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Community Action Agency

Laura E. Jones Community Partner Award

The Laura E. Jones Community Partner Award is presented to an organization that LEADERship has frequently visited/worked with on projects throughout the past year and exemplifies the value of collaboration toward making positive change in Ashtabula. Throughout the 2021 - 2022 Program Year, Ashtabula County Community Action Agency exemplified what it means to be a community partner, not just with LEADERship Ashtabula County but with other organizations throughout Ashtabula County.

The Community Action Network was created as part of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” and Ashtabula’s Community Action Agency was initially established in 1956 under a provision by a resolution of the County Commissioners as the Ashtabula County Economic Opportunity Committee. Due to required changes at the federal level, the organization became a designated nonprofit and was renamed the Ashtabula County Community Action Agency in 1972. Per guidelines, the ACCAA has a governing board comprised of equal members from the public sector, private sector, and representatives of the low-income and vulnerable populations they serve. It’s under the leadership of Executive Director Judith Barris and Board Chair David Speelman.

With a mission to “help people achieve self-sufficiency and rise above issues of poverty,” all activities of the agency are designed to enable low-income individuals to attain skills, knowledge, and motivation to improve their lives. They also work to maximize resources and encourage cooperation and collaboration wherever possible towards the elimination of poverty for the betterment of conditions under which people live, learn, and work. The agency has shown its flexibility, partnership, and ability to leverage funds and diverse service offerings based on the unique needs of Ashtabula County.

ACCAA has proven the ability to adapt to the changing needs of Ashtabula County citizens with various agency departments - such as 2-1-1 Information & Referral, WIC, Head Start, HEAP/Utility Assistance, Weatherization, Audiology & Speech, Help Me Grow Home Visiting, Senior Nutrition, and the Dragon Empowerment Center. It collaborates with multiple organizations and entities to provide help to stabilize families during times they are struggling with difficult situations and empower them to gain the skills to help them become more economically independent.

It has shown LEADERship the importance and value of collaboration and working together to help enact positive change in the community and share its story and reach with our youth and adult participants. Making an impact on individuals throughout Ashtabula County and continuing to adapt its programs while educating all on what’s available makes LEADERship Ashtabula County excited to name Ashtabula County Community Action Agency as the recipient of the 2022 Laura E Jones Community Partner Award.


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