Subscribeicon-itunesVector Smart Object1

Subscribe to "This is Community" podcast


Bonus Episode: The Makings of a National Place-Based Movement

The research is clear: for too many Americans, zip codes determine destinies. In other words, the places in which we are born and grow up have a greater impact on our life outcomes than any other single determinant, including genetics. But is there a new movement taking place in community development, philanthropy, and policy that is responding to the overwhelming evidence of the importance of place in fighting poverty? This conversation was moderated by Othello Meadows, Managing Director, Portfolio Strategy & Initiatives at Blue Meridian, and took place in late 2020 at the Purpose Built Communities Virtual Annual Conference.



Geoffrey Canada

Founder and President of the Harlem Children’s Zone;

Geoffrey Canada is a leading advocate for children and innovator in the field of education. Canada grew up in one of the most devastated communities in the United States, the South Bronx, raised by a single mother. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, and eventually went on to earn a master’s degree at Harvard University. He vowed to help children who grew up in disadvantaged circumstances to succeed through education. Canada created the Harlem Children’s Zone, a birth-through-college network of programs that today serves more than 13,000 low-income students and families in a 97-block area of Central Harlem in New York City. The unprecedented success of the Harlem Children’s Zone has attracted the attention of the media and leaders around the world. In 2011, Canada was named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine and as one of the 50 greatest leaders by Fortune magazine in 2014. President Barack Obama created the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone model across the country, Canada has been profiled extensively in the media, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Forbes, among others.

Kwame Owusu-Kesse

CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone

Kwame Owusu-Kesse is the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). He has served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone since 2014.Hegrew up against a backdrop of poverty, single parenthood and family struggles, but was fortunate to have opportunities as a young boy to receive a high-quality education and reach his academic potential. He went on to get his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Harvard University and then begin his career at Morgan Stanley as an analyst. During his third year with the bank, he was chosen for an externship at HCZ. After completing this externship, Mr. Owusu-Kesse returned to Harvard to receive a Master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. As COO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Mr. Owusu-Kesse has been a key liaison between the programming, financial and administrative functions of the organization, ensuring that all are aligned.

Carol Naughton

Chief Executive Office, Purpose Built Communities

Carol Redmond Naughton is the Chief Executive Officer of Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving racial equity, economic mobility and health outcomes in communities across the country.

Purpose Built works to improve neighborhoods so that they become platforms that support families working to improve their lives.   Building on the framework developed during the revitalization of Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood, Purpose Built Communities works with local leaders to help them plan, implement and sustain holistic neighborhood revitalization initiatives that create healthy neighborhoods that include broad, deep and permanent pathways to prosperity for low income families.

For seven years leading up to the creation of Purpose Built Communities, she served as the Executive Director of the East Lake Foundation, the innovative nonprofit organization that serves as the “community quarterback organization” for the East Lake neighborhood.

Othello Meadows

Managing Director, Portfolio Strategy & Initiatives at Blue Meridian

Othello provides strategic and executional leadership on critical business priorities and leads innovation efforts which will expand Blue Meridian’s work as it evolves. He explores new philanthropic investment opportunities, leads due diligence on potential Blue Meridian investees and manages relationships with current investees.

In his previous role as President and CEO of Seventy Five North Revitalization Corp., a community revitalization and development organization based in Omaha, Nebraska, Othello oversaw the implementation of a $90 million community redevelopment initiative in addition to managing the direction and daily operations of the organization. Before this, Othello was Executive Director of the Omaha Workforce Collaborative, a non-profit housed at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, designed to restructure the workforce development efforts of the Omaha metropolitan area.


Eytan" Davidson

Vice President of Communications

Eytan Davidson has spent his career working with cities and nonprofits to promote equity and access to opportunity. As vice president for communications, Eytan helps promote the organization in order to grow the Purpose Built Communities Network and consults with Network Members on communications-related issues to help them achieve their objectives in their cities and neighborhoods. He also oversees strategic communications for the East Lake Initiative, working with the East Lake Foundation, Drew Charter School, Purpose Built Schools, and the East Lake Golf Club.

Previously, Eytan served as Director of Communications and Media Relations for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. where he led and executed the communications and marketing efforts of the Atlanta BeltLine, the largest urban redevelopment program in the City of Atlanta’s history, since 2008.

This is Community is created in partnership with HL Strategy. Our executive producers are Eytan Davidson and HL Strategy (Howard Lalli, Sherry Crawley, and Patty Gregory.) Our producer, director, and editor is Matt Honkonen. Mixing, mastering and music is from Pitchwire.