With trailblazing strategies gleaned from firsthand experience and a keen perception of what approaches are effective and why, Robert L. “Bob” Woodson has devoted his career to helping low-income people transcend their impoverished conditions and the obstacles that they confront. His life journey included a period as a social worker, service with the Urban League, and research with the American Enterprise Institute. With a desire to move beyond theory to action, in 1981, he created the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (now the Woodson Center), a grassroots research and demonstration program that emphasizes the importance of empowerment and self-management as effective approaches for ending poverty. Throughout nearly forty years, he has brought recognition and support to more than 2,500 grassroots community-based programs across the nation that have transformed lives and neighborhoods with meager budgets, but with massive resolve and commitment.
For his innovative approach, Woodson was awarded a prestigious “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 1990. He has written extensively on issues of poverty and empowerment and his works include The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods. Woodson and his wife, Ellen, live in Silver Spring, Maryland. They have three children.