Introducing Our New Assistant Director- Fran DiDonato

Canalway Partners is proud to introduce Frances Crowe DiDonato as Assistant Director, effective March 1, 2017.  The expansion of staff comes at a critical juncture for Canalway Partners and the development of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area.

Executive Director Tim Donovan put it this way: “The Towpath Trail project is making important strides forward; we have begun to address Canal Basin Park as the gateway to this developing trail system and concluded we needed additional staff capacity to focus on this task.  In addition, it’s time that our organization hit the refresh button – bringing in new ideas and fresh energy.”

Board Chairman Gary Klasen of the Eaton Corporation added: “Fran is a great addition to the Canalway Partners team.  Her professional background, unique and diverse skill set and work/life experiences will serve us well.  Most importantly, she has the passion to help us deliver a legacy project to Northeast Ohio at Canal Basin Park.”

“The region is poised to capitalize on the asset that the Towpath Trail provides. I am excited to build upon the work that Tim has dedicated his career to for almost three decades and work to build a twenty-first century park that celebrates our region’s centuries of history,” added Ms. DiDonato.

Prior to becoming the Assistant Director at Canalway Partners, Fran DiDonato worked as a civic entrepreneur helping organizations start up and create new programs. Most recently, Fran worked as Publisher for Fresh Water Cleveland where she grew the publication’s visibility and sustainability through partnerships with businesses and non-profit organizations. Fran acted as Interim Executive Director to the Cleveland Water Alliance where she was hired to start the organization from the ground up. She worked as a consultant on the Global Cleveland initiative and helped develop the organization and its programs for the launch in May of 2011. Ms. DiDonato also worked for CEOs for Cities as the National Director of Partnerships and the Talent Dividend Project. She was hired to start and staff the Cleveland office.

Preceding her non-profit experience, Ms. DiDonato worked at the City of Cleveland in the Department of Law as an Assistant Director of Law for the Health, Environment and Public Utilities sections. She then transferred to the Office of Sustainability as a project manager where she worked on policy and program implementation. She gained experience with community and network development while spearheading Mayor Frank Jackson’s first Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit. During her last few months at the City, Ms. DiDonato acted as the Director of the Office of Sustainability and helped transition the office formally into the Mayor’s Office.

Ms. DiDonato earned her B.A. from Boston University and her J.D. from The University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduation, she moved to Cleveland and became a licensed attorney.

Currently, Ms. DiDonato and her family live in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland. She is a graduate of Cleveland Bridge Builders, Class of 2008. She was named a Mover & Shaker in 2012 by the Cleveland 20/30 Club. Ms. DiDonato has participated on several boards of directors and currently serves as Secretary to the Board of LeedCo (Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation), President to the Board of River’s Edge, and Near West Family Network.