MacArthur Fellows Program

Robert L. Woodson

Community Development Leader | Class of 1990

Community Development Leader
Washington, District of Columbia
53 at time of award
Published August 1, 1990

About Robert's Work

Robert Woodson is the founder and president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (NCNE).

Under his direction, NCNE has assisted neighborhood residents in organizing themselves to overcome such problems as inadequate housing, unemployment, crime, family conflicts, obstacles to small business development, and the influence of drugs on youth. NCNE is known for its success in empowering the poor to devise and implement their own solutions. Woodson is the author of many articles and several books, including The Triumphs of Joseph: How Community Healers are Reviving our Streets and Neighborhoods (1998), which describes the ability of community and faith-based programs to transform lives and revitalize blighted neighborhoods.


Prior to founding the NCNE in 1981, Woodson served as director of the Administration of Justice Division of the National Urban League (1971-73). He was director of the Neighborhood Revitalization Project (1973-76) and a fellow (1976-81) of the American Enterprise Institute. He also directed the Neighborhood Leadership Task Force on Grassroots Alternatives for Public Policy (1995), advising the 104th Congress on addressing issues of poverty in the United States.

Woodson received a B.S. (1962) from Cheyney State College and an M.S.W. (1965) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Select News Coverage of Robert L. Woodson
August 25, 2020
"‘Fund Us Like You Want Us to Win’"
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Nikole Hannah-Jones, 2017 MacArthur Fellow
William J. Barber II, 2018 MacArthur Fellow
sujatha baliga, 2019 MacArthur Fellow
Robert L. Woodson , 1990 MacArthur Fellow
Bryan Stevenson , 1995 MacArthur Fellow
Lateefah Simon , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
Ai-jen Poo, 2014 MacArthur Fellow
Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015 MacArthur Fellow
February 7, 2018
"Truly Honoring Black History"
The Hill
Robert L. Woodson , 1990 MacArthur Fellow
January 15, 2016
"Conservatives' Approach to Poverty in U.S."
Robert L. Woodson , 1990 MacArthur Fellow
March 29, 2014
"How to Triumph Over Poverty"
Journal Sentinel
Robert L. Woodson , 1990 MacArthur Fellow
More Fellows

View All 1990 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.
Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.