Staff + Board
NEST is a non-profit, community lead organization. Our board of directors is made up of all volunteer community members, and a small staff.
We’re a friendly and resourceful and group who cares deeply about the neighborhood. We’re glad you’re here.
Meet the Leadership
Sarah Thomas – Executive Director
Sarah Thomas is a dedicated Northside resident and business owner. Her passions meet at an intersection of urban density, historic preservation and the idea that thoughtful development bolsters great communities. When Sarah isn’t working for NEST she is running Grey Rock Development with her partner, Chris, and serving on the board of the Northside Business Association. You can often find her walking her dog through Northside’s historic alleys or listening to Sunday bluegrass at The Comet. She hopes to use her position with NEST to help further Northside as a thriving neighborhood that welcomes others to discover the same sense of community she has found.
Board of Directors: Executive Committee
Sara Bedinghaus is a Senior Development Officer at the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). Bedinghaus earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati, and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree from the Portland State University in 2010. Prior to joining the staff at 3CDC, Sara worked on the City of Portland’s Economic Development Strategy for the Portland Development Commission and as a Marketing Specialist for Procter & Gamble. She fondly remembers playing at Juergen’s Park as a child, even when they had metal horse-shaped swings that occasionally pinched fingers.
Pete Metz – Vice President
As the transportation policy & coalition manager for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Pete Metz oversees a coalition of business leaders advocating for expanded investment in transportation that connects people to jobs, education and health care and supports a talent rich workforce. Prior to joining the Chamber, Pete was the chief of staff to Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Mann where he worked on a wide range of issues, including housing, economic development, and transportation and is a veteran of both local and statewide political campaigns. Pete moved to Northside in 2015 and lives with his family on Fergus street.
Tom Jackson – Treasurer
Tom Jackson, a Northside resident with his family since 1987, has worked in economic, housing and community development for over 30 years. He currently works as a Senior Director for the National Development Council, a non-profit based in New York City with a mission to increase investment in affordable housing, jobs, small businesses and community facilities in low-income communities. He has served on NEST’s board in various roles, including ex-officio member, since the organization’s inception as CNCURC.
Nicole Merrill – Secretary
Nicole Merrill is a Cincinnati transplant from Boston (in 2006) and moved to her favorite Cincinnati neighborhood, Northside, in 2018. Nicole is co-founder and partner at Vecteris, a product development consultancy. She brings 20+ years of organizational and business management experience to NEST and focuses her time with us on strategy, process, fundraising, and board development.
Board of Directors
Barry Schwartz has been a resident of Northside since 2009. He spent 30 years as a City Planner and Senior Community Development Analyst with the City of Cincinnati. Since then Barry has served as membership secretary and board secretary of the Northside Community Council. In that capacity, he was responsible for updating the Northside Community Land Use Plan, seeking a replacement for the former Save-A-Lot grocery store, worked on the branding committee and served on the Northside COP (Community-oriented policing) team. He joined the NEST board of directors in 2015 to more effectively use his expertise in community involvement and planning toward the continued and conscious development of Northside.
Carl Sterner is an architect focused on sustainability, resilience, and public interest design. He is the Director of Design and Sustainability at Sol Design + Consulting; his experience includes architectural work on high-ambition sustainable projects—including LEED Platinum, Passive House, and Net Zero Energy projects—as well as serving on the management team at Sefaira, a green tech software company, where he did everything from Marketing to Product Management. He joined the NEST board in 2016 with a passion for seeing more sustainable, affordable housing in Northside.
Will Yokel is an in-house architect at a local development, construction and management company. He first moved to Northside in 2009 and has worked on several multi-family residential projects within the neighborhood. His interest is in historic preservation, adaptive reuse and contemporary new construction. Will joined the NEST board in 2017 to help continue the successful growth of homeownership in Northside. He is very excited about the Kinda Tiny House Project, and exploring possible avenues for affordable mix-use and multi-family developments.
