Associate Organizer, BREAD in Columbus, Ohio
As a high school student, Clarissa developed an interest in local government and how ordinary citizens could have a say in the decisions that were made in their communities if they got involved and got organized. At age 15, she witnessed a local rec center, which was heavily used by the black community, get torn down and turned into a cultural arts center. This left the black community with nowhere to send their kids after school. Parents complained, but nothing was ever done. For Clarissa, this was an early lesson in powerlessness.
While studying at Virginia Tech, she learned about the field of community organizing as a way to work with community members to fight for changes in local communities. After graduating from Virginia Tech, she started working in the public school system in her hometown of Suffolk. Angered by the problems in the school system, she began looking for jobs in community organizing and was hired to work for the BREAD Organization in Columbus, Ohio. She is currently working with BREAD leaders on a campaign to create a local ID program for vulnerable residents, such as the homeless or undocumented, who are unable to obtain state ID cards and drivers licenses.