J'Tanya Adams, Charlotte, North Carolina, nominated by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership: Undaunted by challenges such as her duties as a single mother, unemployment and care for a terminally ill father, Adams has become a powerful and effective force for change in her neighborhood. Among her achievements is the development in her community of a dynamic center that includes student housing, community conference space and the first neighborhood café and only non-fast food dining establishment within two miles. Likewise, she spearheaded the founding of Historic West End Partners, a nonprofit that promotes and preserves the cultural identity of the neighborhood. Under Adams' direction, youth are brought in for cultural activities, offering a safe and positive "escape" for neighborhood children.
Gloria Cartegena, Philadelphia, nominated by the North Kensington Community Development Corp.: Cartegena has become the "voice" of her neighborhood, securing resources and support for even the most marginalized. She has led a resident group, Somerset Neighbors for Better Living," into becomoing a powerful force for positive change—most recently by negotiating with city officials to respond proactively to a crisis in homelessness and abuse of drugs such as opioids.
Johnny Carter, Moorhead, Mississippi, nominated by Hope Enterprise Corp.: The Eastmoor neighborhood of the town, like many Mississippi Delta communities, suffers from an inheritance of economic, social and infrastructural inequities. However, Carter organized his fellow residents and "spoke truth to power." Led by Carter, the residents filed a federal lawsuit and forced the county, city and property owner to pave the streets, fix the sewage system and force enforcement of local codes. Today, homes are being rehabiltated and the residents' association is thriving.
Michelle Overstreet, Wasilla, Alaska, nominated by NeighborWorks Alaska: Overstreet is a powerhouse who has tackled the challenge of a growing number of suicides, drug abuse and homeless youth in her community in southcentral Alaska. With a passion for life coaching and helping young people grow into their best selves, she confronted this crisis after seeing a forced to sleep in his car, with no safe alternative at home. The centerpiece of her efforts is a nonprofit called MyHouse, which provides housing opportunities, employment training and access to food and other basic needs to homeless and other youth facing challenges.
Audrey Stubbs, Cleveland, nominated by the Famicos Foundation: Her passion is to work with youth to help them develop into community leaders who can make change. Acknowledging that many barriers can stand in their way, Stubbs has broadened her focus to the whole family, targeting issues such as violence and self-esteem.
Alame Uluave, Salt Lake City, nominated by NeighborWorks Salt Lake: The dropout rate among minority populations in the west side of the city was above 38 percent—an unacceptable fact that inspired Uluave to run as the first Polynesian in the state to serve on the school board. He served two terms and he achieved his vision to build new schools realign districts for more west side representation, giving residents a voice they never had before.