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For Immediate Release: 9/27/2018
Shawn Sheu
215-427-0350 x107

Kensington's Gloria Cartagena receives National Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership

Photo by Chris Baker Evans

Philadelphia, PA -— Philadelphia resident Gloria Cartagena has been selected as one of six national recipients of the 2018 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership by NeighborWorks America. She was nominated by New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) for her work organizing and amplifying the voices of her neighbors in the face of the surging opioid crisis and increased homelessness in Kensington.

"We rarely have the opportunity to celebrate a community leader like Gloria at this large of a scale," Tess Donie, Associate Director of Community Engagement at NKCDC, said. "NKCDC is incredibly grateful to be working side by side in the Kensington neighborhood with Gloria, as we see the impact she's had on our staff and the neighborhood each day."

During her tenure as President, Cartagena has made the Somerset Neighbors for Better Living a powerful force of advocacy to bring additional resources to the neighborhood and grow critical partnerships. Cartagena has brought City officials to the table for solutions-based discussions about the homelessness and drug use in the neighborhood, negotiating with them to respond proactively to the crisis. In her work as a block leader and a Community Connector with NKCDC, Cartagena has been essential in advancing key strategies and projects of the organization's North of Lehigh Neighborhood Revitalization Plan (http://www.nkcdc.org/north-of-lehigh/).

"I never expected to win. I was so emotional [when I heard] because I do this work for my community, not for the awards," Cartagena said.

NeighborWorks America will recognize Cartagena and the other honorees at a ceremony Oct. 12 in Houston during its Community Leadership Institute, an event that strengthens the skills of local leaders through training and networking. NKCDC will send a team of eight resident leaders, including Cartagena, to the institute to develop an action plan for a local improvement project of their choosing. NeighborWorks America supports selected projects with a seed grant.

Photo by Lowell Brown

With her optimism and unfaltering ability to see a positive future for Kensington, Cartagena has worked innovatively to recruit even her most hard-to-reach neighbors. She was integral to the success of NKCDC's partnership with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, which kicked off a multi-year commitment to bring healthy home repairs to Kensington blocks in the fall of 2017. Leading up to the initial block build on Somerset Street, Cartagena conducted outreach to hundreds of families around home repair resources. Because of her incredible recruitment efforts, NKCDC was able to leverage additional home repairs in Kensington last year for a total of 33 homes.

"Gloria connects with the community from the heart. She has an extraordinary ability to treat every neighbor like family, listen to the point that they feel understood, meet people where they are, and help them envision a future for themselves," Donie said.

Photo by Lowell Brown

Cartagena has also been on the forefront on developing a model for trauma-informed, block-by-block community development in Kensington. Over the last year, Cartagena has been part of a team of resident leaders working with NKCDC and Impact Services Corporation to co-create a trauma-informed training curriculum. Now, Cartagena is putting her training to work by organizing her neighbors and strengthening the social network of her micro-community through activities such as wreath-making workshops. By breaking down barriers and increasing social cohesion, the model aims to drive sustainable neighborhood change one block at a time.

The Dorothy Richardson award was named for a Pittsburgh resident and pioneer in the community-development movement who was the inspiration for the creation of the agency that eventually became NeighborWorks America. For more than 20 years, the award has been bestowed by network members to honor outstanding contributions by dedicated community leaders.

NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities, supports a network of more than 240 nonprofits, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. NKCDC is a member of the NeighborWorks network. For more information about the 2018 Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Awards, visit www.neighborworks.org/drawards.


New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) strengthens the physical, social, and economic fabric of Kensington, Port Richmond and Fishtown by being a catalyst for sustainable development and community building. Over the last three decades, NKCDC has developed a multi-faceted approach to neighborhood revitalization rooted in community leadership, vacant land management, creativity and arts, and strategic real estate initiatives.

About NeighborWorks America
For nearly 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. (d/b/a NeighborWorks America), a national, nonpartisan nonprofit, has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and safe, affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $34 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

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