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Wolfeboro's DesMarais wins national Leadership Award

LACONIA — NeighborWorks America announced that Edith DesMarais of Wolfeboro is a recipient of the 2013 Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award, an honor that this year recognizes six leaders from around the country for their outstanding contributions to their communities.

NeighborWorks America announced the honorees during its Community Leadership Institute (CLI), held this year in Sacramento, CA. A team from the Eastern Lakes Region Housing Coalition (ELRHC) of Wolfeboro attended. The CLI is an event that strengthens the skills of local leaders and provides grants for these attendees to return home and improve their communities with the knowledge they gained.

"Edith DesMarais and all of the Dorothy Richardson award recipients have shown a commitment to transforming the lives of others," said Eileen M. Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks America. "Each of the honorees is working to strengthen the communities where they live."

DesMarais also received the President's Volunteer Service Award, created to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. For her work in affordable housing, DesMarais received an official President's Volunteer Service Award lapel pin and a congratulatory letter from the President of the United States.

Linda Harvey, Executive Director of Laconia Area Community Land Trust (LACLT) nominated DesMarais for the NeighborWorks award given in recognition for a Pittsburgh-based pioneer in the community-development movement. She said, "Edie embodies all the characteristics of a committed community builder who translates vision into action and successful outcomes."

Harvey explains that DesMarais spent nearly 10 years building regional support for affordable housing in Wolfeboro, including regulatory changes and the creation of ELRHC. The result is the Harriman Hill development, with 24 completed units built in Phase I and another 24 units currently under construction for Phase II. The units are preserved as permanent community assets. Prior to her remarkable achievements in housing, DesMarais provided leadership in childcare which led to the creation of the nonprofit Wolfeboro Area Children's Center for which she served as longtime founding director.

 
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