Justin Rudy Gleason, ’16, MBA ’18, M.Arch ’18, Outstanding New Professional Award Recipient 2020

“The business strategy class I took with Dr. Ilgaz Arikan during my MBA program was unbelievable. It changed my life and the way I think about things. His class is probably why I’m in the business position I am today.”

Justin Rudy Gleason, ’16, MBA ’18, M.Arch ’18, knew he wanted to be an architect at just 7 years old. His parents were building a new house and through that process he discovered his passion for architecture. 

While in high school, he had the opportunity to take his first architecture classes. 

“I was lucky enough to attend a high school where architecture-related classes were offered and when I asked a teacher that I trusted and was very fond of where I should go to college, he told me Kent State, that is where you want to be. It’s for that reason I chose Kent State,” Justin said.

Justin, now 27, not only achieved his childhood dream but is also highly accomplished for his age. Following his graduation from Kent State University in 2016, he was hired at DS Architecture as a project designer. Meanwhile, he enrolled in a dual master’s program at Kent State to continue his education. He soon completed his graduate studies, earning a Master of Business Administration and Master of Architecture in 2018. 

During his time at DS Architecture, Justin has grown tremendously and was promoted to Director of Operations in 2018. In this capacity, Justin oversees five studio directors and six production staff who execute between 15 and 20 projects per week. Justin is also responsible for projecting staff workloads that align with the firm’s monthly billing goals in order to produce profitable outcomes. Through this role, Justin facilitates continued growth of the firm, which impacts the landscape of Cleveland and its surrounding areas.  

His role as Director of Operations has been a challenging, but a rewarding experience. “I love architecture and my role as operations director – the creative problem solving, the responsibility and the work I’ve put in to make our business more successful and our staff’s lives easier has been a very humbling experience that is hard to find at my age,” Justin said “I am very fortunate to have been given this chance.”

In addition to Justin’s full-time role at DS Architecture, he serves as the Chief Design Officer for a medical device startup, Case. MD. Recently highlighted on the cover of the Kent State Magazine, Case.MD focuses on connecting technology with healthcare by embedding, protecting and dispensing life-saving medicine. Case.MD has won multiple national incubator awards for its creative design and originality. 

When he’s not working on design projects, Justin is volunteering with the Kent Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). Justin considers his first year as chairperson for Grill for Good as his greatest accomplishment, where he directed the event and raised more than $15,000 that was distributed between two local charities. 

Justin acquired his passion for community service during his years with the Boy Scouts. He eventually earned his rank of Eagle Scout and continues to be involved in his local community. He volunteers as a board member with AIA Cleveland and his local Junior Chamber of Commerce. He also strives to help his community through meaningful architectural projects whenever possible. 

When asked what advice he would give to current Kent State students, Justin encouraged them to live in the moment.

“I was always looking toward the future when I was in school. Because of that drive, I sometimes took for granted the experiences happening around me every day. Don’t rush to graduate, because soon you’ll be wishing you were still there, walking over the ‘K’ on your way to class,” Justin said.