Shirronda Almeida

Director of the Mel King Institute

Shirronda Almeida, Director of The Mel King Institute for Community Building, serves on MACDC’s management team and supports Community Development organizations in improving their capacity to reach their mission. She joined the team in 2002, as a Program Coordinator and later served as Membership Director. Now, under the auspices of the Institute launched in 2009, she manages the robust professional education program, Alliance – Advancing Community Development by Confronting Racism, the Community Development Mentoring Program, and the annual MKI Breakfast event. The Institute engages over 500 people annually and partners to offer programs for professionals, AmeriCorps members, Board members, residents, and other local leaders in community development. 

Shirronda is a gubernatorial appointee for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and on the boards of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, and Center for the Living City. In 2017, she was presented with the Nancy Nye Memorial Award by Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development. Prior to her time at MACDC, Shirronda worked in youth development programming, community organizing, prevention and public art programs. She holds a Master's degree in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from Simmons University. Shirronda is Reiki Master and a registered yoga instructor.


sarah byrnes

Sarah Byrnes

Director of the Public Housing Training Program

Sarah Byrnes directs the Mel King Institute’s Public Housing Training Program, which helps residents of public housing meaningfully participate in the oversight of their housing developments. Launched in 2017, the Program offers trainings and network-building opportunities to Resident Board Members and other Resident Leaders. Prior to joining the Mel King Institute, Sarah was the Director of New England New Economy Transition program at the Institute for Policy Studies, where she focused on community organizing in Jamaica Plain, Boston, and founded a regional network of grassroots groups called the New England Resilience & Transition network. Sarah has also worked with Americans for Financial Reform, Americans for Fairness in Lending, and the Thomas Merton Center. She has a BA from Boston College and Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She lives in Roslindale with her husband and two children.


Lia Downing

Program Coordinator

Lia Downing provides Mel King Institute training development and program support, as well as recruitment and management of the Certificate Cohort program. She markets the Institute's activities through monthly newsletters and program spotlights, website updates, and social media.  Prior to joining Mel King Institute, she worked at Solstice Power Technologies as a community outreach associate and the Department of Justice as a paralegal specialist. She continues to develop a strong interest in urban planning and community development, as well as sustainability and policy work.  Lia graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Anthropology and Chinese Language and Culture. In her free time, she enjoys painting watercolors for her Etsy shop, reading library books, and hosting dinner parties.


Tiana Lawrence

Program Associate

Tiana Lawrence serves as the Program Associate at the Mel King Institute for Community Building. With the Resident Leadership Academy, she manages data and communications, serves as a trainer, and supports a statewide network of public housing residents through learning and networking opportunities. Tiana also co-manages with the MKI Director, the Alliance Steering Committee and activities implemented by members. Tiana has a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies and English and a Master of Education in Community Engagement from Merrimack College. Tiana continues to grow in her passion for DEI, racial equity, leadership development, and social justice work. In her free time, she enjoys painting, singing, listening to music, writing, traveling, and quality time with family and friends.

Steering Committee

  • Amy Shapiro, Franklin County CDC

  • Casey Starr, Main South CDC

  • Emily Torres-Cullinane, MAPC

  • Ezra Glenn, MIT

  • Jason Desrosier, Allston Brighton CDC

  • Joe Kriesberg, MACDC

  • John Fitzgerald, Jamaican Plain NDC

  • Lynn Peterson, NeighborWorks America

  • Mathew Thall, Mathew Thall Consulting

  • Matt Wilson, Campaign Consultant

  • Sara Barcan, CEDAC

  • Sarah Lamitie, Boston Private

  • Shelly Goehring, MHP

  • Susanne Cameron, JP Morgan Chase

  • Tia Vice, LISC Boston