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Program Team


Michael R. White  Executive Director

Michael R. White was born and raised in Cleveland‘s Glenville neighborhood. He received a BA in Education and a MPA in Public Administration from The Ohio State University. He has served for 15 years as the Senior Policy Advisor to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation and also serves as the Program Director for NLDP and CDCLP. He began his political career in 1974 and served as an Assistant to the Mayor of Columbus Ohio, Cleveland City Councilman and Ohio State Senator. In 1989 he realized his boyhood dream and was elected Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio where he served three four-year terms before retiring from government after 32 years.


Jillian Svala  Assistant Program Director

Jillian Svala realized a passion for a career in social service after graduating from Penn State University. Jillian then moved to Cleveland Ohio to pursue her Master’s in Social Science Administration at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She began her career with the former Cuyahoga County Board of County Commissioners as a program officer over school-based programming. This led her to an opportunity to serve as the Managing Director with the Council of Neighborhood Leaders, a membership coalition of 14 Cleveland based not for profit organizations and Settlement Houses, all dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals and families by offering informal supports within the neighborhood of residence for each recipient. More recently, Jillian worked with City Year as the Chief of Staff for the Cleveland site. She currently lives in Avon Lake with her husband, two children and two dogs.


David Fitz  Strategy Design Partners

David Fitz is the Founder and Partner of Strategy Design Partners (SDP). David brings 20 years experience working in strategy and communications with expertise in organizational development, executive positioning, crisis communications, marketing and communications planning and execution, and brand development. Before founding SDP, David served as Press Secretary for a former Cleveland Mayor, in media relations for the Cleveland Clinic, and as the Vice President of Public Affairs for University Circle Inc. David is a graduate of John Carroll University and earned his Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Additional Support


Sandra Kluk  NLDP Program Administrator

Sandra Kluk is a native of Cleveland and has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Cleveland State University. Her work has mainly focused on directing and managing youth programs and social change organizations. She started her career in the Buckeye-Woodland neighborhood of Cleveland as a community organizer. There, she developed community networks and strategies on issues of housing, banking investment, affordable insurance, crime and community development. Later, Sandra turned her attention to youth advocacy and assisted in the creation and management of a career and GED preparation training academy for out-of-school disadvantaged youth. Her most recent work was as Director of Special Projects for a foreclosure prevention counseling agency.


Julia Ferra  NLDP Assistant program Manager

Julia Ferra is a graduate of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies with a minor in Sustainable Urban Development. She grew up in Westlake but lived Downtown and in Lakewood in college. Julia worked with the Community Outreach and Events Coordinator as an intern at Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation while she was at CSU. Following graduation, she moved to San Francisco to work with AmeriCorps as a Volunteer Coordinator at a nonprofit serving those experiencing homelessness in the city. Julia realized her love for volunteering at the age of 8 when she began helping at a soup kitchen on Cleveland’s west side and later traveled to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for a week in New Mexico.