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Daytonian of the Week: Terry Welker, sculpting Dayton's art scene

Terry Welker, FAIA, approaches work with the hope that once completed, the space cannot be imagined without the artwork he’s created.

An accomplished artist living and working in Kettering, Welker is a sculptor and architect who has used his talents to “animate space with sculpture” around the Dayton-area in stunning ways. Welker has even been elevated to the College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects.

>>Art installation at new Dayton Metro Library makes global Top 100 list

Welker is the son of a USAF Master Sergeant and was born at Fort Cambell, Ky., before his father chose WPAFB to work and retire. He brought his family to Dayton for good. Today, Welker lives in Kettering, working from his studio and constructing commissioned artwork throughout the region.

“I met the love of my life, Sandy, a lifelong Daytonian, in high school. After 42 years of marriage, two sons and two grandsons, she still makes me feel like a 17 year old,” Welker said.

>>PHOTOS: Local artist installs art at new Dayton Metro Library downtown

Perhaps most notably in the past year, Welker’s piece, Fractal Rain, was installed as the centerpiece of the new Dayton Metro Library Downtown. It’s a sight to behold that requires numerous visits to the library to appreciate its beauty.

Terry Welker is our Daytonian of the Week.

>>UPDATE: Local beer distributor expands into another state How did you find your way to being an artist? Have you always considered yourself artistic? 

👨‍🎨Welker: I look at my life as a tapestry. It’s the best analogy I can find to explain the rich mix of passions in my life that include family, friends, community, architecture and art. Art is the most consistent and dominant thread in my life’s tapestry. As a child, drawing was the only way to keep me quiet in church; as a teen it consumed me. I was an oddity living in the world of year-round sports and art. In high school, I earned date money by drawing portraits. 

To be more direct, I guess I never concerned myself with the question about whether I was artistic or not; it’s like breathing, a natural automatic life process. Today, I call myself an architect and sculptor since I live in both worlds with substantial overlap. 

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After high school, I actually began my formal education in fine art at Wright State University but gravitated toward architecture via Sinclair and eventually received two degrees in architecture at the University of Cincinnati. I think this is why I eventually turned toward sculpture instead of painting. Does any of your inspiration for your projects come from living in Dayton? 

👨‍🎨Welker: “My sculptures are always a response to time and place. While I’m always experimenting, most of the work that people see is the result of a commission, tailored to create a meaningful memorable sense of place. I don’t attempt to mimic forms, but rather respond to my personal memory of forms and colors from nature. For example, Fractal Rain was a direct response to my own childhood memory of a gathering storm — an Air Force brat in Nebraska — and a reference to Dayton’s own flood history as well as particular works from the Dayton Art Institute collection. How does it feel when you visit local fixtures where your art is a focal point?  

👨‍🎨Welker: “I love returning to places where my work is an enduring part of a creating a new memory for others. I always try to make an installation in such a way that when it’s complete, it would be hard to imagine the place without it. Revisiting these places becomes an affirmation of those choices, and I always learn something and come away with new ideas.” If you met someone who has never been to Dayton, what are some of the highlights you would tell them? 

👨‍🎨Welker: “After someone hears of the usual published landmarks, I love pointing out the extraordinary in the ordinary. Dense, chaotic urban places, quiet places and cultural utopias. Certainly, The Contemporary (DVAC), the Dayton Art Institute, Rosewood Arts Centre and my own studio act as second homes for me, but I’m most interested in the vernacular. Rather than measuring our city by comparing it to other cities, I believe in looking inward to find those things that make Dayton unique and special. Locally owned restaurants, the Oregon District, Metroparks, Kettering parks, Kettering mid-century modern architecture, microbreweries, the Century, are all examples of the vest pocket utopias I love. I like discovering beautiful hidden places like Woodland Fen and the myriad of tiny parks and paths in our region. The best way to really see a place is to slow down and sketch it.” Is Dayton a good city to live in as an artist? What do you like about our arts community? 

👨‍🎨Welker: “Dayton is a fantastic city for artists! First, The Contemporary (DVAC) with its hundreds of members, programs and exhibitions is a world-class support system for artists. The educational network for artists of any age or stage is profound. And the financial opportunities via galleries and public art commissions like the Dayton Metro Libraries or Kettering’s percent-for-art funding create genuine livelihoods for artists. It’s an exhaustive list.”

>> Major changes announced by 27-year-old downtown arts institution What are you up to when you're not working on a project? What are some of your favorite spots in Dayton to frequent? 

👨‍🎨Welker: “Well, there’s never a time that I’m not working or chasing a project. But, I love to start my day at a locally owned coffee house like Epic or Ghostlight. When I can take a deserved evening break, living in the moment, hanging out with friends and family at The Century is my fave vest pocket utopia. All the new Dayton Metro Libraries are my fave quiet places.”

Why this Daytonian of the Week is walking the Walk 

One thing is for sure: Erica Hubler knows how to walk the walk. 

Hubler is one of the driving forces behind the Dayton Area Wright Dunbar Inc. The Wright Dunbar Business District is the home of the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame.

