Meet Tiana Lawrence, MKI’s New Program Associate ~ Year-End Reflections

While working with the Mel King Institute's Public Housing Training Program, I have witnessed and taken part in its expansion into the Resident Leadership Academy. Through this work, I have had firsthand experiences with residents working through the challenges and successes of building an authentic sense of community, social capital, power, and ensuring sustainable resident-focused organizing efforts.

The work of the Resident Leadership Academy has been increasingly crucial to creating transformative and ongoing growth in the lives of residents. Working directly with residents has been an experience like no other, as they bring an abundance of diverse lived experience, charisma, curiosity, and dedication to the mission and goals of the Resident Leadership Academy. As a trainer and a point of contact and support for residents, I have had lively one-on-one conversations, compelling Core Team Trainings, and uplifting roundtables and webinars that have supported residents in stepping into their power.

The ability to foster and maintain relationships with and amongst the statewide resident network is key to moving the needle in this work. As the residents breathe life into the Resident Leadership Academy, their active and consistent participation in our programs impact them at both the micro and macro level. Through our programs, residents have worked tirelessly to strengthen and exercise their voice and power in their Housing Authorities, on their boards, and as leaders in their communities, showing success in all areas. The worth in this work is seen during trainings and webinars where residents challenge the status quo, ask necessary questions, engage with the information presented, and walk into their confidence. 

The beauty of the Resident Leadership Academy is the moments of impact in the personal, social, and communal lives of the residents; the moments where you see knowledge and skills being applied, voices being shared and heard, connections deepened, fears overcome, and a growth and radiance in a resident’s sense of self. The allure of the program is its ability to provide ongoing support, knowledge, and resources for residents as they turn their dream of higher quality life in housing into a reality.