By: Tony McCray
Dr. Calvin Avant, the President of Unity in the Family Ministry, has announced September 30th and October 1st as the new dates for the Pensacola-Gulf Coast Regional Equity to Achieve Prosperity (REAP) Summit scheduled for the Pensacola Grand Hotel (formerly the Crown Plaza) in the Downtown district. There will be local and regional speakers in addition to a special guest speaker, Ms. Anika Goss-Foster the Executive Director of the Detroit Future City Project in Detroit Michigan. Unity in the Family is the lead non-profit in a BP Oil Spill application to Escambia County and is utilizing the 2016 REAP Summit as a town square platform to increase the minority community’s understanding and involvement in the BP Oil Spill Recovery funding process and the planning for jobs, business opportunities, and community revitalization.
The REAP Summit is a regional strategic planning conference with the purpose of the event to organize regional stakeholders through civic engagement collaboration in an effort to resolve social and economic disparities that impair the community’s quality of life. In 2007 the REAP Summit led the beginning of high profile dialogue on the City of Pensacola Procurement Disparity Study. The 2011 summit served as the event for the then new Mayor of Pensacola, Ashton Hayward, to announce his support for and intent to fund the $250,000 disparity study. That event went on to serve as an event to rally the minority community’s voice for involvement in the construction of Maritime Park.
Summit participants will plan, adopt, and launch the implementation of social and economic intervention strategies for Gulf Coast recovery from the BP Oil Spill, natural disasters, and the economic downturn. Workshops will be held on Business & Economic Development, Housing & Community Development, Education, Training, and Workforce Development, and Health & Human Services. Environmental concerns and youth development with being addressed in each of the four main disparity areas to ensure these issues are addressed.
Anika Goss-Foster is the Executive Director of the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office. In this role, Anika leads a dynamic team of experts to implement the DFC Strategic Framework, the guide to decision-making and investment in Detroit. She also directs all partnerships, project initiatives, investments and funding opportunities for the DFC Implementation Office. Anika joined the DFC Implementation Office after nearly 20 years of leadership in national and local roles in community development and non-profit management.
Unity in the Family Ministry has experienced a fast-paced 2015 and 2016. The local non-profit led by Dr. Calvin Avant received a contract through Dillard University in New Orleans from the National Institute of Health to become a training site for the Environmental Career Worker Training Program. The students are trained in Job Readiness, Life Skills, and Math. Then, they receive technical training with certifications in hazard waste clean-up, in addition to asbestos and lead paint removal. In the first year of operation, the program graduated 22 students. The majority of the students are working in and outside the Pensacola area.
In direct response to advice from a retired JP Morgan Bank Attorney, Unity in the Family reached out to Detroit Future City Project and connected with an Anika Goss-Foster and received her interest and a commitment to speak at the Saturday, October 1st luncheon as the keynote speaker. Mark Maish is scheduled to speak, along with Clay Ingram of the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Legislature. Michael Hicks of Hixardt Technologies and Scott Luth of Florida West have also been approached to speak as discussions concerning their schedules may force the summit organizers to tape interviews of speakers with conflicts.
Ms. Goss-Foster’s experience in Detroit began with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) as well, where she served as the organization’s Detroit program director. She was noted for several major achievements while in this position, including managing a $40 million community development campaign, and designing and leading the campaign for the city’s first Land Bank Authority. Anika also worked with the City of Detroit as its Director of Philanthropic Affairs and Executive Director of Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, leading an effort to transform six Detroit neighborhoods by improving city services and incorporating redevelopment strategies through public-private partnerships. Anika has a Master of Social Work in Community Organizing degree from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Sociology and African American Studies degree from Purdue University.