>> RELATED: These Daytonians are going to be immortalized in our city’s own Walk of Fame

The Hall of Fame located on the sidewalks on both sides of West Third Street between Shannon and Broadway Streets and on Williams Street will celebrate its latest class during a luncheon Thursday, Sept. 27 at Sinclair Community College in downtown Dayton. 

Tickets are no longer available for the event. 

The 2018 honorees are: Hannah Beachler, Major General George R. CrookDr. Richard A. DeWallRobert C. KoepnickDayton police Sgt. Lucius J. Rice, police officer Dora Burton Rice and Julia Reichert

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We caught up with Hubler,’s latest Daytonian of the Week. 

Q: What do you do? 

A: I am the Real Estate Manager for CityWide Development. I’m currently managing Wright Dunbar, Inc. 

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Q: Why is the Walk of Fame something you are passionate about? 

A: The Walk of Fame recognizes all of the great thinkers and doers from the Dayton Region. It’s important to celebrate our greatest assets, which are our residents, neighbors and  the people who work here.

>> RELATED:  Emmy-award winner: ‘I am proud and grateful beyond words to be from Dayton’

Q: How do you describe Dayton to people who have never been here? 

A: I always tell them about our awesome parks, our independent restaurants, our rich history and historic districts. Dayton is a great city, but it’s small enough that you’ll run into someone you know anywhere you go. 

Q: What do you love about life in Dayton? 

A: I love that I can be anywhere in 15 minutes. That I can get a great dinner and enjoy music, theater or pop into an art exhibit or sit in a quiet beautiful park. 

Q: What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton? 

A: I love our parks! So I’d say that I’d get a Pine Club burger and onion rings and sit up at the Lookout at Woodland.

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Q: Where do you go for a great time? 

A: I’m a foodie! I love all the independent restaurants. I always have a great time in the Oregon. 

>> RELATED: Here is what is going on in the Oregon District

Q: What would you change about Dayton? 

A: The perception. There are good and bad things happening in every city. I wish that more people would focus on the good. 

Q: What should people know about Dayton? 

A: What makes Dayton great are the people! Just when you think times are changing and the world seems scary…someone will go out of their way to help you or a stranger will smile and say “hello.” It’s all the little things that make Dayton great. 

>>  RELATED: Get off Dayton’s back

Q: What are your hopes for Wright Dunbar? 

A: That Wright Dunbar will continue to grow and become the vibrant historic district it’s meant to be. Wright Dunbar is at a tipping point! There are so many things “just about to happen” if just one of those things happen the rest will fall into place.  

Q: What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years? 

A: Development takes time. Downtown is booming right now and the edge neighborhoods will start to reap the benefits. I believe those outside edges will also start to see redevelopment & reuse. We’re reinventing ourselves as a city.

>> Local brewery owner lashes out against ‘naysayers’

Meet the woman behind Greek Fest’s planning and communication: Deb Pulos

This weekend is chock-full of festivals, notably the Dayton Greek Festival, which is celebrating its 60th year. We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to not only highlight the festival, but one important woman who keeps things running.

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Debra “Deb” Pulos has been involved with the festival or church for over three decades. Her role as Public Relations Coordinator ensures that the public knows all about the festival’s specialties (food!), the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s parishioners and much more. 

Get to know what keeps Pulos involved in the festival — and what she loves most about the Gem City. 

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Since you’re not a Dayton native, what brought you to the area?

I’m a Chicago gal, born and raised there. Meeting my husband of 33 years, Chris Pulos at the age of 18 in college is what brought me to Dayton. 

How did you get involved in the now 60-year-old Greek Fest in Dayton?

Honestly, it was just expected of me. Once you are a member of our parish, I think it is a “given” that working at the festival every year is something you do. My children worked and danced all of their lives. Both live in Northern Ohio right now, but so many of our children have grown up dancing, and continue on in the young adult and adult group dancers. 


Can you share with us what your duties/roles/work look like as the public relations chairwoman for the festival? 

My job is to share all aspects of our festival with people of the great city of Dayton and surrounding areas. I try to look at different angles every year, perhaps letting people in on what it takes to put this great festival together, or sharing stories of lifelong parishioners who have helped the festival evolve. 


What inspires you to continue Greek traditions through food, faith and celebration in Dayton? 

It’s the people that I call my family and friends who inspire me. It’s my mother and father in law who worked diligently for this parish. It’s watching generation after generation do what it takes to share all aspects of our faith and heritage with everyone. 

>> PHOTOS: Take a peek inside the gorgeous Greek church that’s home to the Dayton Greek Festival

What are some of your favorite foods to eat at the festival? 

That’s a tough question. I love our salads and chicken gyros! Our dressing is homemade and is wonderful. Our pastries are amazing and handmade by generations of women in our parish, and they must all be tired. 


What is it about Dayton that interested you both in staying here permanently?

Family. Dayton is a great place to raise a family. My husband and I had intended to return to Chicago, but too many things kept our feet firmly planted in Dayton. 


If you could change/improve one thing about Dayton, what would that be? 

Dayton and the surrounding areas are growing at a rapid pace, which I love. I would like to see people feel better about venturing outside of their own neighborhoods, to especially enjoy the city. 


Can you share with us a memory from the Greek Festival that really resonates with you? 

