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Mayor Bibb announces top-level hires in finance, building and housing, other departments

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 5 days ago Courtney Astolfi, cleveland.com
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb speaks after being sworn in at his Inaugural Address and Ceremonial Swearing In at the Cleveland Public Auditorium on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Bibb officially took office as the 58th Mayor of Cleveland just after midnight on January 3, but held a live-streamed ceremony in front of about 100 guests and media on Saturday. © David Petkiewicz cleveland.com/cleveland.com/TNS Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb speaks after being sworn in at his Inaugural Address and Ceremonial Swearing In at the Cleveland Public Auditorium on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Bibb officially took office as the 58th Mayor of Cleveland just after midnight on January 3, but held a live-streamed ceremony in front of about 100 guests and media on Saturday.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb on Wednesday rolled out another round of his picks for top City Hall jobs, including the finance chief, chief operating officer, and director of building and housing.

The hires, Bibb said in a news release, “will enable us to maximize our financial position and work towards becoming a more modern and responsive city hall” and are intended “to reimagine how city hall operates, break down silos and better connect departments.”

Bibb said he intends to combine “wisdom” and “fresh perspectives” as he continues to build his cabinet.

Here’s a look at the hires announced Wednesday:

Chief financial officer: Ahmed Abonamah, who for the last six years worked with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, most recently as director in the SEC’s Office of Credit Ratings, and previously in the SEC’s Office of Municipal Securities, where he “played a leading role in the development and implementation of the SEC’s regulation and oversight of the municipal securities market.” This role advises Bibb on the city budget, and Abonamah, among other duties, will counsel Bibb on ways to “promote sustained and equitable economic growth across the city,” according to a news release.

Chief operating officer: Bonnie Teeuwen, Cuyahoga County’s former public works director whose most recent job was director of transportation and municipal engineering at Osborn Engineering. Prior to her time at the county, Teeuwen was appointed as the deputy director for the Ohio Department of Transportation. The COO oversees public works, among other duties.

Chief of integrated development: Jeff Epstein, who until now was the executive director of the community development organization serving Midtown, the area between downtown and University Circle that has seen $230 million in development during Epstein’s seven-year tenure, according to the release. The new position is tasked with achieving “inclusive economic growth across the city” by working with other government leaders and coordinating development work across city departments, according to a job posting.

Director of building and housing: Sally Martin, previously South Euclid’s housing director, and an influential housing advocate in the Cleveland area who has backed “pay to stay” legislation aimed at preventing evictions, and a “source of income discrimination” measure that bars landlords from denying rentals to federal housing voucher recipients.

Director of community development: Alyssa Hernandez, who most recently served as “Bureau Chief within the Office of Long-Term Resiliency at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity where she managed several HUD CDBG-Disaster Recovery and Mitigation programs with a combined budget of nearly two-billion-dollars,” the release states.

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