As Director of Community and Government Services, Jay Breneman is responsible for providing leadership, project and client management for planning, research, training, facilitation, organizational and program development projects for community, government, and selected nonprofit clients. Jay’s role includes municipal, community and economic development training programs, and helping organizations to advance their mission through public policy advocacy. Jay also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Case Western Reserve University, where he teaches courses in public policy and group facilitation techniques at the graduate level. Jay brings a diverse set of experience and skills to SSI, including military, local government, community, and nonprofit expertise. Spurred by the events of 9/11, Jay enlisted into the United States Army and rapidly advanced in rank, serving in senior communications and intelligence roles for more than six years, including a year in South Korea and two combat tours in Iraq. Soon after his Honorable Discharge as a Staff Sergeant (E-6), Jay earned an undergraduate degree in Social Work and Sociology from Mercyhurst University, having also received the prestigious Catherine T. McAuley Award for community service. One year later, Jay earned a graduate degree from Case Western Reserve University in Community and Social Development, and Jay has been busy giving back to the community ever since.
Over the past decade, Jay has launched innovative programs for returning veterans at two area universities, managed a growing community-based senior healthcare program, earned a national fellowship with The Mission Continues, served in leadership positions on numerous boards and committees, taught college-level coursework in sociology, co-authored an internationally peer-reviewed book chapter on human rights, and collaborated on successful policy efforts nationwide. In 2013, Jay was elected to serve on Erie County Council. During his tenure, Jay served as Chair of the Erie County Board of Elections and various committees. Jay also represented Erie County as a board member to the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA), the Northwest Commission, and the Erie Area Council of Governments (COG). In 2017, Jay completed his four-year term in office while serving as the Chairman of Erie County Council, having led several major community initiatives and modernization efforts in local government. Jay is a member of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL), and the Project for Public Places’ Placemaking Leadership Council (PLC).