Leadership and Staff

Dwight photo1Dwight Tillery
Founder, President, CEO

Dwight Tillery has always had a unique view of Cincinnati, and the more he saw growing up in Cincinnati’s West End, the more he wanted to change his city for the better.

In 1991, Dwight became the first African American popularly elected Mayor of Cincinnati. As Mayor, he created the Mayor’s Commission on Children; started Reshaping Youth Priorities; and assisted in establishing a mentoring program for minority businesses. He also founded the GrassRoots Leadership Academy, which trained hundreds of low to moderate-income citizens  to be leaders in their communities.

After leaving the Mayor’s office in 1993, Dwight remained a member of Cincinnati City Council until 1998, sponsoring many pieces of legislation that benefited the poor and minorities. In 2004 he founded The Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati to actively engage local hospitals, social advocates and health care leaders to combat higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, HIV and cancer occurring in vulnerable populations.

 Learn more about Dwight Tillery >>


Renee Mahaffey Harris

Renee Mahaffey Harris
Chief Operating Officer

Renee Mahaffey Harris has been with the Center for Closing the Health Gap since 2008 first serving as Executive Director and now as Chief Operating Officer. As a committed advocate for the most vulnerable populations in our region, she remains at the forefront of the issue of health disparities as we look to improve the quality of life for our communities. Under her leadership, the Center for Closing the Health Gap helped steer the creation of the Food Desert Task Force of which she currently chairs, successfully implemented Health and Wellness education series, and launched groundbreaking community based health initiatives in the Greater Cincinnati region.

Prior to joining the Health Gap, Harris held extensive executive leadership roles in the private sector including her tenure as Vice President of Community Relations with PNC Bank and as Director of the Greater Cincinnati Local Initiative Support Corporation. Harris has had roles in the public sector working with Former Congressman Charles Luken and Former Ohio Secretary of State Sherrod Brown.

Harris’ dedication to the community extends far beyond her work advocating for the marginalized and disenfranchised. She is currently a member of the Ohio Statewide Health Disparities Collaborative, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Council, and sits on the board of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. She has previously served on the boards of the Greater Cincinnati Urban League and the YWCA



Vanessa Gentry, Director of Finance

Kamaria Tyehimba, Ph.D, Senior Leadership Team

Rashaan Anderson, Ph.D, Community Health Director

Rhonda Lindsey, Community Engagement Manager

Deborah Spradley, Senior Project Director

Jessica Truong, Health Promotions Manager

Andria Carter, Communications Director

Matt Vander Laan, Communications Manager

Lauren Hardin, Communications Manager (Social Media and Content Strategist)

Alice Williams, Community Program Coordinator

Lillieann Knox-Smith, Community Wellness Coach

Tiesha Hankerson, Community Wellness Coach

Tammie Jackson, Community Wellness Coach

Ebony Ledford, Community Wellness Coach