Patrice Willoughby ’82


“I was a student at Heights High as the Hall of Fame was created. I am grateful to officials and leaders like Dr. Patricia Ackerman and English teacher Betty Schwartz who opened the door to help me realize my own potential. Public education is essential to the function of an effective society. The Heights Schools are a critical link in shaping our future and I am honored to associate with the district and its graduates.”

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.” ~ Benjamin E. Mays, civil rights leader

As a veteran of Capitol Hill and the Obama Administration, Patrice brings an equity lens to work across all spectra of her professional, civic, and personal life. With a profound understanding of critical work and life issues revolving around DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), technological savvy, as well as financial independence (particularly for women), Patrice always focuses on “lifting others” as she climbs. She has spent more than two decades working consistently dedicated to the needs of women, people of color, and children and adults dealing with the devastating impacts of poverty. Patrice’s first job after law school included making sure that the needs of Cleveland Heights residents and others living in greater Cleveland area east-side suburbs were met while she served as Chief of Staff and Counsel for the late US Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. She expanded her important work in the political sphere when she assumed the high-profile position as the Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus. While she may have moved her professional work into the private sector to hold increasingly responsible positions requiring expertise in strategic communications, government relations, public affairs, finance, and technology, Patrice continues to find time to volunteer and focus on helping others who may not have had the educational opportunities she had. When she is not in the office or a board room, you’re likely to find her at an ice rink sharing her love of ice-skating with the children of low-income families while she teaches them important life-skills.


JD, University of Wisconsin Law School

MA, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

BA, Case Western Reserve University

Current Occupation

Managing Director and Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Signal Group

  • Board Member N Street Village; Member, Economic Club of Washington

  • Top Lobbyist and Influencer 2020 “Lawyers of Color”; Board Member, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. It was most meaningful to serve the constituents of this congressional district for nine years on the staff of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and as Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus. Public service is an honor.