Gwendolyn Harris, Executive Director of the Walter Rand Institute, delivered the keynote address at Gateway Community Action Partnership’s community needs assessment on May 1st.  The forum was convened to provide voice for people whose lives are impacted by the social and health service network, and assist those individuals with identifying current community needs, increasing their understanding of poverty and poverty interventions, and strengthening partnerships between businesses, governments, and the not-for-profit sector.

Roughly 200 attendees representing social service, health, education, community leadership, law enforcement, corporate, and faith-based organizations attended the event.  During the keynote, Dr. Harris spoke of her 43 years of professional, public-sector experience and extolled the virtues of persistence, vision, and collaboration.  Additionally, she encouraged the crowd to strike a balance between being data informed and person conscious when crafting poverty interventions.  After Dr. Harris’s address, participants divided into focus groups to discuss neighborhood safety, jobs training/education, financial security, and food security across Cumberland County.  Groups then drafted goals, strategy suggestions, and accountability measures for local government officials.