Few people in the world of community development got their start as early in life as Lahela Williams, a 2019 Rubinger Fellow who serves as the deputy director for Hawaiian Community Assets. Williams was barely a teen when she joined the board of her homestead association, a group that promoted safety, education and other quality-of-life issues for the Native community where she grew up on the island of O’ahu. That first job helped lay the foundation of a career dedicated to nurturing Hawaiian community leadership, as well as financial and personal empowerment for her fellow islanders.
When natural disasters strike—as they increasingly have—there are profound differences between response and recovery in rural areas and urban ones. On the eve of the annual Rural LISC seminar (this year in Monticello, New York, June 4-7), vice president and Rural LISC director Suzanne Anarde published an article in Shelterforce about helping community-based organizations better respond when disaster hits, boost rural resilience, and support communities in preparing before disasters befall them.
As she steps into her new roll as COO for LISC, Annie Donovan, former head of the CDFI Fund, shares some reflections on the current promise—and challenges—of doing community investment, the origins of her personal commitment to service and creating equitable opportunity, and the reasons she decided to come to LISC.
Ricardo Flores, ED of LISC San Diego, published an emphatic op-ed in the Voice of San Diego about the desperate need for more local and state spending to alleviate homelessness. As in nearly every part of the country, San Diego’s homeless population is growing, and last year suffered a Hepatitis A outbreak. “Today’s homelessness crisis has the potential to worsen into a catastrophic public health disaster,” warned Flores, explaining that preventive strategies, housing and support services demand much greater investment to head off a larger crisis.
Last year, LISC launched its newest subsidiary, the SBA-guaranteed lender immito, to scale our ability to reach and support underserved small businesses and help spur job growth across the country. Julie Huston, immito’s founding president, is a seasoned small business expert—in fact, she recently testified before Congress re: new budget proposals that would hamper small business entrepreneurs’ access to credit. We caught up with Huston at her base in Denver to learn more about immito, the economic and social power of small business, and why all this is so close to Huston’s heart.