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Jim Rokakis

Senior Vice President

Jim Rokakis

Jim Rokakis is a former Vice President of Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the founder of its’ Thriving Communities Institute.  He is involved in a number of activities, including the establishment of 64 County Land Banks throughout Ohio and working in Columbus and Washington, D.C. to raise funds for Ohio communities to deal with distressed properties. 

Rokakis served for 19 years on the Cleveland City Council – the last seven as chairman of the finance committee.  In 1997, Rokakis took office as Cuyahoga County Treasurer.  Faced with Cuyahoga County’s mortgage foreclosure crisis, Rokakis worked with legislators to have introduced and  passed House Bill 294, which streamlined the foreclosure process for abandoned properties. Additionally, Rokakis was the driving force behind a bill that allowed for the creation of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

Former Attorney General, and current Governor Mike DeWine recently stated that Rokakis was the reason behind his decision to allocate 75 million dollars of Ohio’s 93 million dollars from the “Robo-signing” settlement for demolition.  Rokakis helped to put the Ohio program and its rules into place.  He played an integral role in the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to allocate a portion of the Hardest Hit Fund for demolition and in Cuyahoga County’s decision to allocte $50 million dollars for demolition. Working with the Ohio Congressional delegation he led the effort to reallocate an additional 2 billion dollars to the Hardest Hit Funds in January of 2016—with 192 million of those dollars coming to Ohio.  To date, Rokakis, and the land bank network, have raised almost one billion for the demolition of over 50,000 blighted structures in Ohio.

He is the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards, including being named “County Leader of the Year” by American City and County Magazine in 2007, and the recipient of the Cleveland Foundation’s Homer Wadsworth Award in 2016.  In December 2011, Rokakis was featured on the CBS program “60 Minutes”, discussing the need to fund demolition in distressed urban areas.  He has written for numerous publications including the Washington Post where he wrote the cover story for the Outlook section about the foreclosure crisis and Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood.

Rokakis earned his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and his Juris Doctorate degree from Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.

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