The People’s Institute believes that racism is the primary barrier preventing communities from building effective coalitions and overcoming institutionalized oppression and inequities. Through Undoing Racism®/Community Organizing Workshops, technical assistance and consultations, The People’s Institute helps individuals, communities, organizations and institutions move beyond addressing the symptoms of racism to undoing the causes of racism so as to create a more just and equitable society.
Founded in 1980 by long-time community organizers Ronald Chisom of New Orleans, and Dr. Jim Dunn of Yellow Springs, Ohio, The People’s Institute has impacted the lives of nearly 1,00,000,000 people both nationally and internationally. Through this process, it supports a cadre of anti-racist organizers who build leadership and accountability in the communities where they are organizing.
Today, The People’s Institute is recognized as one of the foremost anti-racism training and organizing institutions in the nation. In a 2002 Aspen Institute survey of eleven top racial justice organizations, five credited The People’s Institute with having the most effective anti-racist analysis.
Ronald Chisom is co-founder of The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and a senior fellow of Ashoka’s Global Academy, a program for men and women seeking solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. He has organized workers and poor people throughout the South for over thirty-five years. In the 1990s, he co-founded and was associate director of the Treme Community Improvement Association, which won several significant Louisiana victories in New Orleans. His legal suit, Ronald Chisom v. Charles E. Roemer, Governor of Louisiana et al., challenged the Louisiana Supreme Court to achieve equal representation for the predominately Black city of New Orleans.
Ron has served as an organizer, advisor, lecturer and consultant to a wide variety of community, legal, and church groups. He has led numerous workshops around the country on Undoing Racism®, community organizing, and leadership and strategy development. His networking and community organizing extends throughout the United States and South Africa. His many prestigious awards include: the Bannerman Fellowship, the Petra Foundation Award, the Pax Christi Bread & Roses, and the Tenant Resource Center Achievement Award. In 2006, Ron was selected as a senior fellow and inducted into Ashoka’s Global Academy.
Ron is married to Jerolie Encalade Chisom and has one daughter, Tiphanie Chisom-Eugene, a son-in-law, Cory, Sr. and is the proud grandfather of Jessica and C. J. (Cory Jr.).
Dr. Jim Dunn co-founded The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond with Ron Chisom in 1980. He was born in 1935 in Urbana, Ohio. He was an educator, human rights activist, musician and author. He received his Masters in Social Work from Columbia University and his doctorate in sociology from Union Institute in Cincinnati, OH. From 1971 until 1978, he taught sociology and Black Studies at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH. Dunn was also one of the founders of HUMAN (Help Us Make A Nation).
Jim was known to all as being very passionate about community organizing and helping the poor, and he believed in the Civil Rights movement. However, he felt the issues around racism, its root causes and how it affected the underserved, were not openly being addressed in an open and honest way that would evoke systemic change. Jim eventually met and married Diana Dunn who also shared a passion for organizing and training. Together, they worked side by side with Ron to develop the foundation for what is now internationally known and recognized as PISAB. They have one daughter, Myisha Dunn, and Diana continues to work with the institute.
Gary “Kinte” Perry