Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Lexi Petrella
Profession: Director of Development at Clean Fuels Ohio
Neighborhood: New Albany
Education: Bachelor’s degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University, Master’s degree in Public Administration from The Ohio State University
Community Involvement: Co-chair of Conversations Committee at the Columbus Leadership Council
Quote: “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” – G.D Anderson
Give us a snapshot of your path
During my first year at Ohio State, I fell into the world of city and regional planning. I ended up getting an internship at the Ohio Department of Transportation at the end of my sophomore year. I fell in love with transportation planning- specifically for transportation safety and active transportation equity and connectivity. In my first year out of college, I worked at a private engineering firm in New Haven, CT on regional transportation safety plans. I’m thankful for the experience but it was so hard. I came home after a year because I missed Columbus and my family. I came home to a position at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and was so happy to be working at a public agency and working in sustainable transportation.
I have since supported a locally headquartered mobility startup in government affairs and public sector partnerships before joining Clean Fuels Ohio. At CFO, I have the pleasure of supporting and growing CFO’s valuable network of members and working with our incredible staff on expanding our services to better meet our mission of improving air quality, and public health, and strengthening Ohio’s economy by increasing the use of cleaner, domestic fuels and energy-saving vehicles.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
My friends, family, and mentors who encourage me to follow my passion and overcome personal and professional obstacles without fear.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Through example and various one-on-one conversations, my friend/mentor/previous employer Thea Ewing has taught me to be a courageous and empathetic leader and communicator in all areas of my work- whether internally or when working with the communities I served. She also has taught me to lean into new responsibilities with confidence and integrity and without self-doubt.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
Either home to my parent’s house to visit with my best buddy, Buttercup (a very cute English bulldog), or turn on do not disturb mode to read- sometimes both.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I like to think of myself as a cocktail explorer! A few of my favorite spots right now are Ginger Rabbit and Watershed Distillery.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
This is a little embarrassing, but when I was little I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. My mom told me I could be anything I wanted and I believed her. I still do, but managed to readjust my goals to be a tad more realistic!
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
The book I’m reading is called “No One at the Wheel” by Samuel I. Schwartz. The book looks at the implications of a driverless future and how we might shape the implementation of this technology for the better.
I regularly listen to 99% Invisible, Radiolab, a collection of transportation nerd podcasts, and some true crime series (my guilty pleasure).
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
When I was starting in Columbus, I felt more pressure to find what I needed to do but this city and my colleagues in CYP have shown me that I can love what I do and make a positive impact through my career and relationships inside and outside of the office. It means so much to me to be recognized by my friends and colleagues in the CYP network and inspires me to continue on this recognition to others in my field and in the CYP family.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
A small city with a big heart that has incredible opportunity and responsibility as we grow.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2023 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Quantum Health for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2023” »