Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton
The mission of Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton (L.E.A.D.) is to build a strong, grassroots community organization, dedicated to empowering and preparing people of faith to work for a greater degree of justice in Montgomery County.
LEAD does not do direct service to address symptoms of community problems – instead, we do research into the causes of community problems and then take action to address problems at their source. For instance, whereas a lot of nonprofits provide food or shelter to families in need, without questioning ‘why are there so many homeless people in our community? Why are people unable to feed themselves?,’ LEAD looks at problems systemically and implement solutions that fix the structures leading to injustice, and not just symptoms of injustice. Also, unlike advocacy groups that focus on one single issue and speak on behalf of others, LEAD is completely community-led. We focus on 2-3 issues per year that are determined locally and LEAD trains and develops leaders in the community to speak and act on their own behalf.
While jobs, educational opportunities and health care services are abundant in the suburbs that surround Dayton, many of these services are lacking in low income areas of the city itself. Beginning in 2010, LEAD pressed the predominantly white suburb of Beavercreek to allow a bus line in from the city center, making jobs and education easier to access for minority and low income residents. Beavercreek refused to allow the bus line even though they had received significant Federal tax contributions for roads and other construction projects. LEAD continued to press, filing a complaint with the Federal Department of Transportation, citing the lack of access was placing an undue burden on African American communities and in violation of the The Civil Rights Act . The Department of Transportation agreed that denying access was discriminatory, and, in a precedent setting victory, new routes were expanded into Beavercreek. LEAD’s work is featured in a recently released documentary, “Free to Ride” created by the Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute:
LEAD while jobs are available in the suburbs, economic opportunities are not available in large sections of the central city. In addition, few companies are based in our city, drawing money out of our communities. LEAD researched potential solutions, and found the Democracy Collaborative. This program begins by identifying anchor institutions, such as universities and hospitals, that are geographically anchored to a community and very unlikely to leave. After identifying anchor institutions, the Democracy Collaborative works to develop employee owned small businesses, which provide service needs for the anchor institutions. As a result of LEAD’s work, the city of Dayton agreed to work with the Democracy Collaborative to bring these opportunities to our city.
Over a third of individuals currently locked up in the Montgomery County jail suffer from mental illness. The county spends an estimated $7 million a year locking up the mentally ill. When officers encounter someone with a mental illness, the only options currently available are jail or the emergency room, neither of which provide the care needed. Further, officers in Montgomery County lack the crisis training necessary to deescalate encounters with those suffering from mental illness. At LEAD’s 2016 Nehemiah Action Assembly Sheriff Plummer agreed to research alternatives to incarceration, including crisis care centers in other cities. In addition, Sheriff Plummer committed to ensuring all officers receive Crisis Intervention Training.
Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton is a coalition of 20 congregations in the Dayton area united to bring about justice and fairness in Montgomery County. LEAD brings together large numbers of people across racial, denominational and economic lines to make a difference in our neighborhoods and local decision-making.
Board of Directors
- Deacon Ronnie Moreland, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church – Co-President
- Rev Rick Friebel, Holy Trinity Catholic Church – Co-President
- Marie Geisel, St Rita Catholic Church – Treasurer
- Robin Craft-Bell, St Benedict the Moor Catholic Church – Secretary
- Patsy Bryant, Harris Memorial CME Church
- Connie Lawson, McKinley United Methodist Church
- Janice Williams, Dixon United Methodist Church
- Pastor Katie Wilson, Dixon United Methodist Church
- Rev Francis Tandoh, St Benedict the Moor Catholic Church
- Dr Earl D Hudson, Harris Memorial CME Church
- Hal Fox, Congregation for Reconciliation
- Willie Righter, Congregation for Reconciliation
- Jana Adams, Bethel Baptist Church
- Margaret Peters, Zion Baptist Church
- Joyce Kasprzak, Holy Angels Catholic Church
- Charlene Bayless, First Baptist Church Downtown
- Noah Gula, Islamic Society of Greater Dayton