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April 29, 2023
Tri-C Eastern Campus
Jack Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center
What is the Men's Elevation Conference?

The Men's Elevation Conference, presented by Step Forward, is Cuyahoga County's first-ever opportunity in which men will come together to ignite a passion for growth through education, motivation, and celebration.


Topics throughout the one-day event will include financial literacy, entrepreneurship, physical and mental health, fatherhood and marriage and the importance of civic engagement.

Check-in & Continental Breakfast
Dr. Todd Kitchen,
Tri-C Eastern Campus President
Breakout Session
Keynote Speaker:
LaRese Purnell
Breakout Session
Panel Discussion:
Civic Engagement, moderated by Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm
Closing Remarks
Pillars of Focus
Credit Card

Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship

Personal finance is 80% behavior, 20% numbers and identifying your “why” is critical for financial wellness.


The Breadwinners Academy presents, “What the FICO," a hands-on workshop that will focus on building one's credit score, how to read & understand credit reports, and how to rebuild credit.

Meditating on Bed

Mental Wellness

This session will educate, empower and equip Black men and boys with the essential tools necessary to live a mentally healthy life through healing hangouts and cultural artistic expression, while representing hip-hop culture.

Attendees will learn how to creatively cope with trauma, positively express emotions and foster community with others through healthy relationships with self, partner, family and protective relationships with the world.


Health and Wellbeing in African American Men

In Northeast Ohio, African American men have the lowest life expectancy and the worst overall health. In this session, attendees will examine the current health landscape, the history that drives these poor outcomes, and discuss a practical approach to improving overall health through nutrition, exercise, and prevention. 

Happy Dad

Fatherhood and Marriage

The Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative seeks to strengthen families in our community by encouraging fathers to play a more active role in raising healthy, strong children. In this session, attendees will learn the importance of family engagement and ways to strengthen the father-child relationship. Men will also receive the knowledge, skills and attitudes to translate into behavior conducive for nurturing a healthy marriage.

Back of a group of volunteers

Civic Engagement

The objective of this panel is to provide conference attendees with an understanding of the different ways that Black men can become civically engaged in their communities and how their engagement can positively impact the Black community. 

The Men's Elevation Conference will be a safe place where men will have the opportunity to gather, discuss, and learn in areas that most will not typically allow themselves to be vulnerable in.

LaRese Purnell, Managing Partner, CLE Consulting Firm & The Real Black Friday


Dedication. Expertise. Passion.

The Men's Elevation Conference is a unique opportunity to put aside any distractions and spend time connecting with like-minded individuals and peers. During this one-day event, we will renew our energy and focus, learn how to achieve new lifestyle and career goals, and explore undiscovered tools to success. Network, have fun and walk away inspired!


Managing Partner, CLE Consulting Firm Entrepreneurship and Money 

Board Chair, Step Forward Board of Directors

LaRese Purnell

LaRese Purnell has 18 years of experience in business management, tax and finance. He is one of the founders and managing partners of CLE Consulting Firm, an accounting, tax and payroll company located in downtown Cleveland. As a strong, innovative financial and strategic leader with both instincts and intellect, Purnell is a formidable combination in the business world. He has served in executive positions, leading business and finance departments within multi-million dollar for-profit and non-profit corporations.

Purnell is the author of Financial Foundations: Building Financial Freedom One Tool at a Time, where he uses everyday language to address the fundamental questions people have about money. Purnell also created The Real Black Friday, an organization that brings awareness to and creates educational and collaborative opportunities for hundreds of small Black-owned businesses. 

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President and Chief Executive Officer, Step Forward

Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm

Jacklyn A. Chisholm, Ph.D. is President and Chief Executive Officer of Step Forward, the largest Community Action Agency in Ohio.  


Prior to joining Step Forward, Dr. Chisholm served as Chief Executive Officer of the Global Music Cultural Center (GMCC), a museum and cultural arts center planned for Atlanta, Georgia.  She is the former Vice President of Planning and External Affairs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum where she was responsible for the development and implementation of the Museum’s strategic plan, management of government relations and community outreach activities, and Project Director for the construction of the Rock Hall’s $13 million Library and Archives.  Dr. Chisholm also served as Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships at Case Western Reserve University, where she developed the Center for Community Partnerships. 


