CoGenerate recently teamed up with Fine Acts, a global creative studio for social impact, to launch an open call for illustrations showing generations working together for change. We’re looking for illustrations that show older and younger people coming together to...
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Alice M. Graham
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011
Graham creates collaborative partnerships among faith-based and provider organizations to build community resiliency.
Alice Graham was a professor at Hood Theological Seminary in North Carolina when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast in 2005. With media attention riveted on New Orleans, she was surprised when a colleague told her about severe devastation on the Mississippi coast. She was called to act. In her eagerness to help victims of the storm, she broke a promise she had made to herself more than 50 years earlier, when Emmett Till, a black male teen accused of flirting with a white woman, was murdered in Mississippi. She swore she’d never set foot in the state.
She thought her mission in Mississippi would be temporary, but soon felt a calling to continue her work there. In 2009, Graham became executive director of Interfaith Partnerships (formerly Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force). Formed in 1980 as a short-term resource for people after Hurricane Frederick, the task force played a major role in coordinating the huge response of government agencies, faith-based groups and a million volunteers when Katrina hit.
“Hurricane Katrina altered the trajectory of my life. I moved from North Carolina to the Mississippi Coast to contribute my education, training and experience as a pastoral counselor to disaster recovery,” Graham says of her encore career.
Today, Graham has added dramatically to the task force’s menu of educational opportunities, including a mental health initiative, anti-bullying resources for communities and schools, and new trainings on cultural competency for emergency personnel. Graham also created a system of Congregation Disaster Coordinators to act as bridges among myriad services – practical, emotional, medical, spiritual – that disaster victims need. The number of coordinators has grown nearly four-fold in the last two years. “I have tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to use my gifts and talents for work that is making a difference in so many lives,” she says.