We look forward to Halloween as a time to embrace the creepy and the spooky. It’s a time to welcome the jack-o-lanterns, the black cats and the wicked witches, who hover above the city on broomsticks and haunt us with their resonating cackle. But far better than wicked witches, there is another “wicked” group who roams the city year round. Instead of bringing terror, they build and strengthen neighborhoods. Instead of casting spells, they advocate for change. They are Women in Community Development, or as we call them WICD.
“Communities do better when they tap into women’s unique abilities for building capacity and resiliency,” says Dr. Paulette Meikle. “Women should be viewed as agents of change and advocates of success.” She argues that women bring a focus to quality of life issues, and can provide unique responses in the face of social injustices.
In Baltimore, we have an extensive list of women who have dedicated themselves to leading and supporting initiatives that address specific community issues. Among them are women like Ellen Janes, Executive Director of Central Baltimore Partnership. She has served at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, and for the Neighborhood Design Center where she created innovative and community-based programs. Another strong member of this group is Odette Ramos. Now the Executive Director of the Community Development Network, she started Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance and was the founder and CEO of Strategic Management Consulting. In her consulting position and currently as an advocate she has aided many grassroots organizations (including St. Ambrose) with their efforts to address housing, education and people with disabilities to name a few.
In an editorial for the Baltimore Sun, Ramos talks about the great need for community development. She explains,
“Many people work hard but can’t afford decent homes in their communities. Many of our friends, relatives and neighbors need a boost in preparing for or finding jobs. Families across the state need assistance in landing on their feet after a foreclosure. And many of our neighborhoods — urban, suburban and rural — need new energy and investments to spur private investments.”
Read the full article here to learn more about the impact of community development in local neighborhoods.
We can’t list all of the impactful women here today, but think about the women in your network and we bet you know someone who qualifies for WICD. Be on the look out for our future conversations with more of the WICD group. And join us in celebrating these amazing women, because being WICD is far from being bad!