Leadership Development and Political Education
By maintaining an active and aggressive grassroots effort through direct action organizing, we promote the ongoing education of bank tenants, homeowners, tenant leaders, and future leaders in the social justice movement. We believe that by linking action to reflection, and encouraging a long-term commitment to holistic development of poor and working people, we are able to build a stronger, more sustainable movement for social change.
For over forty years, City Life/Vida Urbana has organized communities against the forces that fuel displacement in our city. We believe that the right to housing is a basic human right, and that prioritizing the needs of people is more important than the needs of profit-making institutions.
We believe that by building, convening, and participating in coalitions and strategic partners, we are able to more effectively mobilize and organize a mass movement for social change. We belong to a national Right to the City Network, convene regular New England regional meetings, and regularly organize collectively in our Greater Boston Metropolitan Network.
Cultural Organizing and the Arts
The newest of our programs, the Cultural Organizing initiative seeks to tie popular education, direct action organizing, messaging, and member-led initiatives together using a coordinated approach. We recognize that advancing the movement and the fight for social and economic justice requires continual reflection, coupled with intentional action (fighting with heart and mind). In this process, we are able to creatively utilize members’ skills and knowledge to build public awareness and build the mass base we need to effectively advocate for social change.
Main Number: (617) 524-3541
Lisa Owens, Executive Director
Ext. 307 email@example.com
Steve Meacham, Organizing Coordinator
Ext. 310 firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Matthews-Turner, Office/Human Resource Manager
Ext. 317 email@example.com
Antonio Ennis, Community Organizer
Ext. 301 firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Ponte-Capellan, Community Organizer (English/Spanish)
Ext. 313 email@example.com
Irene Glassman, Grant Writer
Ext. 311 firstname.lastname@example.org
Louise Profumo, Financial Manager
Ext. 308 email@example.com
Michael Leyba, Development Director
Ext. 314 firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Matthews, Communications Manager
Judy Burnette, Community Organizer
Ext. 330 email@example.com
Gabrielle René, Community Organizer
Ext. 302 firstname.lastname@example.org
Andres Del Castillo, East Boston/North Side Lead Organizer
James Brooks, Community Organizer
Board of Directors
Dawn Belkin Martinez has been an activist with City Life/Vida Urbana and in the Jamaica Plain community for over twenty years. She teaches at Boston University. She has been a Board member since 2005 and currently serves on the Board’s Personnel Committee.
Laura Foner has been with City Life/Vida Urbana since 1975. She is a recently retired children’s librarian at the Connolly Branch of the Boston Public Library and is a member of the Personnel and the Board Development Committees.
Heather Gordon-Gayle has been a Jamaica Plain resident since 1984 and was a fund accountant in the financial industry for over thirty-five years. She became a member of CL/VU in 2009 while fighting her own housing issues. Heather became a vital and vocal leader of the movement. She is currently a member of the Bank Tenants Association Leadership Team, the Jobs and Labor Committee and the Donor Development Committee.
Ricardo Henry is the CL/VU Board President. He has been a member of the Bank Tenant Association for five years and is active on the Bank Tenant Leadership Team. He has worked with Mass Uniting as a field organizer on their “Fighting for A Fair Economy” campaign. He serves on the Executive, Finance, Membership and Jobs and Labor Committees.
Jim Jordan has lived in Dorchester for more than 50 years and retired in 2011 from Verizon after working 42 years as a Splice Service Technician, Staff Manager and Local Manager. Jim became an activist with City Life/Vida Urbana in December 2009 while fighting his own housing issues and now serves on the Annual Meeting Planning Committee, Executive Committee of the Bank Tenant Leadership Team and Bank Tenant Association. He has worked with Mass United assisting field organizers on their "Fighting for A Fair Economy" campaign. He also assists and serves on the Jobs and Labor Committee at CLVU.
Carolyn Lomax is the CL/VU Board Vice President. Carolyn has lived in Dorchester for more than 30 years and has been self employed as a cosmetologist for more than 20 years. She came to her first City Life/Vida Urbana meeting in October 2009 and became a member in March 2010. She is a member of the Executive, Finance and Membership Committees.
Debbie Lubarr has been active in social justice organizing for more than thirty years, including an early experience with the group that later became City Life/Vida Urbana. A long-time resident of Egleston Square, she helped create opportunities for youth during a period of street violence. She currently works as an adult education teacher. Debbie serves on the Finance, Board Development and Donor Development Committees.
Wil Renderos is an Executive Director, Audio Engineer and DJ for Audio Chemists, LLC, a company that looks to “convene, develop, and promote Greater Boston’s diverse young artists.” His roots in the movement for social justice come from his time at Centro Presente as a youth leadership development coordinator. He has studied at Boston and Wesleyan Universities and has a B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Wil sits on the Board Development and the Marketing/Communications Committees.
Maura Russell is the CL/VU Treasurer. Maura has been involved with City Life/Vida Urbana for many years and has served on the Board since 1999. She is a member of the finance committee and is an educational specialist with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education working with Career/Vocational Technical Schools. Maura sits on the Executive, Finance and Donor Development Committees.
Mike Wolfson is the Secretary of the Board and a long-term member of City Life/Vida Urbana. Mike also serves as a member of the Finance Committee. He works as an environmental chemist for the Harvard School of Public Health. Mike sits on the Executive and Finance Committees.
Edna Willrich has been an active member of the Tenant Organizing Committee for many years. In addition to her leadership within the network of tenant associations, Edna also does outreach and organizing in the community to make sure that low income elderly people know about and have access to food stamps and other basic needs. She has also started a non-profit organization to provide better voucher education for Section-8 tenants.
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