Youngstown Names Gilchrist Economic Development Director

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city of Youngstown has selected Stephanie Gilchrist as the city’s director of Economic Development.

Gilchrist will serve in the Community Planning and Economic Development Department under the leadership of Nikki Posterli, chief of staff and CPED director. Gilchrist will oversee the economic development division.

“I am really excited to serve in this new role,” Gilchrist said. “I really do love the city and have been working with small businesses and entrepreneurs and want to make sure we support them.”

She fills the position vacated by former economic development director T. Sharon Woodberry, who left as director last year for another development post in Florida. Gilchrist begins her new position Sept. 1.

Gilchrist, of Youngstown, formerly served as the regional director of the Minority Business Assistance Center, a state-affiliated program at the Youngstown Business Incubator that assists businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans.

She said this role has helped build relationships that can carry over into her new position as the city’s economic development director. A part of that includes “talking to business owners in the community – what they’re happy with, what they’re not happy with,” she said.

Gilchrist said she’ll spend the first six months learning more about Mayor Jamael Tito Brown’s administration and its goals for economic development. “I’ll also look at opportunities on the table, how we can build new relationships and prepare our city as a whole for entrepreneurs,” she said.

She first joined the YBI in 2014 and served as the project coordinator for Tech Block Building 5, overseeing the $5.7 million project. In 2016, she and her team developed the Women in Entrepreneurship Program, where she worked with more than100 women with their business ideas.

In late 2017, Gilchrist moved into the role as executive director for Inspiring Minds Youngstown, an after-school and summer program that works with under-represented youths in the community. Between 2017 and 2020, the program served more than 200 young people, empowering students through education and exposure to new experiences. In 2020, the organization was featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt for the Inspiring America segment. 

In 2021, Gilchrist and the YBI kicked off the Youth in Entrepreneurship Program, which was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the Businesses on the Move for 2021.

Gilchrist and her husband own Ryan’s Chair Barber and Beauty Salon, which has been in the community for more than 25 years. 

Gilchrist earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Youngstown State University in 2005. In 2017, she completed the Executive MBA program through Strayer University. Currently, she is enrolled in the Certified Business Advisor Program at Kent State University.

She was recognized as a Youngstown Business and Professional Women – Business Woman of the Year. She was honored by YSU as a 2020 Penguin Woman on the Move, and she was one of the honorees for the 2020 League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown Women’s Hall of Fame.

Gilchrist serves on the boards of the Autism Society of Mahoning Valley and Valley Economic Development Partners, and on committees for the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley’s Fund for Women and Girls Guiding Circle and the Choffin Career Center Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee.

Pictured at top: Stephanie Gilchrist stands outside D.O.P.E. Cider House and Winery in Youngstown, where she participated in the Financial Freedom Through Entrepreneurship event in June.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.