Stefanie Sunderland

Daily Point of Light # 3858 Nov 17, 2008

Stefanie, a longtime resident of the Cincinnati Northside neighborhood, has been a volunteer and activist for many years.

As one of the founding community leaders of the Coalition Against the Colerain Connector, a visionary effort to prevent construction of a 40 year-old highway project in Northside and reclaim the 30 acres of land from the Ohio Department of Transportation for community use, Stefanie’s persistent work was key to gaining support from government officials that led to the defeat of the Colerain Connector Project and agreement to allow the land to return to the community. Through the award of a $123,000 grant she wrote to create Badgeley Run Park, she worked intimately with the Cincinnati Park Board to transform 10 of the acres, a 50 year-old illegal dump site, into a beautiful park.

Stefanie has served on the Northside Community Council and headed up the Council’s litter affiliate, organized numerous comprehensive street sweeps, served as the coordinator for Make A Difference Day and founded the organization’s Housing Committee to address the issues of blight, absentee landlords and sub-standard rental conditions.

She works tirelessly to report graffiti, illegal dumping, litter and other code violations as well as teach others how to do the same. Stefanie helped establish the Northside Court Watch, which has become a paradigm of community input and tracking in the legal process for crimes committed in the community and was among the first residents to participate in the Northside Citizens On Patrol, a group of trained volunteers who work closely with the police and citizens to report crime and other dangerous situations they observe happening in the community. Stefanie is also a member of the Community Problem Oriented Policing Team.

Stefanie has also been involved as a volunteer with Northside Greenspace, Inc. for many years on a variety of projects that range from serving as the neighborhood coordinator for the City’s Fall ReLeaf program, planting trees in community public spaces, securing grant funds that enabled the community to add hundreds of street trees and allowed Stefanie to transform several blighted, vacant lots into neighborhood parks; the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Park, Elmore Gateway Garden and the Dooley By-Pass Entry.

Additionally, Stefanie is involved with the Multi-Neighborhood Housing Task Force, a coalition of ten city neighborhoods that works with City and State officials to establish Ordinances intended to eliminate blighted housing conditions, protect tenants and homeowners and prosecutes those involved in criminal investment activities.

In 2005, Stefanie founded the Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CNCURC), a non-profit, volunteer organization created to reverse the housing decline caused by the horrendous increase in foreclosures, vacancies and associated crime by increasing homeownership, and serves as the organization’s current president. To date CNCURC has built and sold two silver certified Leadership in Energy and Environmentally Design (LEED) homes, is rehabilitating four historic homes as single-family homeownership units to “green” standards, is responsible for demolition of seven derelict buildings and, most importantly, responsible for closing a corner grocery store that served as the hub for illegal drug sales.

Stefanie does not give up. She believes we can always make a positive from a negative and it is evident in her service. In addition, most people utilize their extra time for personal interests; however, Stefanie is a glowing example of someone using one of their most precious commodities for the benefit of others.