The Department of Political Science in West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce that Johnathan M. Holifield will receive the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Holifield graduated from the Department of Political Science in 1988 with a bachelor of arts degree. While at WVU , he lettered three seasons (1984-86) as a Mountaineer football player and was elected captain of the 1986 team. Following graduation, he went on to a brief two-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals (1989-90) of the National Football League. He received M.Ed and J.D. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, went on to serve as an assistant civil prosecuting attorney for Hamilton County, Ohio, and then became an associate with the Cincinnati law firm of Manley, Burke&Lipton.
In 2000, he was appointed to the newly created position of vice president of New Economy Enterprise for the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and in 2001 he founded and became executive director of CincyTechUSA, where he established Cincinnati’s regional technology-based economic development efforts. Under his leadership, CincyTechUSA became the leading regional advocate for technology growth policies and initiatives, raising over $2 million in cash investments, grants and in-kind support, and collaboratively winning more than $50 million of technology growth grants.
Notable efforts included the launching of a regional venture capital growth project which resulted in a network of more than $1.25 billion of early-stage risk capital; producing several innovative marketing and public relations initiatives that earned statewide and Midwest brand recognition; and the establishment of Cincinnati’s first high schools focused on information technology, design technology and health technology.
Upon designating Cincinnati as one of the America’s most livable cities, Partners for Livable Communities recognized CincyTechUSA for developing innovative approaches to prepare for the New Economy through creative strategies, actions and vision of its leadership. Though Holifield recently resigned his position with CincyTechUSA to pursue new professional opportunities, he remains an active leader in Cincinnati’s business and civic communities.
Civic leadership is a role familiar to Holifield. At WVU , he was elected to the university Board of Governors and Mountain Honorary, and served as a member of the Alliance of Black Greek-letter Organizations, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the task force for the Center for Black Culture and Research. In Cincinnati, he co-founded Build Cincinnati, a bipartisan coalition of advocates who negotiated and won voter passage of the most significant Cincinnati government reform in more than 75 years.
Holifield also served as vice president of the Cincinnati NAACP and is current vice chair of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Additionally, he drafted and won passage of Ohio’s first”hospitable workplace”municipal ordinance, led development of one of America’s largest privately held individual development account programsmaking it possible for more than 300 families to purchase homesand led establishment of a $100,000 scholarship fund.
Holifield was named to 21 to Watch in the 21st Century by The Cincinnati Enquirer, and received Cincinnati Public Schools’Setting the Standard Award, Black Data Processing
Associates President’s Award and Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40 Award. He is married to the former Antoinette L. Jenkins (B.A.,’84&M.P.A.,’86 , WVU ).
“It’s an unexpected, yet terrific honor to join this outstanding collection of WVU political science graduates,Holifield said of the award.And, of course,’Let’s Go Mountaineers!’”
Dr. Alan Hammock, chairman of the Department of Political Science added,”Johnathan Holifield was a superb student-athlete while at WVU , and he has gone on to have an outstanding professional and civic career since his days here. We are very proud of his many accomplishments and are privileged to honor him as our Distinguished Alumnus for 2004-2005.”The award will be presented at the Department’s Commencement Program on May 16.