Jennifer Conn

Akron Reporter

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter. 

A Northeast Ohio native, Jennifer has covered Akron news for cleveland.com and Crain’s Akron Business. She was also a member of the inaugural staff of The Devil Strip, and wrote long-form features on Akron’s burgeoning music scene, the city’s punk roots and its historic downtown.

Earlier in her career, Jennifer was a business reporter for Crain Communications’ national trade magazines, covering scrap metal, recycling and municipal incineration for Waste News and the retail tire industry for Tire Business. She also served as regional reporter for Record Publishing’s weekly newspapers.

As a freelance writer, Jennifer has covered numerous industries, including the automotive after-market, cyber security, herbal healing and the environment. Her features have also appeared in literary magazines, including Belt Akron

As a communications professional, Jennifer was vice president of communications at Akron Community Foundation, and  senior communications development officer at the Summa Hospitals Foundation. She also served as senior writer at AKHIA Public Relations and Marketing Communications.

Jennifer also worked as an adjunct professor at Kent State and the University of Akron, teaching newswriting, English composition and English as a Second Language.   

She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in journalism from Kent State University. She is currently working on a post master’s certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language.

She is a Cuyahoga Valley National Park enthusiast, owns two kayaks (one banana yellow, one psychedelic purple)  and served on the board that launched Akron's dog park.

Ways to Connect

Akron City Council
ZOOM

Akron City Council has wrapped up a three-year long process to do away with Columbus Day. Beginning in 2021 because of the pandemic, the city will celebrate Italian-American Heritage and Culture Day each October. September will be known as “Welcoming Month.” 

courthouse gavel
CREATIVE COMMONS

The federal CARES ACT moratorium on evictions for people in subsidized housing, which was established during the pandemic, is set to expire soon.And that’s causing confusion among renters and courts alike. 


downtown skyline
SHANE WYNN / AKRON STOCK

Minority contractors can apply for funding and technical support through a new Summit County program. The Minority Contractor Capital Access Program aims to help businesses that otherwise might not survive the pandemic.

The fund was created through  a partnership by the city of Akron, Summit County, Akron Urban League, Greater Akron Chamber and the Western Reserve Community Fund. 

police on steps of justice center
JOSH TROCHE

The phrase “defund the police” has become one of the battle cries of protesters across the country since George Floyd was killed in May by Minneapolis police. 

Floyd’s death has sparked a new push for police reform, which many say is decades overdue.

The city of Akron, like many cities, is in the early stages of what could add up to significant change for the police department.

zoom meeting of city council
ZOOM

With the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, cries to address racism have grown louder across the country. In answer, the city of Akron declared racism a public health crisis.

A resolution passed this week included the immediate creation of a task force to develop a five-year “Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan.”

zoom meeting image
ZOOM

Akron City Council has had a busy week, and it's just getting started, said Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville.

On Monday, council unanimously declared racism a public health crisis. In separate legislation, council banned chokeholds by police.

“There’s a lot of reform that we can make that will bring pretty good changes,” Sommerville said.

photo of police in gear
JOSH TROCHE

Reports from around the country show journalists arrested and some seriously injured by police during the recent protests over the death of George Floyd. So far, that’s not the case in Akron.

protestors near the police station
JOSH TROCHE

A Tallmadge teen is recovering after being hit by a pickup truck during protests last Saturday in downtown Akron.

Sam Borrell, 18, and some of his friends had gone to Akron during the day to participate in a peaceful demonstration protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  Akron police are continuing their investigation into what happened. The driver of the pickup is not facing charges at this point.

Borrell talked about his experience.

A photo of the City of Akron.
SHANE WYNN / AKRON STOCK

Akron was among cities around the country where people gathered Saturday to protest the killing of George Floyd,  a black man in Minneapolis. The white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck is now charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

As they have elsewhere, the protests in Akron turned violent, with protestors shattering windows in buildings and city vehicles, and throwing rocks. Akron Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Mayor Dan Horrigan talked about how the city will work to resolve community unrest.

a photo of University of Akron trustees
UNIVERSITY OF AKRON

University of Akron trustees on Friday approved a number of long-term changes intended to keep the university solvent despite lost revenue from the pandemic.

a photo of akron art museum staff
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

A funding crisis at the Akron Art Museum launched an investigation that has now led to the resignation of Director Mark Masuoka.

