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 recycle bin
Jennifer Conn / WKSU

Municipal recycling programs are as different as the communities they serve. But keeping a large recycling stream pure is a universal challenge.

The city of Akron has launched an initiative to combat the increasing volume of contamination in its recycling streams.

Over the next three months, the “Recycle Right” campaign will rely on bin inspections and ongoing communication with residents, according to Akron Chief of Staff James Hardy.

poeple floating the river in in rubber tubes
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The removal of dams along the Cuyahoga River has had benefits apart from improving water quality. Now, water recreation is providing new business opportunities from Kent to Cuyahoga Falls.

Over Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of brightly colored inflatable tubes joined kayakers and canoers on the river. The tubers were customers of Float the River, the area’s newest form of water recreation, launched by local entrepreneurs T.J. Mack and Savannah Snyder.

Akron community garden
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Akronites who are interested in gardening but don’t have the space or the skill can join a new urban farm cooperative.

Akron Cooperative Farms this month tilled the earth at an unused baseball park in North Hill.

Akron mayor and staff at Cultural Plan launch
Jennifer Conn / WKSU

Akron has kicked off a process that will create a blueprint for the city’s cultural resources, from visual art to environmental assets.

Residents will be central to the creation of the Akron Cultural Plan, which will be led by ArtsNow, a nonprofit created to connect art, culture and community. The goal is to rely on community input to develop a strategy for strengthening the city’s cultural resources, across an array of places, experiences and organizations.

a photo of vote buttons
M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU

Voters went to the polls in Akron’s primary election on Tuesday where they ousted  four city council incumbents.


Innes Middle School in Kenmore
AKRON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Officials from Akron and across Ohio testified in Columbus Thursday in support of a new school funding plan they say is more equitable and realistic than what’s been in place for the last 30 years. 

Eighteen months ago, Ohio Reps Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) asked active school superintendents,  treasurers, educators and administrators to put their heads together to create a funding plan that would serve Ohio’s  610 school districts based on their individual needs.  

JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Businesses in older buildings can sometimes look uninviting to customers. The city of Akron is working to change that by giving grants to spruce up buildings in its small business districts. 

Great Streets Akron, launched last year, aims to help bring vibrancy back to 10 Akron neighborhoods through grants, loans and street enhancements.

photo of Cuyahoga River
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

A local group focused on protecting the Yellow Creek watershed could soon see creation of a conservancy district to restore the Cuyahoga River tributary.

The Yellow Creek watershed in Summit and Medina counties has been over-stressed by development, leading to flooding and erosion. After flooding in 2014 led to the collapse of roadways and damaged homes in Bath, Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, Brenda McShaffrey took action.

University of Akron Remembrance Garden map
UNIVERSITY OF AKRON

An annual Remembrance Day at the University of Akron has led to creation of a Remembrance Garden honoring students, faculty and employees who have died.

At the dedication this week,  attendees walked from ballroom of the Jean Hower Taber Student Union  to the Remembrance Garden located between Olin Hall, Bierce Library and Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences.

There, they placed carnations on a large stone that reads “Forever a Zip.” The university’s student government is developing plans for what else will go in the green space near the center of campus.

Akron Draft Day Experience
CITY OF AKRON

Football fans from across the region are expected to gather at Akron’s Lock 3 Park to celebrate the centennial of the National Football League and Akron’s own pro football team.

Akron Public Schools has been awarded a $500,000 grant to help prepare its middle schools, as the district rolls out its College & Career Academies.

The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation grant will enable the district to begin mapping a plan that transforms the way middle school students learn and interact with the community, said Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams.

Summit Lake
WIKIMEDIA

Akron’s Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition is making progress in its effort to revitalize declining neighborhoods.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently released a report on the progress made in Akron, Memphis, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia under the Reimagining the Civic Commons program.  Knight and several other foundations provided $20 million divided equally between the five cities.

