Neighborhood Allies names innovator as first president

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Neighborhood Allies has named as its first president the nationally recognized innovator behind revitalization efforts in Youngstown, Ohio.

Presley Gillespie begins his work in mid-May with the nonprofit that established this year from the dissolution of the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development.

Mr. Gillespie founded the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. five years ago. It was that city’s first such entity and it grew from a $200,000 start-up into a $3.1 million force behind housing rehabilitation and green enterprise, including the Iron Roots Urban Farm, a commercial enterprise on a solar-powered campus with a demonstration kitchen, job training workshops and a community loan fund for low- and moderate income home buyers.

“I am so pleased that Neighborhood Allies was able to attract a leader of his caliber to help us work collaboratively to rebuild our communities most in need,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.

The board declined to report his salary.

With foundation support, Neighborhood Allies’ budget for this year is $1.8 million, with $1.2 million to be used for grants.

Neighborhood Allies restructured as a new entity to broaden the range of resources and consultation to neighborhood advocacy organizations, with a focus on connecting groups in distressed areas to both funding and services.

“The next chapter of Pittsburgh’s comeback will be making us the most liveable city for all,” said board co-chair Rob Stephany. “This results-driven professional from Youngstown lives and breathes our shared values of change, equity and justice.”

“He brings a deep understanding of and passion for neighborhoods of promise and the opportunities and challenges they face,” said Laurel Shaw Randi, board co-chair.

Mr. Gillespie said he is eager to take on some of the same challenges he faced in Youngstown but in a larger, more robust city.

“I am honored and humbled by what the board and the foundations in Pittsburgh saw in me and to work with people who have a significant track record in the city.”


Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626. Read her blog City Walkabout at www.post-gazette.com/citywalk.

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