Erin Myers

Since graduating from CIE, I continue to work in direct service and community organizing both in locally and internationally. I am the Programs Director for an organization in Turners Falls called The Brick House Community Resource Center, where Joanie Cohen-Mitchell, also a CIE graduate, was Executive Director in the early 2000s. I discovered this once I was already working at The Brick House. Joanie pioneered a number of remarkable programs, most notably, M.I.N.D., a leadership development program for women in the community. 


I am very excited to follow such a legacy. One of the most remarkable things about The Brick House is that the board, composed entirely of community members, drives the organization. This relationship marks an authentic relationship with the community, holding us directly accountable to the most important stakeholders in the work. Programs and projects most often come directly from talented people in the community. Thus, we are not only a resource center, but also a high traffic intersection of resourceful people. 


As Program Director, I am involved in strategic development of programs, supervising program coordinators, interns, and volunteers, and heading up monitoring and evaluation. When a community member approaches us with a program idea, it is my job to "run the program through our filter".  If it matches our mission and passes through a filter of strategic considerations, I help the community member plan and execute the project. Currently, we are partially funded by an in-house social enterprise called PowerTown Music, which involves youth in booking and promoting musical events at the local Shea Theater. Our other projects focus on strengthening families, developing community resilience, and increasing protective factors for youth. While we serve people of all ages, a major area of competency is working with at-risk youth.


I am also developing a start-up organization called Focal Acoustics. We train communities to use music and photography as a means of community education and strategic development of projects. Current projects include Voices of Islam (which is an extension of my Masters' thesis)—I am working with a group of women at Hampshire Mosque, Amherst to develop a body of photography that directly addresses misconceptions about jihad and the role of women in Islam. We will be applying for an Open Society grant which will allow us to travel and use the photos in focus groups and dialogue with media groups whom we have identified as having promoted common misconceptions. 


Feet Out of Water is a project in partnership with Waranka Association in Guinaw Rails, Senegal. Photos are taken by youth ages 13-18 in Guinaw Rails, Senegal, an urban settlement formed due to mass migrations from the villages to Dakar. They document the annual floods that plague the community. But the project does not only focus on struggle. The children have also captured the spirit of Guinaw Rails through a series of photos on Wolof proverbs and "points of resilience." The photos have been displayed at conferences such as Public Health and Innovation at Yale, where project partners have joined us in planning the building of a clinic for preventable illnesses in Guinaw Rails. Please contact me for more information. 

Thanks to CIE for opening up its great network, for helping me build my foundation, and for giving me much needed intensive training. Warmest regards, and stay in touch! [02/11]






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CIE Graduate