MACDC Convention Inspires Fresh Optimism

MACDC Convention Inspires Fresh Optimism

October 2010
Joe Kriesberg

MACDC hosted its 5th Biannual Convention on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester and once again it was an inspiring and exciting event.  MACDC began hosting Conventions in 2002, shortly after I became the Executive Director, as a way to bring together the full spectrum of leaders in the CDC field – board members, residents, and professional staff; Nonprofit allies, funders and public officials;  long-time leaders and emerging ones; black, brown and white; young and old; urban, rural and suburban. Everyone is welcome.

The Convention is a unique event that combines learning, celebration, dance, speeches, awards, theatre and political action - and it's my favorite MACDC activity! This was the first year we held the event outside of Boston and more than 400 community development leaders and allies joined us for the day. There were many  highlights.

  • We hosted a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum with Deval Patrick, Tim Cahill and Jill Stein (Charles Baker was invited but declined to attend) in which they articulated their agenda as it relates to affordable housing, small business development and community development. All three spoke against Question 2 which would repeal the state’s primary affordable housing law. They also expressed support for the Small Business Technical Assistance program and for supporting CDCs as critical community building agents. Governor Patrick summarized his achievements over the past four years by highlighting the $1.2 billion affordable housing bond bill, the two foreclosure bills he signed, and the Affordable Housing Preservation bill that he helped bring to the finish line after 15 years of failed efforts. MACDC and our members take pride in the fact that we helped win passage of all four of these bills.  I was particularly pleased that Governor Patrick was able to join us in Worcester on the same day that he was holding a rally with President Obama in Boston.
  • As we have for each Convention, we organized the “CDC Roll Call” during which each member highlights one recent achievement. The Roll Call is always one of the most popular parts of the day as it demonstrates the tenacity, effectiveness and enduring optimism of our amazing members.
  • The Convention also featured artistic expression as the Improv Theatre group True Story Theatre  helped us to share our stories in new ways and the Movement City youth dance group from Lawrence energized the crowd with an inspiring dance performance.
  • The Convention is also a place for learning and we organized seven workshops on a wide range of topics from youth employment and public health to advocacy, immigration and board development.
  • We released a new report Community Development Goes Green: How MACDC Members Are Embracing Environmental Sustainability.
  • Informal networking is another key piece of the Convention and judging from the evaluations we received our members really enjoy the opportunity to meet with their colleagues. This is especially true for CDC board members who have many fewer options to talk with their counterparts across the state.  I think we achieved our goal of providing a morale boost for people working on the front lines of community change.

Finally, the convention is our opportunity to say congratulations and thank you to some of the outstanding leaders in our field. This year, we presented awards to Senator Susan Tucker, Worcester City Councilor Barbara Haller, Harbor One Credit Union, Mossik Hacobian, Dan Gelbtuch, Quynh Dang, Maddie Ribble, Kevin Johnson, Mickey Northcutt, Casey Starr, Courtney Koslow, and Brian Pastori.

Indeed, the awards ceremony provided perhaps the most meaningful moment of the day for me personally. Richard Thal presented the Richard Smith Award to Mossik Hacobian who has served Urban Edge  and the residents of their community for over 30 years. Richard’s inspiring and heartfelt presentation, and Mossik’s generous acceptance remarks, demonstrated how much Mossik means to the lives people in the neighborhood and to all of us in the field. The standing ovation that followed was well deserved and brought a tear to my eye.

Jeanne Pinado and David Thibault-Munoz then presented our Rising Star Awards to seven young leaders under the age of 40. Seeing this diverse group of leaders walk on stage one by one provided powerful evidence that the CDC field is blessed with both experienced  leaders who continue to build on decades of achivement and vibrant, intelligent and innovative young leaders who are ready to build on our field's legacy and make it their own. At that moment , I felt as optimistic as ever about our future and my tears were replaced by chills as the crowd applauded and cheered.

We are on the move, I thought.  And we are all marching forward together.

Community DevelopmentJoe KriesbergState Policy