Garret Ferrara, ’90, MBA ’92, 2023 Kent State Advocacy Award Recipient

“As both a lifelong citizen of Kent and a graduate of Kent State, Garret was uniquely positioned to understand how a vibrant downtown can benefit students and citizens alike.”

Garret Ferrara, ’90, MBA ’92, has served as the Ward I Kent City Councilman for 23 years. His dedication to both the City of Kent and Kent State University is exemplified in his work to strengthen the town-gown relationship with the city. 

“As both a lifelong citizen of Kent and a graduate of Kent State, Garret was uniquely positioned to understand how a vibrant downtown can benefit students and citizens alike,” said Herb Page, ’74, MA ’76, and his wife Paula Treckel, ’73, Ph.D., who jointly recommended him for the award. “Garret is an enthusiastic ambassador for Kent’s renaissance, promoting its benefits to members of our community as well as city officials, local business owners and key campus leadership.” 

Garret first ran for Kent City Council with the campaign goals of building a better relationship between the city and the university, and bringing a hotel to downtown Kent to serve the community’s and the university’s needs. Throughout his tenure, the city’s investment in infrastructure has more than doubled and included high-profile projects like the Summit Street improvement project, the new East Main Street improvement project and the Esplanade that connects the campus to downtown Kent. 

“You cannot quantify the impact of these contributions, but you can see the economic benefit in the success of the businesses within the community and the satisfaction of the student experience that now expands beyond campus,” said Jerry T. Fiala, mayor of Kent. “Through his leadership, vision, dedication and professionalism, Garret has made significant contributions to make this possible.” 

Growing up in Kent and attending Kent State for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees helped Garret form a unique perspective on how the university and city should work together. His knowledge of the community allowed him to make an impact benefiting the city, its residents and students through a unified, strategic partnership that has set Kent State apart from other universities and college towns. 

“One of Garret’s top priorities was the redevelopment of downtown Kent. Voted the No. 1 economic development project in Ohio for 2011, it focused on walkability, entertainment and culture, ensuring Kent lived up to the promise of being a vibrant college town,” said Dave Ruller, Kent city manager. 

Garret has given back to Kent State not only through his work on city council, but also through his support of Kent State Athletics. He and his wife, Michele, ’92, are members of the Varsity K Club for former student-athletes - he played hockey and she played volleyball - and together they have endowed the Michele and Garret Ferrara Women’s Volleyball Scholarship. The scholarship helps volleyball student-athletes with the cost of both tuition and housing. Before the pandemic, the couple hosted an end-of-training-camp cookout at their home for the team.

“This was a great way to give back to Kent State and also get to know the student-athletes better,” said Garret. “Back in the day, it also served as a useful tool for recruiting babysitters for our two daughters. We are still in regular contact with many of the women who have graduated and spent time at our home.” 

The two also support Kent State Men’s and Women’s Golf and are members of the Chip-In Club. They helped establish the Ferrara & Page Golf Training and Learning Facility that provides golf student-athletes with a state-of-the-art training site in pursuit of excellence on the course and in the classroom.