Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester to be keynote speaker at UA’s Ohio Economic Forum 2022


Loretta J. Mester

Loretta J. Mester

Loretta J. Mester, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, will be the keynote speaker at The University of Akron (UA) Ohio Economic Forum 2022 on Thursday, April 14 from 2:30 – 5 p.m. A 30-minute networking period with light refreshments will be followed by the formal program beginning at 3 p.m. The topic of this year’s Forum is Education and Workforce Development: The Key to Ohio’s Economic Future.

The annual Ohio Economic Forum is hosted by the Department of Economics in the UA College of Business. It will take place in person at the Jean Hower Taber Student Union Ballroom, 303 Carroll St., Akron OH 44325. Registration is required.

Proceeds will fund scholarships and experiential learning activities for students pursuing degrees in the Economics department.

Following Dr. Mester’s presentation, a panel of experts will discuss the issue of education and workforce development. In addition to Dr. Mester, the panel will include:

  • Michele Campbell, Executive Director, LeBron James Family Foundation
  • Christina Collins, State Board of Education, Ohio Department of Education
  • Jill Penrose, Chief People and Administrative Officer, The J.M. Smucker Co.

“We are excited and proud to have Dr. Mester as our keynote speaker at this year’s Ohio Economic Forum, as we return to our traditional in-person format,” said Dr. Sucharita Ghosh, professor and chair of the Department of Economics.

“Our topic is urgent,” she continued. “The so-called ‘skills gap’ has been a major issue in economics and public policy in Ohio for some time. The gap between worker skills and jobs in demand causes an economy to not reach its full economic potential, and education and workforce development can play a central role in addressing this challenge. The recent pandemic has only exacerbated this skills gap. It is important that we discuss how Ohio positions itself to be a leader in workforce development and education in order to retain our students in Ohio and to continue to attract high-tech employers to the state.”

The annual Ohio Economic Forum allows UA students and faculty, business professionals, civic leaders, and other community members to hear from a keynote speaker and panel of experts as they discuss economic issues facing Ohio and beyond.

This year's topic was inspired by Dr. Ali Enami, assistant professor in the UA Department of Economics, and his co-authors’ recent publication, which attempts to identify the areas in which Ohio can maximize the impact of school funding on students.

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Loretta Mester

As president of the Cleveland Fed, Dr. Loretta Mester participates in the formulation of U.S. monetary policy and oversees 1,000 employees in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh who conduct economic research, supervise banking institutions and provide payment services to commercial banks and the U.S. government. She assumed her role as president and CEO in June 2014. Dr. Mester was born in Baltimore. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Economics from Barnard College of Columbia University. She earned a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy, both in Economics, from Princeton University, where she was a National Science Foundation Fellow. See here for a complete bio.

Dr. Michele Campbell

Dr. Michele Campbell has spent many years pursuing her passion in the education sector. The Akron native attained her education from Ohio institutions including a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Ashland University, a Master of Education from Kent State University in Higher Education Administration, and a Doctor of Education from The University of Akron. As executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, Campbell is able to implement her decades of experience in higher education into thoughtful, family-focused initiatives that connect with the inner-city students and families that need it most. Through the Foundation, which aims to positively affect the lives of children and young adults through educational initiatives, Campbell brings LeBron’s vision to create positive and lasting change in his hometown to life through daily and long-term interventions rooted in research and driven by passion.

Dr. Christina Collins

Dr. Christina Collins was elected to the State Board of Education in November 2020. She represents eight counties in Northeast Ohio. A 2001 graduate of Gahanna Lincoln High School, Dr. Collins' postsecondary studies included earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from The Ohio State University, a Master of Education in Curriculum from Ashland University, and a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Kent State University. She also recently obtained her superintendent license from Ashland University in 2020. Dr. Collins began her professional career teaching multi-grade groups at Southern Hills Academy, a private school in Chillicothe. She then became a high school English teacher at Northridge Local Schools in Johnstown. When the transition to Common Core began, Dr. Collins went to the Ohio Resource Center (ORC), where she served as a literacy specialist providing training on shifts in the standards to teachers throughout the state. In 2012, she became a secondary curriculum specialist at Medina City Schools and, subsequently, K-12 curriculum director at Buckeye Local Schools in Medina. She currently teaches qualitative research courses at Kent State, and she recently joined the Medina County Economic Development Corporation as a pre-apprenticeship coordinator for high school workforce development programming.

Jill Penrose

Jill Penrose has more than 15 years of leadership experience with The J.M. Smucker Co. During that time, she has held roles of escalating responsibility in the areas of corporate strategy, organization development, human resources and corporate communications. In her current role, Jill champions the Smucker culture and leads the performance, evolution and integration of many of the company’s administrative functions including Human Resources, Corporate Communications, Government Relations, Corporate Responsibility, Information Services and Corporate Services. Prior to joining Smucker, Jill held consulting roles with Willis Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin) and PwC. As a first-generation college graduate, Jill has a deep appreciation for the power of education to create opportunity and serve as a social equalizer. She is a trustee on the Board of Old Trail School, an independent day school in Bath, Ohio. Jill is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, and Washington University in St. Louis, from which she holds an MBA.

More: Additional event details and full speaker's bios.