Sarah Lamitie grew up immersed in community activism. Her parents were vocal activists during the school desegregation busing crisis in the 1970s, and were actively engaged in social justice and equity issues during her childhood. Sarah recalls making phone calls and passing out leaflets to help ensure participation from her neighbors in community meetings. At Smith College, Sarah pursued a degree in Government and Economics, and then continued her studies at the Tufts’ Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning for a master’s degree, which deepened her understanding of inequities in our housing markets.
After graduating, Sarah worked in the public sector on affordable and public housing development and finance. She currently works at Silicon Valley Bank as a CRA and Community Affairs Officer, part of the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) team that focuses on lending, investments, and philanthropic initiatives benefitting low- and moderate-income people and communities in Greater Boston, as well as in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles. Sarah’s transition to the private sector allowed her to further her work on affordable housing with an understanding that “community development can’t happen without nonprofits, the public sector, and the private sector all working together.”
In addition to Sarah’s work at Silicon Valley Bank, she is also a board member at Southwest Boston CDC and on the Mel King Institute’s steering committee. Through her work with the CDC, she has gained insights into the challenges that low-income families in Hyde Park and Roslindale face in finding and maintaining an affordable home, accessing services, and building wealth. Sarah’s experience on the board has also brought her closer to her neighbors in Roslindale, where she has lived for over two decades. She feels that the insights that she has gained from her engagement with the CDC and the Mel King Institute inform her work with SVB and help her to ensure the bank’s CRA programs have a direct impact on improving the lives of the residents of our communities.
One aspect of Sarah’s work that brings her great satisfaction is learning about and supporting the inspiring work happening in communities throughout Greater Boston and partnering with the CDCs and other non-profits in the forefront of these efforts. She has especially enjoyed the opportunities she has had to meet residents of affordable housing that the Southwest Boston CDC or SVB has played a role in helping to create.
Sarah is optimistic that the increased awareness of equity, social and racial justice issues will positively affect the dialogue around affordable housing and community development. The strong and increasingly diverse leadership in the community development field and in local government give her hope that we can collectively meet the challenge of high housing costs — so more families can stay and thrive in communities throughout Greater Boston.
Silicon Valley Bank and the Alliance for Racial Equity are sponsoring a network event on 9/27. Please register to join us and meet Mel King Institute program partners at this link!