24 Columbus Leaders Share What They Are Looking Forward to in 2019

Cbus Leaders 2019
Cbus Leaders 2019

Row 1: William Murdock, Kenny McDonald, Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, Mayor Tom Kneeland, Mayor Kim Maggard, Shannon Hardin.
Row 2: Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage, Lisa Courtice, Roy Hall, Andrew Buck Michael, Amy Tillinghast, Angela An.
Row 3: Jen Peterson, Tom Rieland, Betsy Pandora, Josh Harrison, Katy Smith, Michael Stinziano.
Row 4: Otto Beatty, Yiema John, Elizabeth Boyden, Jacques Washington, Dee Anders, Kwame Christian.

In 2018, the Columbus region saw an increase of 43,000 residents, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). That’s enough people to fill Nationwide Arena and the Schottenstein Center to capacity simultaneously. It represents the largest single-year of growth in Central Ohio’s history and equates on average to 118 people moving to Columbus each day. Who knows what 2019 will bring?

With a brand new year of promise and possibilities upon us, we asked 24 Central Ohio leaders to answer the question: “What are you most looking forward to in the Columbus region in 2019.” Here is what they had to say!


One very big thing for 2019 – more trails more quickly to more places – Central Ohio’s communities are building out a vision to add 500 new miles of trails and greenways. Add in new transportation options in the Short North and around the region, over 30 communities advancing sustainability efforts, and continued work on a hyperloop to Chicago and Pittsburgh – it’s shaping up to be a big year!

William Murdock, Executive Director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC)


“The coming year is an important one for The Columbus Region, one in which we must answer key questions and make clear decisions about our future. As we continue to grow our population and our economy we must decide how will invest in our transportation networks, modernize our housing policies for our new era, and take care of our most vulnerable citizens. The Columbus Region is a success by many standards, but will be measured in the future on how well it provides access for all to a quality education, life-long health, and career opportunities. We can’t wait to tackle the challenge.”

Kenny McDonald, President and Chief Economic Officer at Columbus 2020


“I’m looking forward to another year of progress in Columbus — from strong neighborhoods to more affordable housing, from universal pre-K access to eliminating poverty, let’s make 2019 our most productive year yet. Closer to home, I’m looking forward to celebrating my son’s first birthday in April and continuing to marvel at the ways my three-year-old daughter has embraced the role of doting (and raucous) big sister.”

Elizabeth Brown, Columbus City Councilmember, City of Columbus


“This year, I am looking forward to creating new strategies to enhance our engagement efforts with our citizens to get them more involved in local government and gain their input in future policy decisions.

Additionally, I will be continuing to meet with our local leaders, community partners and businesses to identify more opportunities for collaboration through private-public partnerships. Finally, I will also be hosting my ‘Coffee with the Mayor’ community conversations, partnering with Councilmember Stephen Renner on his community engagement meetings and embarking on a Listening Tour to ensure we hear from our diverse residents and businesses about their ideas for the community as we plan for the future of our great city.”

Tom Kneeland, Mayor, City of Gahanna


“I’m looking forward to the continued progress in the Columbus region specifically economic and housing growth as well as indulging in the many central Ohio festivals.”

Kim Maggard, Mayor, City of Whitehall


“New affordable housing, an ever improving transportation system, and more opportunities for young people of color. In short, a more equitable Columbus.”

Shannon G. Hardin, Columbus City Council President, City of Columbus


“Grove City prides itself as the southern gateway to Central Ohio. During 2019 our community will enhance the quality of life for our region. The near completion of the I-71 rebuild, the addition of OhioHealth Grove City Methodist Hospital and opening the new Mount Carmel Grove City hospital will shine a new light on the southern corridor. The medical facilities will serve to make Grove City another hub for extraordinary medical care. Grove City, a twice-named ‘Best Hometown,’ will strive to continue this honor throughout 2019 for our citizens and business partners.”

Richard “Ike” Stage, Mayor, City of Grove City


“I’m looking forward to Knock Out Poverty, a two week online fundraising competition that benefits Columbus’ leading nonprofits serving hardworking families in need of support. Donatos Pizza’s Jane Grote Abell is chairing this dynamic event that will be held during March Madness. We hope everyone will join our fight to Knock Out Poverty in March!”

Lisa Courtice, President & CEO at United Way of Central Ohio


“The Stay Driven Leadership Conference on April 25th at Superior Beverage Group Headquarters. Training professionals with Antonio Smith, and other great speakers on what it takes to be a REAL leader in the workplace is going to be exciting and memorable. Oh, and you can’t forget the 2019 OSU football season with Coach Day at the helm.”

Roy Hall, President at The Driven Foundation


“I am looking forward to a few things this year: 1. Waking up with Central Ohio on Good Day Columbus. 2. Spending more time with my kids as one learns to walk and chase the other one around. 3. Running my first ultra marathon.”

