Jennifer Conn

Akron Reporter

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter. 

A Northeast Ohio native, Jennifer has covered Akron news for 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

photo of empty classroom

School districts across the region are working to start the school year safely amid rising numbers of COVID-19.

Summit County Public Health this week recommended schools conduct the first 9 weeks of classes online. But the health department acknowledged that in-person classes might still be needed for students with disabilities who might require greater supports.

summit health chart

With cases of COVID-19 still rising across the county, Summit County Public Health on Monday recommended that schools conduct classes online this fall rather than in person.

The health department also issued guidance to help schools respond to the pandemic.

a photo of Summit Lake

Before the pandemic, the city of Akron, like many Rust Belt cities, was taking a close look at ways to engage the community, and draw in new residents.

A new Knight Foundation study took a deep dive into 26 metro areas, including Akron, to learn what increases residents’ connection to the city and improves quality of life.

police on the courthouse steps

Northeast Ohio is not exempt from the rising tide of gun violence sweeping across the nation.

But the pandemic has brought challenges hindering the work of Summit County law enforcement agencies.

Akron Police report the department’s rate for solving murders this year is 69 percent higher than the national average.

Nepali couple in a garden

The spread of Coronavirus has been more pervasive in some regions than others.

In Akron, the north side of town has experienced greater spread than anywhere in the city. North Akron is the city’s international neighborhood, housing immigrants and refugees from Nepal, Bhutan, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Congo and many others. But one group is working to keep the virus in check.

map of land
City of Akron

The city of Akron is asking developers to submit proposals to build single family homes on a 45-acre triangle of land near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The wooded property in the Merriman Valley Neighborhood is framed by Northampton, Theiss and Hardy roads. 

akron's municipal building
Akron City Hall / Akron City Council

Akron voters are being asked to consider several proposed changes to the city’s charter in November.

Among the proposals Akron City Council approved Monday is a charter change that would require police to publicly release body cam footage and dash cam recordings of incidents in which deadly force is used,  as long as the release is allowable by state and federal law.

A Charter Review Commission recommended amending outdated language and adding new sections to Akron’s charter.

police on steps of police station
Josh Troche

Akron City Council is launching an initiative that will bring lawmakers and the police department together to make changes intended to improve public safety

The Special Committee on “Reimagining Public Safety” includes four working groups on personnel and culture; accountability and transparency; prevention; and technology and equipment. 

University of Akron
The University of Akron

The University of Akron Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure to reduce 178 union and nonunion faculty and staff positions.

Facing an estimated $65 million shortfall, the university expects to save $16.4 million through the mass layoff, which will begin in two weeks.

University President Gary Miller told trustees the cuts are needed to sustain the university in the future.

a photo of Dan Horrigan with a mask on.

Akron officials are moving forward on a plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by making masks mandatory in the city and setting fines for offenders.

Masks became mandatory in Summit County Friday after the state moved it into red alert status

Mayor Dan Horrigan said the city’s ordinance has been in the works since March.

Akron City Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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 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

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

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

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

militray personnel examine sculpture

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

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.