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Honoring our History,
Building our Future

"Bringing the community together for a thriving Cherry Hill"

About Us


We work with local residents and partners from all sectors to align strategies and resources and make at-scale, holistic investments to achieve excellent and equitable outcomes for everyone in Cherry Hill.


The Mission of Cherry Hill Strong is to work alongside the residents of Cherry Hill to align partners and resources, set and implement strategy to strengthen education, community wellness, housing, economic vitality and overall quality of life based on the community’s vision.


We envision a vibrant and sustainable Cherry Hill community in which all residents can thrive, uplifting current residents and inviting new community members through a focus on equitable opportunity. We envision Cherry Hill as a model neighborhood for anti-racist development and a self-determined renaissance. 


Beliefs inform our agenda. Our commitments drive our actions. Below are some statements we believe to be true, along with our commitment to act accordingly:

1. CENTER RESIDENTS - Cherry Hill residents are the lifeblood of the community and the most important assets of the neighborhood.
We commit to centering their wisdom, will, and well-being in all of our work.  

2. FOCUS ON EQUITY - Each person in Cherry Hill deserves the opportunity to reach their highest potential, regardless of their individual and systemic inequal power related to race, ability, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, or immigration status.
We commit to working to mitigate the impact of individual obstacles to thriving, dismantle systemic barriers, and to reinforce equitable access to opportunity for all members of the Cherry Hill community.


3. WORK COLLECTIVELY - Cherry Hill is a wonderfully diverse community of resilience and love, where positive self-determined change is possible when we work together. We commit to working collectively to develop and execute a shared agenda for the advancement of Cherry Hill. We will work towards creative solutions by cultivating what works, acting out our shared values, and implementing long-term systems that respond to effectively fulfill the needs of the people of Cherry Hill.  



Alicia Wilson, JPMorgan Chase

Joshua L. Michael, Sherman Family Foundation, Board Chair

Detra Miller, M & T Bank, Board Treasurer

Stephanie Amponsah, Dream BIG Foundation

Crystal Branch, Cherry Hill Tenant Association

Janet Currie, Bank of America

Krysti Dickerson, Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Board Secretary 

Jill Donaldson, Medstar Health

Tina Hike-Hubbard, Baltimore City Public Schools 

Ashley Johnson-Hare, Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development, Vice Board Chair

Peggy Jackson Jobe, Cherry Hill Community Coalition

Veronica Nolan, Dream BIG Foundation  



Zeevelle "Z." Nottingham-Lemon is Founding Executive Director of Cherry Hill Strong, the non-profit community quarterback organization working with residents and other community stakeholders to lead equitable revitalization by employing the Purpose Built Communities model.  Z., a West Baltimore native and resident, is an innovative anti-racist community servant and agent of change, with a strong record of grassroots organizing and workforce development.


Natasha Muhammad is the Deputy Director of Operations who works in designing and implementing internal strategy, systems, and structures to maintain the organizational health of Cherry Hill Strong. Natasha has served as a nonprofit leader in Baltimore for several years. She has demonstrated her commitment to economic mobility and equity by empowering thousands of  students and adults in Baltimore with entrepreneurial education and resources to be self-sufficient. Natasha believes that community engagement is sacred work and relationships are one of the key cornerstones of true wealth.



Cherry Hill is one of Baltimore's southernmost neighborhoods, anchored by the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, and the new Port Covington district.  Cherry Hill is located about three miles from the City Center and is served by MedStar Harbor Hospital, the Maryland Transit Administration’s Light Rail, and the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center.


City leaders designed Cherry Hill as a segregated community in South Baltimore for Black veterans returning from both World War II and the Korean Wars. As a planned residential community for African Americans, Cherry Hill is the first and most conspicuous example of designed residential racial segregation in the United States.


The population in Baltimore boomed between 1910 and 1970 as the opportunity to work expanded through industrial and factory jobs in the port of Baltimore. The proportion of Black families dramatically increased, growing from 15% (85,000 residents) in 1910 to nearly half in 1970 (420,000 residents). White residents met this dramatic expansion of Black Baltimore with contempt and resistance. In 1911, Mayor J. Barry Mahool signed the first ordinance in America to racially segregate the city by law, calling “for preserving peace, preventing conflict and ill feeling between the “white and colored” races in Baltimore City, and promoting the general welfare of the city by providing, for the use of separate blocks by white and colored people for residences, churches and schools.”  


Planners originally intended for the Black veterans community to be located near Armistead Gardens in East Baltimore, but concerns were raised over the insurmountable cost to physically separate and contain this Black community. Instead, local officials deemed the geographically-isolated, marshy land of Cherry Hill, located on the other side of the Middle Branch, to be a more suitable location for the development of a Black community.


