Bill Whitney, who retired as Chief Operating Officer of the Cuyahoga Land Bank in July, doesn’t have any plans to slow down now that the busy days of community and economic development are behind him. “I’ve always loved spending time with family and traveling, and now I can do much more of that,” says Whitney. “My wife Sandy is also an avid gardener, and I’ve been offering her a lot of moral support,” he says with a laugh.
Whitney was part of the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s original leadership team, and together skillfully helped navigate the Cuyahoga Land Bank through the waters of its first 10 years. Whitney worked in the community development field in Ohio for 40 years. Armed with a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University Wisconsin, the Milwaukee native served as the Ohio Assistant Deputy Director for Community Development, Director of the successful Detroit Shoreway Development Corporation, and as the Cleveland area Director of Enterprise Community Partners before joining the Cuyahoga Land Bank. “The opportunity at the Cuyahoga Land Bank came along at the perfect time in my career,” he says.
Among the halls of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, Whitney’s colleagues cite his extensive institutional knowledge and expertise in housing acquisitions, dispositions, and federal regulatory practices as just a few of the qualities that made his time so successful at the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
“Bill is a long-time and well-respected leader in the community development movement,” says Kim Kimlin, former Cuyahoga Land Bank Director of Community Stabilization who succeeded Whitney as COO. “He has been valued as a results-oriented collaborator by his peers, and it was a particular honor for me to come to work for him here at the Cuyahoga Land Bank. Bill’s deep experience and masterful guidance in designing and leading this organization as COO for 10 years contributed immensely towards the Land Bank’s success.”
Whitney was brought in as COO by Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos who developed the legislation allowing for the creation of the land bank. “Getting started was the biggest challenge,” says Whitney. “The housing market was a mess, and we were in unchartered waters, but we knew if we got it right, we could have a huge impact on the community.”
“Selecting Bill as COO of the Cuyahoga Land Bank was an easy decision,” says Frangos. “From day one, he knew what needed to be done, and who the relevant players were to fulfill our mission.”
“I am extremely fortunate to have had seven fabulous jobs in my career that allowed me to help people and contribute to social justice,” says Whitney. “I worked with staffs both large and small, and I am proud of the team we put together at the Cuyahoga Land Bank. They are the most professional, energetic and caring group. I always enjoyed when I’d go out to meetings and people would stop me and praise the incredible staff. People sought guidance and expertise from us, and this team was able to deliver. I am extremely proud of the significant achievements we’ve made together over the last 10 years.”