Don Purser – New Orleans, Louisiana

My motivation is to make a direct impact to the people in the community instead of singularly serving the interest of a large profit-driven international corporation as I have done for most of my career. At this point in my working life, my incentive is to embolden the success of others. FUSE has provided the opportunity for me to directly impact the entrepreneurs in the City of New Orleans who have been underserved and ignored in the past.

L’eon Romanazzi Kansas City, Missouri

I was intrigued by the opportunity to put my skills to the test helping limited/low-income families have access to the same opportunities as those with access to greater income. During this year, I hope to create a space where industry experts can work together to form a continuum (from financial capability through homeownership) for those looking to improve their lives and gain wealth. Additionally, I hope to build a bond with the community in-need to ensure we are meeting their needs rather than planning and not including their point of view.

Michael SaundersSan Jose, California

I was really interested in how to effectively harness government, private sector, and nonprofit resources to spur community innovation. I hope to develop a framework through which these sectors can more effectively work together to enable all residents of West San Jose to more fully participate in the innovation economy.

Kelsy Yeargain – New Orleans, Louisiana

I have worked in Affordable Housing in New Orleans for over eight years and I am excited to work with FUSE and the City of New Orleans to conduct an Affordable Housing Study. I am inspired by the City’s commitment to take strategic action to combat our Affordable Housing Crisis.

Amanda DeFisher – King County, Seattle Area, Washington

I have only lived in Seattle for a short period of time and was seeking a way to connect with my community. The FUSE fellowship is helping me do this in a meaningful way behind the scenes. Through this work, I hope to be a catalyst for thoughtful conversation and quick action around the expansion of capacity of service providers working with neighbors experiencing homelessness in King County.

Christa Leonard Birmingham, Alabama

FUSE Corps inspired me through its innovative model and equity-centered approach to moving the needle in local government. It has provided me with the opportunity to bring my expertise to the table to provide insight about Birmingham food system development. My project is focused on building a sovereign food system framework that uplifts equitable community initiatives, increases access to healthy and affordable foods, builds an economically viable food value chain, and provides accessible information to those looking to join the local food movement. In addition, I hope to be a liaison and translator between city processes and the community’s needs. I am working to build a bridge that promotes and supports each entity in meeting each other where they are. Lastly, my project will provide insight to where Birmingham has been in the past, where it is currently, and where it can go to achieve the greatest impact.