My father-in-laws face when watching my children (his grandchildren) dance, up until his passing, is a wonderful memory. 

What do you find most inspiring about Dayton? 

The variety of people and opportunity here in Dayton is wonderful. I love that anything is attainable with hard work and vision. 


What’s your favorite thing to do in Dayton? 

So I love going to concerts, and we are so lucky to have the Rose and Fraze in town, and now the Levitt Pavilion. My husband is such a good sport, I think I took him to over 20 concerts last summer! 


What do you see for the future of the Gem City in the coming 5 years? 

I see younger people staying or returning back to Dayton. We are embracing who we are and what we are becoming. Dayton has been a wonderful place to raise my family.

>> FESTIVAL MADNESS: It’s non-stop food, beer and cheers in September

The Greek Festival takes place Sept. 7-9 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, located at 500 Belmonte Park N., Dayton. 

Daytonian of the Week: Lisa Hanson, the woman keeping the Dayton arts community on its tracks 

Fact: Dayton is home to the largest international festival in Ohio.

That’s just one testament to the vibrant cultural and artistic community that exists in the Gem City.

Our Daytonian of the Week this week is the woman who makes sure the organizations, events, museums and other entities that make Dayton such a hot spot for the arts get the attention and exposure they deserve. Without Lisa Hanson, Executive Director of Culture Works, new residents, tourists and employers looking for a new home might not appreciate what a treasure Dayton truly is. 

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“Culture Works is a nonprofit regional arts agency that provides a unified voice for all the cultural organizations and activities in the Dayton Region and promotes the good news about the amazing cultural vibrancy of our region to a national audience.”

In 2017, Hanson was named Culture Works’ newest Executive Director. Previously, Hanson was the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Ohio Executive Director and was the Ohio Arts Alliance and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts spokesperson. 

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Hanson and her husband moved to Dayton 23 years ago after meeting at the University of Miami in Florida, where they both earned music degrees. 

“We found that the Dayton region offered an abundance of quality opportunities for our family,” Hanson said. “I am happy to say that Dayton has not disappointed! Year after year, we became more involved in the Dayton arts scene and more passionate about ensuring that the same arts experiences we have enjoyed would be available for generations to come.” 

👩‍🎨What do you appreciate most about what the arts and culture community in Dayton has going on? 

Hanson: “The Dayton Region is unique, especially for its size. Much larger communities cannot boast the number of museums and art exhibition spaces we enjoy, well-supported professional opera and theater companies, professional ballet companies, an amazing philharmonic orchestra, a world-renowned contemporary dance company and so much more! Currently, Dayton is becoming an incubator for individual artists, which is especially exciting!”

👩‍🎨What is the importance in a community supporting its own art and helping grow the interest in artistic or cultural related organizations and events? 

Hanson: “The importance of art and culture in our society is something I began to think a lot about when my children were finding their interests and discovering their talent. Without multiple outlets, including arts education programs in our public schools, they may not have thrived during those important developmental years. Art was and still is such an important part of my life, and I can’t imagine a world where kids and future generations grow up without it ... The arts have always been a part of Dayton’s rich heritage and will be key as we grow and evolve as a community. One of the truly great things about arts and culture: it asks for engagement, not conformity. I believe that communities grow stronger when we engage in experiences that bring us together!”


👩‍🎨What are you up to when you are not keeping the Culture Works ship running smoothly? 

Hanson: “Well, as a musician myself and the parent of artistic children, we are always involved in the arts. My husband and I still perform and have performed with the Dayton Opera Chorus, in addition to other professional performance opportunities. My husband Mark is a conductor, composer and arranger, so we are always looking for new and exciting ways to express ourselves and enrich communication through the arts with our community. We enjoy our family life very much and are heavily involved in the activities of our four children. There is always a performance or activity to attend! ... We do love working on our historic home and enjoy water sports and desire to take up biking — we just need a few more hours in the day!”

👩‍🎨What is something about Culture Works that every Daytonian should know? 

Hanson: “Culture Works provides general operating support to 11 major arts organizations in our region. We provide scholarships and individual artist grants (in partnership with Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District). Through a single donation to Culture Works, an individual can impact the entire artistic eco-system here in the Miami Valley. Many do not know that with a donation of $85 they will receive a “Passport to the Arts” which provides buy one-get one tickets to over 80 performances for one year!”


👩‍🎨Any big projects you have coming up this next year? Culture Works related or just personally? 

Hanson: “This year at Culture Works, we are working on a new look and website that is reflective of our connection to arts organizations, artists, arts education, business, government and community. The website will support a new arts education portal which is designed to connect educators to arts experiences that enrich core curriculum lessons. This will be launched early 2019. 

Also, we are excited to offer $40,000, in partnership with Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, in individual artist opportunity grants this year! Applications are being accepted now through October 1st through our website


👩‍🎨Finally, what are some of your favorite Dayton spots? Restaurants, bars, parks… etc.?? 

Hanson: “That is difficult to narrow down! Now more than ever, we have so many great places to choose from! Of course, I love live music, so when you can enjoy a meal and/or a drink while listening to live music, it just doesn’t get any better!”

