervisor for Residential and Housing Service

“I went into the MUPDD program with 10 years of local government experience, specifically in planning and zoning. Much of what I was exposed to as a student directly correlated with what I was doing on the job, which reinforces the fact that students learn the tools and framework necessary to be adequately prepared for the workforce.”

I wear multiple hats in my position as Supervisor for Residential and Housing Service at the Nord Center. The Nord Center is a comprehensive behavioral health care center with a 60-year history of providing services to persons with mental illness. One role is to coordinate housing for persons who have both a severe mental illness and are homeless through the Shelter Plus Care and Supportive Housing Programs of the McKinney Vento Act. I also direct the Housing Service Program of Lorain County (HSP), a program that the Nord Center has fiscal oversight of and is open to all residents in Lorain County. The HSP provides placement assistance for the homeless, emergency rental assistance for individuals and families experiencing a temporary inability to pay rent, and foreclosure loss mitigation. I oversee the homeless shelter liaison and peer mentor, who conduct mental health assessments at the day shelter, overnight shelter, and the 24-hour shelter in Lorain County. I am the Vice Chair of the Homeless Task Force of Lorain County, co-chair of the Continuum of Care Committee, board member of Lorain County Habitat for Humanity and Lorain County Furniture Bank, and a member of the Lorain County Foreclosure Task Force. I am also a licensed Realtor with Russell Real Estate Services in Amherst.”