Meet Elizabeth, Cleveland Boomerang

Meet Elizabeth, Cleveland Boomerang In February, Engage! Cleveland introduced readers to our new blog series about living in, moving to, and staying in Cleveland. We have interviewed a number of individuals who either have lived, are living, or want to live in Cleveland about what they love about the city, and why it’s a destination for them over other locations.

In this Q&A, we are excited to introduce you to Elizabeth Day, a Cleveland-area native who lived in Chicago after her college graduation before moving back to Cleveland, where she still lives. Read on to learn why Elizabeth moved to Chicago, and why she hasn’t regretted her decision to move back to Cleveland.

Engage! Cleveland: What caused you to move away from Cleveland? Where did you move to and for how long?

Elizabeth Day: I graduated from John Carroll in 2003 and was living at home (Wadsworth, OH) and commuting to Cleveland for my job at The City Club of Cleveland, where I’d been hired on full-time after interning in college. I didn’t know what my next step was going to be, and one day, in November, I literally woke up and decided I needed to move to Chicago. I had never even BEEN to Chicago, but I woke up with this conviction that Chicago was where I needed to be. So I started researching and planned a trip to visit the city with some of my college girlfriends. When I arrived, I fell in love with it, and by the beginning of March, I’d made two more trips, landed a temp job, gone on some job interviews, found an apartment, and moved. Fortunately, I only needed the temp job for two weeks before I landed my job at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where I worked in a couple of roles in Corporate Relations over four and a half years. I also completed my Master’s in Public Relations and Advertising at DePaul University while I lived in Chicago.

What brought you back? Were you happy or excited to move back?

While I was in Chicago, I bumped into an old friend from college who was in town visiting friends and his sister. He was still living and working in Cleveland, but we began dating about a year after I moved, and we did long distance for three and a half years. We’d gotten to the point where it was time for one of us to make the move, and together we realized that financially, Cleveland was the better choice for us. Chicago real estate is much more expensive than it is in Cleveland, and we believed our standard of living would be higher here. (We were right, by the way.)

I LOVED my time in Chicago, but I was happy to move back. I always loved Cleveland and expected to come back at some point. I just didn’t know when. My family is from the Akron area, so I was excited to be closer to them. My closest college girlfriends were in Cleveland. And, obviously, I was excited about being closer to my boyfriend, now husband. I also deeply believed that Cleveland has all the same things Chicago has, just on a smaller, more manageable scale – arts/culture, professional sports, a food scene, a lake, public transportation, etc.

I will admit I was nervous about moving back and finding a job. It took me a little over a month, and it was the longest month of my life!

Did you find the city different from when you left? If so, how?

I can’t speak too much to what it was like before I left because I mainly commuted in and out of downtown for work. But I’d say the biggest difference between when I left in early 2004 and when I moved back in 2008 was that downtown was beginning its comeback. All of my friends were living in condos or apartments downtown, E. 4th street had recently been redeveloped and was thriving. Euclid Avenue had been dramatically changed from what I remembered, with storefronts being redeveloped and the addition of the RTA Healthline. And since I lived downtown (2008-10), things have changed even more!

How does Cleveland compare to other cities?

I think Cleveland has just as much going for it as any other major American city. As I said, there’s arts and culture, the food scene, the lake and Metroparks, the sports teams, the transit, etc. Cleveland got a bad rap for a really long time, but it really is a great place to work and live. The quality of life is high and cost of living is low compared to many other cities.

What do you do for work in Cleveland? What do you like about working here?

I am the Director of Marketing and Communications for College Now Greater Cleveland, an organization whose mission is to increase postsecondary educational attainment through college and career access advising, financial aid counseling and scholarship and retention services. We help traditional students and adult learners remove the obstacles that prevent them from pursuing higher education. In my role, I oversee internal and external communications, media relations, social media, etc. Anything and everything related to managing the organization’s brand.

I love my job because the mission is important to the community. Educational attainment is critical to Greater Cleveland’s future economic health, and College Now is on the front lines working to help more people get on a postsecondary path, which helps them as individuals but also helps the larger community. I love working downtown because it keeps me connected to all the exciting things happening in the city.

What are some of your favorite things to do/areas in Cleveland in your free time?

I don’t have a ton of free time these days – I have two young kids (5 and 18 months) and a full-time job! When I do get out, it’s usually dinner with girlfriends or my husband. I don’t care much about sports, but the Indians home opener is one of my favorite days of the year, and we try not to miss it! This year, I finally bit the bullet and got the Playhouse Square Broadway series (love it - a great investment!), and I am also doing the Playhouse Square Children’s Theater Series with my daughter. Most of the time, though, I’m schlepping my kids to swim lessons or a play date or something like that! ;-p

Tell me a little more about you, what you like to do and your lifestyle (Do you live the suburban or city life? Buy or rent? Take public transportation? Hobbies or interests?).

We own a home in the suburbs . While I am a big believer in public transportation (I lived and died by it when I lived in Chicago and when I lived downtown), I drive to work now. I love to cook and bake, and I am trying to make more time for reading and getting to the gym!