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REFLECTION—Ready to make new memories, Walter Lewis remembers of his favorite moments during his six years at the Homewood Children’s Village.

After serving as interim CEO of the Homewood Children’s Village for the past six months, Walter Lewis has been officially named president/CEO.

Effective July 1, HCV board president Dr. John M. Wallace said a full regional search was conducted, and Lewis was selected after receiving more than 500 resumes.

“It feels good. I’m excited about what we are going to be able to do, for what’s possible for us to do in the community,” Lewis said. “The last six months for me has solidified just what is possible. We have made a lot of good strides in the past few months building off the legacy of the former presidents and CEOs of the organization. We are trying to strengthen the model as we get better and better each year. I am really excited about what we have accomplished over the last six months and look forward to what’s ahead.”

With the mission to improve the lives of Homewood’s children and simultaneously reweave the fabric of the community in which they live, the concept is modeled after the nationally-recognized comprehensive community initiative inspired by Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.

The HCV operates on the premise that families and guardians are children’s first teacher; that building adult capacities improves child outcomes and strengthens the community; that all children have the right and potential to succeed; and that all children have the right to equitable opportunities.

Lewis affiliated with the HCV since its inception, started as a Student Advocate/Program Instructor. He is credited for developing and launching the Bridge to College Program and as manager has doubled its revenues and increased participant enrollment. Next, he was promoted to the Director, Office of Promise Fulfillment, where he continued to secure significant foundational support for the work and led the development and pilot of the HCV Personal Opportunity Plan. He then advanced to the position of Director, Office of Education, where he was successful in merging departments, advancing the fundraising for the organization and grew the program to greater than $1 million in support. For the past four years, Lewis also has been involved with the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Learn and Earn Summer Youth Employment Program. Helping to bring it to the HCV, he labels it as a very valuable program. Within the four years he says student participants have grown from 36 the first year, 57 the second, 91 the third and this year to approxitmately 130. HCV is hosting 24 sites. Learn and Earn is a six-week summer employment program for teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 in the Pittsburgh region.

HCV board of directors recognized that as Interim CEO, Lewis had been impactful in advancing community partnerships that led to collective impact with strong community partnerships being organized under the leadership of HCV.

Along with fulfilling the HCV mission, Lewis says moving forward his goal is to continue strengthening their partnerships and pushing towards a collective impact approach. “There is a lot of work to be done within the community. None of us are going to be able to resolve all the challenges by ourselves.”

By the conversations currently occurring with a number of their partners and exploring what can happen by working collectively, Lewis said he is excited about the possibilities.

“The conversations have been enforcing and solidifying the relationships we already have with our partners.”

Located in the heart of Homewood at 801 N. Homewood Ave., HCV is considered a comprehensive community initiative that partners with residents, government, schools, philanthropic foundations, faith- and community-based organizations to revitalize the neighborhood with expectations of making it a place where children can thrive. Its aim is to not only serve the children of Homewood, but their families as well as the total neighbor. HCV is involved in three Homewood schools; Faison, Lincoln and Westinghouse.

Lewis is a former researcher at Brookhaven National Lab, Wistar Institute and Carnegie Mellon University where his research ranged from cancer progression and genomic sequence identification to gene regulation and development. The Baltimore-area native received his Master of Science degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Computational Biology after earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Cheyney University in Computer Science. His six years at the HCV, he says, has provided him the opportunity to marry his desire to teach and passions for social justice and community activism.

 

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