Canalway, a non-profit cultural heritage organization, has added five new members to its board of directors. The organization announced on Tuesday, March 28 the appointment of the following five people:

  • Dr. Joanna Brell, MetroHealth Medical Center
  • Caryn Candisky, Cleveland State University
  • Michael Hudecek, PNC
  • Yvette Ittu, Greater Cleveland Partnership
  • Antonin Robert, GBX Group

“Canalway is focused on serving as a catalyst for projects and programs that connect people to place for the prosperity of all. Each new board member was approached because of their personal and professional experience, their dedication to community engagement and their support for our work preserving and programming the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area,” said David Jurca, Board Chair for Canalway Partners.

The board now has 18 members.

Read more about Canalway’s new board members.

Dr. Joanna Brell

Joanna moved from Houston to Cleveland for residency and fellowship training, immediately falling in love with the area due to the access to water and the surrounding park system. Gravitating to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, she has faithfully participated in the Towpath Trilogy’s running races for many years, with the main goal of supporting the Towpath Trail. Through hiking, biking and train riding along the Canal, she embraced Northeast Ohio’s history, flora, and fauna.

Joanna and her husband Mike are long-standing members of Cleveland West Running Club, where she has served as the spring race director. When they are not on the run, they reside in Lakewood with their two rescued Manx cats. Employed at MetroHealth Hospital’s Cancer Center, her fascination with the Canalway continues undiminished.

Caryn Candisky

Caryn Candisky serves as Executive Director for Government Affairs and Special Assistant to the President at Cleveland State University, and has more than 25 years of experience in public affairs, government and communications. She previously served as State Director for United States Senator Rob Portman, directing Senator Portman’s Ohio offices and overseeing statewide outreach efforts. Prior to working for Senator Portman, Caryn served as Director of Public Affairs for AT&T Ohio. Caryn served as communications director for the Voinovich for U.S. Senate Campaign and worked for Ohio Governor George V. Voinovich in the areas of communications and media relations.

Caryn graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in international relations. She is a native of Greater Cleveland, serves as a Commissioner for the Ohio Lottery, and has been active in a variety of volunteer and community organizations throughout the years.

Michael Hudecek

Michael serves as Assistant Vice President - Tax Credit Underwriting at PNC. A former artist and entrepreneur who created and sold cycling bags and packs at Forest City Portage, Michael has led an untraditional career path. He gained experience in community development at St Clair Superior Development Corporation. He served as Program Director with education startup The Korda Institute, before transitioning to Cleveland Development Advisors as an Asset Manager and Director of Loan Compliance and Community Impact before joining PNC in 2021.

His passion for the Canalway can be traced to his youth spent at early RiverSweeps and Towpath Marathons tagging along with his dad, Bob. An active cyclist and community leader, Michael is a founding member and current board Treasurer at Bike Cleveland and previously served as Vice President of the Board of Directors at the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op. He resides in Lakewood with his wife, Cio, and their three daughters P, W, and D as well as their rescue Italian greyhounds Allegra and Kricket. When he’s not working or enjoying his family, Michael enjoys bike packing in the Ohio and Erie Canalway with friends.

Yvette Ittu

Yvette M. Ittu is the Executive Vice President of finance and operations of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. In addition, she is President of Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA), a private equity real estate investment organization. Yvette served as chairperson of the Cleveland International Fund from 2015-2020.

Prior to joining CDA, Yvette was an associate with the law firm of Calfee, Halter and Griswold LLP. She served as bond counsel on multiple financings for the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the City of Cleveland, and several other Ohio local governments. In addition, Yvette served as finance director for the City of Lakewood and held several financial management positions for the City of Cleveland including the chief financial officer post for Cleveland Public Power.

Yvette was the most recent past President of the National New Markets Tax Credit Coalition. Yvette serves on several local community boards and committees including the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, DigitalC, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’ Village Capital Corporation, and Benjamin Rose Institute.

Antonin Robert

As a principal and member of the executive team, Antonin Robert leads GBX Group’s community relations. Focusing on federal, state and local programs that are indispensable to the company’s real estate investments, Antonin works with the preservation community, development partners and other stakeholders to ensure continued support for the preservation and rehabilitation space. Antonin developed and led GBX’s real estate data and analysis team, which focuses on capturing industry financials and economic trends to support the company’s investments. Demonstrating the economic impact of GBX’s projects has proven critical to the company’s advocacy initiatives. Building on the community support around the country helps the company identify investments and growth opportunities.

A frequent speaker at industry events on topics related to historic preservation and its impact on economic development, Antonin serves on various boards related to community development, business improvement districts, and historic preservation. He works closely with numerous historic preservation advocacy groups around the country.

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