Lisa Ciminelli is the assistant vice president of neighbor support services at CitySquare. She supervises a staff of 15 and is in charge of coordination of case management service for neighbors/clients and implementation of new programs like Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). She also works with people who are homeless, assisting them in finding permanent residency. Ciminelli’s team helps people become acclimated to living in a home (after living in a shelter or in encampments throughout the city).

(Photo courtesy of Lisa Ciminelli)

(Photo courtesy of Lisa Ciminelli)

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The public perception of the homeless is that they are non-compliant when that is not necessarily the case.

“There is trauma in poverty. If you layer on top of that homelessness, we are dealing with lots of trauma,” said Ciminelli. “We see people who are lower middle-income who have lost their jobs. It is very scary; some of us are a paycheck away. I could lose my job tomorrow and be in the same situation, but I think my safety net is my education and license along with my support systems like my family and faith. So many people lose everything but they still have their faith. My team brings hope.”

With faith and hope, Ciminelli and her team can help people get back on their feet.

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Ciminelli earned her Bachelor’s in Education from University of North Texas and started working in social services helping people with HIV and AIDS. People she worked with encouraged her to pursue a Master’s degree. They made it clear that forwarding her career would hinge on having a Master’s degree. For two years, she sent her resumes for jobs but didn’t get any response. She was competing with people with Master’s degrees and decided to go back to school.

“It took me three and a half years to get through graduate school. I worked full-time and went to school at night,” said Ciminelli, who earned her Master’s in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington.

“Getting my Master’s degree has opened doors to new opportunities. It has allowed me to do what I love.”

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Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at