LISC, Mayor Gray honor nine community leaders for visionary work revitalizing D.C. neighborhoods

Sep 24, 2012, 13:42 ET from LISC

September 24th event celebrates DC LISC's 30th anniversary

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mayor Vincent Gray will join the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (DC LISC) today to recognize nine community development trailblazers who have fueled economic growth and transformed the quality of life for people in long-distressed Washington, D.C., communities.  The celebration—which marks DC LISC's 30th anniversary—begins at 6:30 p.m. at Arena Stage. 

The nine honorees include:

  • Jim Banks, long-time housing advocate;                               
  • Jim Dickerson, founder of Manna, Inc.;
  • Retta Gilliam, former executive director of East of the River CDC;
  • Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, former chair on Economic Development for the DC Council;
  • Karen Kollias, senior vice president of American Security Bank, Nations Bank;
  • Madeline McCullough, former director of the DC Office of Enterprise Community Partners;
  • Robert Moore, president and CEO of the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights;
  • Chris Smith, chairman and CEO of William C. Smith + Co.; and
  • Lloyd Smith, president emeritus and CEO of Marshall Heights Community Development Organization. 

Each of them is featured in a new book published by DC LISC called Becoming What We Can Be, chronicling three decades of community development progress in the city.  The book unfolds through 60 oral histories gathered from those who have lived the evolution of community development here, both from the public and private sectors. All along the way, DC LISC has walked with them, investing more than $100 million since 1982 to help eliminate blight, improve schools, build affordable homes and health centers, and improve community safety, among many other things.

"These individuals have had a significant, lasting impact on the people and places in our city.  And yet they are largely unsung heroes," said Oramenta Newsome, executive director of DC LISC, and herself a veteran of decades of community development work.  "We celebrate their commitment.  We marvel at their capacity to rally communities and spur change.  We thank them for their many years of partnership. But, we also recognize how much still needs to be done.  All of our residents deserve the chance to live well in safe, vibrant, growing communities.  We continue that work every day."

Joining the mayor in paying tribute to LISC and the nine honorees will be more than 200 representatives from local nonprofits, developers, community investors, foundations, and elected officials. 

Becoming What We Can Be was written by Tony Proscio—a long-time community development storyteller.  It includes such vignettes as "The Awakening of H Street" and an analysis of financial institutions' impact, as they discovered the value of investing in low-income neighborhoods. The book will be available in hard copy and online through Kindle, Nook and iPad.


Washington, DC LISC is one site of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's largest community development support organization.  Our mission is to help neighborhood residents create healthy and sustainable places of choice and opportunity – good places to live, work, raise children, and conduct business. We mobilize corporate, government, individual donor, and philanthropic support and invest these resources into the projects, programs, and initiatives that build on the assets and address the challenges of the neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.  For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Oramenta Newsome,
Executive Director, DC LISC