Department of Neighborhoods

Press Release

28 emerging leaders will explore strategies for community empowerment

March 14, 2023 -- The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) is pleased to announce the Complete Communities University (CCU) Class of Spring 2023. Twenty-eight aspiring leaders from communities across Houston will participate in the eight-week leadership training course. Selected through a competitive application process, the participants represent City Council districts A through K and At-Large districts 1-4, including all 10 historically underserved communities receiving neighborhood revitalization services under the Mayor’s Complete Communities initiative.

Complete Communities University Spring 2023 participants

Complete Communities University Spring 2023 participants

The course curriculum focuses on strategies for vitalizing communities by connecting residents to City services and resources, mobilizing civic action, building partnerships to address neighborhood concerns, engaging residents in volunteer public service and City affairs, and promoting voter participation.

The CCU spring session started March 8 and runs through April 26, with classes taking place virtually and in person on Wednesday evenings. CCU classes are conducted by DON staff with expertise in civic engagement and knowledge of Houston neighborhoods and feature presentations by City department and community subject experts.

“I am proud to welcome the participants of our Spring 2023 Complete Communities University and thank them for their interest in serving our city as leaders and advocates for positive civic action in our neighborhoods,” said The Mayor. “This is especially important for residents of underserved and under-resourced communities, and I am pleased that the spring 2023 CCU roster includes representatives of all ten Complete Communities. Our goal is to empower residents to make a positive difference in the neighborhoods they call home.”

“We are excited to announce our fourth CCU session and look forward to sharing knowledge and resources to help our aspiring leaders become effective agents of positive change in their communities,” said DON director TaKasha Francis. “Every neighborhood has its unique challenges and varying access to resources. The most dynamic assets of any community are the people who live those communities. Our goal is to provide the access and information we have to help leaders harness their power, get residents civically engaged, and be the change they want to see.”

CCU Spring 2023 Participants
Yusulf Benson – District A
Rachel Preston – District A
Tamara Boston Cooks – District B – Kashmere Gardens*
Ernestine Tizeno – District B – Kashmere Gardens*
Dischunara Brown – District B – Acres Home*
Barbara Aksamit – District C
Jaharrah Jackson – District C
Mary Sias – District D – Sunnyside*
Charleen Jones – District D – Sunnyside*
Shawn Owens Lemons – District D – Sunnyside*
Aiesha Odutayo – District D
Desmond J. Watley-Calloway – District D, Third Ward*
Paula F. Johnson – District D, Sunnyside*
Ericka Calvillo – District E
Timothy Luckey – District F, Alief-Westwood*
Corrie Morales-Kennelly – District G
Daja Gay – District G
Diana Davila Elizondo – District H, Near Northside*
Eric Jason Ross – District H, Kashmere Gardens*
Kendra Atkins – District I, Magnolia Park-Manchester*
Carolyn Henry – District I, Second Ward*
Jeanne Beckerman – District J, Gulfton*
Kimberly Burks – District K, Sunnyside*
Elisabeth Johnson – District K, Fort Bend Houston*
Patrick Osby – At-Large 1
Jamie Nicole Martin – At-Large 2
Karla Martinez – At-Large 3
Keisha M. Pete – At-Large 4

*Historically under-resourced and under-served neighborhood receiving revitalization services under the Mayor’s Complete Communities initiative.

About Complete Communities University
Complete Communities University was introduced in 2018 by the Planning and Development Department as part of the Mayor’s Complete Communities initiative. The Department of Neighborhoods relaunched the program in the fall of 2021, introducing a new curriculum for emerging community leaders and opening participation to residents from all Houston neighborhoods. The 8-week course focuses on leadership strategies to promote civic engagement, volunteerism, and voter education. The course also explores how city and county governments function and relate to neighborhoods and how to effectively access City and community services and resources.