CLEVELAND — Alan K. Nevel said his adult life got a rocky start, and he was struggling with higher education.

What You Need To Know

  • Engage! Cleveland is a community engagement organization focused on attracting, engaging and retaining young professionals and leaders to Cleveland

  • The organization recently held a celebration to honor up-and-coming Cleveland Talent

  • During these awards they named Alan K. Nevel as Mentor of the Year

“Every day I wake up realizing that I am not supposed to be here,” Nevel said. “I actually had an academic scholarship to a university here in Ohio, and I took that for granted and ultimately got kicked out of that school.”

Years later, all of that is behind him, and he is thriving as the Senior Vice President Chief Equity and Community Impact Officer at the MetroHealth System.

“I think back early to my career, and there were people who honestly saw more in me than I saw in myself at that time,” he said.

He now makes it a point to mentor others and help them achieve the same level of success that he has.

“There has always been that special someone or several someones who have been there to coach and guide me, so I take mentoring very seriously,” he said.

That dedication to helping others is one of the reasons Ashley Basile Oeken with Engage! Cleveland said their nonprofit named Nevel “Mentor of the Year.”

“These are people who are giving back to young professionals," she said. "They are mentoring them. They are advising them and ensuring that those individuals are going to rise both within their company as well as within the community."

Engage! Cleveland works to attract and keep young talent here in northeast Ohio.

“We work to attract new people to the greater Cleveland area, engage them once they are here or engage those who are born and raised here or who are already here and, ultimately, that will lead to retention," she said.

Keeping talent in Cleveland is something Nevel — a northeast Ohio native — is passionate about.

“This is the town I was born and raised in, and I knew pretty early in my professional career that at some point I wanted to come back home and make a difference in my community to hopefully motivate and inspire, teach people so they don’t make the same mistakes that I made,” he said.