I am the president and CEO of Wagtown, Inc., a nonprofit initiative to establish the first authentic and research-based measurement of dog friendliness. We work with communities to understand some of the factors impacting their economic vibrancy through infrastructure improvements or reuse, community building, and advocacy for responsible dog-friendly neighborhoods. Wagtown’s work to date and our beta project in Dayton, in collaboration with Nan Whaley’s office and countless community stakeholders, will shine a national spotlight on our town.
What superpower would you love to have?
The ability to snap my fingers and have people realize that we all already have superpowers. The power to make someone smile. The power to make someone cry. The power to make the world worse. The power to make the world better. If I can't have that, I guess I would be willing to accept the ability to laugh like Chewbacca mom at random funny moments, but have no one realize it was me.
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What do you love about life in Dayton?
Defying the statement, "there's nothing to do around here."
What’s your favorite spot in Dayton?
Medler Conservation Area, circa 2011.
Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?
I moved here in 1990 from a suburb of Cleveland after graduating from Bowling Green State University. Dayton is so easy to navigate, so economical, so diverse, and has a nice combination of open space, local artists, wonderful restaurant options, a tapestry of dissimilar neighborhoods and a golden thread of genuine goodness in most of the people who live here. It's much smaller than Cleveland, and lacks some of the ethnic pocket wonderlands, but that size allows you to make connections that last a lifetime in a small-town feel.
Wagtown is the Dayton-based advocacy group for dog-friendly communities among other related causes.
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How did you get involved with your line of work?
I have been working in strategic planning, brand development, marketing, event management and change making for nearly 30 years. When you add that resume to my passion for working with a combination of for-profit, governmental, and nonprofit organizations, it was only a matter of time before I linked my love of dogs in my belief in people's ability to affect positive community change for economic impact, that Wagtown evolved. It doesn't hurt that when you start to analyze the industry trends, you see that dogs and their impact on our lives are just starting to take hold in America. It's remarkable, quite frankly. We are at a tipping point. That's always a great place to be.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be?
The ability to celebrate all of the wonderfulness of Dayton. I think that our self-deprecating attitude has done a lot of harm to our community. Ironically, I think one of the best things to happen to Dayton was to be called a dying city by Forbes in 2008. I truly believe that our community has responded with, "Oh yeah? Hold my craft beer and watch this!"
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What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
I think Dayton will look amazing in 10 to 15 years. When you start to add up all of the incredible evolutions happening in our region, it takes your breath away. Think about all the great new initiatives, local restaurants, public art installations, community gatherings, etc. Now take that and multiply it times 10 to 15 years of growth and celebration. If we take the time to celebrate and support each other, it may happen much faster than we think. There is a story behind every Golden Nugget in Dayton. And I'm not talking about just pancakes, although they are stellar at that place. It's time for Dayton to unpack its stories, shout them from the rooftops, shake each other's hands, pat each other on the back, and walk together toward a spectacular future for our city.