LISC National
Fall 2019
Oramenta F. Newsome Fellowship

The Fall 2019 Oramenta Newsome Community Development cohort features five nonprofits that were chosen due to their commitment to LISC's mission of advancing equity in DC, specifically within the Elevating Equity Impact Area.

  • Bright Beginnings is dedicated to meeting the immediate needs of children and families living in homeless environments by providing children with a safe, nurturing educational environment, preparing children to enter kindergarten ready to learn, and supporting parents to stabilize their home lives and become self-sufficient.
  • Calvary Women's Services ensures that women have access to the proper trauma-informed healthcare and educational support they need to take positive steps toward independence. These programs include transitional and permanent housing, personalized case management, life skills and education opportunities, job training, health and wellness services, on-site therapy and daily addiction recovery meetings.
  • Housing Counseling Services provides comprehensive housing counseling, training, advocacy, technical assistance and housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income home buyers, home owners, and tenants; to help them achieve successful living in healthy, safe, and affordable homes. The goal of HCS is to prevent homelessness and increase sustainable housing opportunities by providing the skills, self-esteem and empowerment necessary within families and communities.
  • Mi Casa envisions a world where families and individuals have access to affordable and sustainable housing. Their mission is to provide affordable housing in the Washington, DC area to foster healthy and thriving communities. Mi Casa also provides development consultant services to community and tenant organizations.
  • Yachad brings communities together by preserving affordable homes and revitalizing neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia and the greater metropolitan area. Yachad means “together” in Hebrew, and that is how they do their work through partnerships with homeowners, houses of worship, nonprofits, and other community stakeholders. They mobilize skilled and unskilled volunteers, invest financial resources, and, through their work together, transform people and properties.

LISC's fellows encompass a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds, and were all chosen for their commitment to community development and improving the lives of those around them.

Brenda ContrerasBrenda Contreras is partnering with Mi Casa, Inc. to help collect demographic data for The Genesis Intergenerational program in order to better understand tenants living in the community. She is currently attending UC San Diego with a major in Political Science along with a minor in Urban Studies and Planning. Brenda also serves on the board of directors for Alumni 360, an organization dedicated to helping low income students with scholarship acquisition and financial literacy. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, Zumba, traveling, and stand-up comedy.


Ezell BattleEzell L. Battle, a native of Portsmouth, VA, returned to the DC metropolitan area a few years ago and is currently completing her fellowship at Calvary Women's Services.Prior to leaving the area, she served as an executive director of DC One Church, One Child for seven years.Additionally, she served as an associate minister at Zion Baptist Church in Washington, DC.  She is a graduate of Howard University and Wesley Theological Seminary. She is an alumna of the George "Mickey" Leland Hunger Fellows Class of 1995-1996. She has worked for more than 20 years in non-profit and faith-based organizations developing and coordinating numerous initiatives for a variety of populations including children in foster care, survivors of domestic violence, abused children, homeless families, and at-risk youth for which she has received outstanding recognition.  

Katharine LandfieldKatharine Landfield is a long-time social worker in DC who believes that low-income black and brown children would do exponentially better if their parents had better economic situations and political power. Although she has loved her years working directly with working class families, she believes that working for structural change in economics and policy is critical for equity and community well-being. Katharine is currently partnering with Yachad, supporting the organization’s home remediation work. When Katharine is not at work, she is probably day dreaming about recipes, hikes, home repairs, and travel plans.


Lukas PiselLukas Pisel is a Master in Public Policy candidate at Georgetown University interested in housing policy and its influence on urban inequality. As a Newsome Fellow, he is working with Housing Counseling Services to assist tenants in the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase process. Outside of LISC, he is working on the first large-scale study of evictions in Washington, D.C and writing a thesis paper on the relationship between gentrification and evictions in D.C. neighborhoods. Before coming to Washington, Lukas attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and studied economics and public policy. 


Xavier RobertsXavier Roberts is excited to be in the inaugural class of the Oramenta Newsome Fellowship at LISC and gain further experience in community development and social justice work through partnership with Bright Beginnings' Fatherhood Initiative. At the same time, Xavier is gaining Hill experience as an intern in Congresswoman Kathy Castor's office (FL-14).Previously, Xavier taught English Language Arts at DC Prep in Washington, DC. He has also taught special education in Social Science and English in Hawaii, and elementary education at Turner Elementary School in DC. Through teaching and other experiences, Xavier developed an interest in working on the issues that impacted the disenfranchised communities in which he taught, including food insecurity, affordable housing, democracy issues, and criminal justice reform.Xavier graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Global Development Studies and earned his teaching certificate from Johns Hopkins University School of Education. He is also currently enrolled at the Ivy Yoga School to earn his yoga teaching certificate.