Forty Under 40: Tiffany Graham Charkosky, 36 Senior project director, LAND Studio
Sometimes, life throws you a surprise that is both pleasant and lasting — like a career.
Just look at Tiffany Graham. She didn’t even know “urban planning” was a thing, let alone a career, when she was in high school and even through most of college.
“I didn’t know it existed until I was almost done with my undergrad,” she says.
She discovered it, accidentally, by doing it.
“I feel like I took the English major’s back-door way into this,” Graham said. “I was hired to research and draft what became the city’s (Cleveland’s) public art legislation and I loved doing that work so much I went to grad school for urban planning.”
Today, she not only is in the field, she’s excelling at it and can’t imagine doing anything else.
In her work, she focuses on public art in Cleveland. That includes projects related to the Percent for Art program — an initiative supported by the Ohio Arts Council to install art on public buildings around the state — as well other public projects and plans for art and public space improvement.
“Her current portfolio includes the beautification of the Midtown Corridor, Metrohealth’s Art & Medicine program, mural projects in the Gordon Square Arts District, the redevelopment of Shaker Square, and Irishtown Bend,” said LAND studio’s executive director, Gregory Peckham.
Graham said her job allows her artistic side to express itself while she also gets to do good for her community, which has always been important to her.
She’s hardly the office newbie these days, though. At 36, she’s been at her job for 15 years, so many of her co-workers regard her as the seasoned veteran, she concedes.
And at home, she’s Mom. Graham lives in her hometown of Lakewood with her husband, Brian Charkosky, and their sons, 9-year-old Ben and Andy, who is 6.
We’re guessing that at least Ben and Andy are allowed to draw on the walls
Hometown girl: Though she lived in Lorain County for a time, Graham was raised in and has almost always lived in Lakewood — along with her borther and sister, all of them living less than a mile apart.
Advice for would-be urban planners: “In my particular field, you need to be optimistic and look for things that bring joy to the community.”