Laurie is the former Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Urban Habitat, where she served on the organization’s management team and was the architect of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI). BCLI is a highly successful program, currently spreading nationwide, that focuses on preparing and placing under-represented resident-leaders on local and regional boards and commissions.
Laurie’s progressive movement and leadership work draws on her teaching experience, her academic preparation, and her upbringing in rural and conservative communities in Louisiana and Texas, as well as her more recent experiences living and working in communities on California’s Central Coast, in Central Oregon, in Southern California, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, her current home.
On what gets her out of bed in the morning:
“I’m so proud of my son, Theo Neighbors, and his partner, Elise Alvarez, for their amazing dedication to parenting Dean…the first child in our little family to be raised by his parents. When I look at his face, I’m overjoyed to know that he will grow up in full awareness of his place in history and will be able to call upon his ancestors for strength and guidance.
And when I look at this photo, Dean’s face becomes for me, also, the faces of all of my students at San Francisco State University, who struggle to hang on to their cultural legacies, and all of the residents of burdened communities of color throughout California that teach me so much as I have the honor of working with them to build power in the political process and to maintain their cultural power at home.”
In addition to her work as an independent consultant, Neighbors serves as an adjunct professor in the Health Education Department at San Francisco State University. She teaches courses on such topics as the history of health and social movements in the US, and structural inequalities in public health. At SFSU, she also serves as the Coordinator for the Metro Academy of Business, a program that supports first-generation students in their first and seconds years of college as they explore opportunities for using degrees in Business to advance social justice goals. There, she also works with the Metro College Success Program, a social-justice focused educational support program for students from low-income communities and communities of color, and serves as a lead for Metro’s Faculty Learning Community.
Laurie Jones Neighbors was recognized in September 2016 as one of Living Cities' 25 Disruptive Leaders working to close racial opportunity gaps.