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Community Leader Lois J. Carson To Retire

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Following 32 Years Of Service In Community Action

“With a sense of sadness and satisfaction”, Lois J. Carson will retire effective December 31, 2010 after 32 years of service to the poor of the Inland Empire of Southern California.

After serving as Deputy Director of the San Bernardino County Community Action agency, in 1980 Carson was selected to be the first director of the new Community Action agency for Riverside County, now known as the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County. In her letter to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and County Executive Officer, Bill Luna, Carson said she loved every day and never tired of the challenges she and her team confronted.

She led CAP Riverside to distinction as a partner to community-based organizations, cooperating versus competing through funding, training, marketing and recognition. Community organizing is a basic community function and CAP Riverside can claim success in the areas of child care, housing development, substance abuse, hospice, community gardens and youth programs as a result of community organizing. Even at the state level, CAP Riverside successfully organized the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program which the state association administers.

At her last statewide meeting in Sacramento, the attendees gave Carson a standing ovation after Tom Tenorio, former administrator at CAP Riverside and now Executive Director at Butte County, cited her many contributions to the state, the nation as well as locally. CAP Riverside is one of the top ten community action agencies in the U.S. and #1 in California.

Carson is proud that her agency was one of eight selected to launch the Ford Foundation initiative on structural racism: Racial Equity and Economic Security. In January, the agency will commence its newest component, a Practicum for UCR Interns to teach a Curriculum for Youth on Racial Equity, which is being testing for the Aspen Institute. In 2005, CAP Riverside was the first public community action agency in the United States and the only agency in California (public or private) to receive the Community Action Award for Excellence, which is patterned after the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge Award.

Carson served two years as president of the California Nevada Community Action Partnership, the state trade association, headquartered in Sacramento, and two, two year terms as president of the National Community Action Partnership, the national trade association, headquartered in Washington, DC. Under her presidency, the state association made great strides in the area of energy, working with the California Public Utilities Commission as an intervener and with the telephone companies.

For the national trade association, she was on the Planning Committee that developed the CCAP (Certified Community Action Professional) program and is a member of the CCAP Commission that oversees the program nationally. It was this work that captured the attention of former national leaders who asked her to run for president; having never been on the Board before, she opted to run for vice president with the intent to run for the top job.

For the state, she chaired the CSBG Study Advisory Committee, which abolished principle of minimum funding and replaced it with an equitable allocation plan for all community agencies in Senate Bill1736, authored by Senator Wes Chesbro and approved in 2006, effective 2007. The California State Department of Community Services and Development has called on Carson to train staff, to accept a state employee to intern at CAP Riverside and to serve on numerous committees.

Under her leadership, CAP Riverside trains peer agencies in many areas and under ARRA, eighteen Agencies received related training.

Carson’s specialties include Public CAA’s, Board Training and Structural Racism. “In retirement, I will have more time to focus in these areas and still be involved in community action”, Carson said.

“I want to keep busy so I will always know what day it is”.

When Lois Carson was offered the job as Deputy Director in the neighboring county, she was poised to take a vacation in Hawaii and the employer was gracious to hold the job for her. As she prepares to leave her current job, she looks forward to a Hawaiian cruise in January; so, Hawaii serves as the bookends to her 32-year career in community action.

Carson will be honored at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on December 14, 2010, and later that day at an Open House at CAP Riverside, 2038 Iowa Avenue in Riverside from noon until 4:00 p.m.

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