YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Marvin Logan Jr. smiles as he watches children use interactive learning exhibits at Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology.
It’s one of the perks of being the new executive director, a title the 29-year-old Warren native earned in October.
“It means everything to me to be the director here,” he says.
For the last two years, Logan was with the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan as director of programming for Ponyride – an incubator for artists, entrepreneurs, innovators and manufacturers.
Suzanne Barbati, the former Oh Wow! executive director and current director of planned giving, says his youth, energy and familiarity with youth development and nonprofit leadership made Logan the right fit for his current position.
“Marvin brings a new perspective, an understanding of our prior successes,” she says. “[He provides] a view of the future and what the future might hold, not just for Oh Wow! but for how it can impact the future of our community, the children and the families living in our community.”
Logan graduated from Kent State University, where he was a student assistant for the division of diversity, equity and inclusion. He then became a program assistant at Usher’s New Look in Atlanta from 2015-16, but came home to Warren to become transition coordinator for Inspiring Minds for almost three years.
He was one of the first Inspiring Minds’ students in 2006 and went to Milwaukee later that year, which led him to his internship with Usher’s New Look. Those experiences changed him from a young athlete who started withdrawing from classwork, thinking athletics would be his ticket out of Warren, to a person dedicated to a life of nonprofit service.
“This was an opportunity to change my life,” Logan says.
Eventually he boomeranged home, and is currently living in his childhood home. He’s looking forward to the day he and his wife, Telayne Keith, a design mentor for the Apple Developer Academy at Michigan State University, can start a family – and take children to Warren G. Harding High School football games.
“Everything about this place made me who I am and provided the opportunity for me to be here,” Logan says. “I can’t wait to expose my children, my wife to those things. So, absolutely, I see the Valley as an option for me to be here for a long time.”
Changing look of OH WOW!
Barbati says Logan’s generation is infusing ideas into the Mahoning Valley, and understands the leadership and needs of a nonprofit organization.
“For 10 years, Oh Wow! has been very focused on our growth and maintaining a presence in the community,” she says. “Now we want to take it up a notch. We want to expand our reach at the state, the national level and we believe Marvin’s the guy to do that.”
Logan had many in-depth conversations with his late father, Marvin Logan Sr., about how to serve the Mahoning Valley and have the opportunity to make this area truly special.
“I feel like it’s important for us to address the Brain Drain in the Valley,” he says. “I felt that I could be one of the leaders in that area with other folks who have come back to the Valley. It was a great opportunity for me and I felt like I was going to be a changemaker in the future.”
Oh Wow! opened more than 10 years ago under Barbati’s leadership. It focuses on exposing students in elementary, middle and high schools to science and technology.
“My goal is to make this organization a centerpiece in the further development and advancement of the Mahoning Valley,” Logan says.
Having a fundraising ensures Oh Wow’s continued success, Barbati says.
“When you look at the developmental stages of an organization of a nonprofit organization, legacy gift giving is an important component,” she says.
The growth of downtown Youngstown, and the area’s political, social and economic progress helped lure Logan back to Youngstown. So did Oh Wow!’s $600,000 renovation of its building during the pandemic.
The center seeks to partner with other organizations and entities in the Mahoning Valley, Logan says.
“What I can promise is that we’re going to have a very open process,” Logan says. “Everyone’s going to have the opportunity to participate. We’re going to be announcing very soon some of those venues where people can help us develop that strategic vision. We’re very excited, not only to walk down this path, but to have everybody walk down this path with us.”
Barbati says she’s looking forward to including the community, Oh Wow! members, donors, board members and volunteers in the effort to establish the center as a downtown anchor. She’s hoping it will become a tourist destination, not just regionally, but worldwide, led by Logan and his team.
“I’m younger, certainly different from what you typically see in leadership in the Valley,” Logan says. “As an African-American man, it’s incredibly important to me to be able to lead an organization such as this.
“I think it means that there is definitely time, space and opportunity for young talent to be able to lead the Valley forward and be able to lead this incredible team to places that they didn’t imagine that they could go.”