"The MCD Program gave me the words I needed to describe my experiences in community development. It also let me do a deep dive into topics which are relevant to my community and the work I am doing within my organization."
~(MCD) Alum Yyokkia Lawson '21G — Athens, GA
Position: I recently launched my own nonprofit, The Institute for Housing, Health & Economic Development, Inc. (IHHED). Prior to starting IHHED, I served as the Director of Credit & Financial Growth at a local land trust here in Athens. In my role with the land trust, I oversaw a department that provided home buyer and financial literacy education, one-on-one credit and housing counseling, small business education, and microloans for small businesses.
Education: I hold a B.S. in Management and an A.S. in Architectural Technology. I am also a HUD-certified Housing Counselor and a Certified USDA Loan Packager.
What made you interested in pursuing the Master in Community Development at Carsey? Upon returning home several years ago, I became increasingly concerned about the staggering poverty and substandard housing that continues to exist in the South – particularly in rural areas. The history of racial discrimination and wealth disparities has made it frequently difficult for residents in rural areas to access basic services and overcome financial barriers. Likewise, the general infrastructure problems are hard to conquer due to the scarcity of resources in rural environments. I found that rural poverty still exists in an isolated and quiet way – out of sight and out of mind.
Recipient of a 2021 UNH Sustainability Award: Yyokkia has been committed to ending poverty and reducing inequalities through research and program development. For example, she launched a nonprofit which focuses on stabilizing low-and very low-income rural Black residents and piloted a Housing Counseling Training Program, a collaborative effort that brings together multiple stakeholders including community leaders, banks, mortgage companies, real estate professionals, and a regional Community Based Development Organization. Learn More
Master in Community Development Program