Home » Press Releases » Eighteen Community Leaders Chosen for National Community Revitalization Fellowship (Press Release)

Eighteen Community Leaders Chosen for National Community Revitalization Fellowship (Press Release)

May 9, 2019


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About the Community Revitalization Fellowship 
About Center for Community Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Today, the Center for Community Progress announced the inaugural cohort of its national Community Revitalization Fellowship. Eighteen community leaders, six each from Gary, Ind., Jackson, Miss., and Newark, N.J., were selected through a competitive application process. In total, 40 communities applied to participate in the Fellowship.

The Community Revitalization Fellowship equips grassroots community leaders to lead projects and advocacy efforts to revitalize the vacant properties in their neighborhoods. The majority of Fellows serve their neighborhoods in a volunteer capacity, through block clubs, neighborhood associations, or similar groups.

The Fellowship connects neighborhood leaders to the sort of training and leadership development typically available only to community development professionals, helping to “level the playing field,” boost the visibility and impact of resident-led efforts, and support more equitable revitalization outcomes.

“The eighteen Fellows have demonstrated passion, leadership, and commitment to making their neighborhoods safer, more vibrant places,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins-Butler, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “We’re honored to support them in their efforts through the 2019 Community Revitalization Fellowship.”

Over the course of the nine-month Fellowship, Fellows gain knowledge about neighborhood stabilization and revitalization strategies, strengthen their on-the-ground projects or advocacy efforts, and build stronger relationships with their peers, local organizations, elected and government officials, and others. In 2019, the Fellowship will focus on vacant property revitalization strategies that improve public safety.

The Fellowship includes a series of learning exchanges over the course of nine months, in which Fellows visit each other’s communities to learn from their respective resident-led neighborhood revitalization efforts. In between each learning exchange, fellows meet together in their own communities. Each Fellow sets goals – either for on-the-ground projects on vacant properties or advocacy efforts – to work on during the Fellowship. An Institutional Partner, typically a foundation or nonprofit organization based in each community, provides guidance and mentorship to that community’s Fellows.

Grant funding from The Oak Foundation provides the primary support for the Community Revitalization Fellowship.

The 2019 Community Revitalization Fellows and Institutional Partners are:

Gary, Indiana

Institutional Partner: Legacy Foundation


Sam Barnett  

Nina Burton

Freida Graves

Devin Hall

Andrea Kelly Ledbetter

Ola Morris


Jackson, Mississippi

Institutional Partner: Foundation for the Mid South


Shante Crockett

Heather Ivery

Robin Kurtz-Lendner

Lorena Quiroz-Lewis

Valerie Tucker

Nia Umoja


Newark, New Jersey

Institutional Partner: Greater Newark LISC


Ihsan W. Ali  

Sonja Dabney

Tony Hughes

Johnnie Lattner

Victoria Lowery

Yolanda Stokes

More information about the Community Revitalization Fellowship and the 2019 Fellows is available here.

About Center for Community Progress

The mission of Center for Community Progress is to foster strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Founded in 2010, Community Progress is the leading national, nonprofit resource for urban, suburban, and rural communities seeking to address the full cycle of property revitalization. The organization fulfills its mission by nurturing strong leadership and supporting systemic reforms. Community Progress works to ensure that public, private, and community leaders have the knowledge and capacity to create and sustain change. It also works to ensure that all communities have the policies, tools, and resources they need to support the effective, equitable reuse of vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties. More information is available at

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