Coalition Board Vote Bios

Open Communities Alliance's by-laws provide that up to 20% of the Governance Board seats are reserved for members of OCA's Coalition. These representatives are voted on by the Coalition members and approved by the current board. 

 

Bildade_Augustin.jpg      Bildade Augustin: I knew that as a single parent of a little girl I needed to figure out how to facilitate stability, and housing was a huge part of that. When I became a parent my daughter and I moved a total of 5 times in less than 4 years. Several of our moves were precipitated by our living conditions in Hartford. I had 2 vehicles stolen in a 9 month span, and I thought to myself, I can’t live like this. We then moved to another town, but anywhere outside of Hartford without the proper public transportation access was impossible. I struggled to provide financially for a period of time but eventually I was able to purchase a condo in a great suburb, purchase a car and stabilize our lives. Having lived in a town where I had experienced crime, it was definitely a huge difference living in a suburb that was still relatively accessible to work in the city, but also safer, and filled with activities and opportunities for my daughter and I to thrive as a family. We went to living in an area with 1 supermarket to a town where we lived between 2 major supermarkets, a few smaller markets, pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants, etc. I could walk to the park with my daughter and she could play outside, make friends, and get to know the neighbors.

I understand the importance of housing choice, because for a long time I also understood what it was like when your choices are limited. When you’re picking between the lesser of 2 evils either because you couldn’t afford a better situation, or because you didn’t know where to start. Open Community’s efforts are near and dear to my very experience and I’m hoping to be a part of a movement that facilitates empowerment through information and access. I’m looking forward to seeing families be empowered by choice and not dis-empowered by circumstances.

     

 

 

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Ed Bonilla: I am Vice President for Community Impact at Middlesex United Way in Middletown, CT. I manage Community Impact strategies and investments and I lead our advocacy work on the ALICE initiative (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) by educating the public about those who are experiencing financial hardship and advocating for strategies to help support them. I am also an adjunct instructor at Middlesex Community College in the Social and Behavioral Sciences division and I serve on several community boards and coalitions. I received my MBA and MS in Management from Albertus Magnus College and my BA in Sociology from UCONN. I also served in the United States Army Reserve.

Prior to coming to UW I worked in the nonprofit sector for approximately 22 years in a number of different capacities, from direct service to program development/management/evaluation. During that time I worked with and advocated for multiple populations; including but not limited to abused and neglected youth, youth and adults involved in the judicial system, and families seeking basic needs services. The one constant throughout my career has been a focus on addressing issues related to inequities and bias in service delivery and overall community conditions for disadvantaged and disenfranchised populations.

The work of Open Communities is not only consistent with my professional work, but also with my personal life. I was raised in a very poor and victimized neighborhood in New Haven, CT (I currently live in Meriden). While my parents worked hard to ensure that we had a good life, I eventually came to understand that growing up in a poor neighborhood limited my choices and opportunities in a number of ways, including but not limited to housing choice. I use this knowledge and understanding to help prepare my children and other family members who are our next generation to make choices that can lead them to better opportunities.

     

 

 

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Izzi Greenberg: My name is Izzi Greenberg, and I am currently the Executive Director of the Middlesex Coalition for Children, a group working to improve outcomes for low-income children (and their families) and children of color in Middlesex County.  In this current capacity I have been a participant and supporter of the Open Communities Alliance.  

Previous to this agency, I worked for 12 years at the North End Action Team, a grassroots community organizing and revitalization group focused on the North End of Middletown.  I started at NEAT as a community organizer and eventually became the Executive Director of the agency.  I was responsible for many resident-led organizing campaigns focused on school improvements, public safety, housing, and quality of life.
As someone who has organized communities from the inside, and organized agencies from the outside, I see the work of OCA as important because it suggests that there is more work to be done than simply improving our state's low-opportunity neighborhoods (still important!).
We need to open the door for people with fewer opportunities to move to areas that can provide them with more.  I am very interested in helping to move this agenda forward and look forward to working with your board in whatever capacity is decided.
     

 

 

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Joshua LaPorte: I'm a life-long resident of Hartford and, when many of my childhood friends who had the ability chose to move to the suburbs or out of the area altogether, deliberately chose to stay in the city.  While studying at Trinity College, I got involved in community organizing campaigns in the city and, after graduation, was hired to serve as the community organizer for the Parkville neighborhood.  It was hard work which I took very seriously, working long hours, knocking on many doors, and training lots of neighborhood residents in leadership skills to run meetings and demand accountability from city and state officials, landlords, and school administrators.  It was challenging, difficult, and extremely rewarding work.  

After lack of grant funding necessitated ending of my position, I was hired to work at the UConn School of Law Library.  During my decade of service at UConn, I have gained meaningful skills in legal research and writing, administration, management, and financial control.  A bit "burned out" after my community organizing days, I took a few years to refresh and have once again become more involved.  

I describe myself as an "accidental regionalist."  My heart is in Hartford, but I support 100% friends and neighbors who choose to find opportunities in the larger region.  I also realize that our region really functions as one economic unit, and I see the need to build greater diversity and decrease isolation throughout the Greater Hartford area.

     

 

 

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Patrick McKenna: Patrick McKenna works with Community Solutions at the Swfit Factory in the north end of Hartford since July 2014. He is project manager for the refurbishment of the 65,000 SF former gold leaf factory and coordinates food access and Placemaking work in the community. Prior to Community Solutions, Patrick worked as an architect for more than 10 years in his native Ireland and more recently with Centerbrook Architects in CT on a wide range of projects including residential, commercial, mixed use, cultural and education. Patrick is passionate about sustainable design, urban farming and the role that good design and building rehabilitation can have on the social, environmental and economic issues facing our most vulnerable communities. He was the Co-founder of Architecture for Humanity in New Haven, CT and the Co-chair of the building committee of the local Habitat for Humanity. Patrick received a BS in Architecture from Queens University in Ireland and a Diploma in Architecture from the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow, Scotland.

Patrick lives in Middletown CT with his wife and four daughters and four chickens where among other things he makes maple syrup, gardens and coaches youth soccer, Lacrosse and Gaelic football.

 

 

 

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John Selders: The Right Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr. is an ordained minister serving in the United Church of Christ, the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, CT, Associate College Chaplain, Trinity College, Hartford, CT and one of the leaders of Moral Monday CT.  For 15 years, he served Executive Director of Zezzo House (an 18 unit housing project) in Hartford, CT.

Bishop Selders is a founding member of Moral Monday CT, a grassroots statewide organization committed to a wide range of social justice issues. Bishop Selders has exhibited extraordinary commitment and dedication to a number of efforts that have afforded him the opportunity to travel across the country speaking, lecturing and conducting workshops in the areas of race, oppression and reproductive justice. He is a teacher, lecturer, workshop leader, an HIV/AIDS educator and activist with numerous citations for his work.

Originally from St. Louis, Bishop Selders has returned to his hometown after the events in Ferguson, MO to advocate for change.  In an interview with Connecticut Magazine, he says "I’m married to my bestie. We have two children and one granddaughter—and they are all why I do what I do,” says Selders. “To make the world better for them."

 

 

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