Bob O’Brien is the CFO for Forest City Realty Trust. He moved to Cleveland almost 30 years ago to take a job with a small real estate firm where he was to originate loans for some of their real estate projects. He expected to stay a couple of years to get some valuable experience before he likely would move back to Washington, DC where he lived prior to Cleveland, or back to Chicago where he grew up.
Bob’s career at Forest City blossomed as he moved from project financing to overseeing public capital markets to strategic planning and ultimately the CFO role. Forest City has provided him with great opportunity and he feels fortunate to have found a dynamic company that is making a difference in the communities in which it operates. Bob’s success has been recognized by his peers as he has won the Crain’s CFO of the year twice – in 2010 and 2015.
The move to Cleveland was also fortuitous since it is here where Bob met his wife Ann. Bob sometimes claims he got “stuck” in Cleveland because of Ann, but the truth is he can’t imagine his life in a better place. Bob & Ann have three children – the eldest two, Bob and Kathleen are “launched” in their first careers, and their youngest, Sara, is a freshman in college. He’s a very proud father.
Bob’s volunteer work reflects his love for Cleveland and its young people:
- Cleveland Development Advisors – Bob chairs this organization, an arm of the Greater Cleveland Partnership that raises capital to support catalytic investments in the city – think about East 4th Street, the Flats East Bank, Capitol Theater, Uptown and many others. http://www.clevelanddevelopmentadvisors.com/
- LAND Studio – Bob has been on the board of LAND Studio since its beginning as a merger of Parkworks and Cleveland Public Art. LAND does incredible work, best known for the transformation of Public Square, but their work is infused throughout the city – the Rock Boxes, #flockcle, InterUrban public art and much more. http://www.land-studio.org/
- Saint Martin de Porres High School – our future depends on educating our youth and St Martin utilizes a unique work/study model to educate young adults from some of the poorest families in Cleveland. Martin’s success in graduating 100% of their seniors and then getting them accepted and enrolled in college is a miracle that Bob is honored and proud to be a part of. http://saintmartincleveland.org/
Bob is excited to help GroundWorks with their 2017 annual celebration. He especially wants to “thank” his wife Ann and board member Denise Zeman for their cajoling him into agreeing to participate.