Our Initiatives

Assata-Nicole Richards

“My passion is to make a positive and lasting impact on the communities that made it possible for me to succeed, earning my PhD as a single mother and first-generation college student. It is critical that we leverage power on behalf of people who have historically, and continue to be, underserved by our political and economic system.”

Assata-Nicole Richards is a scholar, community organizer and tireless advocate for social and economic justice in Houston. As executive director of the Sankofa Research Institute, she works with nonprofits, local leaders and funders to study opportunities for progress, communicate best practices and inform effective public policy. She is also chair of the Emancipation Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), a community-led collaborative to revitalize the historic and culturally rich African-American neighborhood of Third Ward, and an adjunct professor at the University of Houston.

Richards has a long history of leadership on critical community development issues. She has served as the vice chair of the Houston Housing Authority board of commissioners and co-chair of the housing subcommittee for Mayor Sylvester Turner’s transition team. She helped to co-found the EEDC, the Houston Housing Collaborative and the Houston Community Land Trust, and she is currently assisting with the launch of several cooperatively owned community businesses in the Third Ward.

Richards has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and earned her master’s and PhD in sociology from Pennsylvania State University, with a concentration in political and community participation, research methods and mass incarceration. She was on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, before coming home to Houston to support community development plans and programs.


Sankofa Research Institute, Houston

Area of Focus:

Comprehensive Community Development

Fellowship project:

Develop a values-driven cooperative business that will provide services to people with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities, and improve the lives of caregivers, as an anti-gentrification strategy to protect residents from displacement.

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