City Hall

Mayor Bibb Appoints Workforce, Economic Development & Sustainability Leaders

6.23.22


Thursday, June 23, 2022 - Cleveland, OH Mayor Justin M. Bibb has appointed Michelle Rose as the new Executive Director for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board, Tessa Jackson as the city’s new Director of Economic Development, and Sarah O’Keeffe as Director of Sustainability and Climate Justice.  

“These deeply experienced professionals bring a tremendous amount of innovation, passion and expertise to the administration,” said Mayor Justin M. Bibb. “Their leadership and accomplishments are impressive, and I look forward to what we will achieve together for the city and the region.”  

The workforce development executive director role, which will be officially filled by Michelle Rose starting July 6, leads public sector workforce development in Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland. Rose will serve as Chief Executive Officer for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) activities in the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County and will be responsible for administering workforce programs funded by WIOA as well as other funding sources.  

Prior to joining the City of Cleveland, Rose served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs under U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. 

“From day one, Michelle Rose has been a trusted advisor and strong leader as Acting Assistant Secretary for Congressional & Intergovernmental Affairs,” Secretary Walsh said. “As a former mayor, I'm thrilled she is bringing her expertise to drive change at a local level.” 

The Director of Economic Development, Tessa Jackson, is responsible for the recruitment and retention of businesses, expansion of business operations in the City, securing new commercial investment in the community, and working with other organizations to promote smart and equitable growth policies. Jackson, who joins the city from Faubourg Advisors and Hackett Robertson Tobe Group in New Orleans, will oversee this work with a strong focus on equity and neighborhood revitalization.  

The Director of Sustainability and Climate Justice, Sarah O’Keeffe, joins the city from the MetroHealth System where she spent the last four-and-a-half years serving as Director of Sustainability. O’Keeffe will be responsible for developing and executing the city’s sustainability strategic plan, incorporating best practices, engaging stakeholders, program evaluation, and ensuring sustainability and climate justice are at the center of municipal operations and growth.  

MORE ABOUT THE NEW HIRES:  

Michelle Rose most recently served as Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs (OCIA) in the U.S. Department of Labor. In this role she directed the Department of Labor’s strategy for interacting with Congress and advancing legislative priorities, successfully led nine Senate confirmations, served as the primary staff liaison to Capitol Hill on behalf of the Department of Labor, and managed all operations of the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs.  

Rose’s prior experience includes serving as chief of staff to U.S. Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu, nearly six years as a senior legislative officer in the Office of Congressional Affairs and work with advance teams for both the White House and the Obama for America Presidential Inaugural Committee.  

Locally, Rose was Director of Talent Initiatives for the Cleveland Innovation Project, a non-profit collaborative of foundations and economic development organizations working to create a blueprint for regional growth through high-tech jobs in Northeast Ohio.

Rose has also worked in constituency services for the Democratic National Committee and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Miami University. She is a Northeast Ohio native and grew up in Painesville Township.  

Tessa Jackson is a veteran social entrepreneur and impact investment professional with more than 15 years of experience financing, creating and supporting ventures and real estate projects that address social inequality, revitalize neighborhoods and provide economic opportunities for underserved communities. 

Since 2014 Jackson has served as Chief Strategist and Principal with New Orleans-based Faubourg Advisors and Chief Impact Officer with the Hackett Robertson Tobe Group. In these roles she created city-specific Opportunity Zone investment prospectuses and developed the business plan for a new impact fund to invest in Black-owned and operated ventures in the Delta-Gulf Coast Region.  

Jackson spent seven years in regional program management and investment officer roles with the AFL-CIO Investment Program, where she underwrote debt and NMTC investments for the Housing Investment Trust and oversaw several community development-related initiatives and served as a U.S. field officer for Trickle Up, an international microfinance organization.  

In addition to an MBA from UC Berkley Haas School of Business, Jackson holds a Graduate Certificate in Urban Redevelopment from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Mechanical Engineering and Studio Art from Stanford University. She was also a Rockefeller Foundation Redevelopment Fellow with a focus on community revitalization issues in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. 

Sarah O’Keeffe is a regional and national thought leader and active collaborator on advancing healthcare towards more environmentally sustainable operations and strategies that reduce negative impacts on both environmental and human health, including those associated with climate change.   

In her most recent role as the MetroHealth System’s Director of Sustainability, O’Keeffe spearheaded MetroHealth's Healthy Transportation Choices program for incentivizing non-single occupancy vehicle employee commuting—recognized by the NOACA Commuter Choice Awards and the Fund for Our Economic Future's Paradox Prize—and led efforts to set and achieve the diversion of 80%+ of the construction and demolition debris on Campus Transformation projects.   

She has successfully incorporated green building and sustainable community building principles into MetroHealth’s culture and served as co-organizer for the national 2021 Climate Crisis Symposium: Impact on Clinical Practice in the Great Lakes Region that underlined the connection between climate change and healthcare operations.  

O’Keeffe holds an MBA with a focus on non-profit management and sustainability from CWRU Weatherhead School of Management, a BS in Aeronautical Studies and a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is a certified EcoDistricts AP, multi-modal commuter (bike, transit, carpool), a less-waste devotee, and an advisor to the Green Team in her home city of Cleveland Heights.