Isles’ second annual virtual forum was a weeklong series of free webinars, workshops, and panels focused on community development, urban sustainability, and more. This Forum was free and open to the public. Hear what our CEO Sean Jackson had to say about the goal of this year’s forum here.

View the forum schedule, panelists, and recordings and slides from sessions below.

Monday, June 6: Equity and Access

On Monday, we discuss topics related to equity and access in the contexts of health, energy, and technology. What lessons can we take from the pandemic in ensuring the safety of vulnerable populations from future crises? How do we transition to clean energy in a community-driven way? How can we address gaps in digital access in Trenton and beyond?

10 AM: Lessons of the Pandemic from Nonprofit Leaders

Description: Join us for a roundtable discussion on how the region’s nonprofits have weathered this once-in-a-generation pandemic – including how they’ve adapted operations, responded to changing needs, and planned for resiliency for the future.

Who should attend
: nonprofit leaders, community development representatives, general public

Panelists include:
John Hart, COO of Isles
Nathalie Nelson, CEO of Womanspace
David Fox, Executive Director of Arm in Arm

12 PM: Let’s GO Trenton – Clean & Community-Driven Transportation for Trenton

Description: As the electric vehicle market continues to expand, state, local, and community stakeholders have collaborated for the past few years to develop GOTrenton – a community-driven electric vehicle pilot that will increase transportation access while reducing air pollution in the city. Join us to learn how about this project and how we can continue to center equity and people in our transition to a clean energy economy.

Who should attend: government officials, Trenton stakeholders and residents

Panelists include:
Katharina Miguel, Isles
Joyce E. Campbell, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK)
Peg Hanna, NJ Department of Environmental Protection

Sponsored by:


2 PM: Getting Online to Learn: Closing the Digital Divide

Description: When COVID shutdowns occurred, Isles Youth Institute pivoted to provide remote instruction; however, some students did have not reliable access to high-speed internet service. Join this session to learn what Isles and its partners are doing to address the digital access gap in Trenton and similar communities.

Who should attend
: educators, internet access advocates, policymakers and planners

Panelists include: 
Anita Wemple, Principal of Isles Youth Institute
Denise Kreiss, Parent Coordinator/Homeless Liaison at Trenton Public Schools
Ray Ingram, Trenton Digital Initiative

Tuesday, June 7: Health, Wealth, and the Green Economy

On Tuesday, we discuss topics related to building a healthier, wealthier, and more sustainable community. How can we use new lead policy to protect the health of children? What challenges will we face in developing a greener workforce? How can we support families facing housing instability due to COVID in retaining safe and stable housing?

Presented by day sponsor:

10 AM: Implementing NJ’s Powerful New Tool to Make Homes Lead Safe – Lead Safe Certificates

DescriptionThis session provides information about NJ’s new Lead Safe Certificate law and how it will help keep children safe from lead hazards in their homes. We’ll discuss how Lead Safe Certificates work, who it affects and its impact in other cities.

Who should attend
: municipal officials, landlords, realtors, state agencies, community development organizations

Panelists include:
Ben Haygood, Isles
Daniel Cohn, Lead Safe Cleveland, Mt. Sinai
Matt O’Donnell, Bay Hill Environmental
Nicholas Kikis, NJ Apartment Association (NJAA)

Sponsored by:

12 PM: Developing a Green Workforce: Eliminating Barriers and Overcoming Challenges

Description: In this session, we’ll explore the challenges to growing a green workforce from both the employee and employer side. You’ll learn about the struggles of new employees entering this growing field and what employers need most.

Who should attend
: employers, community partners and stakeholders, job seekers, general public

Panelists include:
Emily Puskar, Isles
Andre Thomas, Isles
Devika Maram, PSEG

2 PM: A Slow “Tsunami” – Understanding and Addressing COVID-related Housing Displacement

Description: The social and economic disruptions caused by COVID continue to threaten families’ housing stability. Due to COVID-related job losses, a tightened housing market and increasing prices, a “tsunami” of evictions was predicted. However, effective policy responses, including eviction moratoria, rent/mortgage relief, and stimulus checks, have made its impact on housing stability not as straightforward as expected. Join this panel to learn about the region’s housing stability and what Isles and partners are doing to support families struggling to retain stable, safe housing.

Who should attend
: housing policy advocates, policymakers, lenders, housing counselors, general public

Panelists include:
DuEwa Edwards-Dickson, Mercer County
Cecilia Avila, Arm In Arm
Dan Rubin, Legal Services of New Jersey
Elena Hung-Shum, Isles
Patricia Berhau, Isles

Sponsored by:

Wednesday June 8: Safe and Sustainable Cities

On Wednesday, we discuss strategies for creating safer and more sustainable communities. How can we encourage local food production? How can we center Trenton residents in the redevelopment and rebuild of its neighborhoods? How does a community-driven response to violence promote long term public safety?

Presented by day sponsor:

10 AM: Block by Block: Strategies for Rebuilding Trenton’s Neighborhoods

Description: This past year, Isles partnered with Trenton Health Team and Center for Community Progress to update 2015’s neighborhood market study of Trenton, highlighting key measures of each neighborhood’s social and economic vitality. Join this session to learn more about the findings of this study, recommendations for how to move the city forward, and the value of analyzing and sharing timely data to inform localized policymaking.

