Dr. Washington Burns & Diann Castleberry receive CILSA Community Partner Award

On Monday, February 17, 2014 CILSA celebrated its fifth annual CILSA Awards Dinner. Awards were given to a Saint Mary's staff member, faculty member, community partner, alumni and student. This story highlights Dr. Washington Burns and Diann Castleberry who received the CILSA Community Partner Award.

The Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement began offering programs in late 1995, including tutoring in the schools, programs, computer literacy classes, and a place to celebrate the arts. Today, the center continues to uphold that vision and provide programs that strengthen the individual, stabilize families, and revitalize the community. The center’s core program areas are: Family Support Services, Art & Culture, Health & Wellness, Youth Development, Community Education, and Community Partnerships. It is also home to the Northern California Breath-mobile.  

Dr. Washington Burns (Executive Director: Prescott Joseph Center for Community Enhancement)

The center’s director is Dr. Washington Burns who has spent most of the past decade working to better the lives of residents in theWest Oakland neighborhood he once called his own.  Dr. Burns first settled at 27th and Adeline streets after moving from northern Mississippi when he was a teenager. He earned a degree in public health from UC Berkeley and a medical degree from the University of Buffalo. In 2000, he retired from his post as lab director in the department of pathology at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where he had worked for 34 years.  He has also been the President of the West Oakland Community Collaborative AND the Program Director of the West Oakland Asthma Coalition. Don’t let his quiet, calm demeanor fool you.  He is passionate about the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of the neighborhood. Karen Hayes, the Vice Principal at Prescott Elementary schools says he is a ”quiet power in the community.  We need a positive beam of light and he provides that.”  He quietly works behind the scenes to secure grants and resources to create and implement programs that empower families in West Oakland. Dr. Burns is a “big picture” kind of man.  One of CILSA’s students who worked with Dr. Burns while he participated in the MICAH Fellowship said he came to realize that service can take on different forms by watching Dr. Burns in action.  The student noted that indirect service in the form of advocacy was a whole new way of thinking about social change and said Dr. Burns was a model of this kind of work. 

Diann Castleberry (Deputy Director: Prescott Joseph Center for Community Enhancement)Diann Castleberry joined the Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement in August 2012 as Deputy Director. In this role she supports Dr. Burns in delivery of a variety of programs that support community enhancement for the people of West Oakland and the Bay Area. Her principle day-to-day work consists of oversight management of the Alameda County program: Another Road to Safety (ARS). Diann provides daily and long-term planning and management of general operations, including finances and human resources as well as supports the Executive Director in Board, programs, project-specific work and community relations.

Prior to joining the Prescott-Joseph team, Diann spent more than 15 years with the Port of Oakland serving in various capacities ranging from field representative and manager to the Director of Social Responsibility. She has spent more than a decade working with the local community on issues, policies and programs to build collaborative relationships that are solution-based. Since her high school years, Diann has dedicated her personal life to advocacy for personal transformation and healthy communities focused primarily on youth, women and people of color. She embraces the ideals fostered by humanitarians such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Daisaku Ikeda. Diann has also served on several business, non-profit and NGO boards, committees and memberships in the East Bay and Northern California. Diann is co-producer of an award-winning Port curriculum reaching some 10,000 students in the 9-Bay Area counties.

CILSA’s partnership with Prescott Joseph has been unique.  Up to now, our primary partnership has been through our summer immersion program known as the MICAH Summer Fellowship.  For the past two years, one of our student fellows has worked with the center to conduct research and create policy briefs that are guiding their efforts in creating a family resource center.  The student fellows work 8 hours a day…five days a week…for eight weeks over the summer.  Our students are learning valuable leadership and advocacy skills while providing much needed service to the center.  And later tonight we will meet one of those students. 

CILSA and the Prescott Joseph Center have recently embarked on an ambitious partnership that includes an AMERICORPS VISTA volunteer who is currently working to identify specific programming needs that can be met through co-curricular programs and community engagement courses.  Our VISTA volunteer serves as a liaison between the center and CILSA.  One of these initial partnerships is with a community engagement course focusing on survey science.