Cindy Bloom

Personal: 41. Engaged. Three children and another on the way. Grew up in Diamond, an unincorporated community in Palmyra Township in Portage County. Now lives in Lake Milton.

Professional: Director of the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties. Formerly served as the violence prevention and outreach services manager for Townhall II in Portage County. Worked/volunteered with rape-crisis efforts since 2001.

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and justice studies.

One word to describe Julius Payne: “Potential.”

Favorite superhero: Wonder Woman. “I truly believe that every single one of us has a little bit of superhero inside!” (The center’s major annual fundraiser is the Walk of Heroes in which people dress as superheroes.)

One thing learned about race: “We are all very different, but given the opportunity to honestly and openly explore those differences is a chance at amazing growth as human beings.”

Advice for improving diversity: “Start by recognizing that it is natural to want to hire staff that you relate to, that look, think and act like you; then push yourself and your staff to hire people that aren’t like you. This is how you add different perspectives and grow a strong team.”

Advice for addressing biases: “Leaders must start by recognizing their own bias, and working to change themselves. It is a slow and difficult journey, but well worth it.”

Julius Payne

Personal: 40. Married. Six children. Grew up and still lives in Akron.

Professional: Education and outreach manager for the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties. Started with the agency part-time in 2014, teaching prevention classes in schools, and then full-time, instructing students at the University of Akron. Replaced his wife at the center, who moved to the Battered Women’s Shelter, where she still works, and was attracted to the job because it involved working with young people.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology/corrections.

One word to describe Cindy Bloom: “Progressive.”

Favorite superhero: Iron Man. “Everyday normal dude whose super power is his brain. Also, as ‘powerful’ as he was/is, he realized that some battles will take more than just himself, so he initiated formation of the Avengers. Real superheroes know and aren’t afraid to admit they don’t have all the answers or ability to conquer everything alone.”

One thing learned about race: “I learned that most people have questions — genuine questions — but are afraid to ask when it comes to race. I also learned that simply starting conversations isn’t enough.”

Advice for improving diversity: “I would say that before simply saying you want to, figure out why and whether it’s for a genuine reason. Beyond that, I would simply say, don’t do it just to do it. Don’t hire simply because it improves your diversity. Lastly, remember diversity goes beyond black and white.”

Advice for addressing biases: “Be open and honest, don’t pretend they don’t exist, make sure motives are genuine and don’t get discouraged because the workplace is simply a starting point in many cases and this isn’t something that will ever not exist.”