Meet James Aspery, the City of North Olmsted’s new Planner. James is a two-time graduate of Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and a Master of Public Administration. During his time at the Levin College, James was able to connect with many others who share his passion for cities and development through numerous internships and extracurricular activities. “It became immediately clear that studying in an ‘urban college’ encompassed far more than just Cleveland-centric issues. Many of my friends and colleagues were impacting community growth in many unique communities across Northeast Ohio, which broadened my horizons as to what planning can be,” said Aspery.
After serving in Cleveland’s non-profit community development sector throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies, James decided that a post-graduation shift was necessary. Almost like a sign from above, that call for change was answered when he discovered the new position created in North Olmsted’s Department of Planning and Development late last year. James views his commitment to serve the North Olmsted community as a joyous return to his childhood roots. “Growing up on the border between Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties, I was constantly enjoying the numerous amenities that North Olmsted had to offer. The Recreation Center, Great Northern Mall, the parks, they all bring back fond memories of my childhood, and I am thrilled to be able to combine this passion with my professional experience gained in Cleveland’s community development sector.”
Although he currently resides in Cleveland, James was born at Fairview Hospital and spent his early childhood in Berea until his family put down roots just over the county border in Columbia Station. Throughout this time living in neighboring communities, he says that the North Olmsted community became a constant part of his life from the time he was old enough to remember. “One of my first and fondest memories of North Olmsted is my time in the Learn-To-Skate program at the ice rink,” Aspery said. “After that, I was always on the ice with various hockey leagues and open skates – my mom still likes to watch me skate to this day!”
James and his girlfriend are avid “foodies” and urban explorers, and can often be found trying new restaurants and discovering unique locations across the region. James is also a self-proclaimed music-geek, frequently attending local concerts and attempting to get his mariachi-polka-blues project off the ground (he says he is kidding about the band, but would love to hear someone’s take on that genre). Come summertime, James can be found on local golf courses, unsuccessfully kayak-fishing on Lake Erie, and enjoying the region’s vast Metroparks network.
When asked what he would tell someone interested in a career in planning and/or public administration, James offered this advice:
“Be willing to go outside your comfort zone and learn from others. Whether it is meeting new people or expanding your views on unfamiliar issues through research, it is crucial to constantly expand your view of the outside world by interacting with those who have different knowledge bases than yours. However, don’t forget who you are as you widen your perspective: establish a base code of conduct that will guide your personal and professional life through highs and lows.”
As you see James around the community this year, be sure to say hello – he is eager to meet you all!