From left are Dr. Belinda Allen, COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. and Dr. Lula Ballton (Photo by Rickey Brown)

Dr. Lula Ballton is former CEO of West Angeles CDC and current president of the National Community Development, COGIC, International. With Dr. Ballton’s support and the blessing of senior pastor, Bishop Charles E. Blake, Dr. Belinda Allen takes the reign as executive director of West Angeles CDC. 

West Angeles Community Development Corporation recently held a “Meet & Greet” luncheon at one of its community enhancement projects, the West Angeles Villas located in the Crenshaw District to inform and engage community stakeholders regarding existing programs, community revitalization projects and introduce its interim executive director, Dr. Belinda Allen.

Dr. Allen was previously the CDC board chair and has been a board member since 1997, where she worked with city officials and corporate sponsors for annual fundraising. She collaborated with business partners and the board to assess community needs, leverage resources, and ensure performance-to-plan.

Dr. Allen assisted with budget management, project planning and implementation for organizational sustainability.  With 36 years of financial management experience in the aerospace industry, she also served on Boeing’s Employees Community Fund Board of Directors representing 4,000 employees. In addition, Dr. Allen served as president of Boeing’s Diversity Council.

West Angeles CDC was founded in early 1994 as an outreach program of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, then a 15,000-member congregation in L.A.’s Crenshaw District. Dr. Lula Ballton and Bishop Charles E. Blake, together with West Angeles COGIC trustees, founded the CDC to expand the compassionate outreach and neighborhood development ministries of the church in the face of mounting problems of poverty and injustice in the surrounding community.

“We are not a typical economic development corporation. We’re not here to create jobs and build buildings. We want to be a model for the beloved community that is spoken of by Zachariah and by Dr. Martin Luther King. We are modeling healthy communities, where the faith institution is the center of that community. Historically, in the African American community, the church has been the economic engine as well as the moral plumb line,” said Dr. Ballton.

The mission of West Angeles Community Development Corporation is to increase social and economic justice, demonstrate compassion and alleviate poverty as tangible expressions of the kingdom of God through the vehicle of community development. Dr. Belinda Allen began her tenure as executive director on July 10, 2017.

“One of Dr. Ballton’s famous quotes is, ‘We are the voice, hands, and feet for those who cannot do for themselves.’ I’d like to further that with a quote by President John F. Kennedy, ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’” said Dr. Allen. “Now is the time to hear from our stakeholders and create change. It is the CDC’s commitment to move on behalf of the beloved community.”

The organization holds $10 million of assets that are used to service the Crenshaw community and its various projects. This includes the Great Streets Initiative, Affordable Housing, Mixed-Use Development, Transit Development and Eco-District.

“Our goal is to empower the community to become whole. We want to create agents of change so that our streets are safe, families are healed, and the community is sustained. Success is not measured by how many individuals we serve alone. Success is based on those individuals who become sustained and provide for themselves,” stated Dr. Allen.

In addition to providing for the community, the CDC is there for the people during devastating times. In collaboration with West Angeles Church, the CDC provided resources to those who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. The organization continues to provide a variety of services for the community that includes food, clothes, and shelter. Other services consist of credit counseling, small business microloans, small business tax preparation and volunteer income tax assistance.

The CDC also provides classes and clinics on entrepreneurship and finances among other topics. The organization aims to be a leading catalyst for the revitalization and stabilization of communities in South Los Angeles, beginning with the Crenshaw District.  The principles of reconciliation, sustainability, and social equity play a critical role in core values that guide the CDC’s priorities, project selection, and design and strategies.

“I am so proud of the work of the West Angeles CDC and those who have led it and worked so diligently for its success,” said Bishop Blake. “I see our community in the future and it looks much better than it looks right now.”