Last week, I started a new era at Isles, becoming our second CEO.
For forty years, Marty Johnson led Isles with a unique vision and personal commitment. He built a dynamic, compassionate organization that created and tested new ways to meet an audacious mission - family self-reliance and healthy, sustainable communities.
Our guiding principles that successfully shaped Isles’ work over the years will not change in this new era. We’ll train and educate youth and adults through Isles Youth Institute and our Center for Energy and Environmental Training. We’ll make homes healthy and efficient, support families working to build wealth, grow gardens and work alongside communities to plan smart, livable, and healthy communities.
This year has certainly tested all of us. For those we serve, especially so. COVID-19 deeply impacts health, jobs, homes and incomes. Gun violence still grips many neighborhoods as continued frustration with unequal criminal justice and broken institutions generate protest and anger.
How does Isles lead in these turbulent times?
First, we continue and adapt on-the-ground work that bolsters family self-reliance and community. This work ensures safer streets, homes, and workplaces that are threatened by virus, violence, or systemic racism.
Second, we keep listening and evolving. What do families and communities need and want today? We honor those demands by bringing both the research on what works, as well as the resources, training, and connections useful for those we serve.
Third, we grow our influence. After forty years, we’ve learned a lot from the wisdom of the grassroots and research. As a result, we have an obligation and opportunity to take a place at the table with policymakers, fellow community organizations in statewide efforts. With Isles’ Social Profit Center opening this Fall, we’ll expand our efforts to bring groups and leaders together to collaborate and lead.
I’m so excited to join this seasoned, impressive team to guide the next generation of Isles. We stand on the broad shoulders of those who built Isles from the ground up, with valuable allies and supporters from across the region and beyond. We couldn’t be here without this large village, and we’ll need you by our side in the years to come. Join us as we re-think how community building work is done in today’s New Jersey.