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.
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
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,
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
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.