NLA Alumni Newsletter – Spring 2015

Creating Livable Communities

NLA Alumni Spotlight: Carol McClain, NLA 2013

Carol McClain (class of 2013) is introduced by Kara Lubischer in the opening session of NLA Class of 2014.

Carol McClain, NLA 2013, began her work with Grace Hill Settlement House and quickly took the lead in the “Turn on the Lights” campaign. As she listened to the thoughts and concerns presented at a town hall meeting, residents explained that increasing economic development, jobs, and housing were community priorities. Highest on the priority list, however, was the issue of safety. Carol took her previous community experience and the skills she developed through the NLA and went to work!

Carol began her role as the community’s Safety Committee Organizer, facilitating neighborhood meetings and getting the word out on the project. Engaging residents from diverse ages was one of her most exciting successes, with everyone from high school students to older neighborhood residents represented and involved.

With the neighborhood on board, Carol’s team decided to light up the streets as a deterrent for crime. The St. Louis Citizen’s Bureau was contacted to repair street lights. Ameren Missouri agreed to partner with Carol’s team and donated CFL light bulbs to the residents. Neighbors were encouraged to turn on their porch lights at night. The College Hill Safety Committee helped install more porch lights throughout the neighborhood and publicized contact information for the Citizen’s Bureau, empowering residents to keep the lights on in the future. While currently on hiatus, College Hill hopes to continue the Turn on the Lights campaign soon. 

Carol shared that NLA was critical to her success with the Safety Committee, especially the documentary on the Dudley Street Initiative, “Holding Ground.” She said, “It really impacted me and opened my eyes to what is possible. It taught me about strength in numbers and the importance of persistence, as well as hope – you can accomplish things when you come together.” She has a recommendation for other neighborhood leaders: “Always work with your community and listen to what the residents say they want.”

Carol spoke at both the opening session and the graduation ceremony for NLA’s class of 2014. We appreciated her insight in neighborhood leadership and look forward to seeing the results of her work in her new position at Veterans Affairs!

NLA News

Front row, from left: Kara Lubischer, director of the Neighborhood Leadership Academy, and 2013 NLA alum Liz Pund, Carol McClain and Judy Ricks. Back row, from left: Alderman Craig Schmid, George Jones, Jennifer Nefzger and Lisa Cagle, (NLA Class of 2013); and Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Members of the NLA class of 2013 were recognized by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen through a resolution for their contributions to the community of St. Louis. 


Cool Tool

Rise Community Development provides a data tool called the Neighborhood Data Gateway for the St. Louis Region in order to better equip community leaders. The tool is an interactive map that makes data on St. Louis neighborhoods more accessible and includes data on demographics, population density, and economic changes among other categories. To check out the Neighborhood Data Gateway, click here!

Tools of the Trade: Community Toolkit 

The Neighborhood Leadership Academy Community Toolkit provides a rich collection of techniques and resources for community building. Updated by the Creating Whole Communities team, the toolkit shares some of the "tricks of the trade" that can lead to more effective meetings, the implementation of community plans, and the creation of stronger organizations. NLA students now use the toolkit as a textbook and read it cover to cover! All NLA alumni and those interested in becoming more involved in community building will likely find this toolkit helpful. The kit can be downloaded in full or by chapter here.

NLA Alumni News

  • George Jones (class of 2013) – George recently received the Court Advocacy award from St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office! Congrats!

  • Debra Donner (class of 2014) – Congratulations to Debra who recently received the Citizen of the Year award from the City of Rock Hill! Debra has been working with the Alliance of Interracial Dignity and the All Faith women’s committee to bridge gaps throughout her community. In addition, Debra recently helped with the Rock Hill City Hall Holiday Luncheon. She shared that the skills she learned in the NLA have been a big help!

  • Gail Babcock (class of 2014) – Gail lead the Ferguson Youth Initiative "Project Mural," a collaborative art project connecting teens in Ferguson and the surrounding communities. The project created a mural of eight panels to spell out One Love and featured a heart on the eighth panel. The panels are displayed throughout Ferguson, and participating teens worked together to encourage residents and visitors to visit the sites of all the letters. For further information on a self-guided tour to view the mural panels, click here

  • Alumni Guest Speakers – We were honored to hear from many of our alumni returning to NLA as guest speakers for our 2014 class. Speakers this year included: Carol McClain (2013), Liz Pund (2013), Monica Huddleston (2003), Linda Hennigh (2011), and Heather Robinett (2010). Thanks to all of you for sharing your insight!

    Liz Pund (2013) introduces a neighborhood organization tool with guest speakers Monica Huddleston (2003) and Heather Robinett (2010).