Robert L. Woodson

Robert L. Woodson

Founder and President, Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

Robert (Bob) Woodson is Founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and one of America’s most influential leaders on issues of poverty and upward mobility. He chose the word “enterprise” in naming the organization because he believes strongly that market-based principles should also operate in the social economy. 

Woodson was instrumental in paving the way for resident management and ownership of public housing, brought together task forces of grassroots groups to advise the 104th Congress, the Pennsylvania Legislature, and the Wisconsin Assembly on welfare reform, and helped create Violence-Free Zones that operate in many of the nation’s most troubled schools and communities.

More recently, he has taken Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan on a “listening and learning” tour of some of America’s most impoverished neighborhoods in an effort to move beyond the traditional conservative and liberal understanding of how to address the needs of the poor.

Woodson is frequently featured as a social commentator in print and on-air media, including The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, the Garrison Show and other national and local broadcasts.  He is the only person ever to receive both the liberal and conservative world’s most prestigious awards – the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation Prize, as well as the Presidential Citizens Medal.

He has written several books, including The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhood.


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