March 25, 2024 – Small Nation Project Manager Ann Donnelly was recently announced as a 2024 Leadership Ohio Fellow last Wednesday at a press conference at the Ohio State House in Columbus. Leadership Ohio is the state’s only leadership development program that connects diverse leaders from across Ohio to promote positive change. 35 leaders from across the state were selected and will convene from public and private sectors to impact future policy.

Donnelly grew up in a village in Miami County and currently resides in Ada. Her desire to homeschool her two children, manage her real estate projects, along with her passion for small towns and storytelling abilities led her to join Small Nation in 2021 as a consultant and project manager after serving for over 20 years in higher education. Small Nation, based in Bellefontaine, develops spaces, places, and dreams for small towns and small-town entrepreneurs across the country.

“We are so proud to have Ann selected as a Fellow in this year’s Leadership Ohio class,” Small Nation Founder Jason Duff said. “This is a well-deserved honor and a recognition that reflects her professional career accomplishments and the great work she is doing with us here at Small Nation.”

Prior to Small Nation, Donnelly served Ohio Northern University (ONU) in a leadership role on the President’s Cabinet as Executive Assistant to the President from 2011-2019. She served as the Alumni Director and the Campaign Manager for one of the largest campaigns in ONU history. ONU honored Donnelly in 2013 with the Distinguished Alumni Award. She is also a published children’s author, publishing her book If I Were a Bumblebee in 2021, available at Target and Barnes and Noble, and was an Associate Producer that same year of the feature-length documentary, Heart of an Ideal.

Over the next eight months, Donnelly and the Fellows will explore critical questions, engage in challenging social discourse, and identify opportunities that impact Ohioans and the communities in which they live and work.

“I am incredibly excited about the transformational impact this program will have on our participants, catalyzing positive change throughout Ohio,” said Shon Christy, president of the Leadership Ohio board of trustees. “The cultivation of leadership is not just a necessity, it’s a responsibility. We’ve spent months reviewing applications and conducting interviews to get us to this point.”

The Class of 2024 comes from a variety of sectors, including energy, transportation, education, economic development, arts, and more. These fellows live in different corners of the state and represent a spectrum of ideological and political viewpoints. The selection process includes an initial nomination from a Member of the Ohio House or Senate, the Leadership Ohio Executive Director, Board of Trustees, and its alumni, or a Senior Executive of Ohio Chambers of Commerce, followed by a competitive interview and selection process.

“We’re excited to welcome these distinguished changemakers who are on the leading edge of solutions for a future-driven Ohio,” said Lisa Duty, Ph.D., executive director of Leadership Ohio. “I look forward to the ways they will inspire lasting, positive change throughout our state.”

Once fellows graduate, they are inducted into the Leadership Ohio alumni network comprised of accomplished, diverse, talented Ohioans who are making a difference in their communities.

For more information about Leadership Ohio, visit

About Small Nation:

Small Nation develops places, spaces and dreams for small towns and small-town entrepreneurs across the country. They create revitalization concepts and plans for towns, create business concepts, brands, and workforce solutions, then market it all in the name of small-town success.

To learn more about Small Nation, visit or follow them on social media at @smallnationstrong.