CWRU Innovator of the Year Awards recognizes two from the Mandel School

Megan Holmes, Dexter Voisin and Jazmin Long at the 2023 Innovator of the Year Awards

In celebration of the university's second annual Innovation Week, Innovator of the Year awards were presented to members of the Case Western Reserve University community who have demonstrated exceptional levels of innovation in specific areas.

Two members of the Mandel School community were recognized for their work.

Innovator of the Year: Alumni
Jazmin Long (SAS ’15, MNO ’15), President and CEO, Birthing Beautiful Communities

Since starting as a pilot project in 2015 to reduce infant mortality in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood, Birthing Beautiful Communities (BBC) has expanded to train more than 100 doulas and serve more than 1,000 mothers in Northeast Ohio. Its services are provided to mothers free of charge. 

As president and CEO, Jazmin Long oversees a wide variety of projects for this burgeoning nonprofit organization. For example: BBC is partnering with the MetroHealth System to support expectant mothers in the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center, and it is building what will become Northeast Ohio’s only freestanding, community-led, Black-led birthing center, her nominator wrote.

“Jazmin Long is an innovator and true servant leader who is positively transforming Northeast Ohio’s marginalized communities,” they continued.

Long previously served as deputy director at Global Cleveland. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Mandel School, bringing her real-world experiences to the classroom to benefit future community leaders and innovators.

Innovator of the Year: Research
Megan Holmes, Professor and Co-Director, Center on Trauma and Adversity

Through a partnership with the City of Cleveland, Megan Holmes and her team are transforming city recreation centers into the nation’s first trauma-informed Neighborhood Resource and Recreation Centers. Her groundbreaking scholarship in this area—one of many focuses of cutting-edge research Holmes conducts—created a blueprint for places in which children, youth, and adults can get the trauma-informed support and services they need in an environment in which they are comfortable. 

The recreation center project began in the summer of 2018, when the city—under then-Mayor Frank Jackson—launched an ambitious plan to increase mental health services for Cleveland residents. The project’s first phase involved training the rec centers’ staff on trauma-informed care. From there the city hired a dozen social workers and counselors to work within its recreation centers.

The second phase included developing comprehensive trauma-informed standards—including governance, policies and engagement—and developing tools to track and monitor progress.

“The significant contribution of this project to the well-being of the Cleveland community is demonstrated by the fact that it has been sustained—despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a new mayor,” Holmes’ nominator wrote.

Holmes (left) and Long (right) are pictured here with Dean Dexter Voisin.

Read the daily article about the awards