Staff

Pat Rosenthal, Founder and Executive Director

In 1989, Pat helped start Common Wealth, Inc. and the Common Wealth Revolving Loan Fund to aid in creating jobs after the steel mill closings in the Mahoning Valley. Her “hands on” Gestalt leadership has fostered the planning, startup, or growth of numerous housing construction projects (230 single family units and 180 senior housing units), economic development projects (Northside Farmer’s Market, Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator, Common Wealth Food Hub) and organizations (Second Harvest Food Bank, ACTION, Lake-to-River Food Cooperative, Wick Park Neighbors, Ohio Community Development Finance Fund, and Greater Ohio) in Youngstown, the region, and the state.

Rosenthal earned her Master of Science Education in Community Counseling from Youngstown State University and her J.D. at the John Marshall School of Law at Cleveland State University. She and her husband recently moved into the City of Youngstown, where they have restored a home in the historic Wick Park neighborhood.

Dr. James Converse, Community Economic Development Director

With more than four decades as a community and regional development activist, educator and researcher, Dr. James Converse has high-level experience building community and regional capacity through training citizen activists, farmers, university students and policy makers. As the founding organizer of Youngstown’s Northside Farmers’ Market, Converse works to expand the sustainability of our communities, farms and water supply.  Converse was instrumental to the start-up of the Common Wealth Food Hub and Lake-to-River Food Cooperative; his knowledge, activism, and commitment to food policy throughout the region has been vital to the Ohio/PA region and beyond.

Dr. Converse earned his undergraduate degree in Rural Sociology from Ohio State University and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He lives with his family on Youngstown’s north side, across from Wick Park.

Elena Colmenares-Whipkey, Asset & Development Manager

For over 17 years, Elena has served as a representative of Common Wealth Inc.’s interests in the development and the asset management of affordable housing projects. These projects include single family homes, townhomes and senior apartments located in Mahoning, Columbiana, Trumbull and Jefferson counties. The goal of these projects is to incorporate affordable housing opportunities into neighborhood revitalization and stabilization strategies.

Elena is also working with eligible families to help them purchase the single-family homes they have been leasing through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits program, providing first-time home ownership opportunities to these families.

Elena obtained her Master of Architecture degree from Kent State University. She resides in Poland with her husband Mark and their three young adult sons.

Sean Dougherty , Kitchen Incubator Manager

Sean brings a wealth of food production experience to the Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator (CWKI). A graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Sean has been cooking for more than 30 years. His experience includes restaurant kitchens and front-of-house management in numerous operations in the region.

Additionally, he has worked as plant superintendent and quality coordinator in large-scale food manufacturing. Sean’s real-world experience extends to entrepreneurship as well; he also owns and operates 3D’s Pennsylvania Cake Company.

Sean lives in New Castle with his wife and two teenage daughters.

Melissa Miller, Resource Manager

Representing Common Wealth, Inc.’s community and economic development efforts on the north side of Youngstown and throughout the Mahoning Valley, Melissa brings knowledge and passion about local food systems to her work.

She is CWI’s representative on numerous committees endeavoring to make positive strides toward healthy eating, active living, and support for local farms and businesses throughout the region.

Melissa graduated from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Allied Health, and studied Nonprofit Leadership at Youngstown State University.

As farmers in Kinsman, Melissa and her husband raise grass-fed and pastured livestock on over 300 acres and sell it to individuals, institutions and restaurants throughout Northeast Ohio. They have three grown children.

Abby Webb, Americorps Vista

Board

KATHLEEN COLLUM

President

ROSETTA CARTER

Vice President

JAMES CONVERSE

Secretary

ERIC JONES

Treasurer

PARIS KRIECH

SARAH LOWN

JONATHAN BLACKSHIRE

BRIAN CORBIN