Alumni Profile - James Hardy, ‘12, MPH
James Hardy found his passion for a future public health career while working in the Kent State University President’s Office. “I was working at KSU and thinking about graduate school,” said James. “I looked at a number of programs and then chose public health because it included all aspects of my passions - community, housing, development - it was the perfect fit for me.”
James currently serves as Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development for the City of Akron and previously was the mayor’s chief of staff. Prior to obtaining his master’s degree, he worked in the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office and at the Summa Foundation, where he had completed a practicum experience while working on his master’s degree.
In his role with the City of Akron, James is responsible for a model partly of his own creation. The Office of Integrated Development’s mission is to co-create, with residents and businesses, a community that is healthy, equitable, beautiful and resilient.
“This new model allows us to break down needless silos and better utilize city resources and encourages changing the culture about how we engage in development,” James said. “We are looking at this with a public health lens - what do residents value and want to see in their communities.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, his office has been integral in developing and executing the city’s pandemic response strategy. James believes this pandemic will create an immediate need for public health professionals across a wide variety of industries including: government, real estate, retail, industrial, urban design and more. “Graduates from the College of Public Health are uniquely positioned to engage in these community-wide efforts and will be really sought after in the post-COVID-19 world,” he said.
“I am a public health practitioner every day, and Kent State helped me find this path in the public policy arena and clarify for me what my strengths were and what my future career would look like,” James said.