Mildred Fallen is something of a Cincinnati historian. A local journalist, you can often see the product of her verbal explorations of Cincinnati's hip-hop scene in the pages of CityBeat and other publications. Her pieces often reflect something that's been lost to time or merely overlooked. And it's with this perspective that Fallen approaches her other, newer calling: social work.
In fall of 2011, Fallen joined Public Allies
, a non-profit organization under the umbrella of AmeriCorps and a program of the local nonprofit Bridges for a Just Community
. Allies' goal is to turn socially driven, passionate people into the next generation of leaders. Allies partner with other non-profits in Cincinnati to help with programming, training and community building.
"I had never heard of the program," says Fallen, who joined in 2011. But she was swept up in the movement. "They believe in enticing young people to approach leadership in their own way. It's not a cookie cutter or corporate way."
Fallen was placed with two non-profits after joining Public Allies — The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Bridges. She splits her time between the two groups, focusing her energies on engaging the broader community. She manages social media, like the organizations' Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs for both organizations and circulates information to demographics that could benefit from the organizations' resources.
Fallen also is a natural master of the "teachable moment." After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager killed in February 2012, she helped organize a race forum at Woodward High School called "What's Race Got to Do With It?" that allowed residents to have a broad discussion about race and class in America. Fallen says that by engaging the region, you develop a more just community.
"People talked about how violence affects people like Trayvon, but also other people in Cincinnati as well," Fallen says.
During her tenure at the Freedom Center, she also has helped organize a capacity event with activist and author Angela Davis that attracted nearly 800 people — 600 in person and another 200 tuned in on UStream. She also pioneered a blog within the Freedom Center called "Queen City Conductor" that explores the little-known accomplishments of Cincinnatians of color.
Fallen says she wouldn't have been able to accomplish what she has in the last year without Public Allies. "The biggest component that people don't know about Public Allies is the training we receive," she says. "This is the first time I've really had a lot of peer support. I'm looking at myself professionally. I've been able to do a lot in a short amount of
Fallen also is part of a community service project in partnership with the Strive Partnership. For the last two years, Cincinnati has won the America's Promise Alliance award, which means that the city in considered one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People. Together with her team, she is hosting community conversations to find out the public's opinion about Cincinnati's accountability in areas where we were noted as being excellent.
Fallen's term of service with Public Allies ends June 30, and her experience has given her a lot for look forward to when she moves on. She says her experience leading up to and throughout Public Allies has made her want to be a social historian of the city while maintaining service projects and engaging the larger community.
"I can actually say things like I have time management skills," Fallen says. "I'm successful at completing these projects. I'm confident that once I leave Public Allies, these are strengths I can really be excited about sharing."
By Ryan McLendon