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Meet the 2019 Community Revitalization Fellows!


Gary, Indiana 


Sam Barnett


Community Involvement: 

Chair of Arts and Culture and Parks Committee, Gary Redevelopment Department Comprehensive Plan; Independent artist; Parks and Green Urbanism 

“I would like to see a series of tactical and very public approaches, drawn from the experiences of other communities, to increase responsiveness to residents’ concerns about dumping, mowing, litter removal, and



Nina Burton


Community Involvement: 

Founding member, PTSA West Side Leadership Academy; Lake County 4H

“I am highly invested in this community and will continue to work tirelessly to see it as a vital community once again.”


Freida Graves


Community Involvement: 

Faith Farms; Lake County Eats Local;  Gary Food Council; Gary Green Urbanism

“I would like to grow more food in our community, decreasing food insecurity. Then we will be able to educate more citizens about urban farming, which will lead to job growth, new housing opportunities, and revitalizing our neighborhoods.”


Devin Hall


Community Involvement: 

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.; NAACP; Urban League of Greater Chicago; Gary Community School Corporation Parent Teacher Association

“There is so much potential in Gary and I am working diligently to expose it and share it with the world.”


Andrea Kelly Ledbetter

Community Involvement: 

Volunteer Director of Community Initiative & Public Programming, Decay Detail, Inc.

“I believe education on historic preservation is the best way to deter crime that include property defacement, scrapping, and squatting in abandoned structures. When community cares about these structures and monitors them it reduces crime.”


Ola Morris


Community Involvement: 

The Urban League of NW Federation of Block Clubs; Block Club Coordinator; Love your Block Blight Elimination; Field Museum for Vacant to Vibrant

“Vacant properties could also be used as community sitting areas complete with a sitting bench, water splash for children and possibly a small sign that gives a brief history of the city or the community.”


Jackson, Mississippi

Shante Crockett

Community Involvement:

Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Executive Director; Jackson Water Coalition; Capitol Neighborhood Association; Midtown Parent Involvement Committee

“I help create change in the neighborhood in which I live through community engagement, housing improvements, economic development, and education.”


Heather Ivery

Community Involvement: 

President, Zoo Area Progressive Partnership; Advisory Council for Pecan Park Elementary School; Board Member, Working Together Jackson

“My neighbors and I struggle to provide a safe, nurturing environments for our children to grow in. I won’t stop until that struggle becomes a reality.”

Robin Kurtz-Lendner


Community Involvement: 

Chief Administrative Officer, Center for Social Entrepreneurship

“We recognize that most crime is economic driven and returning blighted housing to the tax base, creating opportunity for economic development, focusing crime prevention, and improving education will all result in revitalizing our area.”


Lorena Quiroz-Lewis

Community Involvement: 

Hinds Steering Committee Family First Initiative; Founder, Language Access Coalition; Violence Interruption Group; Water Coalition

“I have served counties throughout the state of Mississippi and have great energy for community work and inclusion. I’ve worked with immigrant communities, mayors, as well as intuitional leaders to find solutions to reducing health disparities

in my state.”


Valerie Tucker

Community Involvement: 

West Center Jackson Neighborhood Association; Housing Rehab Manager, City of Jackson; Volunteer, Jim Hill High School Basketball and Track Booster Clubs.

“West Jackson definitely has a severe blight issue. I hope to impact this issue with funding secured for the City of Jackson to eliminate blight.”


Nia Umoja


Community Involvement: 

Lead Organizer, Creative Director, Co-Founder of the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson

“We seek to change not only the look and feel of our homes, but to generate stability, health, wealth and wellness by creating the type of neighborhood community that we want of ourselves–one that is vibrant, self-determined, and full of opportunity that enable our youth and families to thrive.”


Newark, New Jersey 


Ihsan W. Ali


Community Involvement: 

President, Vernon Avenue & Leo Place Block Association; President, Clinton Hill Block Club Coalition; Clinton Hill Concerned Citizens; Journalist, South Ward View Newspaper


“Newark is a great historical city, and I would like to continue to give back and be a part of its revitalization and improved quality of life.”


Sonja Dabney

Community Involvement: 

Vice Chair for Quality of Life and Land Use, Fairmont Heights Neighborhood Association; Chair, Friends of Fairmont Heights Green Spaces

“I am grateful for all that I learned and gained from the hands on experience. It inspired me to continue supporting environmental issues in my community and share with others how they can do the same.”

Tony Hughes


Community Involvement:  

Vice Chair, Lower Broadway Neighborhood Association; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties; Mount Zion Baptist Food Pantry

“As a former employee of the city, one of my job responsibilities was the care of vacant properties. My trade is that of carpentry which I believe gives me a unique eye in viewing vacant properties.”


Johnnie Lattner

Community Involvement: 

Newark Chapter of RWJ Barnabas Health Community That Cares; Clinton Hill Concerned Citizens; New Community Solution Community Advisory Board; New Community Corporate Education Advisory Board

“I strive each and every day to work towards making our communities a place where youth can become the best they can be and older adults can be the example they want to leave



Victoria Lowery

Community Involvement: 

Founding member and Treasurer, Fairmount Heights Neighborhood AssociationCo-Chairperson, Strengthen the Community Committee; Newark Civic Trustee; Two-time award recipient of Neighbors Helping Neighbors

“I have lived in this community for 27 years and would like to see it be the great and safe neighborhood I know it can be.”


Yolanda Stokes

Community Involvement: 

Secretary/Community Liaison, Zion Towers Tenant Association; Chairperson, Greater Newark HUD Tenant Coalition; RWJ Community that Cares; Captain, Community Emergency Response Team

“Based on the trainings I have had wherever I go I encourage citizens to become more engaged in their neighborhoods and to enroll in training opportunities.”