Alternate content for script

Press Release

Release date: 3/30/2022

NeighborWorks America Media

NeighborWorks America honors top change makers with award

Dorothy Richardson Awards for Resident Leadership recognize resident leaders who improve communities, boost equity

Washington, D.C. – As many communities of color continue to struggle to build generational wealth and cope with the ramifications of a lack thereof, one leader is helping reclaim land for Black families and correct past wrongs. Kavon Ward is one of six individuals NeighborWorks America awarded its annual Dorothy Richardson Awards for Resident Leadership in a virtual ceremony on March 30. All honorees are creating access to opportunities and helping develop solutions to critical community issues.

Resident leaders act as positive change agents in their communities and help fix problems. NeighborWorks America’s founding story is based on a resident-led, 1968 campaign for better housing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – led by Dorothy Mae Richardson. She had vision, commitment, and the endurance to address an important community need.

“This year’s Dorothy Richardson Awards for Resident Leadership honorees are working to create more equitable communities,” said Paul Singh, vice president of community initiatives at NeighborWorks America. “Through working with youth, expanding access to opportunities, helping people heal, ensuring food security, and more, they make neighborhoods better.”

Communities are more inclusive, resilient, and vibrant when residents are empowered to drive and maintain positive change. NeighborWorks America offers training and development opportunities for local resident leaders to empower them to create solutions to problems facing their communities. More than 15,000 resident leaders have participated in NeighborWorks America’s annual Community Leadership Institute.

About the honorees

Kavon Ward, one of the 2021-2022 honorees for our Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident LeadershipKavon Ward (Los Angeles, California) is helping close the generational wealth gap and start a national movement and conversation about stolen land. She formed Justice for Bruce’s Beach, a public awareness campaign about a small oceanfront park in Los Angeles County’s true history of racial discrimination, and co-founded an organization, Where Is My Land, dedicated to reclaiming Black-owned land.

Jerry and Elvira Ford, two of the 2021-2022 honorees for our Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident LeadershipJerry and Elvira Ford (Troy, New York) are keeping youth engaged after school. The couple launched a 501c3 called Team H.E.R.O., which stands for “Helping Everyone Recognize Opportunities.” Team H.E.R.O.’s flagship initiative is the Block Center, a mentorship program at the Boys & Girls Club that provides after-school meals and activities and helps respond to the violence in the community.

Jaime Pellicier, one of the 2021-2022 honorees for our Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident LeadershipJaime Pellicier (Ponce, Puerto Rico) is ensuring food security for communities in need. The retired farmer founded Farmers Forging Successful Agriculture, a nonprofit that teaches families, community organizations, and others how to sustainably fish and grow produce for food and home remedies. He also helps people market and sell their food; mentors aspiring farmers; and works with schools.

Jackie Sims, one of the 2021-2022 honorees for our Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident LeadershipJackie Sims (Nashville, Tennessee) is helping people find and keep affordable housing. A mental health professional and single mother who experienced homelessness herself, Jackie saw her move to Nashville as a new opportunity to help people. She became a community organizer and grassroots advocate, getting involved with several organizations, including the People’s Alliance on Transit, Housing and Employment (PATHE), an organization she now leads.

Khamar Abdullahi, one of the 2021-2022 honorees for our Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident LeadershipKhamar Abdullahi (St. Paul, Minnesota) is an ambassador for her fellow residents. Khamar moved into the Skyline Tower, a high-rise apartment building, when she came to the U.S. from Somalia almost 20 years ago. She and other resident leaders identified a need for a community park and green space near Skyline Tower and persevered until Midway Peace Park opened in 2021. During the coronavirus pandemic, Khamar helped distribute supplies and was an information resource for neighbors.

About NeighborWorks America
For more than 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 250 members in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks America offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation's leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment, and education.

Subscribe to NeighborWorks