Ohio Land Bank Association Celebrates Excellence: Martin Honored


The Ohio Land Bank Association (OLBA), a statewide 501(c)6 nonprofit organization to support the work of and advocate on behalf of Ohio’s 69 county land banks, proudly recognized exceptional contributions to land banking and community development at its 13th Annual Conference’s Annual Awards Ceremony held in Akron, Ohio, April 24 – April 26. Five distinguished awards were presented to individuals and projects that have demonstrated outstanding commitment and effectiveness in revitalizing communities across the state.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Carolyn Rice
The OLBA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Carolyn Rice, a devoted public servant whose efforts have significantly shaped Ohio’s land bank system. As Montgomery County Commissioner, and previously as County Treasurer, Rice spearheaded the expansion of land banks statewide, bringing millions of dollars into community development and focusing on rehabilitating homes in underserved areas. Her leadership during the foreclosure crisis and ongoing dedication to economic and social initiatives exemplify her lifelong commitment to equitable
community growth.

Robin Darden Thomas Pillar of Service Award: Heather Martin
Heather Martin was honored with the Robin Darden Thomas Pillar of Service Award for her remarkable leadership and service at the Logan County Land Reutilization Corporation. Since 2019, Martin has effectively managed land banking logistics and spearheaded significant projects, including demolition and brownfield projects that have revitalized the community. Her proactive collaboration and dedication have markedly improved the quality of life in Logan County.

Project of the Year Award: Florida School Project
The Florida School Project received the OLBA Project of the Year Award for transforming an underutilized school site in Henry County into a thriving industrial building, now home to the Maumee Valley Group. This project exemplifies innovative land banking, fostering economic growth and job creation, particularly benefiting residents within the Low to Moderate Income bracket. The project’s success highlights the potential of strategic collaboration in community development.

Partner of the Year Award: Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC)
The Greater Ohio Policy Center was recognized as the OLBA Partner of the Year for its unwavering advocacy and leadership in securing funding for brownfield remediation. GOPC’s efforts have been instrumental in returning properties to productive use, providing essential housing units, and creating business opportunities that contribute to a more equitable future for Ohioans.

Jim Rokakis Champion for Change Award: Senator Louis W. Blessing
Senator Louis W. Blessing received the Jim Rokakis Champion for Change Award for his impactful legislative leadership, which has advanced housing solutions and community needs across Ohio. Senator Blessing’s work with land banks and stakeholders has been pivotal in securing funding for demolition, brownfield cleanup, and affordable homeownership, significantly enhancing community development throughout the state.

“This year’s awardees exemplify the spirit of innovation, dedication, and collaboration that is essential in land banking and community revitalization,” said Shawn Carvin, OLBA Executive Director. “Their achievements have not only transformed their communities but also set benchmarks for excellence that inspire all of us involved in community development.”

The Ohio Land Bank Association continues to celebrate and support the efforts of those committed to improving Ohio’s communities through effective land banking. For more information about the OLBA and the awards, please contact Shawn Carvin, OLBA Executive Director, by phone at 330-979-9594 or by email at [email protected].