Our team includes proud alum of the LLC Signature Class Program, the Classes of 2016 and 2017, plus an alum of the 2019 llcip intern team.
Julie Cruz Blair ’17
President & CEO
Julie Cruz Blair has served with Leadership Lorain County for several years, currently as the President & CEO. Born in the city of Lorain, she has embraced her passion for providing individuals with the resources and initiatives necessary to meet goals by investing in their community. We are rich with people full of energy, desire, and compassion for others. We need to channel this energy.
As a graduate of Cleveland State University through the Lorain County Community College partnership, she was introduced to opportunities regarding being an active community member. She previously served on the Board for the Elyria YWCA, including a term as Vice-Chair. Currently, she serves on the Main Street Lorain Board, as well as their Design Committee, and is a member of the Elyria Sunrise Rotary. She is the mother of three ambitious children, who make her proud and drive her nuts all at once. They have each taught her unique lessons in life which includes being the example of your own expectations.
“When one finds their passion, they find the time.” Each day, she witnesses the connection between people and community through outreach. Leadership is genuinely about bringing people together for the better of all – leaving things better than how they were found. Improving things is not always about changing someone or something, sometimes it is about opening your mind to a better understanding of why it is.
Jennifer Gercak ’16
Marketing & Communications Manager, Intern Program Director
Originally a transplant to Lorain County in fifth grade, I never dreamed I would have chosen to stay, and been so in love, with this community and its people. Every new connection I’ve made has reminded me of the rich culture and history of Lorain County, and how blessed I am to be part of an organization dedicated to building up the leaders of our community and helping them grow. Raised in a family that valued hard work, and never giving up, I bounced around, unsure where my future would take me, before landing firmly in the arts field and graduating from Cleveland State University with honors. My passions extend to continuing the arts in the community and I have been a proud participant of Mighty Goliath Productions (MGP), both on stage and off, for over 20 years, currently serving on their Board. MGP is a non-profit community theater group, based in Avon Lake, that has a 59-year history of supporting the performing arts in the AL school district. Leadership Lorain County has given me the chance to experience the best that Lorain County has to offer, and to help ensure that future generations will continue to love this community. Working with the wide spectrum of individuals, seeing the connections, the difference they are making, and the personal and professional growth of our alumni and community is amazing. My favorite part of any day is when I get to hear someone say “I had no idea this was here! I’m definitely going to bring my family back and explore.”
Community Outreach & Development Assistant
Margarita Padua comes to Leadership Lorain County as a bilingual, licensed social worker and grant writer with experience in child welfare, mental health and nonprofit administration. She was raised in South Lorain where she attended Lorain City Schools through sixth grade. She is graduate from Elyria Catholic High School class of 2015. She is a passionate advocate for social justice and states, “Purpose is front and center in my career.” When considering a major in college, she knew she wanted to help people improve their quality of life. After attending Lorain County Community College and earning an Associate of Arts, she graduated from University of Akron with a Bachelor of Social Work. She subsequently earned her Ohio social work licensure.
In 2019, she was a Leadership Lorain County Intern placed at El Centro de Servicios Sociales. Her positive experience in the intern program ignites her passion therefore has her excited about joining the team at LLC. As the Community Outreach and Development Assistant, Margarita hopes to expand Leadership Lorain County’s impact through building relationships and empowering youth to use their talents to strengthen themselves and our community.
Outside of work, Margarita enjoys being in nature and gardening. She is the mother of a toddler, Australian Shepherd mix and a cat who keep her on her toes. Her hobbies include reading, painting, and watching documentaries.