Mayor-Elect Malik Announces Cabinet Roles in Public Service, Finance, and Labor Relations

Akron, Ohio, Dec. 19, 2023 — Today, incoming Akron Mayor Shammas Malik is announcing six additional members of his new administration. Chris Ludle will be staying on in his current position as Director of Public Service, Steve Fricker will also retain his role as Director of Finance, and Frank Williams will continue to serve as Director of Labor Relations. Additionally, Eufrancia Lash and James Aitken will stay on as Deputy Service Directors and Michael Wheeler will remain the Deputy Director of Finance. 

“I have worked with Chris Ludle, Steve Fricker, and Frank Williams for many years as a city lawyer and as a city councilperson,” said Mayor-Elect Malik. “The experience, dedication to service, and deep care that these men have for the City of Akron and our employees will be invaluable to my administration. Eufrancia Lash, Jim Aitken, and Mike Wheeler also bring a depth of experience to these roles and to my administration that will provide dependability and reliability for our city. I’m excited to continue building on the exemplary work that has been done in both Public Service and Finance with these leaders at the helm.”

Director of Finance – Steve Fricker

Steve Fricker began his service to the citizens of Akron in 1991 as an Accounts Analyst within the City’s Audit & Budget Division.  He has since served in many different roles within the Finance Department for over 30 years, including Deputy Tax Commissioner and City Treasurer. He has been serving in the Mayor’s Cabinet since 2016 and in his current role since 2019. 

As Director of Finance, Steve oversees the 7 divisions of the Finance Department which include Accounting, Budget, Information Technology, Purchasing, Income Tax, Treasury and the Utilities Business Office. Fricker helped grow the General Fund Cash Balance from $5 million at the end of 2015 to over $25 million at the beginning of 2023 under Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. He also led the charge to implement Workday, a cloud-based Finance and Human Resource software package, which has revolutionized and streamlined the financial and human resource functions at the city. A lifelong resident of Akron, Fricker is a graduate of Firestone High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Director of Public Service – Chris Ludle

Chris Ludle began his service to the City of Akron in 2004 as a Mechanical Inspector in the Building Inspection Division.  In 2007, he joined the Sewer Maintenance Division and was later promoted to supervisor where he gained firsthand experience managing combined sewer overflow (CSO) projects. Ludle was appointed acting Highway Maintenance Superintendent in the Public Works Bureau in 2014 and in 2015 was promoted to Deputy Service Director. In 2020, he succeeded former Service Director John Moore. 

The office of the Director of Public Service oversees the Engineering Bureau, the Public Works Bureau, the Sewer Bureau, and the Water Bureau. Under Ludle’s leadership the city has tackled dozens of consent decree projects including the Ohio Canal Interceptor Tunnel (OCIT), paved hundreds of roadways, redid the city’s snow and ice response plan, and helped manage the city’s extensive watershed and water infrastructure network. He has also worked extensively on the city’s district energy system in partnership with Akron Energy System to modernize the entire utility system leading to a significant reduction in the city’s carbon footprint, savings of millions of dollars, millions of gallons of water being recycled, and a 99.999% reliability of operations.  Ludle is a lifelong Akron resident, a member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church and a volunteer Athletic Director.  

Director of Labor Relations – Frank Williams

Frank Williams grew up in Akron, attended Akron Public Schools, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice/Political Science and an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from the University of Akron. From 1987 to 1995, he served with the Ohio Army National Guard as a Combat Engineer. He began his public service career in 1991 as an Akron Police Officer.  During that time, he served in multiple capacities from a Patrol Officer to a Narcotics Detective. He was promoted in 1999 to Sergeant. He was a supervisor in the Patrol Division, Community Relations, Communications Center, and Evidence Storage and Retention. He was elected President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Akron Lodge #7 where he represented the Akron Police Bargaining members during contract negotiations, disciplines, and work place concerns.

Williams joined Mayor Horrigan's administration in 2019 as Assistant to the Mayor for Labor Relations and was promoted to Deputy Mayor for Labor Relations in 2022. Frank brings over 30 years of public service experience, leadership skills, community relations, and collective bargaining knowledge to his role and has proven a highly successful negotiator through contract conversations with Akron’s four bargaining units. Three of those unions will be up for new contracts in 2024. 

Frank resides in Akron with his wife and their five children. They enjoy everything outdoors including hiking, biking, hunting and fishing. He enjoys coaching youth sports as well as volunteering with community events and fundraisers.

Deputy Service Director – Eufrancia Lash

Eufrancia Lash is a lifelong resident of Akron, Ohio, and a product of the Akron Public School system. He is a graduate of both Central-Hower High School and the University of Akron, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Organizational Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. He joined the Mayor’s Cabinet in 2019 as Deputy Director of Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance. His professional background includes assignments with Ford Motor Company, The American Road (a Ford Subsidiary), Alliance Inspection Management and Alpha Phi Alpha Homes, Inc. as the Director of Supportive Services. He also has worked as a consultant with his consulting company, The Akropolis Group. Lash has served on various boards and commissions within the community. 

Mr. Lash and his wife, Wanda, have four children. He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Eta Tau Lambda chapter), and has held multiple leadership positions within that organization. He is also a member of Phoenix Lodge #112 (PHF&AM), a graduate of Leadership Akron Class 32, Vice President of Finance with The 100 Black Men Of Akron, and involved in many other community and civic endeavors. He is also an avid musician and has served as the Director of Music for local churches and area ministries. 

Deputy Service Director – James Aitken 

Jim Aitken began his service to the City of Akron in 1986 as a sewer maintenance worker in the sewer division. He was promoted through the ranks and eventually became acting sewer superintendent. In this role, he managed day to day operations of the city sewer collection system including 36 pump stations, 6 CSO storage basins, 13 CSO racks and the Ohio Canal Interceptor tunnel completed in 2020. 

After 34 years working in the City's Department of Public Service, in February of 2021, Jim was promoted to Deputy Director of Public Service – Operations. In this role he is responsible for the Public Works Bureau, Sewer Bureau and Water Bureau making sure all divisions are operating efficiently and maintaining best practices to provide the best service to our residents.

Mr. Aitken is a lifelong resident of Akron, and a member of St. Sebastian Catholic Church. Jim and his wife Maggie have two adult children and reside in West Akron.

Deputy Director of Finance – Michael Wheeler

Mike was named Deputy Director of Finance in October of 2022. He has over a decade of experience in the City’s Audit and Budget Division, where he previously served as the Audit and Budget Manager. Over the course of his career with the city, he has implemented various accounting standards for the City’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) and was instrumental in the launch of the Workday Financial System.

A 2003 graduate of Akron’s Firestone Highschool, he went on to graduate from the University of Akron in 2008. A member of Greater Akron Torchbearers, he was honored to be selected for the class of 2018 and served in a leadership role. Additionally, he is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with the ability to practice accounting in the states of Ohio and New York. Prior to his experience at the city, he worked at Rockit Solutions, LLC as a Tax and Financial Analyst.

As Deputy Director of Finance, Mike oversees the annual budgets, audits, and the 7 departments in the City’s Finance Department.