James Hardy has been a staunch advocate for the residents of Akron throughout his 16 years of leadership experience across a wide variety of civic-centric roles.

Hardy has spent his career focusing on launching high-impact initiatives that build strong, equitable communities. As your council person, James Hardy will use his years of experience to provide Ward 8 with the leadership needed to support our community.

Hardy’s background includes extensive public health experience in addition to oversight of numerous governmental departments, each with its own unique needs and functions, grant administration and fundraising, city planning and revitalization, vendor management, contract negotiation, coalition building, media relations, and economic development project management.

James has a particular specialty in developing community-oriented, philanthropic, and economic and community development programming, with the ability to articulate a clear vision and supporting strategy, as well as being adept at navigating relations with businesses, governmental entities, community leaders, and the public at large using a “meeting them where they are” philosophy.

Hardy is a lifelong resident of West Akron and a former Akron Public Schools student, having attended King, Litchfield, and Firestone schools. His love of Akron schools and providing opportunities to Akron youth is in his blood, as both his parents were Akron Public School teachers and administrators.

Along with leading initiatives and serving his community, James Hardy spends his time with his wife and two children. As an avid baseball fan and former WABL player, he has coached both his kids in little league and fastpitch softball. His  Not one to shy away from the stage or any opportunity to embarrass his children, Hardy also fronts a Yacht Rock cover band called Van Sailin’.


  • Senior Program Officer - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2021 - Present)
  • Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development – City of Akron  (2020 - 2021)
  • Chief of Staff – City of Akron (2015 - 2020)
  • Assistant Director, Community Health – Summit County Public Health (2015 - 2015)
  • Development Officer – Summa Foundation (Summa Health System) (2014 - 2015)
  • Special Assistant, Office of the President and Board of Trustees – Kent State University (2009 - 2014)
  • Regional Director – Ohio Secretary of State (2007 - 2009)
  • Board of Education Member (elected position) – Akron Public Schools (2006 - 2012)

Community Involvement

  • Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance - Board Member (2022-Present)
  • United Way of Summit and Medina - Board Member (2022-Present)
  • Downtown Akron Partnership Board of Directors (2017-2021)
  • Akron Civic Theater Board of Directors (2018-Present)
  • Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Initiative Board of Directors (2014-2020)
  • Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (2009-2014)

Awards & Fellowships

  • Fulcrum Fellow, Center for Community Investment, Lincoln Land Policy Institute (2020-2021)
  • Crain's Cleveland Business Forty Under 40 (2019)
  • Bloomberg-Harvard City Initiative, Senior Leadership Initiative Cohort 1 (2018)
  • Traeger Award for Top Influencers in Local Government, Engaging Local Government Leaders (2018)
  • Traeger Award for Top Influencers in Local Government, Engaging Local Government Leaders (2017)
  • 30 For the Future Award, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce (2011)