In recent months, Masuoka faced allegations of racism, sexism and bullying by museum employees who say he used the pandemic as a way to retaliate against workers who spoke out.

In March, Masuoka announced staff cuts - blaming it on a more than $900,000 shortfall caused by the pandemic.

handcuffing a suspect
AKRON POLICE DEPARTMENT

Despite the global pandemic, the Akron Police Academy has continued training its first class of recruits since 2008. Akron’s academy became a casualty of the Great Recession.

recycle bin
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Akron’s recycling program has changed over the past few years, as the value of recycled materials has fluctuated.

militray personnel examine sculpture
RALPH SOLONITZ / KENT STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES

Don Drumm is known for his signature aluminum-cast art, from towering totems to palm-sized pieces, many featuring his iconic sun design. Drumm’s art is all over the world, but one sculpture from his early career is on Kent State’s campus. It figures prominently in the May 4 shootings.

debate participants at table
SHANE WYNN / AKRON PRESS CLUB

Summit County’s next sheriff could be a woman.

Kandy Fatheree won the Democratic primary, garnering 42 percent of the vote. Her opponents were three seasoned law enforcement professionals.

a lake in Canton
/ STARK PARKS

The results of Tuesday's primary will determine whether Stark Parks will have the money it needs to keep the system operational.

If a renewal levy on the ballot passes, Stark Parks will be able to keep open thousands of acres of hiking and biking trails and marinas.

Last November voters defeated a parks levy that include a slight increase over the current levy.

photo of a woman
ADAM MELNYK / SHUTTERSTOCK

When we think about frontline responders, we usually think about people who save lives and rush into burning buildings. But in this pandemic, many frontline workers stock shelves and operate cash registers at grocery stores of all sizes.

When word first began spreading that coronavirus was deadly, contagious and close to home, newscasts showed panicky shoppers emptying stores of bread, milk and toilet paper.

But that wasn’t the case everywhere.

downtown construction
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Construction crews working on Akron’s Main Street Corridor project have been busy throughout the pandemic, keeping the city’s $31 million project on schedule.

Akron launched the project in 2018 to bring vibrancy back to its central business district and help boost the city’s declining population.

akron police training class
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The city of Akron has called eight furloughed employees back to work to create a decontamination team to help protect first responders.

Akron General emergency department
CLEVELAND CLINIC AKRON GENERAL

The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime. As a society, our reactions are mostly based on our emotions – worry about family and friends, fear for our jobs and anxiety over the long-term impact on our community.

But for healthcare workers who are used to dealing in facts, coronavirus is a battle against the unknown.

tents  in the the woods
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Summit County agencies are working round the clock to create a quarantine facility for the area’s homeless who must be quarantined.

The homeless quarantine center is being set up in the gymnasium at the Chapel in Akron. Officials hope to open it next week.

Leading the effort is the Continuum of Care, a nonprofit of more than 30 agencies that provides services for the homeless.

fitness center building
Google Maps

In the lead-up to the projected peak of coronavirus cases in Ohio, Akron’s safety forces are preparing. The city established a temporary self-quarantine facility for all its safety workers at the city-owned Balch Street Fitness Center.

City workers, from firefighters and cops to dispatchers and call center workers, can use the gym if they test positive for COVID-19. The facility has sleeping quarters, showers and a kitchen.

united way logos
United Way of Summit County

Six Summit County entities have joined together to raise and channel much-needed funding into the community.

JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

For the first time in history, people across the country have been directed to stay home.

Schools and daycares have closed. Bars and resturants are shuttered.

Elder care facilities are in lockdown. Businesses have closed their doors to all but the most essential workers.

Groups cannot gather outside homes, and everyone is expected to stay six feet apart.

Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank
Google Earth

Akron Community Foundation has issued grants specifically to nonprofits needing assistance as they continue operations admid the pandemic. More grants are already in the works.

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