This year’s winners of the Michael Rubinger Community Fellowship award, the third cohort since the program’s inauguration in 2017, are passionately committeed to leveling barriers that stand in the way of equity for our country’s most vulnerable populations. The fellowship will enable each of the ten community leaders to pursue a cutting-edge project that furthers their personal and professional missions. “It is critical that local expertise and engagement are not just quietly nurtured but actively and persistently supported,” said Michael Rubinger, LISC’s former CEO for whom the fellowship is named, adding that this year’s fellows demonstrate, loud and clear, “the capacity to push the boundaries of the community development field so it can do more, do it faster and do it better.”
Rubinger Fellow Juanita Woods is a community development practitioner and city council member in Monroe, LA who specializes in helping people skill up to take on living-wage jobs with local employers. She spoke with LISC about her fellowship project to provide apprenticeships for young people, the challenges of wealth-building in historically underserved communities, and the inspiration she gets from empowering youth on their life journeys.
Kelly Orians is an attorney, a 2019 Rubinger Fellow and the co-director of the First 72+, a ground-breaking New Orleans re-entry program for people returning from incarceration. Orians spoke with LISC about the state of criminal justice in Louisiana, the challenges and successes her clients experience, and how her organization is helping lift the burden of entrenched bureaucracy and predatory debt that keeps so many people from gaining real freedom after release.
In Richmond, Virginia, 86 percent of students don't take part in after-school activities—in many cases because they have no way of getting there. Damon Jiggetts, executive director of the Peter Paul Development Center and a 2019 Rubinger Fellow, has devised a new kind of bus company that could change all that, connecting youth to the kind of enrichment every child deserves.
There’s a new kind of board at LISC, composed of a diverse crew of younger professionals who are leaders in their fields. Their mission? To bring fresh perspectives, networks and attention to LISC’s work and help us achieve even greater impact in the communities we care about.