Sixth annual Ohio Land Bank Conference to take place Oct. 25-27, 2016 in Cleveland

October 4, 2016

The sixth annual Ohio Land Bank Conference, hosted by Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities program, will take place Oct. 25 – 27 at The Westin Cleveland Downtown.

The conference has become a must-attend event for those in the public and private sectors who are interested in addressing the issue of blight in their communities.  Attendees typically include county land bank professionals, government officials, nonprofit organizations and members of the general public.

More than 250 people are expected to attend this year’s event.

“While the roots of the county land bank movement are right here in Cuyahoga County, there are now 40 land banks operating across Ohio to fight blight and repurpose properties,” said Jim Rokakis, vice president of the Land Conservancy and director of the Thriving Communities program. “The progress of many of these land banks is impressive – and the Ohio Land Bank Conference will give them a chance to share their stories.”

The conference will feature more than 20 sessions covering issues such as repurposing of vacant and abandoned properties, building community support, as well as methods of acquiring properties and then getting them into the hands of responsible owners, according to Robin Darden Thomas, land bank program director for Thriving Communities.

“On the first day of the conference, participants have the option to attend a workshop on the basics of land banking, as well as two mobile workshops focused on the rejuvenation of blighted properties throughout the City of Cleveland,” Thomas explained. “On the second and third days of the conference, participants will hear from diverse panelists, as well as our excellent keynote speakers, Mark McArdle and Dr. Julian Agyeman.”

Mark McArdle is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In his role, he leads the Office of Financial Stability (OFS), which oversees the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), including its remaining investment and homeownership preservation programs, and advises the department on housing finance reform matters. McArdle held previous roles at OFS including Chief of the Homeownership Preservation Office and Director of the Hardest Hit Fund. McArdle has played a key role in policy development for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and oversaw the creation of the Hardest Hit Fund, which provides funding to state housing finance agencies for foreclosure prevention efforts.

Julian Agyeman, Ph.D. FRSA FRGS, a professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, will deliver a keynote address over lunch on Oct. 27. He is the originator of the concept of ‘just sustainabilities,‘ the full integration of social justice and sustainability, defined as: the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.

Registration for the conference is open. Conference updates are available on the Land Conservancy’s website at

For additional information on the conference, contact the Thriving Communities office at 216-515-8300. You can also email Thomas at or Jane Gimbel at