Building Resilient Communities through Vacant Land Reuse:Managing Resources to Impact the Health of Our Region


Thursday, April 21, 2022
4:00pm - 5:30pm
Registrants will receive Zoom access by email.
About This Event Program Participants | Video

About This Event

The physical and economic health of our Northeast Ohio region is determined by the decisions made by individual yet neighboring communities, and the resources with which they manage. Please join the Levin College as we explore the work of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Team NEO while learning strategies in re-purposing vacant and abandoned properties to serve as community assets.

Program Participants


bryceBryce Sylvester (MUPDD ’11), Director of Site Strategies, Team NEO

As Senior Director of Site Strategies, Bryce Sylvester works with JobsOhio and community partners to sell the competitiveness of Northeast Ohio for business investment, resulting in job creation and an increase in capital investment in the region. He focuses on leading development and management of real estate projects for competitive investment. Bryce also leads the job hub strategy in Northeast Ohio and the site programs of JobsOhio and Team NEO.

Before joining Team NEO, Bryce was the Director of Planning and Development for the city of Lakewood where he led economic development strategies for the city. In this role, Bryce oversaw development projects across all sectors. He played a role in leading key strategies for the city including work on business and real estate development, parks redevelopment, land acquisition, facilities planning and resiliency planning.

Bryce graduated from Baldwin-Wallace University with a double major in Finance and Marketing, and got his master’s degree in Urban Planning and Development from Cleveland State University.

Matt ZoneMatt Zone (BA ’99), Senior Vice President & Director of Thriving Communities, Western Reserve Land Conservancy
Matt Zone oversee the Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities initiative where he works with cities and community organizations throughout Ohio to transform vacant, unsafe and unproductive properties into useful ones. In the process, communities are finding new opportunities to attract economic growth, add green space and support safe, beautiful neighborhoods.

Prior to joining the Land Conservancy, Matt served as a Cleveland City Councilman for nearly two decades, representing Ward 15, which includes the Cudell, Detroit Shoreway, Edgewater and Ohio City neighborhoods. He brings a wealth of experience in strategic planning, land use, public art and environmental policy with the purpose of creating positive change for Northeast Ohio. With a background in Urban Planning, and a commitment to social equity, his work engages diverse community stakeholders, to inform and support sustainable community development goals.

Matt is recognized nationally, regionally and locally as a leader on environmental and arts & cultural issues. In 2017, he served as the President of the National League of Cities, the nation's oldest and largest organization representing 19,000 cities, towns and villages, serving more than 218 million Americans. Regionally, Matt is a former past President of the Northeast Ohio City Council Association (NOCCA) and one of the original members of the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, which is working to create off-shore wind generation in Lake Erie. He also served on the steering committee of the Regional Prosperity Initiative (RPI) which advocated for the creation of a “Smart Growth” plan and “Revenue Sharing” for Northeast Ohio. 

As a devoted supporter of the arts, Matt believes the arts and culture community can serve as an economic engine. Locally, he has been the driving force behind the development of the Gordon Square Arts District, which is comprised of new housing and businesses, retail development and the construction and renovation of three theaters. While on council, Matt wrote the City of Cleveland's "Percent for Arts" legislation, which requires all applicable capital improvement projects over $300,000 to set aside 1.5 percent of the total budget to include artists in their design. As a tireless advocate for alternative energy and green building, Matt’s former ward is home to the only EcoVillage in our state and one of the first in the country. The EcoVillage is complete with a LEED built school, theatre and certified Regional Transit Authority (RTA) rapid station, highly energy efficient homes that heat & cool for less than $500 annually and has a model storm water demonstration project on 25 acre city recreational facility.

Born on February 14th in the City of Cleveland, OH, and raised by middle-class parents, Matt was taught the values of hard work and civic responsibility at an early age. Matt is a graduate of Cleveland State University, married to Michelle, and they have a son, who is a Cleveland Police detective.


Earl Leiken, Senior Fellow, Levin College and Mayor, City of Shaker Heights, 2008-2018

Hunter MorrisonHunter Morrison, Senior Fellow, Levin College and Director, Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC)
Hunter Morrison III, is Senior Fellow in Urban Studies at Cleveland State’s Levin College of Urban Affairs and Senior Advisor to the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC), a regional public private partnership dedicated to making this region more vibrant, resilient and sustainable.  Mr. Morrison served as NEOSCC’s Executive Director from 2012-2015 during which the Consortium developed Vibrant NEO 2040, a vision and framework for the 12-county region. The framework links economic development strategies with investments in housing, transportation, infrastructure, and natural systems. The Vibrant NEO initiative was funded by the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an interagency partnership between HUD, DOT, and EPA. Mr. Morrison has served as director of the Youngstown State University Center for Urban and Regional Studies, where he managed the Youngstown 2010 Plan and as Planning Director for the city of Cleveland, where he was responsible for Cleveland’s Civic Vision 2000 Downtown and Citywide Plans Both plans received APA National Planning Awards.  He holds degrees in city planning and political science from Yale College, city planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and business administration from Cleveland State University.

Michael P. Summers, Senior Fellow, Levin College and Mayor, City of Lakewood, 2011-2019