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Organization lifts up leaders to become community problem-solvers

  • Sr. Christine Stephens, co-director of the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation, sits at the Oak Creek Village Apartments in Austin, Texas. Behind her is Jacob Cortes, lead organizer for Austin Interfaith, the foundation member organization that empowered Koreena Malone, center, to preserve the 173 affordable units in her apartment complex. (Nuri Vallbona)
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Koreena Malone knew she couldn't do it alone. The single mother of three didn't know how she could lead the charge to save 173 affordable housing units at her apartment complex. But if she did nothing, she risked losing her family's apartment on a quiet tree-lined street that was close to her children's school. 

"I begged people -- I can't do this right now," Malone said. "I was studying for the CPA, I'm a mother. I was like, someone else has to take this on. There has to be somebody else."

There wasn't.

But Austin Interfaith saw it differently. At a gathering with the complex's tenants and the neighborhood association, Jesse Posner had identified Malone as a leader.

Posner was the lead organizer of Austin Interfaith, a part of a regional community-building network known as the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation. Posner was at the meeting to do what Sr. Christine Stephens, co-director of the foundation, had trained her to do: spot leaders who could find alternatives to tearing down the Oak Creek Village Apartments.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.
A version of this story appeared in the Aug 1-14, 2014 print issue under the headline: Lifting up leaders .

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