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Cohear Bridgebuilder Spotlight: Pastor Daniel Hughes

Creating Spaces Where People Belong


“We don’t want to just create a space where people feel welcome. We want to create a space where people feel like they belong.”


Daniel Hughes was born in Lima, Ohio. Most people consider that the “country.” He wouldn’t disagree.

Like many African Americans during the Great Migration, Daniel’s family left the South in hopes for a better life in the Midwest. They knew they wanted land-- and they were able to find it in Roundhead, about 20 minutes outside of Lima.


While there were other black families in Lima - where his family split their time pastoring a church - Daniel recalls being the only black family in the small farming community of Roundhead. It was a hard way to grow up, he remembers.

“I was too white to be black, and too black to be white. I felt like I was supposed to be projecting something to fit in and be accepted as opposed to just being myself.”


In reflection, Daniel believes that his experience of not “fitting in” is one of the reasons he was drawn to the work he does now as a Pastor of Incline Missional Community-- which he describes as an inclusive, mission-based church.


“We don’t want to just create a space where people feel welcome. We want to create a space where people feel like they belong.”

The church serves a multiracial, multiethnic population including Price Hill’s growing Guatemalan community. They also offer their physical space for community use. They are a part of the AMOS Project and work to support returning citizens. The church community is also passionate about learning more about trauma informed care.


Daniel describes much of the work that he and his church community do as “justice work.”


In addition to pastoring a church, he personally facilitates conversations related to social justice and equity throughout Cincinnati. For him, justice work is less about asking “what does this community need?” and more about asking “what does this community deserve?.”


Daniel met Dani when he first came to Cincinnati. Daniel was new to the city, Dani was returning to the city- both wanted to connect with people in similar spaces.


“Both of us were interested in building bridges and community organizing so it was perfect timing.”


Daniel kept in touch with the Cohear (then “Bridgeable”) team- doing his best to connect them with people in his community who he felt would benefit from attending various conversations.


After attending a Duke Energy conversation, he agreed to be a part of Duke’s Customer Insights Committee.




“I’m really happy to be at the table,” said Daniel. “I enjoy how diverse the group is and appreciate the fact that my contributions are about me. I don’t feel like I have to speak on behalf of the entire black community.”


This year, Daniel and his community will continue to focus on establishing a culture in their community where people can connect, serve, and simply share when they are having a bad day.


We’re grateful to have him as a Bridgebuilder and we love how committed his is to what he simply calls “the work.”


“There’s no one particular category,” he said. “I’ve just always been drawn to work that develops community.”