Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Jacqueline Dupont-Walker is the founding president of Ward Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in Los Angeles.
WEDC was established in 1987 and is an independent affiliate of Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Under her leadership, the nonprofit has built, remodeled and managed more than 300 units of affordable housing in the city.
WEDC’s accomplishments consist of 120 apartments for seniors at Ward Villas, 91 units of family and singles housing at Tuelyn Terrace, seven scattered sites for families and re-entry residents, and 60 senior apartments at Rosa Parks Villas, which is Phase I of Crenshaw Getaway – a mixed use community.
Also, the agency has two projects in progress including Casa De Rosas, which will be home to 36 formerly homeless male and female single-parent military veterans with a child, and King Soloman Village, a community for individuals with urgent housing needs. In addition, Rosa Parks II, a multi-family community, is in pre-development.
Giving back to the community is something that is embedded in Dupont-Walker. Her family has played a huge part in her advocacy and commitment to servicing the community. She emphasized that advocacy is part of her DNA, stating that she was born into a family of people who took stands. Her father was co-leader in the Tallahassee bus boycott.
“It’s simultaneous to the Montgomery bus boycott,” she stated. “His father was an entrepreneur and used that power to stand up for the Blacks in the community.”
Her maternal grandfather was the only Black businessman in downtown Tallahassee. He lost his money in the Great Depression of 1929, but always stood his own.
“He was a shoemaker and so while he had to serve his own people out the back door, and White people out the front door, that was the stand he made,” said Dupont-Walker, who also serves as 1st vice chair of the Metro Board of Directors and as a connectional officer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Dupont-Walker’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University and a Master of Social Work degree from Atlanta University. She also completed post-graduate studies and earned certificates as a developer from USC’s Commercial Development Program and credentials as a substance abuse advisor from Washington University in Maryland.
About 30 years ago, Dupont-Walker revealed that she was diagnosed with cancer and was told to get her life in order. She was in the middle of building her first project and promised God if she got the chance to see that through and He gave her the opportunity to continue, she would not waste any time.
“I tried to keep that promise,” she said. “There is a sense of urgency about life that propels me, so I’m just grateful for everyday and the opportunity it provides me to try to keep that promise – that I would make every moment count.”
Her fearlessness and fortitude does not go unnoticed. On Saturday, April 15, Bakewell Media and the Los Angeles Sentinel will host the “Power, Leadership and Influence of the Black Woman” luncheon where Dupont-Walker, along with Mayor Karen Bass, Dr. Elaine Batchlor, Sandra Evers-Manly, and Stephanie N. Wiggins, will be honored and recognized for not only their accomplishments, but the work they have put in for their community. The event will take place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and is also the LA Sentinel’s 90th anniversary celebration.
The celebration was created by Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., who is chairman of Bakewell Media, and will salute these five accomplished women while also commemorating the Sentinel’s nearly century-long legacy of covering news about the African American community.
Dupont-Walker humbly said that this experience makes her feel “uncomfortable” because she is not a limelight person. She is not one who wants to be in the spotlight, but rather takes pride in the hard work that she has done behind the scenes. She expressed that she is a person who works in the “trenches” and tries to make sure things get done.
“But as my late husband used to say, ‘You work hard; you make it look easy, and people don’t appreciate what it takes,’” she explained. “I guess it’s a good opportunity to be able to really highlight that you don’t have to be in the media and there’s a value to what you do. Hopefully that will inspire and encourage somebody else.”
She added that she would be honored if two or three people came up to her during the event and say they would like to work with her. She explained that many Black community-based developers are gone – either moving on to private sectors, moved on to something else, or retired.
“I would like someone to say, ‘I would like to commit myself to the kind of work you do,’” she emphasized. “That would be the highest blessing of it.”
For more information on WEDC, visit: https://www.ward-edc.org/.
Visit lasentinel.net to learn more about the Power, Leadership and Influence of the Black Woman luncheon.