Geri received her Bachelor of Music degree from Ohio University (Summa Cum Laude), where she majored in Music Therapy and worked at The Music Settlement as a Registered Music Therapist/Intern Supervisor for five years.
She went on to receive a joint Master of Social Science Administration and Juris Doctor (Law Review, Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif) program degrees from the Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS) and the School of Law, respectively.
After law school, Geri joined the legal department at Forest City Enterprises (now Forest City Realty Trust), where she spent 27 years ultimately becoming general counsel, executive vice president and secretary for the last 14 years. In this role, she was responsible for all legal affairs for the company and had a leadership role in the company’s reorganization and transition to a Real Estate Investment Trust. As a member of the company’s executive team, she played a key role in executing the strategic plan, board and corporate governance practices and policies, as well as billions of dollars of capital markets transactions.
Through her years at Forest City, she continued her relationship with the Music Settlement serving in various positions including Chairman of the Finance and Governance Committees, member of the Development and Executive Committees and Board Chairman (2012-2015). She co-chaired the Settlement’s Centennial Celebration Year.
Some of Geri’s current professional affiliations include Cuyahoga County Community College (Board of Trustees; Investment Committee; and Access, Learning and Success Committee), University Circle, Inc. Board of Executive Directors; the CWRU Society of Benchers, 2007-present, (Chairman 2016-present); the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association; and In Counsel with Women.
Her current non-profit work includes service on the boards of the Sisters of Charity (Strategy and Evaluation Committee and Advisory Committee for Pay for Success); and Business Volunteers Unlimited (Executive Committee and co-chair of the Governance and Nominating Committees).
Geri has been recognized for her community service as a YWCA Woman of Achievement, Women Who Give Back (Kaleidoscope Magazine), the St. Thomas More Award (Lawyer’s Guild of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland), the Athena Award (Smart Business), Smart Living Award for the Arts (Judson), Humanitarian Award (The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio), a Crain’s Business Cleveland Woman of Note, Liberia Economic Development Initiative (“LEDI”) International Life Changers Award, and as a Rainmaker (Northern Ohio Live). She was inducted into the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights Hospitalier and awarded the “Geralyn M. Presti Endowed Chair for Music Therapy” (The Music Settlement).
She has also received recognition for her professional accomplishments, some of which include The Centennial Medal (CWRU Law School), induction to the CWRU Benchers Society, the Burton Legends in the Law Award (Burton Awards, D.C.), American ORT Jurisprudence Award, Public Company General Counsel Award (Crain’s Cleveland Business), Women Honoring Women Award (Association of Corporate Counsel and The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association), Ohio Super Lawyer (Super Lawyer’s Magazine), Top General Counsel Award (2013 and 2014) (First Chair, Chicago), Top Attorneys of Cleveland, and the Harry Schloss Award (Forest City Realty Trust, Inc.).