Innercity Community Development Corporation Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Managing Director Diane Ragsdale Champions Community Needs in South Dallas

DALLAS – April 5, 2012 – On April 19th, community leaders, friends and heroes will gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Innercity Community Development Corporation, (ICDC), the brainchild of Diane Ragsdale, a passionate champion for South Dallas.

Through its work under the direction of Ragsdale, ICDC exemplifies its motto: building lives and revitalizing neighborhoods. She is proud of the ICDC highlights to be celebrated on April 19th:

Top 3 accomplishments of ICDC in the last 25 years:

1. The development of Spring Plaza in South Dallas, a 21,000 square foot office complex which houses ICDC programs and offers affordable lease space to assist new business owners.

2. Acquisition and redevelopment of Grand Plaza shopping center, which eventually phased out pawn shops and liquor-related businesses, replacing them with wholesome businesses that serve the needs of the neighborhood community.

3. The establishment of the Housing Resource Center and The Business Assistance Center

“We are proud to be rebuilding the community through business ownership, employment opportunities and retail services for low to moderate income neighborhoods.  Spring Plaza was the first new development in this area in over 40 years and it served as the catalyst for other new developments in recent years. We are especially proud of our Business Assistance Center and Housing Resource Center which provides business development and home ownership opportunities for low to moderate income clients,” said Ragsdale.

Top current goals for ICDC:

1. Reduce our dependency on foundations and grants

2. Develop the capacity to expand our infill housing development program

3. Complete Pittman subdivision and Frazier Courtyard Homes

4. Finalize planning and begin construction of Mill City Town Center retail development

Spotlight on Diane Ragsdale

A South Dallas native and graduate of James Madison High School, Ragsdale received her BS Degree in Nursing from Dallas Baptist University. As a registered nurse, she has worked with a variety of institutions, including the VNA and the Veterans’ Administration. With over 20 years experience as a healthcare administrator, her management expertise includes planning, budgeting, operations, and supervisory functions.

Mentored by the late civil rights pioneer and Dallas City Council member Juanita Craft, Ragsdale’s civic involvement began as a member of the NAACP Youth Council. During her high school years, she served as a youth organizer for the South Dallas Information Center under the leadership of the Honorable Al Lipscomb.  Appointed to the Dallas City Plan Commission by the late Councilwoman Elsie Fay Heggins, Ragsdale fought passionately against zoning and thoroughfare incursions that destroyed neighborhood cohesiveness.

A staunch advocate for planned economic development and neighborhood self-determination, in 1984, Ragsdale was elected to the Dallas City Council where she served until 1991. She was elected Deputy Mayor Pro Tem by her City Council colleagues in 1987.  She co-chaired the Council’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee.

Ms. Ragsdale’s professions as a registered nurse, councilmember and activist taught her that there is a direct relationship between one’s health and one’s living conditions.  She was driven to become more involved in the community development arena, recognizing that certain key components are necessary for a healthy community.  These components include safe, quality, affordable housing; readily accessible healthcare; quality childcare; strong schools; and meaningful economic opportunity. Putting her understanding into action, Ms. Ragsdale helped found numerous community-based organizations, including:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Health Center, a non-profit comprehensive healthcare facility that serves all people.
  • Common Ground Economic Development Corporation, where she served as the organization’s founding Board President.
  • South Dallas/Fair Park Innercity Community Development Corporation, a community development corporation that promotes and advances opportunities for affordable housing, economic development and community education.

From 1999 to 2002, Ms. Ragsdale served as Chair of the ICDC Board. Since 2003, Ms. Ragsdale has served as ICDC’s Managing Director.  Under her leadership, ICDC is building new single family homes, facilitating homeownership for families through ICDC’S Homebuyer Education Program, spearheading major redevelopment and economic revitalization of areas within the community, introducing low-income innercity youth to the possibilities of business ownership as a viable career option, and supporting the growth of new and existing businesses through the ICDC Business Assistance Center. In 2009, ICDC became a partner in the Dallas Home Connection, sharing resources with three other community development corporations: Builders of Hope, EDCO, and SouthFair. The partnership also includes Capital One Bank, Enterprise Community Partners, and the Urban League of Greater Dallas. ICDC also works closely with Habitat for Humanity developments in South Dallas.

Ragsdale continues to live in South Dallas and is a strong advocate for community empowerment through education, mobilization and organization. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including:

  • the Invisible Giants Award from the Voting Rights Museum of Selma, AL
  • the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs’ Community Service Award
  • the African American Museum’s A. Maceo Smith Community Service Award; Dallas NAACP Civil Rights Award
  • the Texas Legislative Black Caucus Outstanding Texan Award
  • the 2007 Dallas Urban League President’s Award; the South Dallas Business and Professional Women’s 2009 Sojourner Truth Bust Award
  • the National Council of Negro Women Mary McLeod Bethune Community Service Award
  • And many other awards personally and for the ICDC organization.

In addition, her alma mater James Madison High has named the school library the Diane Ragsdale Library and Media Center in her honor.  The training center at the Child Care Dallas Center located at the Martin Luther King Complex is also named to honor her work and commitment.

“I am proud to be Diane’s friend and to have learned so much about successful community development through her tireless efforts. Diane’s work at ICDC has helped pave the way for countless people to achieve home ownership and start small businesses in South Dallas. Since she left the City Council, she has been dedicated to serving her neighborhood to the benefit of our City which is unsurpassed by anyone else I know. I am truly thankful for what she does for Dallas.” – Honorable Max Wells