A Farewell Message from a DCI Champion

Over a decade ago, the East Durham Children’s Initiative began building a pipeline of support for children and families. I joined this effort in 2013 as a Community Ambassador contractor, knocking on doors throughout the 120 blocks of the neighborhood serving Y. E. Smith Elementary in East Durham. In 2014, I came on staff as the Outreach Coordinator, responsible for developing and implementing programs like the Healthy Mile Trail, Story Hour, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Saturdays, and many others. After being promoted to Community Engagement Manager in 2015, I managed outreach staff and the AmeriCorps VISTA program, developed out-of-school learning, health, and youth leadership programs, trained local family care providers as a TouchPoint Trainer, and supported East Durham families in organizing to protect their safety. My role shifted after being elected to the Durham City Council in 2017. I began supporting staff internally and externally, connecting the dots around resources, community engagement, and community outreach as the Special Assistant to the President. EDCI became Durham Children’s Initiative, growing to a county-wide organization supporting children and families across Durham. I am proud of the families we walk alongside and the work we do.

DCI has grown to be a vital part of the community for children and their families. After nine years of coordinating, planning, and leading community engagement and outreach for Durham families, I am moving on to support these families through community and economic development lending. It’s with great joy and excitement that I share, I will be joining the team at the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center as the Director of Partnership Development for the Small Business Credit Initiative. Although I shared this information at a previous internal staff meeting, I wanted to share this transition with our partners and community members. I am saying SO LONG to my DCI FAMILY for now. I plan to take some time to reflect, clear out, and move forward, so I will not be available to attend all scheduled meetings.

Below you’ll find my contact information and contacts for other DCI staff. Feel free to share with your teams, departments, and others as needed!

I can still be reached by email at equitableequality@gmail.com or phone at 919-886-5448 (text and call).

Staff contacts for external community partners:

· Forward requests for general information, invoices, facilities, or location updates to Eboni Garvin – Eboni.Garvin@dci-nc.org & Erika Arnold – Erika.Arnold@dci-nc.org.

· Opportunities to engage or support, flyers, and events for children and families can be sent to Darryl Barnes – Darryl.Barnes@edci.org & LeQuandra Ballen – LeQuandra.Ballen@dci-nc.org.

· Opportunities for programs and development can be sent to David Reese – David.Reese@dci-nc.org, Josephe Featherstone – Josephe.Featherstone@dci-nc.org, & Nick Malinowski – Nick.malinowski@dci-nc.org.

I appreciate the support over the years and the many opportunities for growth and engagement through special projects and programs, especially with Summer Camps, Summer Lunch, Holiday Zone, and projects that allowed me to work with many of you one-on-one and create lasting collaborations across our community.

In closing, I will still be here in Durham, continuing to build on the work we all have been doing together. I will continue to support Durham Children’s Initiative as a member of the Early Childhood Action Planning Steering Committee, and I will continue to engage around the needs of families in my service on the Durham City Council. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in building a stronger pipeline of support for families and children from birth to college and/or career. I know that DCI will continue to be a leader in this work.

With Warm Regards,

DeDreana Freeman
Durham Resident and Community Ally

dedreana freeman