Tillery grew up in the city's West End and attended the University of Cincinnati in the 1960s, where he helped found the university's United Black Association and graduated with a degree in political science. He also holds a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Tillery served as mayor of Cincinnati from 1991 to 1993. He briefly ran for the Democratic nomination for Congress in 1992 before dropping out of the race in order to focus on his mayoral duties. He was a member of the Cincinnati City Council for many years, until 1998, when term limits forced his retirement. He remains active in the Democratic Party, most notably working on public health issues and supporting the election campaigns of African American candidates.
In 2004 Tillery founded the nonprofit organization The Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati to actively engage local hospitals, social advocates, and health care leaders to combat higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, HIV and cancer occurring in vulnerable populations. 
- Wilken, Dennis (August 1982). "Is Racism Coming Out of the Closet?". Cincinnati Magazine. p. 57
- Leavy, Walter (March 1992). "New Black Mayors Take Charge". Ebony. pp. 106–110.
- Ruffin Moore, Gina (2007). "Chapter Four: A Vote with a Voice". Cincinnati. Black America Series. Arcadia Publishing. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-7385-5144-9.
- "Cincinnati mayor quits district race". Portsmouth Daily Times. Scioto County, Ohio. Associated Press. 1992-07-11. p. A5.
- Wilkinson, Howard (1997-11-30). "Dems' hunger hard to stomach". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
David S. Mann
| Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio
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