Daytonian of the Week: Alex Keller, the woman who is keeping Dayton flexible

This week’s Daytonian of the Week has found a way to seamlessly combine her biggest passion with her love for the city she calls home. 

Alex Keller, founder of Alex Keller Yoga, has mastered her craft and made it her mission to help Daytonians discover the joys and benefits of practicing. Pushing her students a step further, Keller often takes her classes to Dayton’s many scenic waterways — opening people up to a completely new experience. 

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“I have stayed in Dayton for many reasons, but first and foremost my family is here,” Keller said. 

After moving to Dayton in 2004 with her family, Keller went to Wright State University for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Health.  

Not only does Keller live her passion every day, she has given her time to groups in need throughout the area, including youth groups, HIV support groups and people dealing with addictions. We sat down with Keller to find out more about what motivates her to stay flexible and strive for a balanced life: What led you to practicing yoga and eventually teaching yoga?

🏄‍♀️Keller: My first experience with yoga was with a Yoga VHS that I got for my birthday in 2005. I used to practice ballet and competitive horseback riding, my mom had taken a yoga class and thought it might help my performance so I gave it a try. I kind of fell into teaching yoga in 2009, I was a pilates instructor at Wright State University and they needed a teacher last minute for a beginner yoga class and I said OK. Then my teaching was strictly the postures, I didn’t know anything about meditation or mindfulness until my first yoga teacher training. My yoga practice evolved into something more than just a workout. It provided me with a coping mechanism for stress while working full time and going to school full time. I wanted to share the benefits of yoga, so I created Alex Keller Yoga with the intention to bring yoga to populations that wouldn’t normally do yoga. During my master’s, I had the opportunity to partner with PHDMC and the Dayton Public Library to teach yoga over the summer to kids in Northwest Dayton. That grew into teaching HIV support groups and those suffering from drug addiction. My mission quickly became DO YOGA DAYTON, where I aspired to share yoga all over Dayton. 

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🏄‍♀️Keller: Yoga has taught me harmony in thought, speech and action. Yoga has taken me on an adventure of personal growth. I confess there was no profound change when I first started yoga, but over time, small organic alterations had a positive impact on who I am today. Yoga has helped me find my inner strength, confidence and discipline to live an authentic life. After years of a strictly asana practice, I was exposed to the yoga sutras and meditation. These were the tools that helped dig me out of my habitual patterns. I have had the opportunity to teach and witness how people’s lives have been touched by the transformative power of yoga. My yoga practice has accepted me where I am. It has been patient, and it is constantly evolving to one day unfold into its truest expression. You take yoga a step further and do it (and teach it) on the water! How is that experience different than a typical yoga experience? Should people be intimidated to try it? 

🏄‍♀️ Keller: Yoga on a Stand Up paddle board or SUP Yoga is a fun practice with some great benefits. One of my favorite ways to exercise outside is to take my paddleboard out, find a quiet spot and yoga. Falling in the cool refreshing water is the best part. Here are 5 reasons to take your yoga practice to the water: 

1. Yoga on a moving surface fires up stabilizer muscles and the core creating strength in stability in the muscles and joints. 

2. Sup yoga requires focus on the poses but also the transition between them making you more mindful of your body during your practice. 

3. Less is more on the paddle board. The paddle board makes simple poses more dynamic, allowing practitioners develop body awareness. 

4. No practice is ever the same. Every time I go out on the paddle board, the wind, water and environment are always changing, creating a new experience with each practice. 

5. It is an opportunity to experience the beauty of outside! 

 >>The 5 best Miami Valley bike trails (and how to make the most of them) For someone who knows nothing about the yoga community we have in our area, what is the Dayton yoga community like? 

🏄‍♀️Keller: The Dayton Yoga community is huge and just continues to keep growing! If you are new to the area or want to learn more about the different styles and studios I highly recommend attending the Urban Yoga Movement this January. Classes are taught by instructors from studios all over the Dayton area. There are several different styles of yoga offered as well as lectures and meditation. What are you up to when you’re not keeping Dayton flexible? 

🏄‍♀️Keller: When I am not teaching I am paddling, hiking, biking and adventuring in Dayton’s amazing parks and rivers. In your opinion, what are some underrated things about Dayton? 

🏄‍♀️Keller: Dayton has an amazing outdoor community. We have the best rivers, bike trails, whitewater features and metroparks. The list goes on and on for adventure in Dayton and so many people have no idea that these things are here and free to the public. Any big projects you have coming up this next year? Yoga related or just personally? 

🏄‍♀️Keller: I created the Urban Yoga Movement with Tom Foolery Outdoors, Dayton Ohio’s first and largest yoga conference. With the help of local sponsors including Whole Foods and Wagner Subaru, we designed this event to bring yogis and wellness enthusiasts together for a celebration of community, learning and growth. Our 4th year will the first Saturday in January 2019. I hope to see you there! Finally, what are some of your favorite Dayton spots? Restaurants, bars, parks… etc.?

🏄‍♀️Keller: I love all of the Metroparks! The bike trail, whitewater play feature, and lagoon make Eastwood park my favorite. For yoga, I enjoy practicing with Ranjani Powers at Yoga XTC on First Street. As for food, you really can’t go wrong in Dayton. The Oregon District is probably my favorite, as there are lots of vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants.