Founder, Peel Dem Layers Back

Manager, BIPOC Male Mental Health at National Alliance on Mental Illness

Archie Green

In his own words, Green is a “dream, then wake up and go-getter.” He is well-known for his lyrical abilities as a Hip-Hop artist. In fact, Green's introspective single, “Layers,” which was about his lived experience with depression, premiered at in 2016 and garnered more than 25,000 streams in two weeks. He subsequently founded Peel Dem Layers Back, a 501(c)3 to promote mental health awareness through a Hip-Hop lens. 

Green has been the recipient of various awards for his work as a Mental Health Advocate including the Gallant Gentleman Award for Mental Health from Alpha Kappa Alpha's Linking Partnership Opportunities, Cleveland Magazine's Most Interesting People Class of 2018, and the 2021 Rising Star Award from the 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland.

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Director, The Fatherhood Iniative

Al Grimes

Mr. Grimes is responsible for developing, implementing and managing the Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative. He has managed the initiative from inception into a successful best practice program while securing millions of dollars for fatherhood activities/programs/special events from a combination of county, state and federal funding. Mr. Grimes manages all county-related fatherhood contracts, leads community activities and represents the county in collaborations. He also directs policy development and technical assistance among collaborations and works with national, state and local partners to monitor the successes of other fatherhood programs.

Grimes has also spent time working with community organizations that include the United Way, the United Negro College Fund, SCLC, BPA, and the Boy Scouts of America.

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Founder, Breadwinners Academy

Creator, Slice of Pie show

Jason Lockett Sr.

Jason Lockett Sr. is the founder and Executive Director of Breadwinners Academy. Breadwinners Academy is a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that teaches financial literacy & entrepreneurship in high schools, colleges, and community centers throughout Ohio. The mission to is to bridge the wealth gap through financial literacy.


Alongside devoting his career to personal finance, Lockett co-owns several small businesses including commercial properties, merchandising, and retail shops. He is also the founder of “The Breadwinners,” which is a financial planning firm.


Lockett recently created a show called, “Slice of Pie.” It offers a master class on personal finance while highlighting local trailblazing entrepreneurs.

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Founder & Board Chairman, National Institute for African American Health

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University

Associate Professor of Integrative Medical Sciences, Northeast Ohio Medical University

Dr. Greg Hall

A native of Cleveland and graduate of Williams College, Dr. Greg Hall is an internal medicine physician practicing in Richmond Heights, Ohio. Dr. Hall is an Associate Professor in both the Internal Medicine and Integrative Medical Sciences departments at the Northeast Ohio Medical University and an Assistant Clinical Professor at CWRU’s School of Medicine. Dr. Hall was a governor-appointed member of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and served as Chairman for many years and currently serves as the Board President of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.


Dr. Hall wrote “Patient-Centered Clinical Care for African Americans: A Concise, Evidence-Based Guide to Important Differences and Better Outcomes,” which is the first comprehensive book detailing the optimal clinical care of African Americans.


At University Hospitals, Hall was awarded the Edgar B. Jackson Endowed Chair for Clinical Excellence & Diversity and he is the Medical Director of University Hospitals’ Cutler Center for Men which takes a multidisciplinary approach to improving all men’s health.

Meet our Panelists
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Jerry Primm

Strategy Consultant, CEO 360, Inc.

Step Forward Board of Directors

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John M. Hairston

Former District Director

for HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge

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Andrew T. M. Newsome

Vice President of Operating Partner Development, ScaleCo

A message from the Conference Chair
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Step Forward’s mission is to propel educational attainment and economic self-sufficiency for multiple generations in Cuyahoga County. With this as our mission, we must expose community members to a differentiated education that inspires them to take a quantum leap from poverty and dependence to self-sufficiency. This is why I was inspired to create the Men’s Elevation Conference.

As the conference board chair, it is my hope that you walk away from this event with momentum and purpose. I look forward to you attending!

Derek Cluse

Chief of Staff at Step Forward

Planning Committee

Derek Cluse

Jerry Primm

LaRese Purnell

Cecil B. Lee

Judge Michael J. Ryan

Steven Rhodes

Douglass Bennett

Nelson Pagan

Saaid Mansour

Kerry Austin

Dwayne L. Hurt

Christopher Kelly

Get Involved

The Men's Elevation Conference, presented by Step Forward, offers a variety of sponsorship opportunities to meet every budget. Sponsorship investment may include in-kind donations.​

For further opportunities about a sponsorship opportunity, contact Derek Cluse at

  • Keynote Sponsor

  • Full-page, color ad in conference program

  • Logo on conference signage, event promotions and conference webpage

  • Pre and post-event social media mentions

  • Event Banner

  • Preferred event table location

Thank you to our sponsors
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Contact Us

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