Party Officers


Elected Leadership

Tom Bevan - Chair
Tom is a founding partner of Bevan & Associates, LPA, a law firm specializing in the representation of working men and women across the State of Ohio. Tom has a special interest in representing past and present Summit County rubber workers, auto and aerospace workers, boilermakers, and tradesmen exposed to asbestos. He was the first attorney to win a jury trial in Summit County on behalf of a former rubber worker who died from asbestos-related cancer. He is a member of the Ohio Association of Justice, the American Association of Justice, and Public Justice Foundation. For the past 20 years, Tom has assisted Democratic candidates on many campaigns in various activities from fundraising to literature drops to poll greeting. Tom and his wife live in Boston Heights with their 3 children.

Edna Borders - First Vice Chair
Edna is a lifelong Summit County resident. She is a graduate of Garfield High School and the University of Akron. She worked at the B. F. Goodrich Company for over 18 years in the Benefits Department, then the Human Resources Department for Summit County. Now her position is in the Law and Insurance Risk Management Department. She is the Wellness Coordinator and is also involved in the County's Community Outreach program. Edna is a past President of the Federated Democratic Women of Summit County, the First Vice President on the Executive Board of the Akron NAACP, and the past Board President of the East Akron Community House. She has been a member of Second Baptist Church for her entire life and has served as a Board member and in other capacities. She is also on the Concert Committee of Emmanuel Christian Academy School, which is affiliated with the House of the Lord. Edna has been involved with multiple successful political campaigns at the local, state, and federal level.

Omar Banks - Second Vice Chair
Omar banks was born in Chicago, IL, but has lived in Akron since the age of six. He works as an Assistant Director of Food Service for the John S. Knight Center, and also serves as the Union Steward there, and as a Business Agent with the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees. He is very active in the community, volunteering with the Red Cross, and serving on several boards, including United Way of Akron, Summit County Children Services, and Tri-County Labor Council's Executive Board. He is also heavily involved in various church organizations, and assists in the youth department, Men's Fellowship, and sings in the choir at his church. Omar has worked and volunteered on numerous campaigns, and is dedicated to electing officials who stand for a platform that align with our democratic principles and values. He has three children with his high school sweetheart, Daleena.

Valerie McKitrick - Third Vice Chair
Valerie is a lifelong resident of Summit County and a graduate of Akron Garfield High School. She received two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree from the University of Akron. She retired from a 21-year teaching career in 2014. Val was elected to the Akron School Board in 2019. She is the president of the Summit County Progressive Democrats, the recording secretary for the Federated Democratic Women of Summit County, a silver life member of the NAACP, and a member of the League of Women Voters. She lives in Akron with her husband.

Chris Grimm - Treasurer
Chris's interest in politics began at the age of 14, when he helped his father campaign for Akron City Council. Just shy of his 18th birthday, Chris was elected to the Summit County Democratic Central Committee. In 1987, he joined Tallmadge City Council where he served eight years before being elected Mayor of Tallmadge in 1996. Chris held the office of Mayor longer than any in the city's history. Some of his more notable accomplishments during his time as Mayor were the creation of the Tallmadge/Brimfield Joint Economic Development District, the Tallmadge Recreation Center and the new Maca Aquatic Center. He also helped bring in a new library, build the Tallmadge Community Center, develop the industrial parkway and create the Six Corners roundabout. Now a retired public servant, Chris spends time running a real-estate company. He also has been involved with the Tallmadge Democratic Club, Tallmadge Little League, Lions Club, Knights of Columbus and Tallmadge Historical Society. He is a 1973 graduate of Hoban High School and has an Associate's Degree in Business Administration from the University of Akron. He's been a Tallmadge resident for 30 years.

Mark Derrig - Deputy Treasurer
Mark has been a Democratic activist for many years. Throughout his career with AT&T, Mark has been a voice for his members on the job as their Chief Union Steward and in the political arena as the Legislative Chair for CWA Local 4302 for more than 20 years. Mark and his family have been involved with the Democratic Party in every way, helping to elect Democrats at every level of government. He is no stranger to the hard work and long hours required to make our Party a success, that's why in 2018 the SCDP honored Mark with the Labor Leader of the Year award. 

Russ Balthis - Secretary
Russ started volunteering for the Democratic Party at the age of 17 and has not slowed down since. He has served as President of The Ohio State University College Democrats and the Summit County Young Democrats. From December 2006 to December 2008, Russ served as the Executive Director of the Summit County Democratic Party. In January 2009, Russ joined Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and served as his Chief of Legal Services. Then, Russ went to practice law with Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP in the area of public finance and economic development. In January 2014, Mayor Don Walters appointed Russ Law Director for the City of Cuyahoga Falls. In early 2020, Russ stepped down as Law Director and was appointed to an at-Large seat on Cuyahoga Falls City Council. In addition to serving on City Council, Russ serves as a Senior Attorney with the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs in their Public Infrastructure and Finance Group. Russ was first elected Party Secretary in 2011 and through this role, looks forward to continuing to work with his fellow Democrats to strengthen our community.

 

Appointed Leadership

Troy Gawlak - Executive Director
Troy is a native of Canton. Before joining the County Party as Executive Director, he served as a Regional Finance Director with Senator Sherrod Brown’s 2018 re-election campaign, working in 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Prior to that, he was an Account Manager with a NE Ohio-based political fundraising firm, working with numerous state and local candidates, and ran the field operation for half of Stark County during the 2012 presidential re-election. Troy holds a B.A. in History from Kent State University, an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Akron, and has studied Polish language and history in Poland. He is an amateur musician and is active in many Polish and Eastern European cultural and musical organizations.

Felita Grice - Deputy Executive Director
Felita is a lifelong Akronite. She was born and raised in Akron, attended Akron Public Schools and as a teenager began a career at Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. After several years of service to Firestone, she took an early retirement and returned to the University of Akron to continue her education. Today, she enjoys working with various campaigns, hosting fundraisers, and organizing voter registration and GOTV initiatives. In 2018, she was selected by the Ohio Democratic Party to serve as the Minority Engagement Consultant for Summit County. Felita has been a member of the Toastmaster International for five years, and is a proud member of the Federated Democratic Women of Summit County and Educate, Motivate, Success Inc.

Bill Rich - Parliamentarian
Bill has served as the Summit County Democratic Party’s Parliamentarian under Chairs Jane Quine, Nancy Treichler, Russ Pry, Wayne Jones, Jeff Fusco, and currently Tom Bevan. Now serving as the Chairman of the Summit County Board of Elections, Bill has been involved in Democratic politics since the presidential election of 1972 in Rochester, NY, where he attended college. Bill moved to Akron in 1981 when he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Akron's School of Law. Shortly thereafter, he was elected to the County Central Committee. Over the years, Bill has served on the Party’s Steering Committee and its Constitution and Bylaws Committee. He is married to Roberta Aber, retired Executive Director of Planned Parenthood, who comes from a long line of yellow-dog Democrats.