HUNTINGTON — The Fairfield Community Development Corp. moved toward the end of the year with the appointment of RaShad Sanders as its first executive director.
A longtime Huntington resident and Marshall University alumnus, Sanders has been active in the Huntington community and on campus since his graduation with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2007. While a student, Sanders served as president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and facilitated a number of community service projects in Fairfield. He was also active in Black Students United, and has served as a counselor for exceptional high school students around the community.
With his decorated history of community service and nearly a decade of experience as a purchasing agent, and later a contract specialist, for Marshall University, Sanders seemed like the perfect pick to the FCDC’s board of directors.
“RaShad Sanders brings to the table a unique skill set that will enable the FCDC to accomplish its key objectives,” said MaRia Hill, FCDC board chairwoman. “He has a vested interest in Fairfield’s success because it is the community that raised him.”
Though he has no specific projects in the works just yet, Sanders says he and the board intend to lift Fairfield up going into 2021 by maintaining their five pillars of importance: education, safety, health and wellness, economic growth and housing. Sanders also believes that efforts to foster and maintain community upkeep and cleanliness will greatly improve the lives of Fairfield’s residents.
“If you see something positive outside, you’ll have a positive attitude that day,” said Sanders. “I think that revitalizing the community and getting back to the roots of how things were, we’ll see that it starts to thrive and grow again.”
Sanders attributes much of his activism and outlook to his upbringing, saying that the Fairfield community helped make him into who he is today. He particularly holds a special place in his heart for his grandmother, Pastor Martha “Ma” Johnson, who preached at the Glorious Church of God in Christ in the 1600 block of 10th Avenue.
“She taught me how to treat people right,” said Sanders. “She showed me that the best way to respect others is to listen to them and give them a way to speak.”
This importance of giving back to the community that raised him and ensuring that their voices are now heard is but one of the ways that Sanders hopes to make his neighborhood “Fairfield Strong.”
A relatively new organization, the FCDC began operating in 2017 and focuses on the revitalization and upkeep of the Fairfield neighborhood in Huntington. The organization was made as part of Huntington’s submitted plan for the America’s Best Communities competition, which the city won in April 2017, receiving a grant of $3 million to implement the plan.
Ongoing funding for the FCDC is provided by the America’s Best Communities Fund and the Foundation for the Tri-State Community.