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OCCDF Public Service Scholarship

This scholarship fund was initially established by the Ohio Conference of Community Development (OCCD) to honor two men who dedicated their careers to Public Service.

Gary Locke attended the University of Akron and graduated with a Master's Degree in Urban Planning. Mr. Locke was employed with the City of Kent for 32 years. He served as Director of Community Development until 2012. He was President of OCCD in 2004. During that time he championed professional development for OCCD members and initiated the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) certification program for Ohio.

William Graves attended The Ohio State University and earned three Masters Degrees in Public Administration, Planning and Engineering. He was with the Ohio Department of Development, completing his tenure there as Director of Community Development. He spent several years with the City of Columbus completing his career at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2012. He was recognized both within Ohio and nationally for being an excellent administrator of public funds and programs.

This new scholarship acknowledges Karen Kerns Dresser, who had long and distinguished career in housing and community development.  Karen graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from Barat College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and with a Master's Degree from the American University in Washington, D.C.  Karen’s career began at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. Next, she worked for the National League of Cities, where she often traveled to advise city mayors on affordable housing issues. She returned to Ohio to head the Office of Local Government Services at the Ohio Department of Development, and was later appointed Executive Director of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Karen served as President of the National Retirement Housing Trust before returning to the Community Development Division of the Ohio Department of Development. Karen ended her formal career as Director of Policy and Program Services for the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing.  Karen continued to provide part-time assistance to the National League of Cities, the Enterprise Foundation, and to her own neighborhood long after her retirement, encouraging and coaching young people, especially women who were seeking public sector careers.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicant must be a resident of Ohio
  • Applicant must attend an accredited university in Ohio and meet the following requirements:
    • Undergraduate students: must be a third- or fourth-year undergraduate student enrolled full-time in Fall 2024
    • Graduate student: entrolled in a graduate program part-time or full-time in Fall 2024
    • Must be enrolled in a field of study that prepares students for a career in public service, including public administration, planning, public finance or related field
    • Applicant must be in good academic standing


  • A maximum of $2,000 paid directly to the awardee's university
  • One-year student membership to OCCD


  • Application packets are due by 5 pm on Friday, May 24, 2024
  • Awardee(s) will be notified by June 10, 2024
  • Awards will be presented at the July 2024 Annual OCCD Meeting

Application Components

  • Cover page (click here to download)
  • Up-to-date transcript
  • One-page essay addressing why students wants to enter public service
  • Two recommendation letters - one from a professor and one from a community member - addressing student's dedication to a future in public service

Application Submittal

Applications should be sent electronically to the OCCD Foundation at or by mail to OCCD Foundation President, P. O. Box 776, Urbana, Ohio  43078For more information, please contact the Foundation at 937-652-3523.

P.O. Box 776
Urbana, Ohio 43078
Phone:  (937) 652-3523
Fax:  1-866-728-4581
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