March 22, 2021
Ursuline College will host an in-person, outdoor graduation ceremony and Maple Heights, Ohio, Mayor Annette Blackwell will be the Commencement speaker.
The ceremony is set for Friday, May 14, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at Classic Park in Eastlake. Further information about the ceremony is available on this page.
Blackwell, the first woman and the first African American to serve as mayor in the 100-year history of the southeast Cleveland suburb, is a 2019 Ursuline graduate. She had agreed to speak at the 2020 ceremony, but it was postponed due to the pandemic. This year’s ceremony is open to both 2020 and 2021 graduates.
“It is an extremely high honor to receive the invitation to be the college’s commencement speaker and very personal,” Blackwell said last year. “While at Ursuline, I was able to complete my degree in a nurturing, warm, supportive, special and forgiving environment. For the first time during my times in college, I always felt motivated, certain, inspired, focused and invincible.”
Ursuline President Sister Christine De Vinne, OSU, PhD, said she is grateful that Blackwell has agreed again to speak. “We were looking forward to having Mayor Blackwell address our graduates and their families last year and we are very grateful that she has agreed to speak this year. As I have said, Mayor Blackwell represents the best of Ursuline College, with her commitment to professionalism, civic engagement, and servant leadership. I know her words will inspire our 2020 graduates as well as our soon-to-be 2021 graduates.”
Blackwell earned a bachelor of arts degree in public relations and corporate communications at Ursuline. Upon graduation, she received Ursuline’s Sister Diana Stano, OSU, PhD, Award for Excellence in Academics, Leadership and Service. The award was named for Ursuline’s 16th president. She is currently participating in a training program to obtain certification as an Ohio Certified Public Manager at Cleveland State University’s Center for Public & Nonprofit Management.
Prior to her election to mayor, Blackwell worked at KeyBank in installment lending and University Hospitals of Cleveland as an administrative coordinator. When she won the election, she ended her 16 years as a senior commercial property tax analyst and co-leader of the Black Employee Network at Deloitte and Ryan Global Tax Services, where she was also a U.S.- India liaison.
Blackwell is the director of safety and acts as the chief conservator of the peace of the City of Maple Heights. She serves on the executive boards of the Cuyahoga County Mayors & City Managers Association, First Suburbs Consortium, and the Suburban Water Council of Governments. She is an appointed member on the executive committee of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. With the Maple Heights City Schools Superintendent, she serves as a member of the First Ring Schools Superintendents and Mayors Collaborative. She is secretary for the Regional Income Tax Agency, Regional Council of Governments and serves as a member of the Cuyahoga County Community College Council for Community Access, Cuyahoga County Council’s Community Reinvestment Subcommittee and the Northeast Ohio Arts + Culture Caucus.
During her time in office, she has received numerous awards including:
- Named one of the Most Interesting People 2021 by Cleveland Magazine
- Named Celebrity Godparent for MyCom’s Saving Our Daughters/Saving Our Cinderellas
- Maple Heights City Schools Pathfinder award in recognition for her work in the field of citizenship and government
- National Action Network of Greater Cleveland Humanitarian and Warrior of Justice & Leadership awards
- Ohio State Coalition of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Distinguished Community Leader Award
- Cuyahoga Community College Women in Transition Program (WIT) Outstanding Leadership Award
- The Exceptional Woman of Excellence Award from the Women of God Outreach Ministries
- Northeast Ohio Young Black Democrats Woman of Vision Award
- Villa Angel-St. Joseph High School Hall of Fame
Blackwell is an alumna of the Cleveland Leadership Center’s Civic Leadership Institute. She and her husband, Alonzo Blackwell, are local business owners in Maple Heights.