Through Thick & Thin...They Made It

As you know, the first seven months of 2020 have thrown us quite a few curveballs. To follow the guidelines for gathering groups of people, NLDP could no longer connect with our Cohort XIII participants in person. The COVID-19 Pandemic combined with the pandemic of racial inequity and social justice issues in our country did not dampen Cohort XIII's spirits; rather, the two major pandemics encouraged our participants to keep doing good for their communities. Cohort XIII showed their true selves and their genuine commitment to Cleveland in the last half of their journey as NLDP participants. They found new and creative ways to serve their communities while remaining committed to growing their leadership through NLDP.

We are thrilled to announce that despite the many challenges and roadblocks the COVID-19 pandemic placed on their experiences as cohort members, Cohort XIII has graduated from The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program. The new graduates, similar to the larger network of NLDP Graduates, are courageous in their pursuits and dedicated to seeing Cleveland thrive for generations to come.

NLDP Cohort XIII - you are resilient and innovative. We are excited to welcome you into the NLDP Graduate Family and cannot wait to see what you do next in Cleveland.

Laylah Allen, Cleveland
Sasha Beckette-Abdullah, East Cleveland
Erika Ervin-Acy, Glenville
Carl Ewing, Glenville
Julia Ferra, Cleveland
Anna Hartzell, Edgewater
Renee Major, Cleveland
Anastasia Martinez, Clark Fulton
Shanelle Moon, Hough
Roscoe Morgan, Cleveland
Lisa Quinn, Cleveland
Denyelle Rashid, Hough
Ricardo Reinoso, Cleveland
Jeannette Relaford, Hough
Bianca Rozenblad, Cleveland
Bailey Smith, Glenville
Brandy Smith, East Cleveland
Makanya Smith, East Cleveland
Beth Steele-Radisek, Cleveland
David Van Horn, St. Clair Superior
Stephen Wahome, Lee-Harvard
Ashley Welch, Cleveland
Demetrius Williams, Cleveland
Elana Zollars Almaleki, Clark Fulton
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program has postponed recruitment for Cohort XIV. We are planning on recruiting participants for Cohort XIV in 2021.
Facts About NLDP
Calling All Grads: Join a Non-profit Board

NLDP is pleased to announce we will soon begin the matching process for Phase Two of our Graduate Board Match Program. The Graduate Board Match Program, or GBMP, is a program designed to match the interests of our graduates with the needs of non-profit organizations. The purpose of GBMP is to match graduates looking to implement the leadership skills they learned in NLDP with organizations in need of more quality board leaders.

Currently, 32% of NLDP's 253 Graduates serve on the boards of one or more non-profit organizations. GBMP's Phase Two will provide more graduates the opportunity to prac tice and grow their leadership skills through serving on a Non-profit Board of Directors.

If you are interested in serving on a Non-profit Board, contact Julia at   to fill out an interest form!

We would like to highlight successful matches of NLDP Graduates to Non-profit Boards in Cleveland through our Graduate Board Match Program. Dawn Johnson, Cohort X, was placed on Union Miles Community Development Corporation's Board through Phase One of GBMP. Congrats Dawn!
"In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other . " - Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
NLDP Graduates Pushing Forward in the Midst of COVID-19

NLDP Graduates work in every neighborhood in Cleveland to make the city a better place - the pandemic didn't stop this. Our graduates are committed and tenacious community leaders. They are the leaders Cleveland needs; the leaders that seek to make effective change in their communities through everything they do.

Our graduates adapted to the COVID-19 Pandemic by adjusting their current programming and starting new projects to serve the current needs in their communities. We would like to highlight a few of the many graduates who faced the roadblocks from the COVID-19 Pandemic with boldness and determination.

  • Dawn Johnson, Cohort X, served weekly meals to students in East Cleveland to ensure they had access to nutritional food during the COVID-19 school closure. Dawn did this through the Emergency Feeding Program when she served as Food Services Director before being promoted to Health & Wellness Coordinator at East Cleveland City Schools.
  • Nozomi Ikuta, Cohort III, provided food and overnight shelter at her church, Denison United Church of Christ, for those experiencing homelessness. Nozomi continued to provide shelter through the COVID-19 Pandemic and implemented healthy practices to keep the volunteers and guests safe.
  • Jim Stone, Cohort III, joined FEMA as a volunteer paramedic in New Jersey. He has since returned to Cleveland after being diagnosed with Coronavirus. Jim encourages others to stay healthy by practicing social distancing and other recommended habits.
  • Chrishawndra Matthews, Cohort X, began handing out thousands of books to children in underserved neighborhoods in Cleveland to prevent what she calls "corona summer slide." Chrishawndra and her non-profit, Literacy in the H.O.O.D., received national attention for her efforts in addition to a donation of 1,000 books from Disney.
  • Gordon Martin, Cohort I, worked with the Councilwoman in his neighborhood to effectively feed residents in his community. Gordon increased the frequency of food drives at his church, POPCE Cleveland, to ensure families in his community were well-fed during the pandemic.

