RMAPI names nonprofit leader to co-chair steering committee

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative has chosen a nonprofit leader to co-chair its steering committee.

Jerome Underwood
Jerome Underwood

Jerome Underwood, who serves as president and CEO of Action for a Better Community Inc., will share steering committee duties with Nazareth College of Rochester President Daan Braveman. Underwood replaces the retiring Rev. Marvin McMickle, who has served as the committee’s co-chair since 2017.

“It is indeed an honor to have been chosen as the RMAPI co-chair,” Underwood said. “I would first like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Marvin McMickle, whose retirement created this opportunity.”

Underwood was named to lead ABC in January 2018, following eight years of board service, and seven as board chair. The agency promotes and provides opportunities for low-income individuals and families to become self-sufficient.

“The role is an extension of what ABC does on a daily basis—improve the lives of those who have been socially/emotionally and economically marginalized. This is challenging work on our best days,” Underwood said. “Notwithstanding, my intent is to work collaboratively with the RMAPI staff and the wide range of people and organizations who consider poverty reduction as a moral imperative. My encouragement is that we do so while remaining focused on the project’s guiding principles of addressing trauma and structural racism and community building.”

Underwood, an immigrant who came to Rochester in 1985, has served in a number of leadership roles, including as vice president and commercial product manager for community reinvestment at HSBC Bank, and in management roles within the Rochester City School District, where he oversaw programs that focused on parent engagement, student leadership and cultural responsiveness.

“Jerome Underwood is a perfect fit to serve as co-chair of the RMAPI steering committee,” RMAPI Executive Director Leonard Brock said. “His passion for improving the lives of people and dedication to equity is unmatched in our community, and we look forward to his leadership as RMAPI creates systemic change that improves the lives of all in our community.”

As co-chair of the RMAPI steering committee, McMickle helped lead the collective impact effort through an evolution in its governance structure to better bring together stakeholders around a common agenda to reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency. During his tenure, RMAPI established working groups to bring together employers, social service agencies, funders and stakeholders from across sectors in Rochester.

“Dr. McMickle has been one of Rochester’s leading advocates for lifting up all of those affected by poverty, using his stature in our community to serve as a voice for the voiceless,” Brock said. “His leadership has helped to guide RMAPI through a critical period as we set the path for long-term poverty reduction and his focus on addressing inequalities of all kinds has served as an example to everyone across our community.

RMAPI is a multi-sector community collaborative whose aim is to improve quality of life by reducing poverty and increasing self-sufficiency. Its three guiding principles are to address structural racism, address trauma and build community.

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