Nadine Masagara-Taylor: How an Ohio native became an Oakland leader

nadine's family photo 2017

By Douglas Wampler, OPDC Intern

West Oakland resident Nadine Masagara-Taylor says family, fellowship, and social justice have defined her ten years of life in Pittsburgh. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Masagara-Taylor came to Oakland in 2006 as an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh and soon met her future husband, Quinzale Taylor. They began attending Friendship Community Church and quickly became involved in the West Oakland community, where they are now raising their children.

“My goal in life is to give back to others,” says Masagara-Taylor. In 2015, her passion landed her a new career when she was hired to direct The Corner, a community center serving West Oakland since 2012. Her husband is also a community leader, coaching basketball at both Friendship Community Church and the Ellis School, where his girls’ team has been ranked in the top ten statewide.

People from all over Pittsburgh come to The Corner, a program of Friendship Community Church, and have developed relationships across boundaries of race and class. According to Masagara-Taylor, providing affordable activities is the key to their engagement strategy. She’s worked hard to attract poets, filmmakers, jazz musicians, and volunteers, resulting in a dynamic calendar of events that appeals to their diverse community. The Corner also provides low-cost breakfast and lunch options inside its café for anyone in the community.

The Corner also operates as home to the West Oakland Neighborhood Council, which Nadine helps lead. “We want to bring activists to The Corner,” said Masagara-Taylor. “West Oakland is changing with new balances of students, low-income, and high income residents,” she continued. The changes occurring in West Oakland have sparked a fight for affordable housing.

“Homes have quadrupled in value and investors have begun to create a more transient community,” she said. She spoke optimistically about The Corner’s partnership with OPDC to keep the neighborhood accessible for first-time homeowners and those who need affordable rental housing. Masagara-Taylor is also working with OPDC, the city, and residents to implement traffic-calming measures to make their neighborhood safer.

“We want The Corner to be a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds who want to relax and engage in West Oakland,” said Masagara-Taylor.

The Corner is located on 200 Robinson Street, and can be contacted via email or phone at info@cornerpgh.org or at 412-683-1400.

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