NLDP Graduates - you are an inspiration to all of us at NLDP and those around you. Thank you for everything you do to make Cleveland a better place.
Year of The NLDP Virtual Network

The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program is planning to launch our first-ever year-long Virtual Graduate Networking Project in September. These virtual capacity building and networking events are open to all NLDP Graduates, Cohorts I through XIII, and will be held via Zoom.

The virtual sessions will be held monthly and will last approximately 2-3 hours. NLDP's goal is to strengthen the capacity of graduates as they continue their community work while facing a multitude of challenges during the COVID-19 era.

NLDP wants to help graduates run faster towards their goals. These virtual sessions are aligned with NLDP's mission to enhance the diverse leadership abilities of engaged Clevelanders who are committed to creating a city and region which works for everyone.
"Every element of leadership implies interpersonal relationships." - Richard Couto
Carmella Goes to City Hall

Service to my community is natural but I had never envisioned myself running for elected office of any kind. However, those around me saw something in me that I did not see in myself and after years of resisting, the stars aligned in a way that allowed me to consider the idea. Our campaign consisted of peaks and valleys. We did some things really well but also made some mistakes that led to missed opportunities. We celebrated our victories and learned from our mistakes while continuing to move the campaign forward.

The campaign team, which was the foundation of the campaign, was an excellent group of political novices and savvy veterans. My position as a community leader allowed me to build relationships across the community and gave people an opportunity to know me. Over the years I worked with people in city government, the library, our schools and various organizations within the community. When I shared that I planned to run for office, I ended up with a network of supporters I never knew I would need.

My advice to anyone who might consider running for and holding a political office is to think about what you want to accomplish should you win. Then, share your thoughts with the people closest to you for their feedback. Keep a journal to jot down your thoughts, ideas, connections and experiences on the journey. Create a campaign plan and update it regularly. Finally, go for it. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard for facing fear and doubt is “do it afraid!”

Carmella Williams, Shaker Heights City Council
NLDP Cohort X
Graduate Shout Outs
Special congratulations to...

Joseph Duffy, Cohort XII, for being accepted as a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners with the American Planning Association.

Robert Gatewood, Cohort X, for being named an Unsung Hero by the Cleveland Public Library and being featured on Fox 8 News.

Michael Mishaga, Cohort X, for being named an Unsung Hero by the Cleveland Public Library and being featured on Fox 8 News.

Stephanie Wahome-Lassiter, Cohort VI, for producing a film written by a Cleveland youth through her nonprofit Art of Me.

Roshawn Sample, Cohort XI, for being featured in FreshWater Cleveland.

Jerome Baker, Cohort VII, for being featured on WKYC.

Chrishawndra Matthews, Cohort X, for being nominated for the Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award.
You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

Self-care is an important part of practicing a healthy lifestyle. During these trying and uncertain times, we encourage you to prioritize your own needs. Practicing self-care will benefit you and, as a bonus, your community work. Here are some ways to practice self-care to help you effectively continue the amazing work you do for your community :

  • Prioritize sleep.
  • Practice positive self-talk.
  • Stay active by taking walks in your neighborhood or practicing new-to-you exercises like yoga.
  • Give yourself a meditation break.
  • Prioritize social connection - call a loved one.
  • Listen to uplifting podcasts or music.
  • Try virtual therapy.
  • Adopt new health habits.
  • Try a new breathing technique to reduce stress.
  • Learn from this Ted Talk: How Boredom Can Lead to Your Most Brilliant Ideas.
  • Find more self-care tips here.
Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. ” - Martin Luther King Jr.
Coming Soon: The Latest NLDP Graduate Network Directory

The new NLDP Graduate Network Directory will be distributed to all NLDP Graduates by the end of this month. If you would like to update your project area, email address or phone number, please contact Julia at .
Recipes from NLDP Staff Kitchens: Corn Bread Bake

Corn Bread Bake
Recipe shared by Sandra Kluk, NLDP Program Administrator

Mix in a large bowl:
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 can cream corn
  • 1 can regular corn, drained
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 2 eggs (can add 1-2 more eggs for a fluffier texture)
  • 1 box Jiffy corn mix
  • OPTIONAL: 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (makes it moister)

  • Pour mixture into lightly greased (bottom only) 9 x 13 pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Serve hot.

Video of the Month: Concerned Citizens Community Council

To better market our videos on the NLDP YouTube page, we will be featuring one Graduate Grant video each month on our Graduate Alerts and Newsletters. NLDP Graduates who apply for an NLDP Graduate Support Grant have the opportunity to request funds for a marketing video. We will be featuring these Graduate Grant videos over the next several months so you can learn more about what other graduates are doing in Cleveland.

This month's video features Anita Gardner, C-V, and her organization Concerned Citizens Community Council. Watch here !
The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program is a Program of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.