Daytonian of the Week: Heather Leppla, appreciating art and the Gem City


Heather Leppla would like you to visit our community treasure, the Dayton Art Institute.  

The native Australian became the member relations manager for the DAI a year ago and is passionate about the institution. 

So, what inspires Heather Leppla about her role in the community? Here’s what she said: 

What’s your current job title and duties and how did that come about? 

I am really lucky to serve as the member relations manager for The Dayton Art Institute. My primary responsibilities are to lead the general membership program for the museum. My favorite part of my work is the people. The DAI members have such a wonderful love, dedication and appreciation for the museum and its impact on the community. Hearing their stories and enhancing the program for them is a joy! 

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My transition to the museum was actually a career change. Previously I worked for a wonderful nonprofit called 4C for Children; my work with 4C was focused on providing intentional and meaningful professional development for early educators. I decided to shift my career from early childhood education into development based on an evolving interest in fundraising. I was sad to say goodbye to the education world, but thrilled to start my professional fundraising career for the museum! 

Why do you think the Dayton Art Institute is important for the community? 

I truly believe that art enriches people’s lives. Next year, the Dayton Art Institute will celebrate 100 years of providing innovative programming and world-class art to the entire Dayton region. The museum is the greatest storyteller in the region; with an encyclopedic collection that spans more than 5,000 years, every single person that walks through the door has the chance to connect with and experience stories from all over the world, making new memories that they will treasure forever. 

It brings me so much joy to see young children engaging with the art through exciting interactives and through conversation with their caregivers. Just last week I observed two young girls talking with their grandmother about the relationship between Marianne Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt in the Yousuf Karsh exhibition that runs through Sept. 16 from the Smithsonian. They were astounded that a group of people (Daughters of the American Revolution) would not let Marianne sing. Their conversation about equality and standing up for others is an example of why the museum is so important to Dayton. Art starts conversations that create a more inclusive community and encourages people to be open to experiences and values that might be foreign to them. 

If you were describing the DAI to an out-of-towner, what would you tell them? 

It’s a place that will not only WOW you with its grandeur and impressive collection, it will also make you feel welcome and draw emotion from you. Everything from the people who work here to the Monet hanging in the galleries will give you a sense of wonder and belonging. 

Why is it important to become a member? 

Simply put, membership is the best deal in town and is a crucial funding source for the museum. If you can’t imagine Dayton without The Dayton Art Institute, then you should be a member. If you want a year of great entertainment, a place you can have fun, and a platform to learn about yourself, art and the world, then you should be a member. Membership is extremely affordable starting at just $40 a year and pays for itself within a few visits. Membership offers great discounts on the store, Leo Bistro and on events happening at the museum. 

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What is your favorite artwork or area of the museum? Why? 

That’s a tough one. When I first started at the museum I honestly did not know a lot about art. As I have learned more and heard the stories behind certain pieces and about the artists I have gathered a bunch of favorites. If I had to choose just one I would say Alison Van Pelt’s portrait of Louise Nevelson. When I look at it I feel and think about the female experience, everything from physical beauty and intelligence to female oppression and the fight for equality. There is something profoundly captivating about the way Alison Van Pelt chose to portray Louise Nevelson. 

What project have you worked on that you are most proud of? 

I am currently working on two projects that will enhance the DAI’s capacity to ensure that the museum and membership are accessible to all Dayton residents. These projects make me excited to get to work each day. Stay tuned! 

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Where did you grow up? Why did you decide to stay and settle in the Dayton area? 

I am from a small town called Kempsey, which is located in New South Wales, Australia. Aussies are eager travelers and always up for adventure. This trait gave me the push to move to Columbus, Ohio, for a year so I could work and explore the USA. During that first year I met my now husband and made lasting friendships. It was these relationships, the opportunities that Dayton provided, and the vibrancy of American culture that took ahold of me. I will always consider Australia home but now I have been blessed with a new home in Dayton. 

What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years? 

I think Dayton will still have the wonderful grit and perseverance it does now but there will be more it can offer to its residents. Being a downtown Dayton resident, I get so pumped to see the yearly changes that have been happening. My husband, Phil, and I are always commenting about how exciting it is to see so many people enjoying downtown, people active in the MetroParks and getting out to experience the fantastic cultural arts and food scene. 

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What inspires you about the Dayton area? 

The people! Dayton may not be the glitziest town, with the best entertainment, and coolest geographical features, but it’s the people that pack that whoa punch. When I decided to make Dayton my home I was embraced and uplifted by the people I met. Here I have found some of my best friends, encountered the kindest and most passionate people, and have expanded my family. Dayton is inspiring. 

What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge? 

I would say transitioning my career. It was scary to leave an industry that I had already committed a decade to. I was able to push through primarily because of my husband’s amazing support and the fantastic array of programs and groups throughout the region. If you ever want to reinvent yourself and aren’t afraid of hard work, Dayton has your back. Through the Women in Business Network, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and young professional groups such as Generation Dayton and the Junior League I have received meaningful mentorship, been accepted into two great leadership programs, grown my professional network, and have always been supported to take risks. The opportunities that Dayton provides is astounding! 

