Mayor-Elect Malik Announces Chief Of Staff And Chief Of Strategy

Akron, Ohio, Dec. 14, 2023 — Today, Akron Mayor-Elect Shammas Malik is announcing the first members of his new Cabinet. Brittany Grimes Zaehringer has been appointed as Chief of Staff and Nanette Pitt has been appointed as Chief of Strategy. These two co-equal roles will directly report to Mayor Malik, forming a core executive leadership team. 

As Chief of Staff, Zaehringer will be responsible for innovative and effective planning, organizing, managing, directing and overseeing of the day-to-day operations of the Mayor's office and director level staff, while also providing strategic counsel to the Mayor and other city leaders. As Chief of Strategy, a newly-created role, Pitt will lead implementation of strategic initiatives from Mayor-Elect Malik’s Together For Akron vision, including violence intervention, youth opportunity, universal pre-school, and more. Nanette Pitt will oversee a team of strategists and will serve as a key liaison with intergovernmental offices and community stakeholders.   

“I could not be more excited to welcome both Brittany Grimes Zaehringer and Nanette Pitt to my administration,” said Mayor-Elect Malik. “Brittany brings such a wealth and breadth of operational excellence to the role as well as a deep love and connection to the City of Akron and I’m fortunate to have her play such a pivotal role in my new administration. Nanette has proven herself time and time again to be an agent for positive change in this city and I look forward to her bringing her passion and tenacity to our Cabinet as she helps drive the overall vision of my administration.”  

Brittany Grimes Zaehringer is an accomplished executive with higher education, nonprofit, legal and public sector experiences. She is a native of Akron, Ohio, and a graduate of John R. Buchtel High School. Zaehringer received her Juris Doctorate and Master of Science in Social Administration (nka Master of Social Work) from Case Western Reserve University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Michigan. She is admitted to the practice of law in Ohio and did her initial legal training at Buckingham, Doolittle and Burroughs.

Currently, Zaehringer is the senior associate vice president for operations and strategic initiatives at Syracuse University. In her role, she is responsible for overseeing the functional areas of budget, human resources, strategic facilities, and IT for the Student Experience Division, which include Campus Safety and Emergency Management (CSEM). During her nearly five years in this role, Zaehringer has overseen $100 million+ in construction projects, a nearly $70 million budget portfolio, human resources for 1400+ staff members, and project management for the University’s Smart Campus and digital transformation efforts. Prior to this role, Zaehringer served as a senior human resource business partner at Syracuse University where she advised the Offices of the Chancellor, the Provost, and the Board of Trustees. She has also held several leadership positions in philanthropy, human resources, operations, and law spanning public, private, and non-profit agencies in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin, and she is a graduate of Leadership Akron’s Signature Program Class 26. In the weeks ahead, Zaehringer and her husband Peter will be moving home to Akron with their Cavapoo, Jimmy 'Peanut' Carter. Zaehringer enjoys baking, traveling, and biking the Erie Canal Towpath trails in Syracuse and Akron. 

“I’m excited to return to my hometown to be a part of this catalytic next chapter for the city of Akron,” said Zaehringer. “Mayor-Elect Malik has a bold vision for the future of our city that is inspiring and optimistic and will require his Cabinet to challenge ourselves and the status quo. I’m ready to work alongside the people of Akron, city employees, and other stakeholders to make this vision a reality. This is more than a professional goal. The success of the city of Akron is personal for me. The city is a part of who I am and I want to be a part of what the city becomes .” 

Nanette Pitt was born and raised in South Africa but has found her home here in Akron. Originally a theater professional and small business entrepreneur involved in development and the arts in South Africa’s burgeoning democracy, Pitt graduated summa cum laude from Simmons College (Boston, MA) in 2008, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Transnational and Gender Studies) and went on to receive her Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School (Newton Centre, MA) where she was inducted into the Jonathan Edwards Honors Society. She was ordained to Christian ministry in the United Church of Christ in 2013. 

Pitt moved to Akron in 2015 where she has served as the Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church of Akron. Pitt is a graduate of Leadership Akron’s Signature Program Class 34 and serves on the Akron Civil Rights Commission, Summa Pride Clinic Leadership Circle, and Grace House Spiritual Advisory Board. She has partnered with area leaders and organizations on a range of social justice and community resilience initiatives with the intent of fostering a sustainable future on the socio-institutional level. She resides in West Akron with her husband Dr. Steven Savides, Ph.D.

“Akron is my chosen home and I am deeply committed to its future,” said Nanette Pitt. “As we approach our city's bicentennial, we are on the cusp of a new era with the city excited by Mayor-Elect Malik's vision and leadership. As Chief of Strategy, I am committed to working with Mayor Malik, City Council, and Akron's various communities, leaders, and stakeholder groups to ensure broad based input as we implement the incoming administration's Together for Akron vision.”

Mayor-Elect Malik will have more announcements in the coming days and weeks on additional members of his incoming team,  including members from the current administration who are remaining in their roles and new members joining.