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Thomas West tapped to head Greater Stark County Urban League

Robert Wang | The Repository | September 18, 2023

CANTON − Former state Rep. Thomas West has been selected as the new president and chief executive officer of the Greater Stark County Urban League.

West, 58, of Canton succeeds Diane Stevens Robinson. She retired on June 30 after leading the organization since 2018 and increasing its annual budget from $12,000 to $1.5 million.

The Greater Stark County Urban League is a nonprofit organization that seeks to connect people to resources to address poverty, unemployment, crime, ill health, the need for housing, the need for education and the need for social justice, West said.

It has contracts with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the city of Canton to provide people workforce development skills. It also is funded through grants and donations. It has three full-time employees, but West said he intends to hire five more.

Thomas West's plans for the Greater Stark County Urban League

West said under his leadership, the staff will not wait in their offices for people to come seeking help. He talked about the Urban League's navigator program where the staff connects families to employment with the help of Strengthening Stark and OhioMeansJobs.

He said the program's navigators will go into neighborhoods and knock on doors and bring the programs to the residents who need health care, housing, transportation, child care and employment.

“We’re going to assess families where they're at and see what their needs are," he said. "... There are families living in hotels with both parents working and many of them don't know how to get to housing.”

The former state legislator said his first day is officially today. He'll be paid $100,000 a year. West said that's less than the typical $150,000 a year earned by CEOs of other Urban Leagues in Ohio. He said he has already been coming into the organization's offices at 1400 Sherrick Road NE the past week to be briefed on the organization's finances and programs.

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