Meet Mike

Mike Dovilla is a Navy veteran, public servant, and executive with extensive public, private, and nonprofit leadership experience.  He was born in Cleveland as the great-grandson of Italian and German immigrants and a fourth generation Ohioan.  Mike grew up and still resides in his hometown of Berea, where he learned the principles of integrity, hard work, and service above self from his parents and grandparents.

From 2011 to 2016, Mike served the people of southwestern Cuyahoga County in the Ohio House of Representatives.  Applying a work ethic that led him to more than 55,000 doors during three hard-fought campaigns in one of Ohio’s most competitive legislative districts, Mike quickly earned the trust of his constituents and colleagues as a principled yet pragmatic legislator.  His peers elected him Majority Whip during his third term, capping a rapid rise through the ranks of legislative leadership that included appointments as chairman of two standing committees and four years on the influential House Finance Committee.

During six years in the House, Mike authored 15 state laws designed to spur economic development, strengthen education, protect senior citizens, support veterans, and improve government accountability.  He also maintained an active presence throughout our district, exchanging 17,000 communications with constituents, hosting 48 sets of district office hours, and engaging residents of all ages with initiatives including his “Legislator for a Day” reading program for elementary school children, guest lectures and internship opportunities for college students, roundtables for small business owners, and town halls for senior citizens.  Now, Mike is seeking to serve our community and state once again by bringing his experience and reputation as a serious policymaker and conscientious representative back to the Legislature.

During his career, Mike has served twice as a senior-level presidential appointee at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a principal advisor to former U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich, and a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State.  He has founded and led two successful small businesses, The Dovilla Group, a strategic consulting firm, and The Grindstone Institute, a leadership development company.  Most recently, he helped establish and then served as the first president and chief executive officer of the USS Cleveland Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit supporting the sailors of the future USS Cleveland, the fourth ship in U.S. history to be named for Cleveland, Ohio.

Mike is a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.  In the wake of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, he volunteered for service and was competitively selected for a direct commission in 2002 as an intelligence officer.  He has twice been mobilized to active duty, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad (2007-2008) and the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (2020-2021).  As a reservist, Mike has served as a unit commanding officer and executive officer, among other leadership roles.  Qualified as an information warfare officer, he has completed intermediate and senior joint professional military education and is currently assigned as a department head with an Akron-based reserve unit supporting U.S. Forces, Japan.

The first member of his family to graduate from college, Mike believes strongly in the value of education and lifelong learning.  He holds an EdD in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership from the University of Illinois, MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, MPA in International Management from American University, and BA in Economics and Political Science from Baldwin Wallace University, where he later taught as adjunct faculty.

Mike is deeply committed to our community, state, and nation, volunteering in numerous civic, veterans, and educational organizations.  He is a scripture reader at his church and devoted mentor to college students, serving in advisory roles for more than 25 years.  A lifelong baseball fan and voracious reader, Mike also enjoys cooking for family and friends, traveling to historical sites around the country, and spending time outdoors with his yellow Labrador retriever, Perry.

Selected Accomplishments, Awards & Recognition

  • National Hall of Fame, Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, 2023
  • Presidential Leadership Scholar, Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, 2020
  • Senior Managers in Government, Executive Education, Harvard Kennedy School, 2018
  • National President, Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, 2016-2018
  • Benjamin Rose Institute Katz Advocacy Award, Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging, 2015
  • Small Business Advocate Award, Council of Smaller Enterprises, 2014
  • Robert E. Hughes Memorial Award, Ohio Association of Election Officials, 2014
  • Distinguished Governmental Service Award, Ohio Association of Career Colleges & Schools, 2014
  • Susan E. Hand Friend of the Industry Award, Ohio Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, 2013
  • Emerging Leaders Symposium, National Council of State Legislatures, 2013
  • Outstanding Leadership Award, Consortium Against Adult Abuse (C3A), 2012
  • Watchdog of the Treasury Award, United Conservatives of Ohio, 2012
  • Bridge Builder Award, Phi Kappa Tau Foundation, 2012
  • American Marshall Memorial Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2009
  • Meritorious Honor Award, U.S. Department of State, 2001

Issues

Mike Dovilla believes all Ohioans who want to work deserve the opportunity to find a good paying job. He knows the meaning of hard work and personal responsibility. Mike paid his own way through college in Berea by working in restaurants and later putting in 14 hour days with the U.S. Navy in Iraq. He also understands the realities of running a small business in northeast Ohio, having founded and led two successful companies over the past 20 years. Mike will be ready on day one to represent us again in Columbus, resuming his work to encourage economic development and support private sector job creation.