Who should attend
: development policymakers and planners, partners in neighborhood revitalization, community members

Panelists include:
Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress
Alix Fellman, Trenton Health Team
Michael Nordquist, Isles

Sponsored by:

12 PM: Growing Gardeners: Isles Incubator Garden

Description: Since 2014, Isles has managed an education and training garden that provides novice gardeners with skills, resources, and support to grow their own food and then be able to take what they’ve learned to a neighborhood garden the following year. Learn about the history and lessons learned from this nearly-decade-old initiative, and hear from some of the incubator garden’s participants and graduates.

Who should attend
: food and healthy eating advocates, gardeners, urban agriculture enthusiasts, community members

Panelists include:
Justin Allen, Isles
Nicole Russo, Isles
Yolanda Wimbley, Trenton Gardener
Maati Sekmet Ra, Trenton Gardener

Sponsored by:

2 PM: Resilience to Violence: Building Public Safety through Community-Based Initiatives

Description: To address the causes of violence, communities need to create robust and resilient networks of support so that violence becomes an unacceptable response to conflict. The Trenton Community Street Teams project is a community-based violence intervention initiative designed to train and develop community members to be able to deescalate and defuse potentially violent situations in their neighborhoods. Join this session to learn more about Isles and other organizations’ work on this important issue.

Who should attend
: Trenton residents, advocates interested in community-based violence intervention, general public

Panelists include:
Montsho Edu, Isles
Perry Shaw, A Better Way
Michael Nordquist, Isles

Sponsored by:

Thursday, June 9: Resilient Communities

On Thursday, we discuss topics related to building more resilient communities in the face of change. How can we better adapt Trenton for the coming climate crises? What does the future of effective office space look like in a hybrid world? How do we build a resilient culture of peace through working with local youth?

10 AM: Preparing for Trenton’s Changing Climate: Climate Corps and Urban Green Infrastructure

Description: Like many places, Trenton is already experiencing hotter average temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events. To proactively address present and future climate challenges, Isles is piloting the Trenton Climate Corps. Trenton Climate Corps will train, employ, and mobilize cohorts to implement green infrastructure and climate resilience projects in Trenton and the region, to increase Trenton’s ability to thrive amidst rising temperatures. Join this session to learn about this initiative, the nine other Delaware River-based communities participating, and how you and your organization can be involved.

Who should attend
: environmental organizations and advocates, youth employment organizations, land use planners, water quality professionals and advocates, community members

Panelists include:
Jim Simon, Isles
Steph Sharo, Isles
Daniel Lawson, PowerCorps Philadelphia

Sponsored by:

12 PM: The Future of Office Space: Social Profit Center at Mill One

Description: Co-working, hot-desking, hybrid, shared space, etc. What is the future of office space, and how do we meet the differing needs of employees without sacrificing community-building, culture, or results? Hear about one space-sharing community where we focus on collaboration to maximize impact.

Who should attend
: nonprofit managers, general public

Panelists include:
Sean Jackson, Isles CEO
Roland Pott, Pott Real Estate LLC
Linda Czipo, President and CEO of the NJ Center for Nonprofits

Sponsored by:

2 PM: Increase the Peace: Creating a Culture of Peace through Creative Youth Engagement

Description: Public safety has been a key concern of Trentonians, particularly youth. Many youth have said they’re surrounded by influences that encourage violence, with few alternative messages or ideas. In partnership with local businesses, artists, and community based organizations, Isles Youth Services developed “Increase the Peace,” an anti-violence messaging campaign that seeks to feature messages of peace, anti-violence, affirmation, and hope. Join this session to learn more about this initiative and hear from some of the youth and artists who have participated.

Who should attend
: artists, anti-violence advocates, youth organizations, community members

Panelists include:
Stacy Heading, Isles
Leon Rainbow, local artist
Kenneth Miles, Trenton Journal

Sponsored by:

Friday, June 10: Future-Focused Opportunities

On Friday, we focus on building opportunities for the future. How can we measure impact and meet changing needs in our communities? Why is safe housing so crucial to building a better future? How can we collaborate on projects in the future?

10 AM: The Johnson Center for Learning and Impact

Description: As Isles enters its fifth decade of fostering self-reliance and healthy communities, we are taking on an ambitious project to scale our work and impact. In this session, we’ll share plans for the Johnson Center for Learning and Impact including how we are developing a community-based research and analysis hub, offering social entrepreneurship training, and expanding our policy work.

Who should attend
: community-based researchers, representatives from higher education, nonprofit leaders, general public

Panelists include:
John Hart, Isles
Sean Jackson, Isles
Marty Johnson, Isles
Laura Rothschild

12 PM: The Housing Holy Grail: Why and How to Make Housing Safe, Healthy, Energy Clean, and Efficient

Description: This session explores why healthy and efficient housing is a critical need, and best practices to achieve this ‘holy grail’ from Isles and experts from around the country. Specifically, how can we integrate siloed energy and health programs to maximize efficiencies in making improvements?

Who should attend
: public health, housing, and energy efficiency professionals and advocates, state and local policymakers, community development agencies, community health workers, social service providers, educators, general public

Panelists include:
Ben Butterworth, The Acadia Center
Elyse Pivnick, Isles
Ellen Tohn, Tohn Environmental Strategies
Kate Hastings, National Center for Healthy Housing and KBH Consultants

Sponsored by:

2 PM: Virtual Networking

Description: Join us for a virtual networking hour with panelists, attendees, and sponsors from the week’s sessions! We’ll offer topic-based breakout rooms for you to ask questions, share insights and resources, and connect with one another.

Who should attend
: everyone

Thank You to all of Isles’ Forum Sponsors

Daily Sponsors

Session Sponsors