Meet the 2022-23
Neighbors Together Team
Opal Baker has lived in the Jefferson Park neighborhood in East Point for ten years. Opal is active in the broader East Point community and regularly attends City Council and other community meetings. She is passionate about issues that impact environmental and public safety, quality educational opportunities, racial equity, and economic development. Opal enjoys engaging with her neighbors and listening to their concerns and their visions for East Point. She has volunteered for the US Census and Fair Fight Action. In addition, she has helped neighbors register to vote and served as a poll worker. Opal loves the close-knit nature of her Jefferson Park neighborhood. She looks forward to learning new skills to support her community organizing efforts. In her spare time, Opal enjoys camping, hiking, reading, and dancing.
Taryn Bell serves as president of the Center Hill Neighborhood Association. Center Hill is adjacent to the Grove Park community in Northwest Atlanta between Donald L. Hollowell Highway and Hamilton Holmes Drive. Taryn loves her neighborhood and the passion that she and her fellow Center Hill residents have for the community. She is focused on advocating for infrastructure improvements in Center Hill, including installing sidewalks along heavily traveled corridors. As a real estate agent, Taryn understands the value of homeownership in stabilizing neighborhoods and building wealth for families. She would like to see expanded homeownership opportunities in Center Hill, which is currently about 50% renter occupied. Taryn is the proud mother of an active, three-year-old son.
Ron Davis has called Austell home for 25 years. He is very active in the community serving as Vice Chairman of the Austell Community Taskforce and Chairman of the Justice for All Committee. Ron volunteers with the Cobb Coalition for Public Safety and serves on the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority Steering Committee. He is also a member of the South Cobb Business Association and served as the former Communications Chairman of the Cobb County NAACP. Ron values his Austell neighborhood and his fellow residents who care as deeply about the health and future of his community as he does. He would like to see more mixed-use development, better transit services, more workforce housing, improved public safety and additional green space in Austell. Ron is the owner of Telemetrix Consulting, and he enjoys fishing in his spare time.
Attania Jean-Funny is a resident of the Hampton community in Clayton County. Attania successfully led a grassroots effort in her new subdivision for the neighborhood residents to gain control of the homeowners’ association despite lengthy delays from the builder. Thanks to her ongoing advocacy, the subdivision builder finally completed the community green space and added a small playground. Attania loves her friendly neighbors and the pride that they take in their well-maintained yards. During COVID, she organized a graduation parade celebrating the community’s K-12 students. Attania looks forward to expanding her advocacy skills and learning new tools to engage her neighbors. After 27 years as a middle and high school science teacher, Attania now works in the insurance industry specializing in Medicare and life insurance. She has also pursued elected office in the past and plans to run again at some point in the future. Active in her church, Attania also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children and being a tennis mom.
Stephanie Stephens has lived in the Green Forrest neighborhood in South DeKalb for four years. She loves the community and her wonderful neighbors. She is active in the Green Forrest Neighborhood Association and serves on the Shoal Creek Park Steering Committee. Stephanie enjoys participating in community events like neighborhood-wide clean-up days. Her vision for the future of Green Forrest and the surrounding community includes a wider variety of shopping and sit-down restaurant options. Stephanie is looking forward to gaining skills that will help her engage more of her neighbors in efforts to impact positive change in the community. Stephanie is an insurance underwriter, and she enjoys spending time with family and traveling.
For questions about the Neighbors Together program, please contact Susan Adams, ANDP Senior Director for Operations at
Families thrive in safe and healthy neighborhoods. But communities rarely achieve such desired conditions without informed and engaged residents. As the region comes to grips with a historic shortage of affordable housing, long-term residents and neighborhood leaders are contending with a host of issues - gentrification and displacement, the threat of eviction, rising rents, and diminishing homeownership opportunities.
In these impacted neighborhoods, residents come together in Neighborhood Watch meetings, homeowners’ associations, and small groups of concerned citizens to strengthen their neighborhoods. To support residents engaged in the work of neighborhood stabilization, ANDP created Neighbors Together.
First launched at the annual NeighborWorks Week in 2015, Neighbors Together was designed to be a training and leadership development event with the goal of arming residents with the information and tools needed to strengthen communities from the inside out. The event was well-received by neighborhood leaders and ANDP was asked to continue to offer the free training event.
Now in its sixth year, Neighbors Together convenes both formal and informal neighborhood leaders for an annual half-day of training with an emphasis on neighborhood stabilization efforts. Training topics include:
Neighborhood Branding and Marketing
Property Law & Code Enforcement
Strengthening Relationships with Law Enforcement
Connecting School and Community
Neighborhood Advocacy with Elected Officials
Foreclosure Mitigation Programs
Neighbors Together is executed in three distinct phases:
Community Leadership Institute - Neighborhood residents and leaders who demonstrate an uncommon commitment to their communities are selected annually for a six-person team to attend NeighborWorks® America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI). As described by NeighborWorks America, “CLI is an invitation-only, three-day training event that aims to strengthen the voices and skills of community, resident, and volunteer leaders. Participants from around the country attend in small teams from communities served by NeighborWorks Network organizations and their partners. They attend a full range of courses, and each participating team creates an action plan for making positive change in their community.”
Dating back to its creation in 2008, CLI events have been held in New Orleans, LA; San Jose and Sacramento, CA; Milwaukee, WI; Kansas City, MO; Orlando, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Louisville, KY, and Chicago, IL.
Local Solutions - After attending the national CLI event, Neighbors Together Team members meet with ANDP staff for support as they undertake the necessary research to identify their specific neighborhood issues and underlying causes. Over the next several months, the team and ANDP staff collaborate to create a half-day training event designed to address the specific concerns identified. Simultaneously, team members begin developing a plan of action and identifying community stakeholders to engage. The annual training event also serves as a sounding board and an opportunity to further develop team member plans.
Creating Change - After participating in Neighbors Together for nearly a year, team members move forward with the information and resources they’ve gained in the process to address their neighborhood concerns. Most team members return to attend the annual training events to further their understanding of issues and skill development.
NEIGHBORS TOGETHER IMPACT
46 metro residents have been selected to attend NeighborWorks America’s National Community Leadership Institute and joined the Neighbors Together Team.
Team members planned and executed six annual Neighbors Together training events, engaging more than 1,000 active, committed neighborhood leaders.
Several team members have taken their engagement to the next level by running for elected office or participating in additional leadership training programs.
Several program participants have successfully applied for and received funding to support their neighborhood-based programs and initiatives.
After years of hard work transforming her neighborhood, CLI participant Carol Yancey was honored with NeighborWorks America’s National 2019 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership.
About NeighborWorks America
For more than 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 250 members in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks America offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation’s leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment, and education. More online at www.neighborworks.org.