VISTA Spotlight: Susanna Penfield

November 17, 2020

Home News and Updates VISTA Spotlight: Susanna Penfield

Susanna began her AmeriCorps VISTA term at the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA), in anticipation of the NACEDA Summit 2020 — an event scheduled to take place in Minneapolis, MN at the end of October. However, this work quickly shifted in the face of COVID-19 as the long term reality of a pandemic set in and the Summit was pushed online. Faced with the similar challenge of making traditionally in-person conferences virtual, ten of NACEDA’s member organizations joined NACEDA in creating the collaborative 10-day online event that came to called Strengthening Resilient Communities | The National Forum.

Susanna coordinated communication and collected information for NACEDA’s 50+ speakers — from high profile politicians to college-aged poets, and including keynote speakers Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and social justice architect Deanna Van Buren. She facilitated production of the Forum’s opening video, which centered the work of Minneapolis-based poet Theo Langason read by voices from the Forum’s participating organizations, and sent daily communication to Summit registrants. She contributed to “backstage” efforts during the Summit itself, leading NACEDA network peer conversations that included skill sharing, state policy discussion, and regional caucus convening.

Throughout this, Susanna was simultaneously working to finalize the Family Portrait 2020 , a publication based on a comprehensive survey of NACEDA’s membership. After synthesizing survey responses, selecting notable results, pairing data with narrative examples, and formatting for design, Susanna coordinated with several artists based in NACEDA-served communities before ultimately commissioning William Estrada, an educator and multidisciplinary artist based in Chicago, for the report’s cover.  Family Portrait 2020 was officially released during the Summit’s closing session on October 23. Susanna is grateful to have been part of such a groundbreaking and successful collaborative online event, a first for NACEDA, and looks forward to future convening efforts.

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