A changing of the guard in Cleveland: New public, private leadership shows next era is on the way

CLEVELAND, Ohio — As Cleveland’s longtime leaders retire and move on from their positions, the next era of the city’s history is on the way.

The city’s public and private sectors are filled with leadership positions that have recently undergone a transition, or will soon have openings. The most notable change will be seen in the Cleveland mayor’s office, where seven candidates are vying to succeed retiring Mayor Frank Jackson. It’s the first time in 20 years the mayor’s race hasn’t featured an incumbent on the ballot.

But the change will extend beyond City Hall. In the private sector, the George Gund Foundation, the United Way of Greater Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and University Hospitals are among the entities that will soon have new leaders or recently underwent a transition.

Cuyahoga County also will have an election for county executive in 2022, and current Executive Armond Budish has not yet said whether he will seek a third term.

A changing of the guard is happening in The Land, and the city’s old guard and current leaders say they are looking forward to the opportunities the new generation could bring.

“It’s inevitable,” said Dave Abbott, president of the George Gund Foundation. “In many respects, what you’re seeing is the Baby Boomer generation passing the torch. Our sort of demographic group has reached the end of this road anyway, not necessarily of all roads. And it’s not just Cleveland, it’s happening everywhere. So that’s life, and I look at many of these changes as great opportunities.”

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Sara McCarthy is the Fund's Director of Communications.