Today, Cherry Hill is home to Baltimore's largest public housing project, Cherry Hill Homes, with over 1000 units, private homes and several other low-income apartments throughout the community. Across its 80-year history, the Cherry Hill community is well known for its culture of progress and pride, despite long-standing barriers of structural racism and oppression. Today, like many neighborhoods in US cities, Cherry Hill still suffers from the enduring legacy and present reality of racism.


Nonetheless, Cherry Hill has remained strong.  Despite limited access to schools, healthcare, and quality housing, this neighborhood produced some of Baltimore’s most notable sons and daughters - Congressman Elijah Cummings, Judge Robert Bell, Senator Clarence Blount - all the sons of sharecroppers who had traveled north during the Great Migration. Lucille Clifton, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and renowned singer Ethel Ennis, who is known as “Baltimore’s First Lady of Jazz”, are all products of the Cherry Hill Community. Long-time Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke’s parents met in Cherry Hill and one of Baltimore’s most noted African-American civil-rights attorney’s, William H. Murphy, Jr., was born and raised in Cherry Hill.


Local policies propelling segregation stunted Cherry Hill’s growth and quality of life for generations of residents, despite a resource-rich location perched along the waterfront south of downtown. As a result, local government officials, non- and for-profit leaders have come together to shift the trajectory of Cherry Hill by employing the Purpose Built Communities model to coordinate redevelopment through three pillars: the development of mixed-income housing, a place-based cradle-to-college strategy, and community wellness/economic development.



Cherry Hill Strong is the "community quarterback" organization joining residents and community leaders in bringing the Purpose Built Communities model for equitable neighborhood revitalization to our neighborhood.  We are an independent non-profit organization solely dedicated to the ongoing revitalization of the Cherry Hill neighborhood. We work to align partners and resources from all sectors—including and especially neighborhood residents—and to set and implement an equitable, sustainable strategy for the holistic redevelopment effort based on the community’s vision.


The goal is to create a vibrant and sustainable Cherry Hill community in which all residents can thrive, uplifting current residents and inviting new community members through a focus on equitable opportunity. In this community-centered model, the community quarterback organization works alongside residents to ensure collaboration among partners, build in mechanisms for meaningful community engagement, and accountability towards achieving the community’s long-term goals.


Cherry Hill Strong is a collaborative effort with key local stakeholders in the Cherry Hill and greater Baltimore communities, including public, private, and charitable organizations and individuals. Partners include Cherry Hill Community Coalition, Cherry Hill Home Tenants Council, Black Yield Institute, Enterprise Community Partners, Baltimore City Public Schools, UMBC, SB7 Coalition, Weller Development, MedStar Hospital, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, and Dream BIG. The Steering Committee formed in June 2019 to unify partners in this community-based effort.

In 2021 Cherry Hill Strong was established as the neighborhood’s community quarterback organization; charged with engaging the community, coordinating efforts and investments across the Purpose Built Communities’ three pillars: Housing, Education, and Community Wellness. 

While the Cherry Hill community has suffered from disinvestment, it has numerous assets to leverage as part of this revitalization effort. The strength of Cherry Hill’s community leaders has led to significant investment, including the new housing development expanding homeownership options in the neighborhood, Reedbird Park Community Center, a multi-million dollar investment in the Cherry Hill Town Center, Middle Branch Redevelopment, and the 21st Century Schools Initiative with two brand new Elementary and Middle school buildings. By elevating the standard of living for the lowest-income residents, while providing amenities that also attract people with choices to the neighborhood, Cherry Hill Strong will tackle intergenerational poverty and issues of racial and social justice through the power of community. Cherry Hill has shown her strength in the resilience and ingenuity it has taken to make it this far.  Cherry Hill will become even stronger as we work to build a community where everyone thrives. Together.



PURPOSE BUILT COMMUNITIES believe healthy neighborhoods are the key to ending intergenerational urban poverty because they create the conditions  where children can become healthy, economically-mobile adults. As a nonprofit, pro-bono consulting firm, Purpose Built supports local leaders around the country interested in implementing the Purpose Built model for creating healthy neighborhoods. The Purpose Built model first identifies a struggling urban neighborhood with approximately 5,000 to 15,000 residents. Within these neighborhoods Purpose Built helps local partners develop and implement strategic interventions in three areas of Mixed-Income Affordable Housing, Education Cradle to College and Community Health & Wellness.

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In the Purpose Built Community model, investments are made "at scale," in order to yield a change in the trajectory of the neighborhood and return it to full health. Programs and projects are coordinated and led by a “Community Quarterback” to ensure collaboration among partners, community engagement, accountability, long-term sustainability, and impact measurement.  Cherry Hill Strong will serve in this capacity in support of the community, leveraging the 2020 Cherry Hill Transformation Plan created in collaboration with residents of the Cherry Hill neighborhood to implement the model.


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