During his previous service as our state representative, Mike:

  • Helped craft three balanced state budgets that reigned in spending, lowered taxes, and supported a business-friendly environment for working Ohio families and small businesses.
  • Served as House Ways and Means Committee vice-chairman, successfully eliminating Ohio’s estate tax and enacting other laws to improve the state’s climate for job creation.
  • Created the Ohio Cybersecurity, Education and Economic Development Council to help drive job creation among young people in the growing information technology field and to improve alignment of state government agencies in protecting Ohioans’ private information. (B. 331, 129th General Assembly)
  • Enacted enhanced tax deductions for capital investments to support Ohio businesses seeking to remain in Ohio and expand their operations, leading to more job creation and economic development for our state. (B. 365, 129th General Assembly)
  • Established TourismOhio to highlight travel and tourism, Ohio’s fourth largest industry, which employs more than 500,000 people. (B. 489, 129th General Assembly)
  • Authored the “Welcome to Ohio” law, a common sense measure that eliminated the driving test requirement for new or returning Ohio residents with a valid driver’s license from another state. (B. 62, 130th General Assembly)
  • Established an Ohio economic gardening pilot program, an innovative approach to economic development that provided key investments for Ohio-based tier 2 companies seeking assistance with growth strategies. (H.B. 259, 130th General Assembly)
  • Supported Ohio’s manufacturers by designating every October as Ohio Manufacturing Month to continue highlighting the importance of our state’s second largest industry. (B. 77, 130th General Assembly)
  • Advocated for Ohio agriculture, the state’s largest economic sector, by creating the Ohio State Beekeepers Association license plate on behalf of the Buckeye State’s nearly 4,400 registered beekeepers and their 37,000 honeybee colonies that help pollinate plant life for much of the food we consume. (H.B. 474, 130th General Assembly)
  • Supported American and Ohio manufacturing, construction, and maritime jobs by authoring resolutions encouraging the federal government to approve construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, citing China as a currency manipulator, and urging the federal government to support plans to upgrade the Soo Locks at Sault St. Marie. (H.R. 305 and H.R. 384, 129th General Assembly; H.R 263, 131st General Assembly)

Mike Dovilla is a leader in the fight for high-quality education. As a product of Berea’s public schools and a first-generation college graduate, Mike understands the transformational impact of education. He is a vocal advocate for local control who represented more than 70 suburban public school districts as a governmental relations professional. He also supports school choice and thinks education is most effective when parents play an integral role in their children’s individual learning experiences. Mike believes that when the values of our classrooms reflect the values of our homes – and when parents are engaged in education reform – we give our children the best chance for success. Since last serving in the Legislature, he invested substantial personal time to earn a doctorate in education with a concentration in learning design and leadership. As our voice at the Statehouse, Mike will leverage his research and experience to continue improving educational options at all levels for Ohioans.

During his previous service as our state representative, Mike:

