Mr. Tillery is Founder, President, and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap of Greater Cincinnati, whose mission is “to lead the efforts in eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities in Greater Cincinnati through advocacy, education, and community outreach.” He built this organization from two to 13 full-time employees and then 30 part-time employees with an annual budget of $2 million a year.
Recently, he founded the Black Agenda Cincinnati, which is a collaborative organization to improve the lives of Black Cincinnatians. The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s Department of Environmental Health recently established the Tillery Fellowship in October 2016. The program fund will benefit students pursuing Masters of Public Health degrees interested in public health as it relates to vulnerable populations.
Under Mr. Tillery’s leadership, the Health Gap has become one of the city’s most important agents for positive change. The organization rallies community advocates and elevates the local discourse on a full range of health and economic issues impacting its neighborhoods.
Through it all, Mr. Tillery’s passion for social justice continues unabated. And he’s still always looking for that unique view of Cincinnati to improve the neighborhoods and the lives of the people who make it special.
Dwight Tillery grew up in Cincinnati where he was educated in its public schools and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He received his Juris Doctor of Laws from the University of Michigan Law School.
Dwight has held a number of distinguished professional positions throughout his career. Those positions include assistant city solicitor for the City of Cincinnati, Assistant Executive Vice President at the University of Cincinnati and Adjunct Assistant Professor Law and Assistant Professor African American Studies, Assistant Attorney General, and Cincinnati Councilmember. Mr. Tillery is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio and is also licensed to practice before the Federal District Court, the Six Circuit Appellate Court, and the United States Supreme Court.
In 1991, Mr. Tillery stunned the City of Cincinnati by becoming the first African American popularly elected Mayor of Cincinnati. As Mayor, Dwight created the Mayor’s Commission on Children, Reshaping Youth Priorities (anti-violence initiative targeting youth); spoke frequently at public schools, played a key role in establishing venture capital for African American businesses (this fund allowed the start of Blue Chip Broadcasting Company), and assisted in establishing a mentoring program for minority businesses.
As a member of Cincinnati City Council, he sponsored many pieces of legislation that benefited the poor and minorities. He authored legislation that created a surrogate-parenting program entitled “It Takes a Village.” As mayor, Mr. Tillery who founded the GrassRoots Leadership Academy, which trained hundreds of low to moderate-income citizens how to be leaders in their communities. Mr. Tillery was deeply disturbed that Avondale did not have a neighborhood grocery store and persuaded the city council to provide the resources to a group of Avondale ministers interested in revitalizing the Avondale Town Center.
Mr. Tillery served two years as Vice President of the National Bar Association. He has served on the Cincinnati Board of Health, served on the Governor’s advisory’s Health Coverage Reform, appointed by the State Director for the Department of Health to its Obesity Prevention Round Table. Mr. Tillery was appointed by Governor Strickland to serve on the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review. He was reappointed by Governor John Kasich and currently serves as Vice Chair of Board, as well as a board member of the Cobb Institute/National Medical Association.
Tillery remained a member of Cincinnati City Council until 1998, sponsoring many pieces of legislation that benefited the poor and minorities. He authored legislation that created a surrogate-parenting program entitled “It Takes a Village” and — deeply disturbed that the Avondale neighborhood did not have a local grocery store — he persuaded city council to provide the resources to a group of Avondale ministers interested in revitalizing the Avondale Town Center.
Mr. Tillery is a recipient of many awards and honors. In 2010, he was selected as an Encore Purpose Prize Fellow for the work he is doing in addressing health disparities. Mr. Tillery was one of 46 persons selected nationally out of 1,600 nominees for his social innovation in addressing health disparities. He also has received an honorary doctorate from the Cincinnati State Technical College, The Leadership Excellence Award from the office of the Governor of Ohio, The Award of Excellence from the University of Cincinnati, National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. Award for Health & Wellness, Ohio Civil Rights Dream Award, Martin Luther King Jr. “Keep the Dream Alive Award,” Outstanding Commitment To Public Service Award from The Citizens’ Committee On Youth, The Health Hero Award from the Ohio Commission On Minority Health, I Hear Music In the Air Legends Ball Award, Top Ladies of Distinction’s Five Star Community Sweetheart Award for Service to Community Partnerships, and the Gertrude E. Rush Award from The National Bar Association, Greater Cincinnati Chapter National Action Network Equity & Social Justice Award, Dr. Luther Lemon Community Award, Georgia E. Beasley Legacy Award from the University of Cincinnati.