SOURCE: Neighborworks America

NeighborWorks America

October 20, 2015 11:10 ET

NeighborWorks America Trains Community Leaders and Honors Local Heroes

Awardees Include Former Juvenile Delinquent

LOUISVILLE, KY--(Marketwired - October 20, 2015) - NeighborWorks America celebrates resident leadership through its annual Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award. Throughout the year, the organization works to strengthen resident leadership through the Community Leadership Institute and local activities.

The annual Community Leadership Institute strengthens the skills of residents identified by nonprofits as local "change agents" and provides seed grants that allow them to implement action plans when they return home.

NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities, supports a network of more than 240 nonprofits, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Participants from around the country attend the Community Leadership Institute in teams of up to eight people chosen by NeighborWorks organizations.

At the institute on Oct. 15-18, NeighborWorks America saluted this year's Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award honorees. This year's awards honor seven individuals from each region of the country for their contributions to their communities. The award was named for a Pittsburgh-based pioneer in the community-development movement who was the leading force behind the creation of the agency that eventually became NeighborWorks America.

"This year's honorees are individuals who see a problem and not only step up to say, 'I can help,' but take the lead to recruit others," said Paul Weech, chief executive officer of NeighborWorks America. "From the safety of their streets, to the nutrition of local foods, to housing of the homeless, these self-made community leaders are making a difference that paves the way for others."

Among their stories:

  • Angela Bannerman Ankoma from Providence, RI, whose parents emigrated from Ghana, founded the Sankofa Initiative-a project that celebrates residents' diverse cultures; increases the supply of fresh, healthy produce; and boosts the city's economy. Operated under the umbrella of NeighborWorks' West Elmwood Housing Development Corp., the project received $300,000 from the Rhode Island Department of Health's Centers for Health Equity and Wellness to create a weekly "world market" that attracts residents from across the city.
  • Billy Palmer from Salt Lake City, UT, today is chair of the YouthWorks Committee for the NeighborWorks Salt Lake's board of directors. However, he was first introduced to the program for troubled youth when he was 16 and in and out of jail. YouthWorks trains teens in employment and life skills and, in return for a stipend, puts them to work to revitalize and beautify the community.
  • Apostle Vanessa Ward, Omaha, NE, was tired of feeling ashamed and scared of her own street, which was "ruled" by gang members. She decided a block party was needed to take their street back and walked right up to the gang leader to get his cooperation. More than 20 years later, the block party is still going strong and the community is crime-free.

More information about the Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award honorees can be found at

About NeighborWorks America

For more than 35 years, NeighborWorks America has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $24.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Lindsay Moore