Allen Elijah
Community Leader
December 2011

My story: “I’m not a native Daytonian; I came here from Detroit to go to UD. I focused on athletics and got a solid education and degree, and staying in Dayton just made sense. In my professional career, I was always trying to find ways to support the community. When I was working for Fifth Third Bank, I began to volunteer on the finance committee of United Way of the Greater Dayton Area. I was later asked to be on the board, and then worked for them as the chief operating officer. I thought, ‘What better way to give back to the community?’

On immigrants: “These are members of the community. They’re not a hypothetical concept–they’re here. We can either find ways to divide, or acknowledge and embrace it. This country has an extremely supportive culture of giving, going back to the days when a man’s barn would burn down and the whole community would come together to help raise a new one. The human spirit feels better when you can help someone, and it crosses cultural boundaries. I love the concept, and reaching out to immigrants in this way is how this city begins to leverage its strength.”

Why Dayton? “Dayton has played such a pivotal role in history. From the Wright Brothers with flight to many other creative and innovative things from here that have impacted the entire world, this little region doesn’t really tout the fact that it seems to be an epicenter for great things.

This is an exciting time. The Gem City is saying, ‘What do I want to be now?’ And we’re trying to figure it out. We just gotta get busy. There’s a transition happening right now between generations of leadership here, and the reins are being passed. It’s on ourwatch now, and there’s a tremendous opportunity to carry the legacy forward.”