25 Disruptive Leaders Who Are Working to Close the Racial Opportunity Gaps
Living Cities unveils 25 Disruptive Leaders list, recognizing remarkable individuals who are shaking up the status quo and creating new approaches to address our nation’s most stubborn challenges.
In celebration of Living Cities 25th Anniversary, Living Cities recognize 25 Disruptive Leaders who are working to improve economic outcomes for low-income people in America’s cities. The list recognizes activists, government employees, artists, community members, entrepreneurs, elected officials and philanthropists from across the country who are committed to addressing racial disparities; empowering and mobilizing others to do the same. In these challenging times, we are more convinced than ever that this type of bold leadership not only is required, but must be celebrated. We believe that their work and leadership embody what’s possible when we lead and work together differently towards a more equitable America.
What is a Disruptive Leader?
Disruptive Leaders act with urgency and unrestrained imagination. They take risks, put their own personal capital on the line to challenge the status quo, work to take down the barriers that cause racial disparities and embrace the responsibility to question, collaborate and lead for lasting and meaningful change.
America’s Top 25 Disruptive Leaders
The changes we need to see in cities won’t happen by luck or chance, but by a different type of leadership. These 25 leaders represent a diversity of sectors, roles and experiences. What they share, however, is a deep-seated impatience with the status quo, a willingness to act and to bring others along with them.
Join Living Cities to celebrate and congratulate the diverse leaders who make up the #Disruptive25!
The List: 25 Disruptive Leaders
Mayor Steve Adler
Mayor Adler was elected Austin’s 52nd Mayor in December 2014. He is leading Austin towards a new level of inclusive civic engagement between residents and their elected officials. Mayor Adler practiced civil rights law for many years and served nearly ten years as Chief of Staff and General Counsel for Texas State Senator Eliot Shapleigh, working primarily on school finance, equity and access issues. He has been deeply involved with, and has chaired, many Austin civic and non-profit institutions over the past 20 years.
Nancy O. Andrews
Nancy O. Andrews is the president and CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF). Since 1984, LIIF has served 1.7 million Americans, investing $1.5 billion to create, enhance and preserve affordable housing, child care centers, schools, healthy food retail, health clinics, green facilities and transit-oriented development in distressed neighborhoods nationwide. LIIF is trailblazing new ways to tie together housing and health and to measure the social value of investments through their Social Impact Calculator.
Tawanna Black, Executive Director for the Northside Funders Group, is a nationally recognized thought leader, well known for influencing, inspiring and equipping cross-sector leaders to transform personal convictions into actions that produce equitable and thriving communities. The Northside Funders Group is a place-based, collective impact organization of 20 corporate, community and private foundations and public sector investors committed to aligning investments and strategies to advance equity, build social capital and extend the prosperity of the Twin Cities to one of its most impoverished neighborhoods.
Angela Glover Blackwell
Angela Glover Blackwell is the President, CEO and Founder of PolicyLink, the leading voice for “equity as a superior growth model” and the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education and infrastructure. Prior to founding PolicyLink, she was a Senior Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation and, as a lawyer, founded the Oakland (CA) Urban Strategies Council. In 2010, Ms. Glover Blackwell co-authored “Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future.”
Raj Chetty is a Professor of Economics at Stanford University, and recipient of both a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the John Bates Clark medal, given by the American Economic Association to the best American economist under age 40. Chetty’s research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies. His current research focuses on equality of opportunity, seeking to address the question of how to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds better chances of succeeding.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a journalist, blogger and memoirist who brings personal reflection and historical scholarship to bear on America’s most contested issues. Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing. Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His most recent book, “Between the World and Me,” was released in July 2015. It won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. He was the recipient of a “Genius Grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2015.
Jason DeParle is a reporter for The New York Times, based in Washington. For more than 20 years, he has written extensively about issues involving poverty. A two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a recipient of the George Polk Award, his first book, “American Dream: Three Women, Ten Children, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare,” won the Helen Bernstein Award from the New York City Public Library.
Martin Eakes is the co-founder and CEO of Self-Help and the Center for Responsible Lending. Self-Help has proven that access to responsible savings, loans and transactions is critical for promoting financial security, family health and improved opportunity for low-income families. Since 1998, Self-Help’s Community Advantage Program has helped more than 50,000 lower-income families, especially those of color, to become homeowners in 48 states. In 2008, Self-Help Federal Credit Union was formed to build a network of credit union branches to operate on an uncommon scale. It now has 22 branches, $600 million in assets, and serves over 80,000 people in three states.