Board Member Profile: Mark Nylander

As a part of an ongoing series, the team at Ohio Legal Help is interviewing the talented and dedicated members of the Board and Advisory Committee. A seasoned communications and marketing professional, Ohio Legal Help Board Member Mark Nylander sat down with us to discuss his career and what has inspired his lifelong service to multiple nonprofits.

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Ohio Legal Help (OLH): Tell us a bit about your background and your career.

Mark Nylander (MN): I’ve spent more than four decades in communications and marketing, with most of that time at two Cleveland-based marketing communications firms. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients in the nonprofit world and have always felt a great sense of accomplishment when I’ve been able to contribute to the fulfillment of these organizations’ Mission. In 2011, I launched my own strategic communications consultancy with a focus on helping small to mid-size businesses and nonprofits achieve their business goals through a strategic approach to communications and marketing.

I also continue to spend time serving on several nonprofit boards and committees, primarily in northeast Ohio. Currently, I serve Ohio Legal Help (OLH), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Literacy Cooperative, Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity and the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I also have an advisory role with the communications school at my alma mater, Kent State University. I stay busy, but I enjoy the work and the service.

OLH: What was your inspiration for serving on the board of OLH? What do you like best about being a board member?

MN: In June of last year, OLH Board President David Kutik, whom I have known for a number of years, reached out to me about a position on the OLH board. David noted in our conversation that communications is one of the four key initiatives in the recently adopted OLH Strategic Plan, so I was immediately interested in the opportunity to share my expertise. As the only board member who is not a lawyer, I bring a different perspective and provide insight that hopefully adds value to the communications strategy going forward. Working with my fellow board members and the OLH Executive Director and staff, I have been encouraged by our efforts to elevate OLH’s brand visibility with donors and influencers and provide individuals who need legal assistance with a user-friendly resource of self-help tools. The website is truly exceptional, and it has been exciting to be a part of the early stages of its growth and development.

OLH: What OLH project are you most looking forward to?

MN: Since its launch just more than two years ago, OLH has quickly become a go-to legal information hub for everyday Ohioans needing legal assistance. Building on this success and looking ahead to next year, there is a tremendous opportunity with the Spanish translation of the website. This version of the website will allow us to broaden our reach to an underserved and underrepresented segment of the population that could use our assistance with understanding their legal issues and finding the right resources to help. From a communications perspective, the team at OLH will be faced with new challenges and opportunities to refine the messaging and identify channels to effectively reach this audience. It will require extra effort on everyone’s part, but I think the results from reaching a Spanish speaking population will be significant.

OLH: What motivates you on a daily basis? What advice has helped guide you along the way?

MN: I am motivated to do work that makes a difference. I am grateful for every opportunity to share my expertise, and, at the same time, I am always looking to continue to learn. The work we are doing with OLH is unlike any I have done before so it’s been a valuable learning experience and tremendously rewarding, as well.

Advice that has helped me along the way is to have a plan and remain focused on the end goal, while remaining flexible and prepared to deal with roadblocks that will require detours throughout the journey. With communications and marketing, this is especially true where a shift in strategy is often required to overcome hurdles that are encountered along the way. For example, COVID-19 was not a part of the OLH strategic plan, but we were able to focus on the opportunity to help people get the information they needed to navigate this crisis during the last 18 months.

OLH: What do you like to do in your free time?

MN: My wife and I like to travel, and we even enjoy the planning part of our trips. We’ve had the good fortune to be able to travel to many great destinations all over the world, visiting some beautiful places and experiencing many diverse cultures. With international travel on the back burner for now, our most recent trip to Oregon in September included wine tasting in the Willamette Valley, hiking in Mt. Hood and Crater Lake, and tackling a bucket list item, rock climbing, at Smith Rock Park in Bend. Closer to home, we enjoy spending time with friends while exploring all that Cleveland and northeast Ohio have to offer -- the parks, entertainment venues, cultural institutions, sports teams, the restaurant scene, and so much more.