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Step Forward announces appointment of three new Board Officers

Step Forward, the state of Ohio’s designated anti-poverty agency for Cuyahoga County, announced the appointment of three new Board Officers today.

LaRese Purnell, who has served on Step Forward’s Board of Directors since 2017, succeeds Kathryn Hall, who has served as Chairperson since 2018.

“Who would have ever thought that I would one day become the Chairman of the Board of Director for this organization,” Purnell said. “I can’t wait to continue serving our community alongside my fellow Board members and our dynamic CEO, Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm, along with our entire leadership and staff team.”

Purnell has more than 20 years of experience in business management, tax and finance. He cofounded and continues to be one of the managing partners of CLE Consulting Firm, an account, tax and payroll company located in downtown Cleveland. He has served in several executive positions, leading business and finance departments within multi-million for-profit and non-profit corporations. In 2021, Purnell founded the Real Black Friday, a directory that promotes hundreds of local, Black-owned businesses.

Judge Michael J. Ryan was appointed Step Forward’s Vice Chairperson. Judge Ryan has nearly 30 years of experience working in the legal system. He is currently the elected judge for Ohio’s Eighth District Court of Appeals. For the last 16 years, he has presided over the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division and Cleveland Municipal Court. Prior to his time on the bench, Ryan was a Magistrate for the Cleveland Municipal Court, where he was instrumental in implementing Get on Track, a program to help those who did not complete high school and were convicted of misdemeanors earn a G.E.D. Prior to his time in the court system, Ryan was an Associate with Forbes, Fields and Associates, Co., and worked for the City of Cleveland Law Department and City of Cleveland Department of Public Safety.

Eugenia Cash-Kirkland was appointed Step Forward’s Secretary. She succeeds Yomarie Gonzalez. Cash-Kirkland recently joined the City of Cleveland as the Social Support Services Director in the Office of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity Social Support Services Unit for the City of Cleveland after retiring from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Cash-Kirkland has more than 30 years of experience in social work with the Department of Children and Family Services, Board of Developmental Disabilities, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

The new appointees join Brian Gallagher, Step Forward’s Board Treasurer, as officers. Gallagher has been with Step Forward’s Board of Directors since 2020. He is the Senior Vice President and Managing Director in the Institutional Banking Segment at Huntington National Bank. His banking career dates back to 1995, working in various roles in retail/branch banking and commercial banking.

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