Joan Davis. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Action Committee.
Joan Davis, president and CEO of the Richmond Community Foundation, is one of five individuals who will be recognized by the Sixth Annual Judge George Carroll Community Service Awards Program sponsored by the Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC) of Contra Costa County.
Davis is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and is the fifth of seven children born to Ralph and Lavina Adams. She is a graduate of Omaha Central High School where she was a National Merit scholar.
She earned her bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Nebraska. She also received an advanced leadership certificate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Before moving to California, Davis’ career allowed her to develop her skills in corporate, nonprofit and public entities in several cities. She was recruited by Xerox Corporation in Kansas City where she had a successful career in sales.
After earning her law degree, she had a fellowship at Legal Aid of Western Missouri where she augmented legal assistance to the most vulnerable groups of clients by assisting them with housing problems such as illegal evictions, foreclosure and landlord-tenant disputes.
After working at Legal Aid, Davis was employed by a minority-owned law firm with a focus on general litigation, personal injury and employment litigation. Davis then received an appointment from the U.S. District Court to be executive director of the Desegregation Monitoring Committee for the Jenkins vs. Missouri school desegregation case.
In that case the plaintiffs alleged that the state, surrounding suburban school districts and various federal agencies had caused and perpetuated one of the nation’s most hyper-segregated metropolitan areas, with a high degree of segregation in housing patterns, suburbanization, inner-city disinvestment and school segregation.
The court established the Desegregation Monitoring Committee, with Davis as executive director. This plan grew to be the largest remedy in history requiring $2 billion in improvements to the school district.
Afterwards, Davis became regional director at the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, now known as NeighborWorks America, one of the country’s preeminent leaders in affordable housing and community development. She led offices in Kansas City and Chicago, creating opportunities for lower-income people to live in affordable homes in safe sustainable neighborhoods.
After serving in this capacity for over six years, she accepted a two-year fellowship with the US Department of HUD in partnership with Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The aim of the fellowship was to recruit and prepare a new generation of leaders from diverse professions who were committed to building stronger, healthier American communities.
This appointment allowed Davis to use her experience, knowledge, and special skills where it mattered most –to help a community design an effective strategy to address a full range of needs – including home ownership and economic development – while helping cities and towns access national assistance by cutting through red tape that is often a deterrent to progress.
After completing the Harvard program, Davis moved to California in 2001, where she began working as CEO of Satellite Housing, Inc. – a nonprofit housing development corporation based in Berkeley.
In 2005, she became regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern CA/Northern NV, one of over 70 Alzheimer’s Association chapters serving communities across the country.
In 2009, she became president and CEO of the Richmond Community Foundation, where she currently works to build the capacity of the Richmond community.
Davis lives in the Marina Bay neighborhood of Richmond. She has three children and four grandchildren: three teen-agers and one 22-month old.
Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.