LANSING, Mich. — There are some changes coming for the Allen Neighborhood Center.
Their Executive Director who also helped create the neighborhood hub back in the early 2000s is stepping down. Her incredible work on Lansing’s eastside helped transform the neighborhood.
For the last 23 years, Joan Nelson has been at the helm of the neighborhood center. She tells me the center started as a Healthy Communities initiative– one that developed programs to reach everyone in the eastside neighborhood. Today that initiative has seen incredible growth– the Allen Center is home to food and referral programs, a farmer’s market, community garden and even an accelerator kitchen. In fact, Nelson’s work made the farmer’s market a pioneer, bringing in new ways to reach low income neighbors.
“We figured every liquor store on East Kalamazoo takes food stamps," she said. "Surely, this upstanding little nonprofit should be approved to do that. It turned out that we were the first farmers market in Michigan to be approved to accept food stamps for our farmers.”
Nelson says she has loved every one of the Allen Center’s projects but she’s especially fond of the farmer’s market.
“I enjoy the farmers market because it is a weekly happening and it's an opportunity to see all kinds of people, you know, all kinds of neighbors on a regular basis, as well as folks from throughout the region who make a point of visiting the Allen Farmer's Market," she said.
With Nelson stepping down in late summer, the hunt is on for a new Executive Director.
"The board is looking for someone who can comfortably and happily work with a richly diverse population, as is the case with people who, with the rich mix of humanity that make up this neighborhood, that make up the east side of Lansing," she said
Nelson and the rest of the Allen Center team are working to make her transition from executive director to neighbor as smooth as possible and she’s agreed to a four to six week overlap to get the new executive director up and running.
"It's a lively, fun neighborhood. There's lots to do here and lots of rewards in doing it. So I would encourage people to send their applications," she said
To apply to the open position, submit a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply is May 31.
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