Community Partners

Raechel Anne Jolie

Raechel Anne Jolie (she/they) is writer, educator, and editor. Her critically-acclaimed memoir Rust Belt Femme was the winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction, an NPR Favorite Book of 2020, and a runner-up for the Heartland Bookseller’s Award. She is the former engagement editor for Belt Magazine and holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota.

Karen Long

Karen Long manages the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, the only juried prize given each year for the best books to confront racism and contribute to our understanding of rich human cultures. She came to the Cleveland Foundation in 2013 after eight years as book editor of the Plain Dealer. She continues as a literary critic, writing for Newsday, Kirkus, and the Los Angeles Times. In 2016, she finished a seven-year stretch as a vice president for the National Book Critics Circle, where she was a judge for its six annual prizes, awarded each spring in New York City.

Lytton Smith

Lytton Smith received his Ph.D. and M.F.A. from Columbia University and has been a member of the Geneseo faculty since 2014; he is a member of the Creative Writing and Black Studies faculties. He often teaches the Advanced Poetry Workshop and Writing and Knowing the Land: Abroad in Iceland (co-taught with Dr. Nick Warner from Geological Sciences), among others. He is the author of three published poetry collections. His most recent, The Square (New Michigan Press) was published in the spring of 2021. He also published While You Were Approaching the Spectacle But Before You Were Transformed By It (Nightboat Books) and The All-Purpose Magical Tent (Nightboat Books). In addition to publishing his own work, he has also translated several novels and works of nonfiction from the Icelandic. He is a 2019 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. He is Director of the Center of Integrative Learning at SUNY Geneseo.

Lawrence Caswell

Lawrence Caswell is managing editor, community for Signal Cleveland, and a 2022 JSK Stanford Community Impact Fellow. As field coordinator for Cleveland Documenters, led the recruitment and training of 600 Greater Cleveland residents. Lawrence has worked in non-commercial media for over 27 years, including 11 years at Ideastream working on civic engagement, audience experience and media production.

Lila Mills

Lila is editor-in-chief of Signal Cleveland. Lila has experience in community building and journalism, and led the launch of Cleveland Documenters in 2020. Formerly associate director at Neighborhood Connections, a Cleveland-based organization that has done groundbreaking work building and igniting community networks, Mills has been a newspaper reporter, a student-journalism advisor and a freelance producer.

Dan Crissman

Dan is the associate publisher of Belt Publishing, an independent press based in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of Brewing Everything: How to Make Your Own Beer, Cider, Mead, Sake, and Other Fermented Beverages (Countryman, 2018) and the editor of Cleveland in 50 Maps (Belt, 2019).
Dan has also worked with New York Book Editors nearly since its founding, helping dozens of independent authors refine their projects and find their voice. Though his primary interests are business, history, and popular science, Dan has edited everything from thrillers (Peter Quinn’s Dry Bones) to photography collections (Little Darling’s Pinups for Pitbulls) to graphic novels (Sid Jacobson & Ernie Colon’s Che: A Graphic Biography).

Ed Simon

Ed is the executive director of Belt Media Collaborative and editor of Belt Magazine, as well as a staff writer for The Millions. His byline has appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and The Washington Post. The author of several books, his An Alternative History of Pittsburgh explored the changing nature of the region.

Evan Tachovsky

Evan Tachovsky is a cartographer, data scientist, and the Global Director of the World Resources Institute (WRI)’s Data Lab. Born and raised in Bedford, Ohio, he makes it back to Northeast Ohio as often as he can. Before joining WRI, he served as Director of Innovation and Lead Data Scientist at the Rockefeller Foundation. He holds a master’s in quantitative methods from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in political science and psychology from Hiram College.

Brandon Edwin Chrostowski

Brandon founded EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute in 2007 with the belief that “education wins” and that every human being – regardless of their past – has the right to a fair and equal future. EDWINS has grown to include culinary education and life skills training at its flagship French eatery and haute dining concept, edwins too, in Cleveland, Ohio; a Butcher Shop and Bakery and Diner; a nearby Second Chance Life Skills Center campus for additional learning, housing, and support services; an on-site program at Grafton Correctional Institute and curriculum for inmates at all Ohio state prisons.
A classically trained chef and sommelier, Chrostowski honed his skills at fine dining establishments in Paris, New York, and Chicago, including Lucas Carton, Chanterelle, Picholine, Le Cirque and Charlie Trotter’s. Recognition of his culinary and mission-driven efforts include IFMA’s 2020 Silver Plate, CNN 2016 Heroes and Crain’s “40 under 40” awards; being featured as the subject of the Academy Award nominated documentary Knife Skills; The Richard C. Cornuelle Award from the Manhattan Institute for Social Entrepreneurship: and 2022 semifinalists for 2022 James Beard Awards for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Yvonka Hall

Yvonka Hall holds a BA in Political Science from Notre Dame College and an MPA from Texas Southern University. She was recognized by the both the Ohio Senate and House and the United States Congress for her work in the African-American community, was named a Black Woman Green Future Honoree for her environmental justice work, and was named by the Cleveland Plain Dealer a HomeGrown Hero for her work addressing food insecurity. The National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter named her the Region 3 Community Member of the Year.

LaShale Pugh

Lashale Pugh received her Bachelors’ in Biology and Geography and Masters in Biology from Youngstown State University and later attended the University of Maryland College Park where she received her PhD in Geography. Dr. Pugh’s awards include the Healthy Hero Award from The African American Male Wellness Walk committee, the David T. Stephens Alumni of the Year Award from Youngstown State University Geography Department, an Early Career Faculty Workshop Stipend from the College of William and Mary, and many others. Presenting to audiences nationally, she highlights factors resulting in disparities in health outcomes, community-level health and disease patterns, and food justice issues.

Torrian Denise

Torrian is a Northeast Ohio-based nail technician and salon owner who developed skin care products for her clients and for her mother when her treatments for pancreatic cancer caused excessive dryness. Torrian named the brand for her products “DorNee’,” a word combining “adoration” with her mother’s name, ReNee’. The products are manufactured in Twinsburg, Ohio, and sold at select Whole Foods stores, Mustard Seed & Lucky’s Markets, and other retailers in Ohio.

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