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Neighborhood Allies Launches The First Community Leadership Forum: an Evening of Relationship-Building and Excitement

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On Monday, October 19th, Neighborhood Allies convened their first-ever Community Leadership
Forum at the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center in the Hill District.


The Community Leadership Forum is made up of three community leaders from each of our six target communities: The Hill District, Hilltop Communities, Homewood, Larimer, Millvale, and Wilkinsburg. The Forum also includes two additional members representing the Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood that borders and is closely linked to the Larimer community. See the full list of leaders here.

The evening began with participants–the leaders of the forum and the Neighborhood Allies team– tasked with meeting three people they had never met before. Soon, across the room, conversation took over. Leaders and the staff began to form new and rich connections. Neighborhood Allies President Presley Gillespie welcomed the newly formed cohort and articulated the vital importance of community-informed decision making: “We need to have deep connections to you because your input and perspective will ensure that we are effective on the ground.” Shad Henderson, Program Manager of Community Relationships and Partnerships, built upon Gillespie’s words, sharing, “We created this forum so that we [the Neighborhood Allies staff and the community leaders] can learn together to reach common ground from which point we can build interventions and outreach.” 

Community Leadership Fellow Shikha Jerath shared the conceptual overview of the Forum as illustrated by the graphic below. The first phase, learn more about your community, is the foundation. The purpose of this phase is for leaders and the Neighborhood Allies team to learn together about their communities and develop a common understanding of the local conditions. In phase two, synthesize complex learnings and perspectives, leaders will identify and triangulate stakeholders, perspectives, and interventions to discover ways for new or improved collaboration. In phase three, connect to human and intellectual resources,  Neighborhood Allies will complement these ideas for collaboration with the resources, people, and learning that can bring them to life. During the event, Jerath revealed that the exact topics that the Forum will cover is determined by the leaders themselves.

“You are the crafters and sculptors of this Forum; what we learn and what we do will organically unfold as you learn more about your community and its great capacity.”

Shikha Jerath, Community Leadership Fellow

When you have a community plan in place, there should be collaboration between the community partner and the developer so that the plan represents what the community wants.”

Donna Jackson, Treasurer of the Larimer Consensus Group and Co-Captain of the Green Team

I am excited because I see this as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and implement tried and true strategies that can really improve our communities.”

Tia Torres, Youth Organizer at The Hill District Consensus Group

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