People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo) is proud to announce our two new Deputy Directors. Harper Bishop has been hired as the Deputy Director of Movement Building and Dawn Wells-Clyburn has been promoted to Deputy Director of Administration. PUSH Buffalo is committed to building a leaderful movement by embedding deep internal democratic processes, diverse perspectives, and local expertise within the organization in order to adequately represent and serve our growing community.
“As PUSH grows, we seek to address the ever-increasing complexity of the organization and its various strategic priorities which remain centered around affordable housing, anti-gentrification, and a just transition to a renewable energy economy. We are grateful to have Dawn and Harper’s leadership skills and talents guiding the organization during its continued growth. Our commitment to our community is to ensure PUSH’s stability and success far into the future. I could not ask for a more perfect team to work alongside of to deepen the impact of our mission” said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo.
Dawn Wells-Clyburn, a Buffalo native, returned home in 1999 to care for her terminally ill father. Outraged by the degraded conditions in the city, she decided to use her professional business skills as instruments for change by working with several community organizations that promoted social justice, community development, youth activism and cultural enhancement. Along the way, Ms. Wells Clyburn started her own bookkeeping service for small businesses and charitable organizations while continuing her education and starting a family.
Ms. Wells-Clyburn has brought 25 years of experience in accounting, management and information systems to PUSH in addition to her degrees in Business Management and Accounting from SUNY Empire State. Her extensive work with Fortune 500 companies, higher education institutions, and government municipalities has prepared her for the post with PUSH Buffalo.
In 2015, Ms. Wells-Clyburn was promoted to Director of Finance and Administration at PUSH after serving as a staff member in the organization for two years. Over the past three plus years, she has led the design and implementation of comprehensive and critical organizational infrastructure, including the creation of a Finance Department and the development of human resource and information technology capacities to support the growth of the 14-year old organization.
Ms. Wells-Clyburn is a graduate of Leadership Buffalo’s Rising Leaders Program and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance. She is a dedicated wife to Timothy and mother of two, David and Hadassah, and is an active member of her church congregation.
PUSH Buffalo is a local membership-based community organization fighting to make affordable housing a reality on Buffalo’s West Side. The mission is to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality, affordable housing; to expand local hiring opportunities; and to advance economic justice in Buffalo. Now in its 14th year, PUSH has grown to serve as a national model through our place-based community-controlled initiative – the Green Development Zone (GDZ). The GDZ, founded in 2008, combines green affordable housing construction, community-based renewable energy projects, housing weatherization, green jobs training, green infrastructure, and vacant land restoration projects toward the goal of creating pathways to employment for neighborhood residents while, reducing our carbon and ecological footprint. By gaining control over public and private capital for “triple bottom line projects” that create economic growth, equity, and environmental sustainability, PUSH is laying the foundation for a new community economy that puts people and planet first.
Harper Bishop has nearly a decade’s worth of professional experience in community-based organizations. During that time, Mr. Bishop has trained and developed grassroots leadership; written and advocated for progressive policies; and organized for economic, social, and racial justice in his hometown of Buffalo, most recently as the Director of Economic Development at Open Buffalo. While in that role, Mr. Bishop served as co-coordinator of the Crossroads Collective, a one-of-a-kind collaboration between local community organizers, growers, workers’ rights advocates, faith-based leaders, researchers, and grassroots activists that are working together to address growing income inequality and to build a movement for a just transition from an extractive to a regenerative economy in WNY. Mr. Bishop’s long history in community-controlled, placed-based economic development is also nationally recognized. He has been a Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Local Economy Fellow, is a co-founder of Cooperation Buffalo, and currently serves as co-Chair of the national New Economy Coalition.
His work at Open Buffalo afforded Mr. Bishop the opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Fruit Belt neighborhood, a historically African-American/Black neighborhood on the near East Side of Buffalo, as residents organized to launch the F.B. Community Land Trust in response to the rapid gentrification and displacement affecting long-time city residents, specifically people of color, low-income and working class people, and marginalized LGBTQ folx. Mr. Bishop now sits on the Board of Directors of the land trust as a public stakeholder.
Prior to joining Open Buffalo, Mr. Bishop served as the Executive Director of Buffalo First, a non-profit organization that supported local and independent businesses. Under his leadership, Buffalo First became a vehicle for social change by creating opportunities for the growth of local social enterprises and benefit corporations that prioritized people over profits, or what is known as a “triple bottom line” approach to business, Following his tenure at Buffalo First, Mr. Bishop continued to use his policy and legislative expertise as Legislative Assistant to former Delaware District Council Member, the late Michael J. LoCurto, to champion worker cooperative development, paid sick leave, and the success of the City of Buffalo first-ever participatory budgeting process.
Lastly, Mr. Bishop is a staunch defender of LGBTQ rights and firmly believes that everyone has the right to live their truth free from fear. He is committed to continuing to push for an intersectional analysis that affirms collective liberation and centers the lived experience of those most impacted by state-sanctioned violence and white supremacy.
Harper Bishop is a proud trans man, who lives with his partner on Buffalo’s West Side and wholeheartedly believes in building the Beloved Community.