By Katy Smith
Future 50 Class of 2020
About: Shannon Hardin, the youngest president to lead Columbus City Council in memory and the first openly LGBTQ council president in the city’s history, embodies the smart, open, progressive Columbus the city is striving to become. “President Hardin understands the intersection of identities as a black gay man, allowing him to prioritize those folks who have not always sat on the dais in Council Chambers,” a colleague says. He led community approval for restructuring the City Council to ensure all neighborhoods have the chance to be represented. Another of Hardin’s areas of focus is transit and development planning with the Insight2050 Corridor Concepts study: “We know that a million people are moving to the Columbus region, but we cannot add a million new cars to our roads.” Equity for boys and young men of color is one of Hardin’s commitments. Among other initiatives, he has worked to level the playing field for men of color in the justice system. Because they are disproportionately charged with marijuana possession, in 2019 council voted to reduce penalties for the charge to a low level—one that does not involve incarceration or large fines.
Outside work: Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials of Columbus, Young Democrats of America, Franklin County Democratic Party, National League of Cities Transit Committee co-chair.