Andrew Meyer / WKSU

The city of Akron will hold its primary election in May, for the first time in decades.

Last November, Akron voters approved a move from a September primary to May. Holding the primary in May enables the Summit County Board of Elections enough time between elections to comply with federal and state law, which mandates the BOE provide military and overseas voters with ballots 45 days before an election - for both primary and general elections.

Jennifer Conn / WKSU

The city of Akron and several local agencies have joined forces to use a multifaceted approach to curb youth violence.

The Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in violent crime among young adults 15-24 in Akron by 2023.

The plan was created through research, data collection and community conversations over the past two years. It can be amended as needed going forward, said Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda.

Jennifer Conn / WKSU

University of Akron engineering students are getting a chance to showcase their design-build skills at two prominent conferences the school is hosting.

SUMMIT METROPARKS

While the design phase moves forward on the removal of the Gorge Dam on the Cuyahoga River, efforts are also underway to ensure residents have their questions answered.

At this week’s public meeting announcing the timeline for the removal of the dam, most people were pleased because the dam is a barrier to a healthier Cuyahoga River.

Gorge Dam
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

A plan is now in place to bring down the Gorge Dam in the next four years.

Officials presented the plan with a timeline to a crowd at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium Tuesday night. If all goes as expected, the Gorge Dam could come down by 2023 at an estimated cost of $65 million to $70 million.

a photo of the former Sycamore Valley Golf Course
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Cuyahoga Falls City Council has approved a zoning change that will enable residential redevelopment at the former Sycamore Valley Golf Course.

Council’s approval changes the property’s zoning from E-1 to R-3, clearing the way for developer Danny Karam and Ryan Homes proposed construction of 146 townhomes.

photo of Cuyahoga River
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

Social media has been abuzz over the use of concrete slabs by the city of Cuyahoga Falls to help slow erosion along the Cuyahoga River.   

Over the past several days, Burning River Adventures, a canoe and kayak rental business in Cuyahoga Falls, got a lot of attention posting photos on Facebook of concrete slabs lining the river near Water Works Park, calling the practice “dumping.”

Cuyahoga Falls Superintendent of Parks Sara Kline said that’s misleading.

JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Akron City Council will consider a deal Monday that enables the city to give the Bounce Innovation Hub the building it occupies. 

Bounce is housed in the old B.F. Goodrich building. It helps entrepreneurs and startups turn ideas into end-products through mentorship, collaboration and investment.

East End apartments
AMANDA RABINOWITZ / WKSU

Akron City Council has approved a plan to create an entertainment district in Akron’s East End near the former Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters.

The newly designated district evolved from a strategic plan to keep Goodyear from leaving Akron.

a photo of the former Sycamore Valley Golf Course
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

On Monday, Cuyahoga Falls City Council will consider a zoning change that could open the door for residential redevelopment of the former Sycamore Valley Golf Course on Akron-Peninsula Road.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Committee moved the rezoning proposal forward for city council to consider after weeks of public hearings during which concerned residents spoke against the project.  

SUMMIT COUNTY EXECUTIVE'S OFFICE

Summit County officials have reached out to Ohio leaders, asking them to find a way to keep the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants open.

BETTER BLOCK

Akron leaders from Summit County Think Tank Coalition and the Progressive Alliance Community Development Corp. are working with the Knight Foundation to shape Summit County’s 5th Better Block Festival on Copley Road.

The Copley Road Better Block will take place May 24-25 between Frederick Boulevard and South Hawkins Avenue.

a photo of Kenmore Boulevard businesses
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Kenmore leaders hope the state’s recent approval to designate the heart of Kenmore Boulevard a National Historic District will be the key to attracting the development they’ve been seeking.

Once one of Akron’s busiest commercial districts, Kenmore Boulevard now has many empty storefronts.

Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance Director Tina Boyes says to reenergize Kenmore, the boulevard needs places people can gather -- like a coffee shop, a restaurant or a brewery.

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