2022 State of the Region


Catalyzing Workforce Development Through Transformative Placemaking


March 7, 2022
8:00 a.m. – Noon


Hilton Garden Inn
Perrysburg, OH



7:45 – 8:15
Networking & Continental Breakfast

8:15 – 8:45
Welcome & Opening Remarks
Rodney K. Rogers, Ph.D. | President of Bowling Green State University
Senator Rob McColley | Ohio State Senate 1st District

8:45 – 9:30
National Economic Outlook
Abbey Omodunbi | Assistant Vice President and Senior Economist at PNC Financial Services Group

9:30 – 10:15
State of the Region Address
Russell Mills, Ph.D. | Senior Director of the BGSU Center for Regional Development

10:15 – 10:30

10:30 – 11:15
Keynote Address
Jennifer S. Vey | Senior Fellow and Director of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking, Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program

11:15 – 12:00
Panel Discussion: The Opportunities & Challenges of Placemaking in Urban & Rural Communities
Danielle Renckly | Program Coordinator for Indiana Rural Health Association & Upper Midwest Telehealth Resource Center

11:00 – 12:00
Panel Discussion: The Opportunities & Challenges of Placemaking in Urban & Rural Communities
Seth Baker | Chief Executive Officer at Van Wert County Foundation
Marc Folk | President & CEO at The Arts Commission
Dave Zenk | Executive Director at Metroparks Toledo

Conference Closing


Keynote Speaker
Jennifer S. Vey

Senior Fellow and Director
Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking
Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program


Jennifer S. Vey is a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and the director of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking. Vey’s work primarily focuses on how place-based policies and practices can generate widespread economic, social, and environmental benefits. She is the author or co-author of dozens of Brookings publications examining the changing place needs of people and businesses; the implications of these shifts on how we live and work; and how transformative placemaking investments can support the development of more vibrant, connected, and inclusive communities. She also co-edited “Retooling for Growth: Building a 21st Century Economy in America’s Older Industrial Areas,” published by the American Assembly and Brookings Institution Press, and “Hyper-local: Place Governance in a Fragmented World” (forthcoming in 2022).

Prior to joining Brookings in 2001, Vey was a community planning and development specialist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She earned a Master of Planning degree from the University of Virginia and holds a B.A. in Geography from Bucknell University. She lives with her family in Baltimore.

Featured Speaker
Abbey Omodunbi

Assistant Vice President and Senior Economist
The PNC Financial Services Group


Oluwaropo A. (Abbey) Omodunbi is assistant vice president and senior economist for The PNC Financial Services Group.

In this role, Omodunbi is responsible for contributing to PNC’s regional, national and international economic analysis and forecasts, including coverage of metropolitan area economies throughout PNC’s footprint. In addition, Omodunbi also speaks frequently about the economy to PNC clients and regional media.

Prior to joining PNC in October 2018, Omodunbi spent three years in risk management at Goldman Sachs in New York. He also worked as a summer research fellow at The Conference Board, New York.

Omodunbi is a member of The Economic Club of Pittsburgh - the local chapter of National Association of Business Economics (NABE). He is the past research director at the non-profit FREE (Finance Requires Effective Education), a financial literacy initiative.

Omodunbi earned his Ph.D. in economics from State University of New York (Binghamton) with concentrations in labor economics and econometrics. He also has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Elected Official
Senator Rob McColley

Ohio Senate 1st District


State Senator Rob McColley is serving in the Ohio Senate after being appointed in December 2017, and elected in 2018. He represents the 1st Senate District, which includes Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Williams counties, as well as parts of Auglaize, Fulton, and Logan counties. He is chairman of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee and serves as the Majority Whip.

Prior to being appointed to the Senate, he represented the 81st Ohio House District as a State Representative where he also served in House leadership as Assistant Majority Whip. Before being elected State Representative, he served in the Community Improvement Corporation of Henry County, where he oversaw economic development efforts for the county and worked to improve local workforce development efforts between manufacturers and schools in Henry and Williams counties.

Panel Discussion

The Opportunities and Challenges of Placemaking in Urban and Rural Communities

Jennifer S. Vey

Senior Fellow and Director
Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking
Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program


Seth Baker

Chief Executive Officer
Van Wert County Foundation


Seth Baker is the CEO of The Van Wert County Foundation, a philanthropic community trust focused on creating a well-resourced and thriving quality of life for its community. Baker holds a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in management, innovation, and change, a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture with a minor in City and Regional Planning, and an Associate Degree in Horticulture. He has worked in economic development, downtown revitalization, and community planning and design in various capacities. He continues to work on his family farm where he is knowledgeable about local agricultural practices. He is passionate about his community and volunteers for several boards, committees, and activities.

Mark Folk

President and CEO
The Arts Commission


President and Chief Executive Officer, Marc D. Folk, began with The Arts Commission in 1996 as an instructor in the Young Artists at Work program and has since worked with passionate dedication to advance the arts, culture and community development in the Toledo region. Marc represents The Arts Commission on various national and regional committees to advocate for and promote the development of the arts. He served for three years as the president of the Ohio Citizens for the Arts, is past co-chair of the Toledo Area Cultural Leaders (TACL) and is an executive committee member of the United States Urban Arts Federation. He is a 2006 recipient of the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award, the 2009 winner of the Ohio Arts Council's Governor’s Award for Arts Administration and in 2010 he was recognized as the University of Toledo’s Outstanding Alumnus in the Arts. In 2018 he was awarded the Ray Hanley Innovation Award by the Americans for the Arts in recognition of outstanding individual contributions to arts and culture in American cities. He has served as a five time grants panelist for the National Endowment for Arts, most recently for both the CARES and American Rescue Plan Acts. He is a 1998 graduate of the University of Toledo, with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in Printmaking. He is a DJ and avid record collector and lives in Toledo’s Old West End with his son Holden.

Dave Zenk

Executive Director
Metroparks Toledo


Dave Zenk is Executive Director of Metroparks Toledo, the 2020 Gold Medal recipient for best large park system in America. He is a dynamic and accomplished professional with over 15 years of demonstrated performance in the park field and years of experience in the private sector as a business owner. He is a skillful project manager who is passionate about leadership, quality service delivery and developing strategies that are powerful enough to change a region.

At Metroparks Toledo, he is directly responsible for over $100 million in total assets, 200 employees and a $60 million annual budget. He oversaw the development of the agency’s current comprehensive plan and completed a goal to place a Metropark within five miles of every residence in Lucas County. He was responsible for securing more than $70 million of grant dollars, which has allowed Metroparks to expand its reach across the county and doubled visitation to more than 7 million visits per year.

Under his supervision as deputy director then executive director, Metroparks grew from 9 to 19 parks, adding the first new Metropark in four decades. In that time, the park system has introduced new programs, including outdoor skills instruction, kayak launches, a rock climbing area, tree climbing, a single‐ track trail for mountain bikes, and most recently, the country’s first public tree house village. This growth has been acknowledged with over 60 state and national awards, making Metroparks the fastest growing and most recognized park agency in the country.

Glass City Riverwalk, a $200 million reimagining of the Toledo riverfront, is now underway, along with planned upgrades to parks and trails across the county.

Dave holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree specializing in organizational development from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University. He is a recent 20 under 40 awardee, serves on the Ohio Wildlife Council, Mercy Health Board of Directors, is a founding member of the Toledo Regional Equity and Inclusion Council and serves on numerous other community boards and committees.

To individuals with disabilities, please indicate if you need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in this event by contacting Accessibility Services at access@bgsu.edu or 419-372-8495. Please notify us prior to the event.

Updated: 02/13/2024 08:41AM