Mayor Justin M. Bibb Appoints Six Cabinet Members and Directors to Key Positions

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 – Cleveland, OH — Today, Mayor Justin M. Bibb has announced the appointment of key positions.

Ahmed Abonamah joins the administration as Chief Financial Officer, Bonnie Teeuwen will serve as Chief Operating Officer and Jeff Epstein is appointed to Chief of Integrated Development.

“The addition of key roles in our cabinet will enable us to maximize our financial position and work towards becoming a more modern and responsive city hall,” Mayor Bibb said. “As we continue to build our team, we’re focused on combining wisdom with fresh perspectives to deliver on our commitments to the residents of Cleveland.”

The administration is focused on filling key positions in the mayor’s cabinet to reimagine how city hall operates, break down silos and better connect departments.

He also appointed two new directors in Alyssa Hernandez as Director of Community Development and Sally Martin as Director of Building & Housing who will report to the Chief of Integrated Development.

In addition, Mayor Justin M. Bibb today announced the appointment of Karrie D. Howard as Chief Public Safety Officer. Chief Howard previously held the position of Director of Public Safety and will continue to have oversight of those responsibilities.

These latest appointments reinforce the administration’s commitment to hiring emerging and experienced leadership in the mayor’s cabinet and senior team.

About the new hires:

Ahmed Abonamah – Chief Financial Officer

Ahmed joins the administration as CFO after six (6) years with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and will lead the City’s Department of Finance and provide counsel to Mayor Bibb on how to responsibly manage the City’s budget to promote sustained and equitable economic growth across the City. Most recently, he served as the Director in the SEC’s Office of Credit Ratings where he led the SEC’s oversight of credit rating agencies and managed a large and diverse team of professionals to, among other things, ensure that credit ratings are not unduly influenced by conflicts of interest and providing greater transparency to investors. Prior to his work in the Office of Credit Ratings, Ahmed spent several years in the SEC’s Office of Municipal Securities, where he served as Deputy Director among other roles, and played a leading role in the development and implementation of the SEC’s regulation and oversight of the municipal securities market, which included regularly interacting with state and local governmental entities. Earlier in his career, Ahmed worked as a public finance attorney representing state and local governments in a wide variety of public finance transactions.

Ahmed received his B.A. in political science from the University of Dayton, and earned his J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Bonnie Teeuwen – Chief Operating Officer

Bonnie Teeuwen has more than 30 years of experience in the civil engineering and public administration field, most recently serving as the Director of Transportation and Municipal Engineering for Osborn Engineering where she worked with public clients on infrastructure projects. Teeuwen was the first Cuyahoga County Director of Public Works, created under the new charter form of government in Cuyahoga County in 2011. Within her first year in that role, she advanced a study to review approximately seven million square feet in 66 different properties that the county owned and/or occupied and made recommendations to consolidate or dispose of properties. Prior to that, she was appointed by the Governor to serve as Deputy Director for ODOT.

Bonnie received her Civil Engineering degree from the University of Akron and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Ohio.  

Jeff Epstein – Chief of Integrated Development 

Jeff Epstein comes to City Hall from MidTown Cleveland, a non-profit economic and community development organization that serves the area between downtown Cleveland and Fairfax. Jeff also serves as director of the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, an umbrella effort to attract innovative health-tech and high-tech businesses to the area. Under Jeff’s seven plus years of leadership at MidTown and the Health-Tech Corridor, the neighborhood saw $230 million of transformative real estate development.

Jeff holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and an undergraduate degree in Public Policy Studies from Duke University.  Following law school, he clerked for the Hon. Solomon Oliver Jr. on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. 

Karrie D. Howard – Chief Public Safety Officer

Since 2020, Karrie has served as Director for the Department of Public Safety and has been re-appointed to serve in this capacity. Prior to this, he served as the department’s Assistant Director of Safety Operations and before that as Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the City of Cleveland. Karrie’s experience extends beyond city hall into the public and private sector as Counsel at the law firm Thacker Robinson Zinz LPA; Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Cuyahoga County; and Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

In addition to his position with the City of Cleveland, he currently serves as a Major in the United States Air Force Reserves. He is also commissioned as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate General (JAG Officer) at multiple military bases.

Karrie earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from DeVry University, subsequently to completing his active duty service in the United States Marine Corps. He also holds a Juris Doctorate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and certificates in Leadership and Human Resource Management from the University of Maryland University College.

Alyssa Hernandez – Director of Community Development

Alyssa returns to the Midwest in her role as Director of Community Development after living in Florida where her career in public service began. Born and raised in Chicago, Alyssa was selected as a Florida Gubernatorial Fellow in the Department of Juvenile Justice. Most recently, Alyssa served as a Bureau Chief within the Office of Long-Term Resiliency at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity where she managed several HUD CDBG-Disaster Recovery and Mitigation programs with a combined budget of nearly two-billion-dollars.

Alyssa is a DePaul University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Public Policy and a master’s degree in Education Policy and Leadership Studies from Florida State University. 

Sally Martin – Director of Building & Housing

Sally Martin will join the administration as the new director of Building and Housing, drawing on her past experience as the Housing Director for the City of South Euclid since 2008 overseeing housing programs and code enforcement for the city. She also helped found the city’s affiliate non-profit community development corporation, One South Euclid.  In addition, she serves on the board of the Cuyahoga Housing Consortium, the Cuyahoga Housing Stakeholders, the Cuyahoga County Reinvestment Advisory Subcommittee, and the Key Bank Great Lakes Advisory Board. For many years, Sally has served on the Executive Committee for the Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council and is the co-chair of VAPAC’s Delinquent Tax Working Group, and is a founding member and Chair of the Executive Committee for the Greater Cleveland Reinvestment Coalition.

Sally is a graduate of the University of Florida.

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