Board of Directors
Board of Directors
Joel Ratner – Board Chair
Principal, Joel Ratner Community Partnership
J.D., School of Law, Case Western Reserve University
Joel Ratner is a community development and smart growth consultant. Prior to launching Joel Ratner Community Partnership, Mr. Ratner served for ten years as President and CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, a local community development funding intermediary with over thirty years of experience investing in community revitalization work in the City of Cleveland. Cleveland Neighborhood Progress works to accomplish its vision for all of Cleveland’s neighborhoods to be attractive, vibrant communities where people from all incomes, races, and generations thrive, prosper, and choose to live, learn, work, invest, and play. Before joining Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Ratner served as President of the Raymond John Wean Foundation, leading its comprehensive effort to advance the Mahoning Valley. Prior to that, Ratner led the Neighborhood Connections Program at the Cleveland Foundation, which provides small grants to neighborhood groups working to improve their communities.
Michele Scott Taylor, EdD – Board Vice Chair
Chief Program Officer, College Now Greater Cleveland
Doctor of Education, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Michele Scott Taylor is the Chief Program Officer at College Now Greater Cleveland and provides strategic leadership for the organization’s programmatic efforts, including school- and community-based advising programs as well as federal programs. Her previous role as Coordinator of Access and Retention at John Carroll University focused on college access and retention. Michele has spent most of her professional career in higher education administration in a myriad of student affairs and academic affairs roles. Michele is also CEO and principal of Global Learning Solutions, a small consulting firm she started in an effort to provide cultural competency development, program evaluation, program and proposal development, grant writing and organizational development assistance to small businesses and non-profit organizations. She received two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Akron majoring in Political Science, Sociology, and French. She earned a Master of Education degree from Kent State University specializing in College Student Personnel as well as Doctor of Education degree from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Administrative and Policy Studies. In the community, Michele takes pride in serving on the board of Progressive Arts Alliance, a non-profit that inspires students to reach their full potential by providing unique and relevant learning experiences using contemporary arts and 21st century media. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a social service organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world.
Yan Ling – Board Secretary
IT Project Manager, Progressive Corporation
MBA, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University
Yan Ling is an IT Project Manager and Scrum Master at the Progressive Corporation, leading multidisciplinary teams in enterprise projects. Prior to that, Yan worked as a web applications programmer for 16 years. Having experienced language immersion as a child immigrant, Yan is passionate about multilingual education. Yan holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science from Case Western Reserve University.
Deborah Stipkovich – Board Treasurer
Senior Audit Strategist, KeyBank
MS: Taxation, University of Akron
Debbie Stipkovich is a Senior Audit Strategist at KeyBank managing large audits focusing on the Corporate Treasury Department. She has had several roles at KeyBank including over 10 years preparing regulatory submissions and risk assessments on Treasury functions as well as working with banking regulators. She received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from John Carroll University and holds an Ohio CPA license and a CFA Charter.
Christine Eadie – Board Member
Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development, Cleveland State University
Ms. Eadie served as the manager of markets at the West Side Market, and prior to that worked for the Urban Conservancy in New Orleans and as a planner for the City of San Antonio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Tulane University and a Master of Urban Planning, Design & Development degree from Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.
Sarah Gelsomino – Board Member
Partner – Friedman and Gilbert
J.D., DePaul University College of Law, cum laude
Sarah Gelsomino is a partner at Friedman and Gilbert. Prior to joining the firm, Sarah was a partner at People’s Law Office, a civil rights law firm in Chicago, Illinois. Sarah concentrates her practice on civil rights cases, including police and government misconduct, particularly representing individuals who have been killed, brutalized, sexually assaulted, illegally searched or arrested by law enforcement. Her practice is also dedicated to First Amendment litigation, criminal defense, and representing incarcerated people in post-conviction proceedings and in challenging the conditions of their confinement. Sarah has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Next Gen Award of the Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, DePaul Spirit Award, Public Interest Law Association Scholarship, CALI Award, and she was named a Sonnenschein Scholar.
Matthew Grimes – Board Member
Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Cleveland Guardians
Master of Education Policy & Management, Harvard University
Matt Grimes is the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Cleveland Guardians Baseball Organization. In this role, Matt is charged with developing and implementing strategies to foster a more inclusive organizational culture that prioritizes a strong sense of belonging for both employees and fans. Prior to joining the Guardians, Matt spent over a decade in education as a classroom teacher and school systems leader in Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts. A strategic thinker and thought-provoking facilitator, Matt’s passion is for work that helps ensure a high quality, culturally proficient, diverse workforce at all levels. Matt holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and International Studies from Siena College and earned his Master’s Degree from the Harvard Graduate Schools of Education. A former United States’ Fulbright Scholar and Teach for America Alumnus, Matt has studied and observed social inequities on three different continents, over a dozen countries, and nearly 30 U.S states.
Tiffany Wright – Board Member
Assistant General Counsel – Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA)
JD, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University
Tiffany R. Wright is Assistant General Counsel in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Office of Legal Affairs where she strives to assist the Authority to achieve its mission of creating safe, quality, affordable housing opportunities and improving the quality of life for the community. Prior to her current position, Tiffany practiced law as a solo practitioner, representing clients in the various areas, including domestic relations, bankruptcy and in juvenile court as a Guardian ad Litem. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and African American Studies from the University of Virginia where she developed her passion for working as an advocate for families, especially children.
Margaret W. Wong – Honorary Board Member
Albert B. Ratner – Honorary Board Member
Join the GALA Board of Directors!
GALA is seeking professionals with a variety of skills and experiences, including primary and middle school education, fundraising, law, marketing, construction, real estate, and ethnic community connections to join our dynamic Board of Directors. Individuals residing in the city of Cleveland are especially welcome.
Submit your interest form at: https://forms.gle/LxJtLEgjHSRuGYym9