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Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Awards

Celebrating Resident Leadership

For more than 20 years, the Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership award has been bestowed annually in recognition of outstanding contributions by dedicated community leaders. Awardees have invested their energies and talents to bring about specific change that positively impacts their neighborhoods and communities. Each of their stories and photos represents an important piece of our NeighborWorks history and serves as an example of what each of us can do for our community.

Origins of the Award

The award is named in honor of Dorothy Richardson, a pioneer in the community-based development movement who was the driving force behind the establishment of Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. in Pittsburgh, the forerunner of today's NeighborWorks network.
"I believe people get their roots down when they own their houses...take pride in them. That, in turn, is good for a whole city."   - Dorothy Richardson

Richardson and her neighbors banded together in the 1960s to save their declining Pittsburgh neighborhood from demolition. They recruited partners in local government and the business community. Together, they not only helped revitalize their community, but also set a precedent that changed the nation's approach to urban redevelopment and spawned the new field of community-based development.

2016 Winner Profiles

2016 winners
Debra Stanley stands in front of a potted plantDebra Stanley
South Bend Heritage Foundation

A willingness to empathize with the "other," including those in or recently released from prison, has been a trademark of Debra throughout her life. Today, she lives in South Bend, Indiana, and has extended her compassion to substance abusers, those at risk of AIDS, and other misunderstood and vulnerable individuals. Read Debra's story.

Deeqo Jibril wears a bright yellow cardigan and stands in a storeDeeqo Jibril
Urban Edge

What a long way Deeqo Jibril has come—from fleeing a civil war in her home country of Somalia at the age of 12, to hosting an iftar (a meal to break the fast during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan) with leaders of the Boston Police Department and the FBI. Read Deeqo's story

Don Feist wears a black cap and black jacketDon Feist
NeighborWorks Montana

"Everything is broken and the only way we are going to get it fixed is if we fix it," Don told the local newspaper about the 22-acre manufactured-home community that he lived in. "Everything is going to change now." And it did. Read Don's story.

Maria Elvia Salazar wears a striped shirt and stands in front of a tableMaria Elvia Salazar
People's Self-Help Housing

Elvia's community engagement went way beyond social events and homework help. When the city decided to drop a bus route upon which many residents relied, she swung into action. Read Maria Elvia's story.

Erika Cooper wears a yellow shirt and stands outsideErika Cooper
Neighborhood Housing Services

In 2010, Erika founded Uplifting a Life, essentially an "active parents committee." Its mission is simple: stop talking about problems and start fixing them. It started with movie nights and apple picking. Then it expanded to school volunteering. Read Erika's story.

Erin Sorensen stands outsideErin Sorensen
NeighborWorks Boise

Erin's first major project was the conversion of a vacant lot near her home into a community garden. Looking to recruit participants, she went door to door through the NeighborWorks' apartments across the street. Read Erin's story.

Manfred Reid stands outside, wearing a red tieManfred Reid
New Directions

In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a bird that dies in a "show of flames and combustion," then arises from the ashes to live anew. And Manfred Reid is a modern-day, human phoenix. Read Manfred's story.

Sandra Robertson is a black woman wearing glasses and a denim shirtSandra Robertson
Famicos Foundation

When she bought her first home in the Glenville neighborhood of the city in 1983, it was a food desert and vacant lots marked the area—a consequence of the blight and demolitions triggered by the housing crisis. What better way to use some of the land, Sandra thought, than for a garden the whole neighborhood could contribute to and enjoy? Read Sandra's story.

Dorothy Richardson Winner Archives

2015 winners
2014 winners
2013 winners
2012 winners
2011 winners
2010 winners