  • Fought successfully to support suburban public schools with budget provisions to hold harmless districts singled out for substantial reductions in state support or tangible personal property tax payments. (H.B. 59, 130th General Assembly; H.B. 64 & H.B. 208, 131st General Assembly)
  • Authored a fiscal transparency provision to require public school districts to report annually on the percentage of expenditures used to support instruction in the classroom versus administrative overhead – an effort to provide greater clarity to taxpayers on how their dollars are spent on public education. (H.B. 153, 129th General Assembly)
  • Reformed Ohio’s charter schools in a comprehensive manner for the first time in a dozen years, which will dramatically improve oversight, increase transparency, and demand accountability for this educational option. (H.B. 2, 131st General Assembly)
  • Promoted the bipartisan Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools as House Education Committee vice-chairman, standing up for a critically important measure to improve struggling public and charter schools our region’s core city. (H.B. 525, 129th General Assembly)
  • Served on the House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education, advocating for need-based financial aid and supporting increased funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant.
  • Maintained close partnerships with our school districts, meeting frequently with board members, superintendents, and treasurers and visiting classrooms to talk with teachers and students.
  • Created the “Legislator for a Day” reading program, a partnership with Cuyahoga County Public Library branches and elementary schools in our district, to encourage youngsters to read and learn about Ohio history and government. In six years, the program involved over 1,200 students in grades 1-6 who read more than 5,000 books and provided opportunities for selected students and parents to visit Columbus for a mock legislative session, Statehouse tour, and lunch.
  • Partnered with Baldwin Wallace University, serving as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Political Science, offering regular guest lectures in multiple departments, and providing district office internships and mentoring opportunities to students seeking substantive experience on a wide array of public policy subjects.

In recent years, Ohioans have lost trust in politicians from both parties in Columbus and Washington. Ethical scandals, unfulfilled campaign promises, and bureaucracies that duplicate effort and waste taxpayer dollars have caused many to lose faith in their government and elected officials.  Mike Dovilla takes seriously the role of public servant and believes government should be accountable for every tax dollar spent. A principled leader and independent thinker, Mike will once again run a transparent, accessible, and responsive office that works tirelessly to represent the best interests of the residents of Berea, Broadview Heights, North Royalton, Olmsted Falls, Olmsted Township, and Strongsville.

During his previous service as our state representative, Mike:

  • Served as House Government Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee chairman, leading the Legislature’s effort to improve state government accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness on behalf of Ohio’s 11.7 million residents.
  • Initiated the “Open Ohio” financial transparency initiative to require the Ohio government to maintain an online database of state agencies’ expenditures. The project continues to this day at https://checkbook.ohio.gov. (H.B. 175, 130th General Assembly; H.B. 46, 131st General Assembly)
  • Introduced anti-corruption provisions to help restore public trust in government by stripping the public pensions of felons convicted of the state-level crimes of extortion and perjury and equivalent federal crimes. (H.B. 323, 129th General Assembly; H.B. 162, 130th General Assembly; H.B. 284, 131st General Assembly)
  • Established the Common Sense Initiative (CSI), putting safeguards in place to prevent burdensome government regulations on Ohio’s businesses from going into effect. (S.B. 2, 129th General Assembly)
  • Initiated performance audits for state agencies to ensure government is running more efficiently and effectively. (S.B. 4, 129th General Assembly)
  • Created a government fraud reporting system to provide a mechanism to report and stop the waste of taxpayer dollars. (H.B. 66, 129th General Assembly)
  • Held 48 sets of district office hours in libraries and coffee shops throughout our legislative district to provide direct, in-person access for residents to meet their state legislator and share their views on the issues.
  • Exchanged more than 17,000 communications with constituents via email, telephone, and letter, providing direct, transparent feedback on policy issues.

Endorsements

  • Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio Foundation (ACT Ohio)
  • Americans for Prosperity – Ohio
  • A1S4 Protection PAC
  • Buckeye Firearms Association
  • Cuyahoga Valley Republicans
  • Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom
  • Ohio Right to Life
  • Ohio Value Voters
  • Republican Party of Cuyahoga County
  • Sheet Metal Workers Local 33
  • Strongsville GOP
  • Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague
  • Medina County Commissioner Steve Hambley
  • Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem
  • North Royalton Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz
  • Strongsville Mayor Tom Perciak
  • Berea Councilman (Ward 5) Rick Skoczen
  • Broadview Heights Councilman at Large Joe Price
  • Broadview Heights Councilman (Ward 1) Thomas Pavlica
  • Olmsted Falls Former City Council President Garry Thompson
  • Strongsville Councilman (Ward 3) Tom Clark

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