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Event Details

Tuesday, June 14

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Event Contact

Mera Cardenas is the Executive Director of Canalway Partners (CWP), a non-profit cultural heritage organization based in Cleveland that has joint responsibility for stewardship of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area. For more than 35-years, Canalway Partners has worked to develop cultural, historic, and outdoor recreation experiences along the Industrial Valley, Cuyahoga River, and historic O&E Canal route in Cuyahoga County.

Mera joined CWP in 2020 after 10 years at a similar organization outside Atlanta, GA.  As the first Executive Director for the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance: she built the professional staff and partner network; secured funding for tourism and historic preservation projects; and led the rehabilitation of several publically-owned historic sites.  That work to advance heritage tourism and economic development was recognized on a state, regional, and national level including a 2019 award for outdoor recreation from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and a “Diamond of the District” honor from Rep. Hank Johnson.   

Prior to her transition to cultural heritage work, Mera spent nearly 20 years at CNN.  As a producer, she was part of the Emmy and Peabody Award winning coverage teams for several Presidential campaigns, The Oklahoma City Bombing, September 11th Terrorist Attacks, and Hurricane Katrina. Mera was the lead field producer covering both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Opening in 1995 and John Glenn’s Return to Space in 1998. 

Mera holds a Masters of Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University and a BS in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Miami, FL.  She was raised in Uniontown, PA among the cricks, hollers, and patch towns of the Allegheny Mountains.

Mera and her husband currently make their home in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland with their “Bark Ranger” Daisy and two cats, Mo & Chuck Noll.  She enjoys biking the Towpath Trail, yoga, kayaking, exploring historic sites, binge watching quirky TV series, knitting, and the view from her front porch.  

Mike Hardy is a member of the John Carroll University Class of 1969, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (History). He continued his education, receiving Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School in 1972. He utilized his law degree, serving at Partner at Thompson Hine from 1984-2018. 

Hardy has been generous with his time to numerous organizations with which he volunteers. He served as a board member for the Conservancy For The Cuyahoga Valley National Park from 2012-2018 and currently serves as chair of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association. He also served on the John Carroll University Board of Directors from 2009-2018.

Daniel M. Rice is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, headquartered in Akron, Ohio.

The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition (OECC) is the regional non-profit organization working for the conservation, development and interpretation of the natural, historical and recreational resources along the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, Ohio.  Since 1994, Mr. Rice has worked with over 150 community partnerships and raised over $75 million in development funds for the preservation of historic structures, the development of the 101-mile multi-use Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and the conservation of natural resources along the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway. 

Mr. Rice is a native of Ohio, with a B.A. in history from the College of Wooster and M.A. in American History from the University of Akron.  Upon receipt of his M.A., Dan worked as Curator of Interpretation for the Summit County Historical Society, where he was responsible for the preservation and conservation of over 250,000 artifacts, development of interpretive exhibits, and educational programming.

A native of Maryland, Jennie Vasarhelyi has lived in Northeast Ohio and worked at Cuyahoga Valley National Park for over twenty-five years. In her current position as Chief of Interpretation, Education & Visitor Services, Jennie is responsible for creating learning and interpretive experiences that help visitors to enjoy and appreciate the park in the areas of natural science, history, culture, and recreation. She leads partnerships, visitor centers, exhibits, digital communication, publications, volunteer programs, education, and ranger-led programs for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Previous work experiences have taken Jennie to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and Badlands National Park in South Dakota.