Why She’s Interesting: When Blackwell was sworn in as the 16th mayor of Maple Heights in 2016, she shattered a ton of barriers to become the first female and first African American to hold the top post in the city’s 100-year history. A business professional who spent the previous 16 years as a senior commercial property tax analyst at Deloitte and Ryan global tax services, her work history prepared her to address Maple Heights struggling finances, which she has now brought back from the brink of bankruptcy.
A Winning Philosophy: To inspire a city facing myriad challenges, Blackwell introduced the slogan “Maple Heights — a Winning City” to all of the city’s initiatives. “It comes from the heart. Who doesn’t like to win? Now everyone knows about winning, talks about winning, and actually goes out there and wins.”
Full Hearts: As mayor, Blackwell tries to not only be the best public servant, but also the city’s most enthusiastic coach having brought back the city from $2.79 million in debt during her four years as mayor. In August, the city sued Netflix and Hulu for not paying video service provider fees, hoping to secure additional revenue. “I came in with a winning coach mindset. I knew that if succeeding became our Friday-night theme, people would rally around it.”
Must-See Stop: For new visitors to Maple Heights, Blackwell recommends everyone spend time in nature. “Dunham Park is where the sun sets in the most amazing way. There’s a tranquility to the space that everyone needs to experience.”
Multiple Hats: While she was prepared for all of the business-related duties associated with mayor, Blackwell admits being surprised by how many other roles she assumes daily. “There’s social work. There’s ministry. There’s problem-solving. You definitely can’t leave your heart at home with this job.”
Three and Out:
How has this last year shaped the way you view the world?
There are things that man can’t fix. We just have to yield to God and stand firm in our faith.
What’s inspiring you in life right now?
Self-love. I had to get through the “too’s”: you’re too dark, you’re too skinny, you’re too poor, you’re too ugly, you’re too Black. So I had to learn about loving myself.
What is one new hobby or activity you’ve picked up in the last year?
I read for personal development. I just finished The Rhythm of Life [by Matthew Kelly] and The Purpose Driven Life [by Rick Warren].