Who We Are

Who We Are

The Mel King Institute is a collaborative enterprise that leverages the resources of many institutions including MACDC, LISC, MassHousing, NeighborWorks America, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, Department of Housing and Community Development and several CDCs. Partnering with public agencies, nonprofits, universities, private consultants and experts will allow us to avoid duplication within the sector and provide higher quality training at a lower cost.


Shirronda AlmeidaShirronda Almeida

Director of the Mel King Institute

Shirronda Almeida is the Director of the Mel King Institute and she serves on MACDC’s management team.  She manages the Mel King Institute (a joint program of MACDC and LISC) and the Community Development Mentoring Program in partnership with the Alliance – Advancing Community Development by Confronting Racism.  Shirronda has worked on various local and statewide youth development, organizing, prevention and public art programs. She holds a Master's degree in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education where she focused on adolescent Risk and Prevention and social change. She received her B.A. from Simmons College in International Relations. Shirronda also enjoys traveling, dancing, practicing yoga and reading.


Sarah Byrnes

Director of the Public Housing Training Program

Sarah Byrnes manages the Mel King Institute’s Public Housing Training Program, which helps residents of public housing meaningfully participate in the oversight of their housing developments. Launching in 2017, the Program will offer trainings and network-building opportunities to tenant representatives on Local Housing Authorities 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, Program Coordinator for the Mel King Institute for Community Building, provides training development and program support as well as management of the MKI Certificate program. She also markets the Institute's activities through newsletters, website updates, and social media. Lia graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Anthropology and Chinese Language and Culture. 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. Lia currently resides in East Cambridge. In her free time, she enjoys painting watercolors, reading for pleasure, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Tiana Lawrence

Community Engagement Fellow

My name is Tiana Lawrence, and I am a Community Engagement Fellow for the Mel King Institute for Community Building. I am currently pursuing my Masters of Education at Merrimack College with a focus on community organizing. I recently graduated from Merrimack College with a BA in Women and Gender Studies and English. I grew up in Lowell, MA and over the last couple years in undergrad I served as the Diversity chair of my college’s Student Government Association and worked as the college’s assistant of multicultural initiatives. During these positions I spent time advocating, educating, providing programming and resources, empowering, and engaging with my college campus community at various levels. Every day, I continue to grow in my passion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice work. I enjoy painting, music, writing, traveling, meeting new people, and quality time with family and friends.

Steering Committee
Antonio Torres MassHousing
Emily Torres-Cullinane MAPC
Gretchen Haupt Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Jason Desrosier Allston Brighton CDC
Joe Kriesberg MACDC
Lynn Peterson NeighborWorks America
Maria Fernandez- Dominique Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
Maria Mulkeen Hyams Foundation
Mathew Thall Mathew Thall Consulting
Matt Wilson Campaign Consultant
Monique Scott CHAPA
Rene Mardones Somerville Community Corporation
Sara Barcan CEDAC
Sarah Lamitie Boston Private
Susanne Cameron Chase Bank
Tia Vice LISC Boston