Andrew Buck Michael, Meteorologist at ABC6 / FOX28


“There has never been a more critical time to get engaged with the tourism economy, be informed about the business side of hospitality and raise the stakes on welcoming visitors to Columbus! In 2019, we are hosting the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting & Exposition. ASAE will draw 5,000+ attendees to the Greater Columbus Convention Center from Augusut 10–13. Filling up hotel rooms and generating $16+ million in direct visitor spending is just the beginning – ASAE may net us as much as $500 million in potential future revenue. This is a real game-changer for Columbus.”

Amy Tillinghast, Vice President of Marketing at Experience Columbus


“I am most looking forward to commemorating Easton‘s 20th Birthday this year…the actual date is June 30th, but we will be celebrating ALL year, so be sure to look out for all the exciting details!”

Jen Peterson, Chief Executive, Easton at Steiner + Associates


“I look forward to the groundbreaking of a new WOSU Public Media headquarters in the 15th and High development. It will be an iconic building and will allow remarkable growth of broadcast and digital content from WOSU, but also build community through a spectacular public space. Also, look for WOSU to bring the national StoryCorps project to Columbus in 2019!”

Tom Rieland, General Manager at WOSU Public Media


“In 2019, I’m looking forward to seeing years of creativity through collaboration come to fruition in the Short North Arts District. Between implementation of new city-led parking and mobility plans, major construction projects wrapping up, new art initiatives launching, and the ASAE National Convention – 2019 is about showcasing the hard work of many.”

Betsy A. Pandora, Executive Director of the Short North Alliance


“The city is in such a beautiful state of flux. We’re growing fast as more people show up here every day having decided to call Columbus home. The air is electric with the creative energy of entrepreneurs, dreamers, makers and doers. The physical landscape around us is being transformed – our skyline, entire neighborhoods, can we just talk about High Street, Dublin or Franklinton? We have an amazing opportunity as we grow to get it right. To create the city we want to be, with smart urban planning, accessible housing and streamlined transportation systems that promote a healthy, integrated community instead of separating people from where they need to go to earn a living – and from one another. What I am most excited about in 2019 is seeing our business and community leaders come together to engage in the difficult work of getting it right – of making sure everyone can take part in Columbus’ success, not just those with the means or who are white and live in the right neighborhoods. Because when we leave our neighbors behind, are we really prospering?”

Katy Smith, Editor at Columbus CEO


“Columbus is a city that continues to thrive. In the year ahead I’m grateful to be a part of a community that cares about our creating Age-friendly neighborhoods, invests in innovation, and believes in our people. I’m excited to watch the Crew continue to play in Columbus, and see the Jackets make a run for the Stanley Cup. The puck is in our court… and we’ll keep exceeding our goals.”

Michael Stinziano, Columbus City Council President Pro Tem, City of Columbus


“I am looking forward to seeing more growth and opportunity spread to more Columbus neighborhoods in 2019, including Franklinton, Hilltop, Linden, Olde Towne East and others. Columbus cares and we have the power to truly become the Opportunity City for ALL.”

Otto Beatty, President at Intelligent Office Columbus


“Last year was all about learning and transition — 2019 is the year of action for me, She Radiates, and Columbus! I’m so excited to be partnering with the organizations and people I’ve been working with and can’t wait to share with everyone!”

Yiema John, Founder of She Radiates


“Everyday I get the chance to bring people together in a real and authentic way in a place (social media) that often feels less than real and authentic. Sharing the stories of the people of Columbus is where my passion is, and creating a safe space for them to share their stories of joy, loss, heartache, and celebration is an honor. In 2019 I’m looking forward to this great City of Columbus becoming more connected and supportive through the vulnerability of storytelling.”

Elizabeth Boyden, Owner + Founder of Columbus Stories


“Columbus is adding close to 120 new people a day. I am looking forward to how we, as a community, will address the many opportunities and challenges this will bring in 2019. I am also excited to meet some of those new to the city.”

Josh Harrison, President at Improving


“Lot’s to look forward to! Startup Week, YP Week, all of the festivals here in Columbus, and all of the new art projects in flight! Here at Columbus Inspires we look forward to doing MORE projects in 2019 that impact the community for the better. I can’t wait to pursue new ideas and partnerships here in central Columbus! It’s going to be a good year.”

Jacques Washington, Board Chair at Columbus Inspires


“2019 looks to be a very exciting year for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. We will be opening the very first Ronald McDonald Family Room in a facility dedicated to mental health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This specialty area for respite – within the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion – will provide families encountering uniquely challenging circumstances with an opportunity to get away within the confines of the facility. The space will be designed specifically to foster a positive environment for families of children encountering mental health challenges. As we look to the future of family centered care in Central Ohio, our charity is working on a strategy to continue our level of care for families of seriously ill children. Our goal is to continue to deliver our mission to serve all families who need us while their child is receiving treatment in area hospitals. Together with the community of Central Ohio, we are excited for what is to come in 2019.”

Dee Anders, CEO and Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio


“I’m looking forward to seeing how young professionals around Central Ohio are going to improve and energize the city by giving back. Columbus’s young professionals are incredibly generous with their time, talents, and treasures and 2019 is going to be an exciting time for our community.”

Kwame Christian Esq., M.A., Director of the American Negotiation Institute



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