Meet our newest OFA fellows

By Bobby Brady-Sharp, OFA Training Projects Manager

“OFA fellows have overcome so much, but they find strength to love, hope and give. Have faith in humanity. I do.”

Our newest class of OFA fellows are the folks who seek a better life for their families and their communities. They are not all the same — in fact, they come from a wide range of backgrounds, from communities across the country. They are folks who have struggled with depression and anxiety, raised their siblings or taken care of their parents, been homeless, experienced foster care as children, and cleaned toilets just to provide for their families. They recognize problems inherent to their communities and seek to make them better.

Fellows share a laugh in Philadelphia, PA

Meet our 2017 fall fellows:

Klarrise T., a new OFA fellow from Albany, NY, is “inspired to address a service disparity within my community and figure out how to build in order to provide.”

Suzanne K., a fellow from Alexandria, VA, feels “more hopeful than I have in ages” after starting the program.

Heidi H., from Santa Cruz, CA, has “discovered that being involved helps transform frustration and anger into empowered action.”

Evelyn D., from Houston, TX, wants “ to advocate for my community, and be able to empower them to be engaged in making decisions that impact their lives and that of their whole community.”

Jerry W., from Indianapolis, IN, wants his, “grandchildren to grow up in a better world than we now have. I would like for us to become a just, stable, and prosperous Civilization.”

South Carolina is ready to roll

And here’s the thing — they are here at the right time. They want a more just and representative world, and right now, things are not equitable. This class of fellows has committed to moving their communities towards more representation, participation, and action around issues that are important to them. But this cannot be done unless they’re able to see and understand each other as individuals who deserve to be valued, loved, and recognized.

This month, OFA fall fellows are being onboarded in neighborhoods across the country, and will spend the next six weeks learning not only how to work on problems and issues in their communities, but also how to view themselves as capable leaders. They are spending time learning the power of their personal stories and values, tying that into how they can collaborate in teams to move the needle on issues important to their communities. At the end of those six weeks, they will hold a civic engagement event to apply what they have learned and to begin the journey towards becoming the civically engaged community leaders they seek to be.

Hey there, Georgia!

Make no mistake: Each of our fellows brings their own experiences of joy, learning, skill, expertise, heartbreak, and crisis. But these are individuals who choose to give, to hope, and to love each other while fighting for a more just, representative, and equitable society.

Looking good, Chicago!

Originally published at