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Hearcel F. Craig Biography

Senator Hearcel F. Craig serves the people of Senate District 15

State Senator Hearcel F. Craig currently represents Ohio’s 15th Senate District and holds the position of Assistant Minority Leader. Craig has an extensive background in public service at the state and local levels. Prior to being elected to the Ohio Senate in 2018 and 2022, he served in the Ohio House and on Columbus City Council. Craig serves as the Ranking Member on the Senate Insurance and Veterans and Public Safety Committees. Senator Craig also sits on the Senate Finance; Medicaid; and Rules and Reference Committees. Additionally, Senator Craig serves as Sergeant-at-Arms for the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

Senator Craig earned a Master of Science in Administration degree from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Franklin University. He also studied at Ashland Theological Seminary as part of their Master of Divinity program and was a Join Together National Leadership Fellow at Boston University School of Public Health. Senator Craig completed the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD) in 2015. He was certified as an NASD Arbitrator in 2007 and proudly served our nation in the United States Army from 1970 – 1972. Senator Craig has also completed Leadership Columbus, Leadership Ohio, the Ohio Executive Institute, and the Council of State Governments' 2023 Henry Toll Fellowship.

Craig’s career as a public servant began when he worked as a legislative liaison for the Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS). During his tenure at ODYS, Craig drafted legislation and secured legislative sponsorship for bills introduced in the Ohio General Assembly. One of the pieces of legislation he helped bring to fruition was House Bill 812, which secured $83 million for much-needed capital improvements to ODYS facilities. Senator Craig then served as Director of Recruitment & Admissions for City Year, where he worked to improve the lives of young professionals through service and leadership development. The City Year program recruits young adults to work full-time for one year on various social service projects around Columbus. As a result of his efforts, City Year corps members can receive valuable training and leadership skills that will benefit them later in their professional lives.

During his time serving on Columbus City Council, Craig was named President Pro Tempore and chaired committees that dealt with the city’s infrastructure, such as the Public Service & Transportation Committee, Small & Minority Business Development Committee, and the Recreation & Parks Committee. Additionally, Craig had the opportunity to chair committees that allowed him to interact directly with the people of Columbus. These committees included the Health & Human Services Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, where he continued advocating for the well-being of the community while meeting the needs of veterans, service personnel and their families. He worked tirelessly to connect veterans with existing services and resources in the community and created new initiatives, such as the Better Municipal Care for Veterans Home Fund, which helps veterans and their families make needed repairs to their homes. Since the beginning of his career, Craig’s priorities as a public servant have included creating access to a wide range of programs and services that enhance the quality of life for children, families, veterans, and seniors. He has remained committed to these values while serving in the Ohio Senate.

Senator Craig also has senior leadership and management experience in both the public and private sectors. As the Executive Director of the Hilltop Civic Council, he managed the comprehensive social service agency which served approximately 10,000 people annually in one of Columbus’ historic neighborhoods. During this time, he helped the Hilltop Civic Council administer its $1.2 million annual budget toward initiatives like a comprehensive community health care center, youth and senior services, a resettlement center for new Americans and a food and clothing pantry. Craig was also appointed as Auto Policy Issue Manager at JC Penney Casualty Insurance Co.

Throughout his career, Craig has volunteered his time as a trustee on numerous community service boards centered on education and is a lifetime member of the NAACP. He has served as a member of the Columbus Public Schools Equity Task Force; Columbus State Community College Department of Business, Industry Technology Curriculum Committee; Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance; Southside Learning and Development Center’s Board of Trustees; Ohio Hunger Task Force Board of Trustees; Columbus Cultural Arts Center Board of Trustees; and Prince Hall Masons. He previously served on the board of the Military Veterans Resource Center and as board chair for the Alliance for Cooperative Justice, Franklin County Prevention Institute, and State Education Committee for the Columbus Chapter of the NAACP.

Senator Craig has received a number of awards for his contributions to his community and Ohio, including the Columbus Public Schools Golden Ruler Award (1990); Foster O. Newlin Award by his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. (2003); Healthcare Hero Award, Columbus Neighborhood Healthcare Centers, Inc. (2009); Public Servant of the Year award by Community Shares of Mid-Ohio (2011); AMVETS Department of Ohio Legislator; Who’s Who Black Columbus Community Service Award; Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (2013); Greater Columbus Basketball Legends (GCBLA) Leadership Award (2019); People Like Me Project Inc.’s Lifetime Achiever Award (2023); Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) – Columbus Chapter 2023 Community Service Award; Brightside Academy's Ezra Beren's Drum Major for Education Award (2023); and the first-ever Distinguished Alumni Award from Leadership Ohio (2023). In 2015, Craig had the distinguished honor of being inducted into the Military Order of the Purple Heart for his continuous support of veterans. Craig also received the prestigious award representing USARYIS at the 9th Annual Gold Plate Dinner while serving in the U.S. Army.

Senator Craig and his wife, Linda, are the proud parents of four children, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Craig serves as an Associate Minister at the First Church of God and continues his dedication to Ohioans in his new role as Assistant Minority Leader in the Ohio Senate.

Senator Craig serves on the following Committees, special committees, councils and boards:

  • Insurance, Ranking Member
  • Veterans and Public Safety Committees, Ranking Member
  • Finance
  • Medicaid
  • Rules and Reference
  • Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Sergeant-at-Arms
  • Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC)
  • Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB)
  • Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JACRR)
  • Joint Legislative Ethics Committee (JLEC)
  • Legislative Service Commission (LSC)
  • Joint Property Tax Review and Reform Committee
  • Senate Select Committee on Housing
  • Ohio Commission for the U.S. Semiquincentennial
  • Ohio Commission on Minority Health, Vice Chair
  • Expo 250 Task Force
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Steering Committee
  • Ohio Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission
  • Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission
  • Midwest Legislative Conference Executive Committee
    Midwest Legislative Conference Education and Workforce Development Committee, Co-Chair
  • Developmental Disabilities Caucus, Co-Chair
  • First Business Caucus
  • Ohio Veterans Caucus
  • Ohio’s Children's Caucus
  • National Black Caucus of State Legislators