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Metro IAF is making moves in: Connecticut Cook Co, IL • DuPage Co, IL • Kane Co, IL • Lake Co, IL • Anne Arundel Co, MD • Baltimore, MD • Howard Co, MD • Montgomery Co, MD • Massachusetts New JerseyNew YorkDurham, NC Orange Co, NC • Ohio Virginia Washington DCWisconsin Germany


View our report on 2018 victories: 



July 30, 2019

Honoring a true leader:
Sister Christine Stephens, CDP

Sister Christine Stephens, CDP entered eternal life on July 18, 2019 at the age of 78.

She was the younger of two daughters born to Walter Irving and Frances Louise (Bulian) Stephens. She was born December 22, 1940 in Austin, Texas and was given the Baptismal name, Mary Christine. She entered the Congregation of Divine Providence on September 7, 1962 and professed first vows as a Sister of Divine Providence on June 22, 1964. Sister Christine graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics prior to entering Our Lady of the Lake Convent. She later earned a Master of Arts in History from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

Sister Christine attributes her faith formation to her parents who set the example of perseverance and seeking justice for one’s family and community. Her father was a member of the pipe fitters union. This foundation served Sister Christine in her first seven years as a teacher, then as a social worker for eight years, and expanded and deepened when she became an organizer 45 years ago.

Sister Christine did not choose organizing as a ministry, it chose her. She was spotted by her now close friend and mentor, Ernesto Cortés, Jr., who said it was her anger that caught his attention. That was the first time she viewed her anger in a positive light. The work of justice was at the heart of her ministry and her life. Her work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) was the vehicle to funnel her anger against injustice.
Anne Arundel Connecting Together Acts on Housing and Gun Safety
Woodside Gardens resident Barbara Poston reads demands on the behalf of her neighbors to Fairstead Vice President Bobby Byrd. Fairstead owns Woodside Gardens. (Danielle Ohl / Capital Gazette)
ACT currently has 27 member and friend organizations including diverse faith groups, the local NAACP chapter, and Lighthouse (a homeless prevention support center). In the prior months, ACT led county-wide door-knocking campaigns, relational meetings, listening sessions, trainings, and education. ACT leaders met with county officials in advance of the action.

As a result of listening sessions and door-knocking, ACT leaders organized around the poor living conditions and mismanagement at subsidized apartment complex Woodside Gardens. At the June 13 action, ACT leaders living at Woodside Gardens spoke of the unlivable state of their apartments and the inadequate response of management. Invited before them was a representative of the managing company, Fairstead Affordable. After some wavering, the representative committed to address the issues raised by residents. These residents have subsequently met with management.

VOICE launches Communities First Initiative

On June 9th, approximately 350 VOICE Arlington / Alexandria leaders launched their Communities First Initiative.  The premise is simple - in the wake of the arrival of Amazon, Virginia Tech, Google, and other large employers to our neighborhoods, VOICE believes that the changes coming to the region should benefit our COMMUNITIES FIRST, by dedicating over $300 million of the projected, new local tax revenue brought by Amazon to fund affordable housing, equity in education and career opportunities initiatives for our communities in Arlington and Alexandria.

Summer Action of the Berlin Community Organizations: Important Victories, Challenge to the Politicians to Build Housing in Berlin
       Photo: Valentin Paster
Five hundred Leaders from the four community organizations in Berlin (SO! Mit uns, Wir sind da!, Wir in Neukölln and Wir bewegen Spandau) gathered on June 18th on the 74 acre former industrial  site in Grünau where we proposed building some 3,000 units of affordable housing. Both borough and state officials were invited to justify their continued vociferous opposition to the plan. They failed to attend, and were called to task by the leadership. The fact remains that Berlin needs a minimum of 20,000 new units a year to accommodate its growing population. Current production is significantly below this number. We will keep up the fight both in Grünau and elsewhere in the city!

"Stark! Cologne" goes after gyms that discriminate and empty city apartments

Shortly before the summer holidays began, leaders from the north of Cologne kicked off public campaigns on two new issues that have been in the works for several months. Following up on stories heard in their mosque communities a team of young leaders did a systematic check of discriminatory practices by a local chain of fitness studios. Women with head scarves were forbidden to exercise and men who “looked foreign” were put on a waiting list, while their “German” counterparts were welcomed into membership. The firm refused to react to a hand delivered letter asking for a meeting and so at an assembly on July 5th the leaders launched a social media campaign to shame the owners into talking. (Link to instagram:


GCC Walks Neighborhood to Identify Blighted Properties

On Saturday, June 8, 58 volunteers from 12 Greater Cleveland Congregations member congregations from across Cuyahoga County assembled at Noble Road Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights to participate in a half-hour training on how to identify deteriorating houses and then disperse in teams of two volunteers to walk the entire Noble Neighborhood in Cleveland Heights. The teams were tasked with identifying houses in seriously deteriorated condition so the GCC Cleveland Heights Housing Team can work to get these homes repaired.

Orange County Justice United Wins Budget Support to Increase Teacher Diversity

Justice United members take action to win funds for diversity hiring.

Justice United won $156,000 in line item budget support from the Orange County Board of Education for a best practices strategy to increase teacher diversity within the school district where African American teaching staff is at a 10 year low. Read more in the Herald Sun


Signs of hope for wrongfully held people with mental illness

Metro IAF's leaders Yvonne Smith of United Power for Action and Justice, Shakeel Syed of Lake County United, Rick Lathrop, of Fox River Valley Initiative, and Lucy Tarabour, of DuPage United moving forward on the fight to get Crisis Stabilization Units up and running across IL.

Read Opinion Piece Here

Writing: Another Skill in the IAF Toolbox

“The job (of writing) is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.”—George Orwell, “Why I Write,” 1946

If you want specific training in how to write with and for power, consider participating in the second Writing for IAF Leaders and Organizers “Immergence Practicum” led by Greg Pierce from Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 2:00 P.M. through Tuesday October 15,2019 at 4:00 P.M. at the Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center on the north side of Chicago.

The goal of this intensive 50-hour workshop is to train IAF leaders and organizers in a relaxed and collegial atmosphere how to write prose that is artful, persuasive, and 99% error-free. Participation is limited to 15 participants, and you must be sponsored by your local IAF affiliate. We are looking for an approximate 50-50 split between leaders and organizers. Cost is $550 double and $600 single occupancy for two nights. For further information call Greg Pierce at 773-590-3801 or go to


More Information & Registration Link HERE

We're Looking for Organizers -- Are You the One?

Metro IAF affiliate organizations work side-by-side with leaders in America's most disinvested communities to address their most pressing issues.

We build power. We fight. We win.

There is work to be done. All across the country we're looking to hire the next generation of community organizers who can relate to people across race and culture, and who can use their anger on issues of criminal justice, immigration, jobs and more to build the power required to make change.

Are you the one?
Organizer Positions are available in these Metro IAF organizing locations:
Boston | Chicago Metro Area  | Connecticut | Maryland | New York City | Northern Virginia | Washington, DC

Metro IAF is also searching for bilingual organizers in the DC metro area.
Metro IAF, is part of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s first and largest network of multi-faith community organizations. Our 23 member organizations have deep-roots in the political and financial power centers in the eastern United States and Europe.
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