Victoria Hayes is a long time resident of Northside. She has worked to keep the community connected by maintaining a community email newsletter. She appreciates the NEST mission of continuing to promote affordable housing in Northside (only way she made it here!).
Cindy Sherding has been on the NEST board of directors since the redevelopment corporation’s inception in 2005. Her organizational skills were utilized while planning fundraising events such as Day of the Dead dinners and “Reduce, Recycle, RUN 5K” races. Prior to retiring in 2012, Cindy worked for the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services, inspecting and monitoring child care programs. Cindy has a passion for making Northside a safer, more vibrant community, that engages families and children of all ages. Since becoming a homeowner in 1996, she was instrumental in starting Blockwatch 45223, and as a result, she was elected to Northside Community Council. Later, Cindy joined Citizens on Patrol, and currently she is Chair of the Safety & Livability Committee.
Laila Ammar knows design profoundly impacts us all and dedicates herself to elevating the importance and literacy of design within our A/E and Construction Industry of Cincinnati. She is Designer & Architect for Neyer Architects of Al. Neyer, a local Development and Design/Build Firm and holds her BS Arch from DAAP (UC) and M Arch from Knowlton School of Architecture (OSU). When she isn’t designing spaces, she is creating new worlds on stage as a cast member of OTRimprov with regular shows at Below Zero Lounge and Know Theatre. Walking her dog from her house on Otte to the Urban Artifact Courtyard is her favorite Northside jaunt.
Chad Munitz is the Vice President at Towne Properties, a family owned development and management company headquartered in Cincinnati with offices in six major metropolitan cities. Prior to working at Towne, Chad was the Executive Vice President at 3CDC. Chad has also served as the Development Director for the City of Cincinnati and worked for the Ohio Department of Development. Chad is also a founding member and co-lead guitar player in the Northside Air Guitar & Hair Troop. Chad and his family have lived in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Northside since 2008.
Rachel O’Malley is a historic preservation and development consultant based in Northside, where she’s lived since 2011. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from New York University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota. Prior to her current work, O’Malley worked as a Senior Development Officer at 3CDC in Over-the-Rhine and was a Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Building Research in Minneapolis. In her free time, she can be found trying to catch up to her kids on the sidewalks of Northside, probably on their way to buy clunkers at Bonomini.
Skip Jones grew up in Northside on Fergus St.. He worked with the Northside CPOP Team and Citizens on Patrol for many years. He has been on the NEST board since 2010. He is currently employed as an IT Manager at the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
Miguel Herrera is the Branch Manager at North Side Bank & Trust Company in Northside. He is always looking for ways to invest in his community as well as promote it. Miguel is interest in helping develop Northside because the success of the community is vital in setting an example for the rest of Cincinnati. Miguel has a background in Construction Management and hopes to use his skills and position at the bank to further help and promote NEST and the Northside Business Association. When Miguel is not working at the bank, he spends hit ime play.
Stefanie Sunderland – Co-founder. Executive Director Emeritus. Northside Expert
Stefanie Sunderland, co-founder of the Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation DBA (NEST), is a long-term Northside resident and neighborhood volunteer activist. Her service to the community began in the late 1990’s as co-founder and chair of the Coalition Against the Colerain Connector, a now de-journalized 1954 State Highway plan proposed to slice through and divide the community.
Among her most notable previous work experiences, she worked as a Cincinnati Park Board naturalist, payroll manager for Peterman Transportation, which provided transportation services for individuals with special needs, and she was the first woman hired as a full time ground maintenance crew member at Mt. Healthy Arlington Memorial Gardens Cemetery. She majored in social work at the University of Cincinnati.
Michael Berry – Project Manager Emeritus
Michael Berry grew up in OTR and now lives in Walnut Hills – he’s come far. A product of Cincinnati Public Schools he went to Antioch College and did his graduate work at the University of Cincinnati. Michael was a founding board member of NEST and has significant experience in community and economic development. He has worked in urban, suburban and rural communities and has particular expertise in construction and mixed-use, mixed-income real estate development.