As a leading community organization in Baltimore, BUILD already has a strong relationship with Johns Hopkins, working with the university and health system to improve job prospects for city residents. But this fall, Melvin Wilson, who co-directs BUILD's jobs program, got an opportunity to go deeper.
"I received a personal letter from Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels, inviting me to sit on a new council," Wilson says.
He was one of about a dozen local community leaders, city officials, and entrepreneurs who received that invitation. In December, the new advisory council met for the first time to introduce themselves and look ahead to their task: to guide Johns Hopkins' strategy for economic inclusion, from a community-centered perspective.
The council was specifically formed to assess and improve HopkinsLocal, the ongoing effort from Johns Hopkins to create opportunities for city residents by hiring, buying, and building in Baltimore. Through brainstorming and official recommendations, the HopkinsLocal advisory council will explore how new policies could help Johns Hopkins further support the economic growth of its home city.
"I think the opportunity to serve the citizens of Baltimore, and have a seat at this table, is important," says Wilson, who co-directs the Turnaround Tuesday program at BUILD, helping returning citizens and unemployed residents find jobs. Wilson says he brings to the council "a vested interest in the people of this community, … those who live in the footprint of Johns Hopkins, particularly ex-offenders."
Anita Hammond, who directs the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare, or BACH, views her seat on the council as a chance for her organization to be part "of the collective conversation and collective goals and solutions ... for a better and stronger Baltimore."
Launched officially in 2015, HopkinsLocal to date has helped the university and health system spend an additional $113 million locally, hire more than 1,400 Baltimore City residents, and commit tens of millions of dollars of its construction spending each year to minority-owned, women-owned, or disadvantaged businesses.
The need for an advisory body to inform this effort became clear as HopkinsLocal advanced beyond its initial three-year phase, according to Kylie Patterson, director of economic inclusion at Johns Hopkins.
"We knew it was important to give local leaders a direct voice at the table, to make sure Johns Hopkins is actively engaging and to help us strategize about our vision ahead," Patterson says. "We began the journey by pursuing a crowdsourcing campaign, and this is a natural evolution to take this engagement to the next level."
She says the group nominated to the council is a varied mix of representatives. "We have diversity in race, gender, age, and background, all with a common vision to improve the Baltimore community," she says.
The full council, listed below, also includes three internal JHU employees. Patterson leads the council, along with Alicia Wilson, vice president of economic development at Johns Hopkins.
Following the council's first gathering in December, the group now plans to meet on a quarterly and ad-hoc basis to discuss the future of HopkinsLocal.
"This needs to happen. Community leaders need to get together and have this conversation: What does change look like?" says advisory council member David Rosario, board president of the Latino Providers Network and a local small business owner. "I'm looking forward to the next meetings and what we can achieve."
Full list of members of the new HopkinsLocal advisory council
- Tamara Brown, acting chief of Minority & Women's Business Opportunity Office, Baltimore City Department of Law
- Marcie Castaneda, business and community development manager of the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development
- Darlene Dunn, job readiness trainer at Our Daily Bread/Catholic Charities
- Julian Goresko, director of the Office of Sustainability at Johns Hopkins
- Anita Hammond, executive director of the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (BACH)
- Nicole Hanson, reentry advocate for Out For Justice
- Dawn Kirstaetter, president for advancement and strategic Partnerships , Baltimore City Community College
- Jess Newton, senior comp analyst, Johns Hopkins Human Resources
- David Rosario, board president, Latino Providers Network
- Takia Ross, Boss Up Baltimore entrepreneur and owner of Accessimatized
- Nairuti Shastry, community partnership specialist at the Center for Social Concern at Johns Hopkins
- Darcy Sullivan, employment specialist at the Maryland Food Bank
- Paul Taylor, director of the Mayor's Office of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
- Melvin Wilson, co-director of BUILD's Turnaround Tuesday program