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

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.

couple in garden
Shane Wynn / Akron Stock

With new coronavirus information coming out daily — in some cases hourly — it’s tough to keep up and keep facts straight. But for the many immigrants living in the Greater Akron area, the challenge is real.

a photo of personal protective equipment
/ SUMMIT COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

The Summit County Emergency Management Agency and its counterparts in all Ohio counties are asking for donations.

They need personal protective medical equipment to help hospitals and first responders treat cases of COVID-19.

exterior of shelter
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties has a message for the community: during the pandemic help will be available for people at risk of domestic violence and the Rape Crisis Center will continue serving survivors of sexual violence, said Executive Director Terri Heckman.

woman answering hotline
SHANE WYNN

As the coronavirus pandemic plays out, people are being instructed to avoid in-person contact as much as they can. But for many residents, too much time alone with uncertainty can heighten their fear and anxiety.

Summit County Victim Assistance Program President Leanne Graham says the organization is well positioned to help people experiencing stress from the pandemic by working through its strong virtual network.

social workers downtown
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Ending homelessness is a challenge everywhere. Like most Ohio counties, Summit has an organization that helps coordinate services for the homeless. Summit County’s Continuum of Care each year conducts a head count of people living outside and in shelters. In the past decade, the homeless population’s highest number came in 2011 when it totaled 857. Last year, the count was 546 people living without homes.

Jilly's Music Room
Jilly's Music Room

Bar and restaurant employees across Ohio have found themselves out of a job as the state works to curb the spread of COVID-19. On Sunday, Gov. Mike DeWine told Ohioans in the food and beverage industry that unemployment compensation is available. He also waived the one- week waiting period to receive benefits. 

group of voters
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

In the days before Tuesday’s primary election, Summit County Board of Elections saw a steady stream of early voters, with some casting ballots for the first time.

Voters arrived singly and in groups, giving different reasons for voting ahead of Election Day.

Among the early voters were State Rep. Tavia Galonski, who’s seeking reelection, and her husband, John Galonski.

Summit County Board of Elections

Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 have led Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to order that voting locations in retirement living or senior care facilities be moved for primary election day next Tuesday.To safeguard seniors, the Summit County Board of Elections moved 10 polling locations out of senior housing facilities, affecting nearly 11,000 voters.  

To inform voters, bright orange post cards were mailed to each voter in the affected precincts.

Election workers also delivered absentee ballots to the facilities, because manyof the  residents have 

North Hill storefronts
SHANE WYNN / AKRON STOCK

At his state of the city address Wednesday, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan will announce a new program to help entrepreneurs launch or expand their businesses while filling vacant storefronts  in 10 of the city’s small business districts.

crane feeds an auto shredder
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

If you live in the Rust Belt, you’ve likely seen your share of scrap metal yards. Scrap might look like rusted junk, but industrial recycling remains a robust industry. Industrial recycling, combined with commercial material from retail operations, makes up the majority of the U.S. recycling industry today.


David James at the podium
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James gave a positive report , with a twist, during his 13th annual state of the schools address Wednesday.

three men in suits
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

By spring, anyone walking or driving through the heart of the University of Akron will notice a marked difference in visibility.

In a project launched by the city, the University of Akron and Ohio Edison, 252 older street lights along South Exchange Street will be upgraded to more efficient LED bulbs by May.

The new fixtures are designed to accommodate motion sensors and cameras and will eventually be rolled out in 10 more Akron communities.

chapel hill mall
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

While the owners of Chapel Hill Mall face foreclosure, trouble with utility providers is ongoing.

New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group was notified last week that Summit County had initiated foreclosure proceedings for the North Akron mall.

akron city couniclman head shot
PHIL LOMBARDO

If the North Akron neighborhood looks a little brighter after dark this winter, it could be the result of newly elected Akron City Councilman Phil Lombardo’s “Project Light it up."

Prior to his election last November, Lombardo had been asked by a business owner for help getting a street light repaired in the Tallmadge Avenue business district.

photo of front entrance to the mall
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Officials in Summit County’s Fiscal Office say the county has started foreclosure proceedings against the owners of Chapel Hill Mall for delinquent taxes and unpaid sewer bills.

photo of student climate protest in Cleveland
CHLOE FRIEDLAND

This story was originally published on July 22, 2019.

Fifty years ago a burning river mobilized a generation of environmental activism. Citizens pushed for new laws to regulate pollution, and our water and air has gotten cleaner.

But significant environmental challenges remain including climate change, habitat loss, and plastics pollution.

Our series Watershed looks at today’s environmental warriors and the road ahead.

photo of paddlers on Summit Lake
ROSALIE MURPHY / THE DEVIL STRIP

In 2019, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition and its partners made steady progress in efforts to connect the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail, border to border, across Summit, Stark, Tuscarawas and Cuyahoga counties.

photo of the Akron Civic Theatre marquis
SHANE WYNN / AKRONSTOCK

The 90-year-old Akron Civic Theatre is poised to undergo a major restoration and expansion project that is expected to take the venue into the next 90 years.  

Theater officials have raised close to 90% of an $8.5 million capital campaign called “Staging the Future.”  The money will be used to complete a restoration that ended in 2002 without finishing the front of the building and Grand Lobby.

photo of clyde cox
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The Akron Police Department will boost its numbers by about 10 percent in the next six months. Forty-five cadets have begun intensive training in the first Akron Police Academy since the city ended its training program in 2008.  

kenmore garfield high school
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

In Akron's College & Career Academies model, the school district is focused on offering hands-on experiences, rather than test-taking, while partnerships with the business community play a vital role.

Just as vital are the choices given to students. They decide which career area they want to investigate.

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