What do you love about life in Dayton? 

It’s SUPER affordable, there is fun to be had (you just need to know where to look sometimes), and the people are fantastic. Dayton has a beautiful charm that celebrates its history, the natural resources of the area, and supports its residents. What more can you ask for?! 

What would you change about Dayton? 

I would love for all Daytonians to get out to vote. I am a permanent resident, so I don’t have the option of voting, but I try to do my part by canvassing for worthy political candidates and ballot initiatives. I truly believe that Dayton can experience even more positive change, for every single Dayton resident if everyone took the time to vote and learn about the issues. It has been quite an ongoing educational experience learning the political landscape and government structure of the U.S. I have been blessed that I am surrounded by a vast number of civically and politically engaged people, particularly my husband and his family. 

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What should people know about Daytonians and the city? 

That is a no brainer — Dayton is a hub for innovation and a home for everyone! If you have not been to places like Carillon Park, the Air Force Museum, and Dayton Visual Arts Center, you need to go ASAP. I am continually surprised by the sheer determination, inventiveness, and creativity of Daytonians. This city works hard to make Dayton a place all feel welcome and supported. Of course, there is more to be done and done better, but overall programs like Welcome Dayton, UpDayton, and Dayton Area Solar Co-ops, when combined with the wonderful people in our community, make Dayton a great place to live, play, and grow. 

 What superpower would you love to have? 

I would love to be able to teleport myself ... like Star Trek! This would make living away from Australia no problem at all. Also, Phil and I are travel lovers, so we would be popping in and out of places across the world every day. I wish this was real! 

Describe your perfect Dayton date. What would you do? 

Oh this is tough as it would depend on who I am taking on a Dayton date. With my husband, I would say a perfect Dayton date would include dinner at a downtown restaurant, a stroll along RiverScape, a cocktail at one of our favorite bars, and then end the evening sitting around a firepit with our awesome neighbors and friends! 

What Dayton area food do you love? 

The Dayton food scene is lit! I love Siam Pad Thai, wings from Lock 27, sushi from Fusian & DLM, everything sold at Second Street Market, pizza from Wheat Penny and Old Scratch, risotto from Roost, and every menu item from Corner Kitchen. I love food! 

In terms of boozy treats, you will find me sipping French 75’s or bourbon neat at Century, Cosmo’s at Wheat Penny, or Ciders from Barrel House!

Trump takes shot at LeBron James on Twitter

Update Aug. 4, 2018 11:52 p.m. EDT: Referenced in President Donald Trump’s tweet denigrating Lebron James, Michael Jordan is showing support for James. 

“I support LJ,” Jordan’s spokesperson told Yahoo Sports. “He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”

Update Aug. 4, 2018 3:52 p.m. EDT: First lady Melania Trump issued a statement in support of LeBron James Saturday, in response to President Trump’s late-night tweet attacking the basketball star.

The statement regarding President Donald Trump’s late-night tweets about James was prompted on social media, as the hashtag #BeBest trended on social media -- referring to the First Lady’s anti-cyber bullying campaign, according to the Washington Post.

In the statement, Melania Trump said James is “working to do good things” and she would be open to visiting James’ new I Promise School in Akron, Ohio.

Below is the full statement from Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's spokesperson, from CNBC:

“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today. As you know, Mrs. Trump has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative. Her platform centers around visiting organizations, hospitals and schools, and she would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron.”

Original Story: President Donald Trump attempted a slam-dunk Friday night on NBA icon LeBron James, taking a swipe at the intelligence of the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

>> Read more trending news 

Referencing an interview CNN’s Don Lemon did with James about the I Promise School for at-risk students, the president tweeted that James “was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon.”

“He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” Trump tweeted, making a reference to NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

Lemon did the interview with James on Monday, when the NBA all-star launched the elementary school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. 

“Sports has never been something that divides people," James said to Lemon. "It's always been something that brings someone together."

>> LeBron James opens I Promise School in Ohio

However, James said he believed Trump was “using sports to kind of divide us.” Lemon asked James what he would say to the president if he was sitting in front of him.

“I wouldn’t sit across from him,” James said. “I’d sit across from Barack (Obama), though.”

The ball has been in James’ court before. In September he called Trump a “bum” for rescinding his White House invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

"Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!" James tweeted at the time.

James had not responded to Trump’s tweet as of early Saturday.

Pro wrestler Kane wins mayoral election in Tennessee

Glenn Jacobs won his biggest match Thursday night, as the man who wrestled professionally as Kane won the Knox County mayoral race in Tennessee, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Jacobs, 50, a small business owner who ran as a Republican, defeated Democrat Linda Haney. With 100 percent of the 89 precincts reporting, Jacobs held a 66-34 percent advantage over Haney with nearly 80,000 ballots cast, WATE reported.

“This professional wrestler got into a no-holds-barred, last-man-standing match, and when the bell rung, he was victorious," Jacobs told supporters. "We were victorious."

Jacobs grew up in Missouri and earned an English degree at Truman State University, the News-Sentinel reported. An injury while playing football pointed him toward professional wrestling, where the 6-foot-8, 300-pounder starred as the younger brother of World Wrestling Entertainment star The Undertaker.

