Updated: May 12
The reins to One South Euclid’s (OSE) leadership were handed over to the experienced and accomplished Vaughn Johnson, who was recently named President of the Board of the Community Development Organization.
Johnson, who is the Director of the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) at the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, has spent 20 years in the commercial and community development banking and economic development industries and served as CEO at three banking institutions in various locations within the United States. He and his teams have accounted for more than $1 billion delivered to the US economy, in combined business lending and institutional investing. Johnson was also awarded a commendation by The Ohio House of Representatives for Unprecedented Excellence in Banking, Economic Development, and Business Strategy.
Johnson replaces Len Calabrese, who continues to serve on the Board and Executive Committee of One South Euclid.
“I hope to build on the great work and many successes OSE has achieved over the past 10 years and continue to provide outstanding programming and opportunities to the residential and business community,” says Johnson.
Outgoing President Calabrese, who will continue to serve as Past President, received much praise and thanks at OSE’s annual meeting in February when he stepped down. In partnership with the city of South Euclid, volunteer board members and OSE committees, Calabrese’s tenure saw the continuation of programming and grants that provided funds for exterior improvement to residents’ homes, businesses’ storefronts, community events, and neighborhood projects.
In the last year, he helped guide the organization through the swift and ultimately successful change in programming necessitated by the pandemic. In 2020 alone, 58 South Euclid small businesses received Emergency COVID Relief funds. (Twenty-eight businesses were female owned and 26 businesses were minority owned). Forty-one South Euclid families received gift certificates to Giant Eagle, and four different food pantries received $1,000, while $1,500 was donated for a Holiday Turkey Distribution.
“I am grateful that One South Euclid was able to respond so quickly and effectively to many of the needs of South Euclid residents and small businesses as COVID-19 hit our community,” said Calabrese. “I think the concrete assistance we were able to provide is a tribute to our Board, city staff and leadership. There is such a cooperative spirit in our city and a real commitment to the common good. I am delighted Vaughn Johnson is our new President. He has a wealth of experience with CDCs. He is extremely knowledgeable, competent and passionate about South Euclid.”
Despite the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, some regular, yet needed, programming was still able to continue under Calabrese. For instance, 68 special-needs senior residents received grass cutting and snowplowing services through the Senior Landscape program. Twenty-five families received funds for exterior repairs to their homes, such as painting, roofing, driveways, windows, and siding, six families were able to replace their front doors, and nine homes were renovated in partnership with Community Housing Solutions. (OSE provided $10,000 to complete the projects.) As for businesses, five small businesses received a total of $60,000 in grants for storefront renovations from OSE and the city.
According to Johnson, “Len did an amazing job navigating the organization, the pandemic initiatives and the social issues. He is a champion and an example for all to see. I’m happy that we’ll continue to serve together.” Moe Romeo, OSE Secretary, added, “Len truly did an amazing job guiding us through a very difficult year. His CDC experience and knowledge of what to do to continue the good work of OSE was invaluable.”
Prior to his volunteer leadership with OSE, Calabrese was the Executive Director of the Commission on Catholic Community Action, the President of Catholic Community Connection, and a Past President of the City Club of Cleveland. He also was a Professor at the University of Akron and President of the Cuyahoga County Library Board. He has over 35 years of experience in higher education, public policy, faith-based and interfaith activities, nonprofit management, intergroup relations, leadership development, and community and economic development work.