Louis Damani Jones is the winner of the 2020 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. (Photo courtesy of USCCB)

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has named Louis Damani Jones of the Diocese of Belleville as the recipient of the 2020 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. Each year, CCHD recognizes a young adult between the ages of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions with this prestigious honor.

Louis Damani Jones is a member of the local CCHD committee in the Diocese of Belleville, and a board member of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis (neighboring Belleville). Louis has been active in amplifying the work of CCHD locally in Belleville by training parents in East St. Louis, Illinois, to become leaders in their community and developing relationships with low-income-led economic development projects. Jones has successfully engaged countless Catholics in the work of CCHD and the larger social tradition of the Church through his role as a CCHD intern with both the Diocese of Belleville and the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Recently, Jones has continued his work educating Catholics about the work of CCHD to address poverty’s root causes by launching the Catholic Social Teaching focused podcast, Living Communion, and helping to coordinate the joint celebration being planned by the two dioceses for the CCHD’s 50th anniversary.

Jones is currently working toward a Master of Social Work (MSW) at Washington University in St. Louis, and he was recently featured as a young adult panelist at the USCCB National Leadership Forum on Ministry with Young Adults on Dec. 9. He joined representatives from the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, the Leadership Roundtable, and others for a keynote panel focused on how pastoral leaders can best minister to those in their 20s and 30s.

“Louis is an inspiring example to those young Catholics who long to do something about poverty and injustice in our country. He demonstrates to all that working for just social systems is central to the Gospel message and the witness of Jesus Christ,” said Cheryl Sommer, diocesan director for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in Belleville.

Ralph McCloud, director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development said, “Louis’ unceasing dedication to empowering the marginalized and acting in solidarity with the community embodies the heart and soul of CCHD’s mission. As CCHD celebrates more than fifty years of transformative work to end poverty and help communities build resilience, we are pleased to award Louis the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award.”

The award, bestowed annually, is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who served as archbishop of Chicago from 1982 until his death in 1996. Cardinal Bernardin served as the first general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference from 1968-72, and as the conference’s third president from 1974-77.