Three of Akron’s most engaged young leaders talk about how and why they work for the greater good. The Q&A is part of an article that looks at how Knight is helping develop the next generation of leadership in Akron.
Kyle Kutuchief, 33, is the director of development at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. He is a board member of several civic groups, including the Knight-backed Torchbearers Akron.
Knight Foundation: What’s your favorite thing about living in Akron?
Kyle Kutuchief: I love Akron ... my personal and professional networks are here. I grew up in a community on the west side called Bath. My parents were guidance school counselors. There’s such a strong sense of community here, that’s what keeps me here. People know each other, when you call someone, they call you back. People here genuinely care about the community. In other cities it can be less personal, but Akron is a very relationship-driven place. It’s a city, but it feels like a town.
You’ve said you like the city’s cultural assets: Which ones?
K.K.: A lot of people don’t know it, but we have one of the country’s best national parks systems. I’m a runner, so I love that I get to explore Cuyahoga Valley. There are also great new restaurants that makes it easier to carbo-load before marathons. I’m a hobby photographer so I really appreciate our local emerging and indy art scene.
How is the community getting stronger?
K.K.: Akron is lucky … we have an established leadership that is committed to helping us realize a better future. Akron also has a strong civic leadership, including a good mayor, superintendent and a strong county executive. We also have other assets like a great university program and healthcare facilities, so I think we have fared better than other communities in the region.
What can Akron do to attract the next generation of talent?
K.K: We face a challenge, a lot of outsiders see Akron as uneventful or boring. But there are a lot of exciting things going on here and we need to share them! We should better market our community … we need to give companies, non-profits and other institutions in the area better tools to market those opportunities so that when they go out and recruit for talent, they’re better equipped. We have assets that are on par with other communities. It’s really up to us to build our confidence in how we talk about them.