April 12, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Obituaries: The Common Denominator: Kenya RPCV W. Retta Gilliam killed crossing street in Washington DC

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: The Peace Corps in Kenya: April 13, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Obituaries: Washington Post: Kenya RPCV W. Retta Gilliam dies in Washington DC, was community activist : April 12, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Obituaries: The Common Denominator: Kenya RPCV W. Retta Gilliam killed crossing street in Washington DC

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Kenya RPCV W. Retta Gilliam killed crossing street in Washington DC

Kenya RPCV W. Retta Gilliam killed crossing street in Washington DC

Kenya RPCV W. Retta Gilliam killed crossing street in Washington DC

Ward 8 leader killed crossing SE street

(April 12, 2005, online news update)

Police are investigating an early morning accident yesterday in which the longtime leader of the East of the River Community Development Corp. was struck by a car and killed as she attempted to cross the street at Southern Avenue and Suitland Road SE.

Friends said W. Retta Gilliam, 43, of 2031 36th St. SE was probably on her routine morning jog when she was struck in a crosswalk at 7:33 a.m. Monday. Gilliam, president and executive director of Ward 8's CDC, was taken to Prince George's County Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 8:17 a.m. of undisclosed injuries sustained in the crash.

The driver of the car, Beverly Robinson of Suitland, Md., was traveling northbound on Suitland Road and veered from the roadway, crashing into a tree, after striking Gilliam. Police said Robinson, 29, was admitted to Howard University Hospital in "undetermined condition" and had not been charged this afternoon.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Gilliam, whose family was reportedly in transit to the District from Louisiana and Texas. A memorial service is being planned in the District, while burial is expected to be in Gilliam's hometown of Shreveport, La.

Terry B. Thomas, chairman of the East of the River CDC's Board of Directors, said he has called an emergency meeting of the CDC's board and advisory panel for Wednesday night.

"It's devastating – a real loss to the organization, to the staff and to the community," Thomas told The Common Denominator. "To Retta, the community came first. She gave up a tremendous amount of her own time."

Dawnn Leary, the CDC's director of community planning and empowerment, said that "Ward 8 has lost a true champion and fighter."

"She was not only a boss – she was a mentor, a leader and a friend," Leary said.

Gilliam was nearing the eighth anniversary of taking the helm at the East of the River CDC, where she focused much of her work in the past few years on projects to develop affordable housing in Ward 8. Under her leadership, the CDC became a partner in the development of Camp Simms into a mixed-use residential and retail center near the Congress Heights Metro Station on Alabama Avenue SE.

Five years after Gilliam took over the CDC's leadership, she presided over the grand opening in September 2002 of its new Plaza 8 headquarters building at 3029 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE in Congress Heights. The CDC's move from rented office space in the nearby Washington Gas building signaled a major expansion of the nonprofit organization's role in the community.

Gilliam served on numerous neighborhood and city task forces devoted to housing and economic development initiatives, and was a mayoral appointee to the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board from 2000-2004. She was Ward 8's representative for the D.C. Public Schools 21st Century Initiative.

She brought 15 years of experience in community and economic development to her role at the CDC in 1997, ranging from her service as a U.S. Peace Corps business adviser in Kenya to her work on Wall Street as an investment associate to her founding of the Gilliam Group, a consulting company that specialized in entrepreneurial training, financial management and real estate development.

Among her many affiliations, Gilliam served on the Enterprise Foundation Neighborhood Advisory Council, the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development Board of Directors, the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative Finance Committee, and as treasurer of the Trenton Park Neighborhood Corp.
—By Kathryn Sinzinger

When this story was posted in April 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Common Denominator

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kenya; Obituaries



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