A farewell from David Bestock, DNDA’s longtime executive director

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Photo of David Bestock.

Photo of David Bestock.

A farewell message from David Bestock, DNDA’s longtime executive director. 

It is bittersweet to reflect on my time at Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) after I chose to step away after 11 years of service. I have absolutely loved this work, this organization, and all the incredible people I have had the pleasure of working with. It felt like the right time to focus on my personal pursuits and make space for others to lead DNDA to new and greater heights. 

I am heartened by our many successes in my time with DNDA. I originally stepped in to enliven Youngstown Cultural Arts Center after moving into the historic building’s Cooper Artist Housing in 2009, volunteering with DNDA, then watching things grow quiet and dark. When I started as Youngstown director in 2012, the organization was $1.7 million in debt, had gone silent in the community, and was no longer running programming of its own. 

As I surrounded myself with smart and passionate people to reinvigorate Youngstown, I also saw the continued need for all that DNDA does in the community. Affordable housing, artistic expression, and improving the health of our natural environment are all crucial for our collective wellbeing. Working at the neighborhood level, there is never a shortage of problems to solve, yet we can actually see the results of our work — from physical improvements in our streets and parks, to upward mobility and increased artistic and career opportunities for youth and families. 

This work for me has been about heart, determination, and nuance. There is no single solution that serves every individual in a neighborhood. We have to work together, share our passions and ideas, and listen and collaborate in order to thrive together. This is increasingly important as our political and social rhetoric urges polarization and individualization. I believe we all have to uplift and highlight our collective well-being, and that has been at the core of my leadership at DNDA. 

There are too many successes to name from the last 11 years. My goal when I started was to hand things off better than I found them, and I am doing that. Though I did none of this alone.  

There are too many people to thank, but I must mention a few. I have immense gratitude for Paul Fischburg, Randy Engstrom, Willard Brown, Domenica Lovaglia, Erin MacCoy, Anita Chakravarti Hale, Erika Bell, Mary O’Donnell, Nafasi Ferrell, Nelson Lu, Caroline Borsenik, Yeggy Michael, Shannon Woodard, and all the incredible DNDA team members and board of directors, then and now. Plus, the hundreds of community partners over the years who made everything possible. Thank you all.  

I am also thrilled and grateful to be passing the torch to DNDA’s new co-executive directors, Mesha Florentino and Imani Sims, as they embrace DNDA’s innovative shared leadership model. They are amazing, and I hope you, our community, will rally in support of DNDA and all our new leaders as they propel this organization into the future.

David "passing the torch" to DNDA's new co-executive directors, Mesh Florentino (middle) and Imani Sims (right). Photo by Jordan Somers.

David “passing the torch” to DNDA’s new co-executive directors, Mesha Florentino (middle) and Imani Sims (right). Photo by Jordan Somers.

My final push before leaving DNDA is for the Crossroads Campaign, which will fund the buildout of our Delridge Wetland Park, renovations and improvements to our Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, and investments in new affordable housing in our neighborhoods. Our goal is to raise $6 million, and we are so close! I hope you will consider making a meaningful gift to DNDA to uplift Art, Nature, and Neighborhood for youth and families throughout our beautiful city and region. You can learn more and give at dnda.org/campaign.

Thank you for all your support. It has been an honor to serve our communities together. I will not be a stranger, so you might see me wandering the halls of Youngstown, or out walking in the many local parks where we work. I hope you will say hello.  

It’s been a pleasure. 



“One light feeds another. One strong family lends strength to more. One engaged community can ignite those around it. This is the power of the light we carry.”  

― Michelle Obama in The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times (2022).