In May, he defeated Knox County Commissioner Brad Anders by 23 votes to win the Republican nomination, the News-Sentinel reported.

Jacobs and his wife run an insurance and real estate company in Tennessee, ESPN reported. He takes over his new post on Sept. 1, and has not ruled out a return to the ring for a special appearance, ESPN reported. 

Meet your Daytonian of the Week: The man behind-the-scenes of some of Dayton’s most popular restaurants

Meet Brian Johnson. He’s the guy who runs the strategic marketing operations for many of Dayton’s most popular restaurants. 

Johnson spoke with us about life in Dayton, his inspiration, his work and a few tips for restaurant-goers. 

Without further ado, your Daytonian of the Week.

>> NEW DETAILS: Brunch Club continues to rebuild after fire and hopes to reopen next month

Hi. My name is Brian and I’m somewhat of an introvert. More of a behind-the-scenes type guy, ya know? Though, I want to say “Thank You,” because if you’re a fan of anything related to Dayton’s food, art, music, or event scene, you’ve probably attended one of my client’s events, and that’s what it’s really all about. Supporting the community, building Dayton and showing the haters there’s more to do than they can possibly handle. This city is built on the backbone of the hardworking (and playing) entrepreneurs, creatives, inventors and citizens that Dayton’s history has spoken to for over 200 years.

>> NEW FESTIVAL: A donut-eating contest, donut-flavored beer, mini golf and free concerts part of Troy’s Donut Jam

Tell us a little about you. Where did you grow up, attend high school, etc.?

I’m a homegrown, introverted, food and beverage lover that has been fortunate enough to connect with some of the most creative-minded clients and hardworking staffs around. Growing up in Beavercreek,I took a long sabbatical after high school to learn about art and design and experience life, food and anything I could. 

You’re incredibly active in Dayton’s food scene. What got you so involved, and what drives your passion for the culinary business in the Gem City?

“Thriving” was so hard and didn’t really pay the bills, so as many in that position will find themselves, I picked up work in restaurants, working really hard to just keep it all afloat. This led to an unexpected love of food and beverage that has stuck with me for well over a decade. With this amount of time in restaurants, the seemingly simple line that divides average food and beverage from great culinary experiences reveals itself to be the true Sisyphus style mountain that it is. 

>> JUST IN: Food truck famous for its pizza and wings plans to open restaurant in Kettering

What do you do, and what inspires your work?

Without constant reinvention, proactive creative sense, self critique and a truly oppressive amount of hard work that would break almost anyone, an independent restaurant will fall to the background, become dull and often fail to the sea of corporate restaurants with bloated marketing budgets and cheap pre-portioned frozen food. 

That being said, most small restaurant owners can barely find enough hours in the day to manage staffing needs, food consistency and menu creations, restaurant repairs, taxes and payroll, legal issues, or any of the many other situations that chronically pop up, let alone devote time to their marketing efforts. 

That’s where I come in. Rather than falling into the passive trap of only using traditional advertising outlets to hopefully grab someones eye, my team works to create more experience-based marketing efforts that fits our client’s brands and personalities.

From food truck rallies, to block parties, intimate tasting menus, or wine and liquor tastings, it’s all about making a connection with the customer in which they have an experience they’ll remember. 

>> Dayton objected to this bar’s liquor license renewal. Now they have an agreement to make changes.

Tell us about some of your favorite things to do in Dayton:

The East Third Street Taco Trail: 

My good friend David Obenour turned me onto this one and while not technically a dedicated trail, it should be. You start by gathering a group of friends and drinking tequila at your house. Then you walk or uber over to the much loved Taqueria Mixteca (may I recommend trying the house made Taquitos?), then it’s about a total 30 - 45 minute walk time to your next three stop, Mobile Garcia Food Truck, Las Constanitas and Johnny’s Tortas. Then you head back home and finish your bottle of tequila and Mexican beers. 


The River Sessions: 

We invented this one for our client, Adventures on the Great Miami, so while it may seem like self promotion it is truly soooo magical that it’s worth mentioning. Basically, we put two to three musicians on a giant 18-foot floating stand up paddle board and float 3.5 miles down the scenic Great Miami River with the audience floating along in kayaks, canoes, and rafts. A one-of-a-kind experience that a live music lover should not miss. 


Create your own experiences! 

No seriously, do it. Some experiences are more fleeting in memory than others, but if you have something you're passionate about, I would highly recommend giving it a try as either your profession or hobby and inviting others along. It’s a VERY scary step to take and no, I am not going to promise you that it will work out. But you will find in Dayton, OH the community loves to see new and cool things happen. If what you’re doing is genuine, honest and put together with strong effort, you will realize what I similarly realized years ago: Dayton will support you. 

It’s an experience you will not forget. 

 >> Kettering-based pizza chain to expand into West Virginia with 20 new stores

What advice do you have for restaurant-goers in Dayton? We could all stand to be a little kinder and respectful of restaurant workers. It’s a career choice that is thought of as “secondary” or a “pass through” job — one that some people see as a servant position than an actual career — when in reality it can be incredibly rewarding to learn about and serve great food and beverages. 

