VOICES: Hope for Dayton in the new year. Will the resilient community get the handshakes, high-fives, and hugs it craves?

“How we emerge from this pandemic will be defining for many generations to come. “ ― Luis Chanaga

There is a new baby in town.

Changing of the guard means a fresh opportunity for, well, opportunity.

In that spirit, eight members on the Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board shared 2021 wishes for our community.

The 28-member board is composed of a diverse mix of educators, health care executives, law enforcement officials, entrepreneurs and other business representatives, activists, veterans and other leaders.

They helping this newspaper tackle some of the region’s biggest problems.



“My hope is that our community continues to come together to heal, to grow and to provide opportunities for our talented students of all ages. We need to invest in our youngest generation to take the reins in our community in the future.” ― Cassie Barlow, president and CEO, Southwestern Ohio Council of Higher Education (SOCHE)


“My prayer is that (the new year will) be filled with peace, unity and healing. May 2021 bring each of us the promise of hope and a brighter tomorrow. Wishing you a happy, safe and healthy new year.” ― Kathy Harper, marketing vice president, Premier Health


Here in the Miami Valley, our 2020 started in 2019 - a bit early – with the KKK rally, Memorial Day Tornadoes, and Oregon District shootings. The pandemic and race protests of 2020 were just more body shots for us. Our Region has experience with being a bit early – remember our economic downturn ahead of the Great Recession of 2008?

Our learned capabilities and experiences with the disasters and pandemic have increased our resiliency. We had to rely on our creativity, innovation, and teamwork to continue operating in a new way. Unfortunately, we have lost lives, businesses, economic opportunity, and social events; however, we’re on a tremendous start of a new trajectory for the Miami Valley. For 2021, I pray that we continue to embrace these adaptations and innovations for the betterment of our residents, organizations, and quality of life.” ― Brian O. Martin, executive director, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission


“Hopeful and optimistic that 2021 restores a sense of calm; allows us to greet one another with handshakes, high-fives, and hugs; and nurtures a community we can be proud of for years to come.” — Erin Rhinehart, partner, Faruki PLL


“How we emerge from this pandemic will be defining for many generations to come. Reflecting on this past year, so many words come to mind to describe this year yet the one that stands out is ‘traumatic.’ Like with most trauma the wounds and effects can run deep in physical, emotional and mental ways. My wish for 2021 is for hope, health and healing for myself, our community and beyond.― Luis Chanaga, president, Sycamore Hospital/Kettering Health Network


“My wish for our community in 2021 is that our small businesses can thrive and that we all have a renewed focus on the importance of shopping local and supporting those businesses that do so much to add to the vibrancy of our local communities.” ― Jenny Michael, vice president, CareSource

Credit: #andysnowphoto

Credit: #andysnowphoto


“My wish for 2021 is that the community continue to learn and find innovative ways to decrease disparities within the healthcare - including behavioral and mental health - system.” ― Samantha Elder , director of strategic initiatives and communication, ADAMHS Board for Montgomery County

“2020 has offered its fair share of grief and challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic caught us off guard and shattered the normalcy of our lives but taught us some valuable lessons to stay positive and with patience throughout this adversity. During this time, kindness and compassion to the fellow human being has never been more critical. We learned to stay engaged in isolation, as physical isolation does not mean emotional isolation. We had more time to appreciate our homes, our families, and our opportunities.

Tremendous global efforts to halt the pandemic continue, but the ultimate responsibility to eradicate the coronavirus pandemic lies within each individual. We need to continue to protect ourselves and others by wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, and taking the COVID vaccine when it’s your turn. It is our social responsibility and commitment as remain hopeful for our community wellbeing.

Trust in yourselves, believe in science, stay United and be hopeful as we enter 2021 with great enthusiasm and optimism.

.” ― Dr. Jhansi Koduri, president, Miami Valley Area Physicians of Indian Origin

What are your hopes for the Dayton region in 2021? Send responses to arobinson@daytondailynews.com.

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