What makes a crisp fall day even better? The announcement of the newest class of Baltimore Community Fellows! Each year, I get a double-espresso shot of inspiration as we interview the 20 top candidates—from a pool of over 225 people who begin the process every year, attending orientation sessions as early as February. Once again this year, we have identified an exceptional class of Fellows with diverse talents, backgrounds and ideas, all geared to making Baltimore a place where each individual feels at home—secure, healthy, and excited about the future.
The Community Fellows’ commitment to the city is matched by their audaciousness. Each one knows the punishing limitations of the status quo—and is fighting to change it. They are in the trenches, inviting us to join them to change what is unfair and to create opportunity where there is none.
During the 13 years of this program, we have seeded and encouraged the initiatives of 117 entrepreneurial individuals. Clinton Bamberger, one of OSI-Baltimore’s founding Board members, has guided the Fellows program from its inception, encouraging us to take calculated risks and recognize a broad range of approaches to shake up the status quo and instigate change. An astute observer of the destruction and hardship caused by poverty and bias and an energetic crusader for change, Clinton has pushed us to be bold, to take chances, to be serious about our mission.
Clinton can empathize deeply with the heart, goals and tactics of the Community Fellows because he embodies their ideals. With tremendous energy and strategy borne from experience, he has used legal and advocacy skills to champion those who suffer from injustice and discrimination. Among many other accomplishments, Clinton was the first director of the national Legal Services Program and he introduced clinical legal education to widen the aspirations and experience of law students in the U.S. and abroad.
Over the years, Clinton has mentored hundreds of young people, who have followed his example, taking on some of the biggest challenges to a just and open society. Long before Facebook, Clinton became the center of an extensive social network, connecting one social justice advocate to another, building a community and developing talent in the process.
Simply put, Clinton sees what is right and should be, and he pursues it—tapping that special combination of idealism and pragmatism that fuels our Community Fellows. Thus, as Clinton steps down from the Board after 13 years of inspiring service, we can think of nothing more fitting than to establish the Clinton Bamberger Community Fellowship.
Clinton, we thank you for all you have given to OSI and will continue to do in the pursuit of justice.