Plus, you like to eat right?! 

Pro tip: In a not-so-magical way, the overall restaurant experience is much better if you’re nice to staff and have a good attitude about going out to eat. Besides, the average human eats 77,197 meals in his/her life. This is just one and definitely not worth being grumpy about. Be sure to try this theory out sometime if you don’t already. 

>> New street party, artisan market part of Friday’s Art in the City arts extravaganza

And when it comes to online reviews, be wary about what you do with your online “stars.” Many times you may not be aware of all of the circumstances that surround a negative experience and EVERY TIME the management and owners greatly appreciate being approached directly about a problem rather than waking up to an unexpected 1 star that could have been avoided and/or addressed before you even left the building. “If you enjoyed yourself, tell everybody; if you didn’t, please tell us” is good advice to heed, and to allow for the management to try to fix the issue so you can leave happy, too.

Tiki bar dreams and co-oping schemes: Here is what to know about Daytonian of the Week Lela Klein 

Lela Klein is a fan of people power. 

She is a driving force behind the Gem City Market — a co-operative grocery in the works on Salem Avenue — and the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative - GDUCI.

Klein is helping change the city. We caught up with our latest Daytonian of the Week

What do you do and how did you get involved in it? 

I am a "Cooperativista" (a co-op developer)! I'm trained as a labor lawyer, and I practiced for 7 years. When I moved back to Dayton, I was a union attorney for the IUE-CWA. I began to volunteer in 2015 on a community project aimed at bringing a cooperative grocery store to the food desert in Dayton. As I got more and more involved, I really went down a cooperative rabbit hole. I left my job at the union to co-found the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative, a non-profit with a goal of developing a network of cooperatives in Dayton, including the grocery store, manufacturing co-ops, and more. 


Why do you do it? 

I believe that cooperatives — especially worker-owned cooperatives — are a way to strengthen Dayton's economy from the ground up while creating good jobs and needed businesses that are rooted here and accountable to us. We can't rely completely on outside investment to lift up our city. We need to pool our resources and work creatively to counteract decades of divestment, flight of capital, segregation and unequal allocation of resources.


 >> RELATED: Daytonian of the Week: Amaha Sellassie


What superpower would you love to have? 

 Jessica Jones-style strength without the baggage and drinking problem. 

>>  RELATED: Four comic book superheros, heros and regular people you probably didn't know were from Dayton


What does Dayton need? 

More cooperatives! (duh) 


What should people know about the Gem City Market? 

That this thing is really happening! The momentum over the past couple of months has been incredible. We have over 1,500 members, great turnout at meetings and events, and we're getting closer to breaking ground every day. Together, we will bring a community-owned, 15,000-square-foot conventional grocery store to Salem Avenue — creating 20 to 30 jobs, offering nutrition and cooking classes, and fostering a sense of community with our neighbors. Anyone can shop with us once we open, but to get involved and become a part of the movement, you can get your membership at 

 >> RELATED: Gem City Market food co-op gets a home in northwest Dayton

If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be? 

I think we need a worker-owned Tiki Bar. (If anyone wants to work on this, I can help!)

What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years? 

I envision a Dayton in the future as a city known for a piloting new economic model in the industrial Midwest. We could be the co-op city, like Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain. (Worth a Google). 

 >> Story from the Guardian:  Mondragon is Spain's giant co-operative where times are hard but few go bust


What do you love about life in Dayton? 

I love the people in Dayton. We have had a tough time of it, but folks are always willing to lend a hand and step up when it's needed. And everyone seems to have a kind of wry, sardonic sense of humor that I love — like there is hidden optimism deep down under a crusty, tattooed, weary exterior. I love my son's Rec Center baseball league because I meet parents from around the city I wouldn't have otherwise met. There is nothing like sitting in the bleachers in the setting sun on a warm day and woefully rooting on your "Bad News Bears" kids with other parents and grandparents. The quiet joy of it crosses race, class, age, neighborhood and experience. 


What are your hopes for Dayton? 

I really hope that as more development happens downtown and beyond, we can be thoughtful about creating a more equitable and inclusive city and not replicating or further entrenching the segregation we have now in housing and other basic amenities. I hope we all take time to get fluent in cooperatives, land trusts, community benefits agreements, etc. 



What’s your favorite hidden Gem in Dayton? 

River's Edge Montessori (DPS Preschool-6th). It's got a great school community, teachers, staff and awesome kids. I'm a proud DPS mom. 


Why did you decide to settle in Dayton? 

I grew up here, with one foot in Dayton (where we lived until I was 8 and where I went to high school) and one foot in Yellow Springs (where I went to elementary and middle school and where my parents still call home). When I turned 18 and left for college, I thought I'd never move back. I had serious wanderlust, living in Connecticut, New York City, North Carolina, Ithaca, Chicago, Boston and D.C. But then I strongly felt the call of home when I was 33 and had my first kid. I couldn't imagine raising a family anywhere else.

 >> Wondering why Bradley Cooper was in Yellow Springs? Mystery solved?!? 

What inspires you about Dayton? 

Our amazing history of invention and our killer music and art scenes. 

 >>  RELATED: 8 Dayton acts you should give a funk about

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