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Jay Black takes the reins at Pathway

By Fletcher Word, Sojourner’s Truth Editor

Jay Black, newly appointed president/CEO of Pathway, Inc, describes the mission of the decades-old community action agency succinctly – “helping to move people from poverty to self-sufficiency.”

Black, of course, is well qualified to help Pathways achieve its mission with his wide array of experience in so many relevant fields. Before he took the helm at the agency a month ago, Black ran his own business consulting firm specializing in business development, governmental affairs, capital acquisition and economic diversity services.

Jay Black

That followed a 23-year career in banking management and a stint with the City of Toledo as chief of staff in the Mayor Jack Ford administration.

He has also served as president of the Toledo African American Chamber of Commerce and has been a board member of a dozen various companies and non-profits in the area. One of those assignments was as the board president of the Economic Opportunity Planning Association (EOPA) – Pathway before the name change.

So, he arrived at the top job fully aware of the mission of the agency, the operational reach of the various programs and the history of the Model Cities-era project that underwent drastic upheaval a half dozen years ago when EOPA lost Head Start and 75 percent of its funds that that program provided.

Now he takes over an agency with an urgent immediate mission – to give away a bunch of money before the year ends.

Pathway has a federally-funded Home Relief Program that is designed to provide “rental, mortgage and utility assistance” says Black. The funds must be dispersed before the end of the year and given that the COVID -19 federal funds have yet to be renewed, on December 26, 2020, the day after Christmas, a lot of folks can get evicted, he adds.

The State of Ohio acquired the relief grant funds early in the 2020, says Black, but Pathway didn’t receive its share until November. “We are scrambling to get the money out,” he says. “I’m not of a mind to send the money back, we are doing everything we possibly can to get the money to those folks who need it.”

There are several other Pathway programs that Mr. Black has been fortunate enough to inherit, such as the Heat Program and the Emergency Assistance Program, but he counts himself especially blessed to be working with such a committed, established staff.

“I want to recognize the hardworking and talented employees we have here,” he says. “They have been such a great help to me walking in. In particular, he points to Tamika Rushing, director of Employment and Career Services, and Claudia Rodriguez-Salazar, director of Emergency Assistance and Empowerment Services. Both have been with the agency for about two dozen years.

Also of note is Avis Files, who ran the extraordinarily successful Brothers United Program over the past five years, a program that connected fathers in previously difficult situations with their children and assisted them in bringing order to otherwise chaotic lives. Pathway is trying to develop another grant in order to renew the program.

Black, however, also has his vision set on the future for the agency and the clients it serves. The agency’s mission now is to help “move people from poverty to self-sufficiency” but Black, with his extensive background in finance, government and business ownership, wants to take that mission a step further. “Helping to move people from poverty to self-sufficiency to prosperity,” he says, “through entrepreneurship.”

He will be adding another track in the future to focus on business development and growth – to develop and maintain entrepreneurial skills in the agency’s clients who feel that such a path makes sense for them.

To that end, Black and Pathway will work collaboratively with other groups, such as ASSETS Toledo and JumpStart. “I see we are going to have more collaborations with other entities – there is no need to recreate the wheel when wheel already exists,” says Black. He sees such partnerships as especially critical during a time in which “public funding will continue to decline.”

Black also envisions growing Pathway itself, as he has expressed to board members. That plan entails growth in budget, in numbers of staff and in the impact the agency will have, particularly the impact.

After all, “it’s all about helping people move from poverty to self-sufficiency to prosperity!”

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We thank Fletcher Word, Publisher and Editor of The Sojourner’s Truth, for permission to publish Mr. Word’s article and profile on Jay Black in La Prensa this week.  


Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/29/20 15:59:27 -0800.




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