Following In Her Remarkable Grandma’s Legacy

Following In Her Remarkable Grandma’s Legacy

Meet Booker T.’s New Board President, Clarissa Canady

We had the pleasure of sitting down with our newly appointed Board President, Clarissa Canady, to learn about her profound connection to the Fillmore/Western Addition neighborhood and her professional journey serving as a lawyer with over two decades of experience practicing education, and real property law.

We asked Clarissa about her new role as Board President and what inspires her to impact our community positively. Read along to see what she has to say!

Please tell us a bit about yourself and what motivated you to pursue the opportunity to join as BTWCSC’s Board President. 

I was raised in the Fillmore/Western Addition by my grandmother, Mary Helen Rogers. She was a well-respected community activist who instilled in me a deep sense of civil responsibility and public service from a very young age. As a child, I attended Booker T.’s summer camp program at the center. BTWCSC holds a special place in my heart because I have my own personal experiences with it. Now, in a leadership role at the center, my goal is to empower the individuals and families we serve.

Mary Helen Rogers, Clarissa’s Grandmother
(Photo Credit: SF Call)


What are some highlights from your past experiences, especially any achievements or initiatives that you are proud of?

I am particularly proud of my work in the education law space, specifically with K-12 public schools in California. While it’s legal in nature, and not typically what is considered “community service”, my work is a way for me to give back to the community by advocating for adequate school-building infrastructure, programs, and resources that are vital in reviving underutilized schools in historically underserved neighborhoods. Education is empowering because no matter what path a person decides to take in life and no matter what career they choose, no one can take away their education.

How has your family’s history in activism influenced your journey, and what inspired your pursuit of law?

My grandmother’s legacy and family’s connection to the Fillmore/Western Addition neighborhood heavily influenced my personal and professional journey. My grandmother was a single mother who cared for twelve children, including myself, with limited income, all while advocating for housing rights, fair and equitable treatment of school-aged children, welfare recipients, individuals with disabilities, and minority businesses. During the time of the Civil Rights and Black Panther Political Movement, my grandmother marched to protest social injustices, attended regular school board and city council meetings, and even hosted the late Senator Feinstein and the then-Mayor of San Francisco for tea at our house on Mission Street to discuss pressing community issues. When I was a child, my grandmother also taught me to read the newspaper, fueling my interest in current events and ultimately shaping my career trajectory in law.

What motivates you to contribute your time and expertise to the nonprofit sector, and what role do you hope to play in BTWCSC’s impact?

I am motivated by the parallels that I see in regard to the challenges that both public education agencies and non-profit community organizations like BTWCSC face, for example funding constraints and capacity. I look forward to being a contributing member by bringing fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table. My goal is to empower leadership, staff, and our community as a whole.

Looking ahead to 2024, what are you most looking forward to at BTWCSC?

I am looking forward to supporting efforts to help facilitate Booker T.’s growth as an organization, in addition to finding new ways to partner with other organizations in San Francisco to help bridge resource gaps.

Can you share something about yourself that others might not know?

Something others might not know about me is that I am visually impaired, a condition I’ve had since youth. However, I wasn’t formally diagnosed until I was a young adult. Despite being told by medical professionals that law school would be nearly impossible for me, I persisted in advocating for myself and successfully graduated with accolades.

What is something you love about San Francisco?

I love the diversity of San Francisco because it provides exposure to a wide variety of cultures, experiences, and opportunities. The city possesses a remarkable ability to cater to everyone’s interests, be it through its vibrant art scene, diverse food options, and more. Additionally, I appreciate the ease of maneuverability in SF, finding it empowering and conducive to fostering independence.

Clarissa Canady’s Q&A provides a personal insight into her journey of civic responsibility, dedication to education, and vision for BTWCSC. As she navigates her role as Board President, her commitment to empowering communities and overcoming challenges stands as a beacon for positive change in San Francisco.

We are focused on making a meaningful impact in the lives of our neighbors, and we believe that our team is at the heart of everything we do. We want to hear from you if you’re passionate about driving positive for Fillmore’s Black Community.

Explore our current open positions and apply today to become a part of our dedicated team.



Dominic Dorsey
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