In October 2021, a cohort of 9 fellows began their leadership development journey in Woodlawn United’s Woodlawn Effect Fellowship Program with the desire to improve the community and give voice to traditionally underrepresented community members.
After participating in 14 weeks of sessions centered around developing skills such as effective communication and team-building and learning subject matter including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Economic Development, the fellows celebrated their commencement with friends and family at SocialVenture on May 11th, 2022. The evening was a powerful testament to the Fellows' growth as leaders and their tremendous passion for the community.
(WE) Lead, funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, was developed to address the Woodlawn Community’s gap in access to leadership development opportunities. The fellows’ time in (WE) Lead refined and developed the leadership skills they already possessed and challenged them to step outside their comfort zones. Fellows are not only prepared to assess, identify, and solve problems in the community now; they have already begun developing their plans.
As a part of the closing ceremony, each Fellow presented a project that will solve a problem and positively impact the community. Projects included ideas from an outdoor classroom for i3 Academy to new nonprofits that reduce youth violence and help former inmates re-enter society.
Special guests J.T. Moore, Councilor, Birmingham City Council, District 4, and Derrick Billups, Board Member, Birmingham City Schools, District 4, joined a leadership panel moderated by (WE) Lead Program Coordinator Myeisha Hutchinson. The panel shared about leaders they admire and their leadership journeys and reminded (WE) Lead Fellows that leadership comes with the responsibility of influence.
To close out the evening, Woodlawn United Director of Community Engagement Jason Meadows charged the graduating class to continually challenge themselves to be better, to listen to people and problems, to find a team, and be a voice to the voiceless.
Congratulations to the inaugural class of (WE) Lead Fellows: Aimee Castro, Leah Davis, Brenda Holifield, Lamartra January, Valencia King, Timothy Lanier, Sylvia Mooney, Samantha Nelms, and Eric Perry!