Metro Atlanta’s Naeema Gilyard is one of five national recipients of NeighborWorks America’s Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership. Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership nominated Gilyard for her work in environmental activism aimed at creating healthier environments for neighborhoods in Atlanta and Fulton County.
Last weekend, NeighborWorks America honored Gilyard and the other resident leaders at a ceremony during the organization’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI) in San Francisco. Since 1992, NeighborWorks America has honored exemplary individuals who inspire solidarity in their neighborhoods through cultural and community-driven strategies and work with the Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership.
“Naeema is a passionate advocate for healthy neighborhoods,” explained Susan Adams, director of operations for Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership. “Naeema connected with ANDP in 2015, the first year of our resident leader training program. She came to us as an established force in activism and has continued her advocacy to this day – while also serving as a mentor and an example for our other program participants.”
Gilyard was nominated to recognize her years of service as a neighborhood leader and her recent work to improve the air quality in her City of South Fulton neighborhood. Her move from Atlanta to South Fulton was designed to take her away from the hustle and bustle. But when industrial development and an illegal landfill began to impact her community, Gilyard stepped up to help. She even served a term on the City Council, though she soon decided she could do more as a regular citizen – as a resident leader.
Her persistence paid off in November 2022 when the Environmental Protection Agency provided air monitoring equipment to assess the air quality impacting Gilyard’s neighborhood and areas impacted by the illegal landfill.
“Our 2023 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership honorees are creating access to opportunities and helping develop solutions to critical community issues,” said NeighborWorks America President & CEO Marietta Rodriguez. “It is my honor to recognize them and hold them as an example to everyone that we can all inspire and improve our communities — we only need desire and support. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to our network of affiliates who are doing the work in the community and who nominated our honorees.”
The award was named for Dorothy Mae Richardson, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania resident and community development pioneer who inspired the creation of the agency that eventually became NeighborWorks America. She worked with her neighbors to address the history of redlining and disinvestment in their community.
Gilyard participates in ANDP’s “Neighbors Together” leadership training initiative, inspired and supported by NeighborWorks America’s Community Leadership Institute. Each year, five Atlantans are selected to attend NeighborWorks’ Community Leadership Institute and return to metro Atlanta to work with ANDP to create a local leadership training event.
Since 2015, nearly fifty metro Atlanta neighborhood leaders have attended the national training and returned to create a local training event. More than 1,000 neighborhood residents, predominantly in Atlanta’s south metro, have participated in the regional training events, typically held in June.
ANDP’s Neighbors Together 2023-24 class includes Maria White-Dumas, City of Atlanta; LaDonna Hampton, Clayton County; Keisha Jeffcoat, City of Mableton, City Council, District 3; Zakiyah Morris, City of East Point; and Nakia Romans, City of South Fulton.
Learn more about ANDP and its Neighbors Together program at www.andpi.org/nt.
About Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. (ANDP)
A chartered member of NeighborWorks since 2013, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership is a nonprofit organization that develops, finances and advocates for affordable housing at a scale that promotes racial equity and healthy communities where families thrive. Now in its 32nd year, the organization aims to further reduce the Black homeownership gap and increase access to affordable rentals with its “Closing the Gap: 2,000 units by 2025” campaign. Connect at www.andpi.org.
About NeighborWorks America
For more than 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 250 members in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks America offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation’s leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment, and education. Connect at www.NeighborWorks.org.