The Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) is working to lift low-income residents by addressing poverty, homelessness, workforce, and small business development. To bolster this work and create new initiatives, LACDA established a Strategic Partnership Division. FUSE Executive Fellow Kishani De Silva helped establish the division, developing strategic partnerships and key collaborations focusing on advancing affordable housing and programs for vulnerable populations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kishani pivoted her work to address these communities’ urgent and emerging needs.

Before the pandemic, Kishani helped launch several initiatives, including a STEAM program for students, a demonstration project to fast-track the housing supply, and workforce development programs. She then pivoted to address COVID-related needs, such as adding academic assistance to the STEAM program for students struggling with remote learning and continuing the program throughout the school year as an after-school program. To help isolated seniors, Kishani implemented a health and motion program, quickly finding an app developer and getting phone donations from T-mobile. She also helped deliver an agency-wide digital health screening platform, which will assess the health of the LACDA staff before coming into the office, track COVID-related health for reports, and enable additional safeguards for staff who are considered essential workers. Kishani continues to help LACDA transition, scale, and sustain ongoing projects and initiatives in a COVID-19 context while addressing additional needs that arise due to the pandemic.