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Cleveland Play House (CPH) community breakfast; Annual Meeting of The Lake County Visitors Bureau

Even though we were up very late the night before, we still got up early on Wednesday, October 26th, to attend the Cleveland Play House (CPH) community breakfast at the Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square. We talked img_5640to several people like Ms. Liz Horrigan, Director of Development for the Cleveland Play House; Mr. Benjamin W. Kroeck, Philantrophy Coordinator at Dominion; and Mr. Richard Pogue who were at the Global Impact Award dinner the previous evening. Many other people admitted to being up late watching either the CAVS game or the Indians game or both.

"Welcomes" were given by Ms. Anne-Marie Warren, Chair of CPH Corporate Leadership Council, and Mr. Kevin Moore, Managing Director of the Cleveland Play House. Then Ms. Pamela DiPasquale, the CPH Director of Education, gave the keynote address which concerned the impact of arts education and arts engagement on workforce development. She presented some interesting statistics based on surveys of some 200 CEO's which revealed that the young people of today are often not prepared to enter the workforce because they lack skills concerning creativity and innovation, collaboration or ability to work with others, problem-solving, communication, critical thinking and the ability to make decisions. Ms. DiPasquale believed that arts education can help develop these skills and went on to discuss programs that are already underway like CARE teaching artists conducting theatre classes in 4 CMSD and 2 Lorain City Schools. She also talked about a program at Adlai Stevenson School where the young students put on their own show based on the writings of Dr. Seuss.

There was then a panel discussion wherein Ms. Warren asked questions of Ms. Lisa Bottoms, Cleveland Foundation's Program Director for Human Services and Child and Youth Development; Mr. Craig Buffie, Executive VP, Merger Integration Leadership Team-KeyCorp; and Ms. Laura Kepley, CPH's Artistic Director. They are agreed that arts education can help young people develop essential skills that can help them later in life no matter what profession they ultimately chose.

During the Q and A, we asked the panel about their experiences working with international people. Ms. Bottoms really respects the perspective of people who come from a different place. As a classical dancer, she told us she has found language barriers can be overcome through artistic expression. Mr. Buffie said that 35% of the people that he hires are born and raised outside of the United States. These people bring with them a different skill set and a different world perspective regarding problems and issues. He believed that the broader and more diverse that a company is the greater its chances of attracting a diverse set of clients.

During breakfast we shared a table with a young man named Ismael Lara, an Educational Intern at CPH who came to Cleveland from Texas. He is part of a program involving 15 other students who are mentored by professionals in all aspects of theatre both artistically and administratively. Mr. Lara told us that 98% of the students who complete this program have received job offers in regional theatre.

Mr. Lara was asked to come up and share his experiences between the keynote speech and the panel discussion. He talked about how theatre can force a person out of his/her comfort zone and to establish self-confidence which is necessary if one is to successfully work with others. He acknowledged that theatre is a "mash-up" of all kinds of people so it is necessary that all viewpoints be listened to and respected. Problem-solving and having empathy for others are very difficult at times but can ultimately be very rewarding. Another factor that is imperative is emotional development-Mr. Lara believed that it is necessary that he understand his own emotions and know how to successfully regulate them. If he cannot leave his emotions "at the door" when he is working, he must channel them into positive action. Along these lines, theatre has taught him to examine his own values and his own behavior. As for communication skills, they are vital because he often has to collaborate with unique personalities. He contended that commitment to a project is second nature if it is to succeed. In short, Mr. Lara believed that his education in theatre has given him just what he needs to successfully join the workforce.

Towards the end of the program, Ms. Cheri Ashcraft, Corporate Outreach Manager for K & D Group said, "Ismael, you are the star of today!" She went on to say that as he told his story the lights should have been dimmed and the spotlight should have been place upon him. She congratulated Mr. Lara for being a person faced with a lot of challenges which he has learned to overcome and/or master with the help of the CPH programs which have proved to be his "stepping stone" for success.

For lunch that day we went to the Radisson Hotel in Eastlake where we attended the annual meeting of the Lake County Visitors Bureau. Mr. Robert Ulas, the Bureau's Executive Director and Ms. Judy Moran, President of the Lake County Commissioners, talked about what a fine year 2016 has been for Lake County and cited that many people img_5656 connected with the RNC who lodged and toured there during the convention, the ParkOhio Offshore Power Boat Race, and the Tall Ships Festival as examples. In the works is a very promising partnership with Ashtabula County pertaining to wine branding and there has been talk for a long time about a water park in Fairport Harbor.

Today the Keynote Speaker was Mr. Paul Palgyi, Executive Director and CEO of Lake Metroparks who shared with us some interesting details about now 37 parks taking up 9,000 acres and offering 50 miles of clean and safe trails. Mr. Palagyi didn't see the parks as an "economic driver" but "an important factor of the quality of life in this county." Nevertheless, Mr. Palgyi told us that 3.3 people visit these parks annually and he believes that the key to their success is that they are "clean" and that they are "safe."

We talked with Mr. Palagyi about the attraction of Lake Metroparks to people visiting the United States. He recalled a pleasant conversation that he had not that long ago with a Korean family and mentioned that many international college students like to go there.

img_5655We are members of both the Mentor Chamber of Commerce and the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce and we love spending time in Lake County because it is so beautiful so we enjoyed this program where we got to meet several people we had not met before.

Among these was a housing official who talked with us about several foreign-born families (Hispanic and Middle Eastern) who have been assisted by the programs of the Lake Metropolitan Housing Authority.

We enjoyed talking to Mr. Jason Nelson, Ms. Dianna Calderone, and Ms. Amy Morton from the Lake County Dart Association. We didn't realize that playing darts was so popular but their association has about 600 members, 98 teams, and has been active since 1984.

Lastly, we shared a table with Dr. Robert H. Vaughn, PhD and his wife, Susan. We told them that we worked for "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" which prompted Susan to remember that Ms. Margaret W. Wong helped an old friend of hers from Taiwan on an immigration matter many years ago. We learned that the person that Ms. Wong assisted got to remain in the U.S. and went on to name a baby after her!


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC


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