Among those currently serving in the top levels of the government of the state of Ohio are Joe Zeis ’16 and Jack Marchbanks ’74. We gave them a call to check in on their current service and reflections on life at UD.
Joseph Zeis ’16 is serving as the senior advisor to the governor responsible for aerospace and defense.
Leadership, according to Zeis, is all about working together. Reaching out to others and engaging in dialogue allow for more opportunities.
“Part of what I try and do is provide daily outreach to leadership on behalf of the governor to bring communities together. There’s a lot we can do together for both Ohio and the nation,” Zeis said.
Zeis is responsible for preserving, protecting and defending Ohio’s federal defense installations, research institutions, and JobsOhio while supporting the governor and his office. He works with communities to develop strategies to improve not only the defense forces themselves but also the universities and local neighborhoods surrounding those installations.
Before obtaining a University of Dayton law degree in 2016, Zeis graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1981. He said he always loved flying but also had a passion for law.
“When I retired, I wanted to do three things: I wanted to spend more time with family, I wanted to continue to serve, as I hope I’ve been able to do, and I wanted to go to law school. The opportunity arose to go to the home team, UD, and it was the best choice I ever made,” Zeis said.
One of the most important things that being a Flyer provided Zeis, he said, was the ability to engage with people from a variety of backgrounds.
“The diversity of thought was probably one of the best aspects of law school, and that diversity serves me well,” he said. “The prime task that I have is really to listen. I listen to communities, understand their goals and then work with them to assist the governor in shaping those strategies.”
Jack Marchbanks ’74 is the director of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
When a $1.7 trillion system that never sleeps is counting on you, leadership skills need to be intrinsic. For Marchbanks, this is a daily responsibility.
Involved with every aspect of our transportation system, Marchbanks said he is proud to be a part of something so valuable for the state of Ohio. Building trust, thinking big picture and having an eye for achievers are integral to his leadership style.
“You have to be a condor and a Cooper’s hawk,” Marchbanks said. “You have to be a condor in the sense that you have to soar high and see the dangers and opportunities ahead. You also have to be a Cooper’s hawk that can swoop low, focus on detail and get things done.”
Marchbanks credits his inspirational professors, such as Aldon Gay, for providing him with the leadership skills he still uses in his job. He said his UD experience developed his detailed focus and an uncompromising desire to do his best.
While hugging his mom in UD Arena after graduating a year and a half early was his favorite memory, Marchbanks also mentioned a personal one — performing at a pledge show for Kappa Alpha Psi, an African American fraternity. Performing “I’ll Be Around” by the Spinners and a few songs by Earth, Wind & Fire, Marchbanks and his fraternity brothers drew quite a crowd to Kennedy Union.
“We were talented,” Marchbanks laughed. “We put on a concert and I played bass. Clarence ‘Chet’ Willis, who became a member of the Ohio Players, played guitar and Lovester Law, one of my best friends in life, sang. And we just slayed it. We were kings of the campus after that. We were so good that everybody came into the concert hall to ask what was going on.”