DeLois Strum


Making Her Mark as a Black Woman in Community Development

Ep. 50 - Meet DeLois Strum, referred to as DeeDee, CEO of M.D. Strum LLC and a 40+ year entrepreneur, a public speaker, an affordable housing advocate, who is currently involved in offshore wind as a renewable source of energy. DeeDee has worked in the housing & community development industry as both a housing professional and volunteer at the national level where she previously chaired the national Section 8 Committee of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.  She previously worked in the public sector, having served two terms as Executive Director of the Indiana State Housing Board; an appointment she held under two governors.  DeeDee founded her company in 1981, M.D. Strum Housing Services, Inc.-a professional services firm specializing in the planning for neighborhood revitalization, commercial and real estate development, strategic planning, public-private partnerships, homeownership, entrepreneurial program initiatives for public housing authorities and community development corporations.

Top Takeaways:

    • The meaning of structural racism in public policy and how it has affected minority communities
    • The benefits of surrounding yourself with empowering people that help you simplify challenges that you face
    • Learning to take a new line of opportunities as they present themselves
    • The importance of providing communities with both affordable housing and utilities

Listen in to hear how she was driven to become a successful public sector provider of quality housing.

"Women have found their stride and there is no longer any question about are women capable, it is just whether or not women are given the tools to do their very best." -Dee Dee Strum

DeeDee has given public testimony before subcommittees of the U.S. Congress, and provided interviews to the Boston Globe and the ABC Good Morning America show on problems and solutions to providing access to affordable housing for rental and homeownership by families of low- and moderate-incomes.  She has received numerous professional awards. Her firm was identified by the Boston-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City as one of America's fastest growing Top 100 Inner-City Corporations in 2003, and again in 2008, which recognition was subsequently published in Inc. Magazine-America's small business magazine.  Ms. Strum was selected as Indiana's Minority Small Business Owner and 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Mayor's Office of the City of Indianapolis

She is a founding member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Indianapolis Chapter. In October 2009, Ms. Strum was elected NCBW national president beginning a two year term as primary spokesperson for the 60+ chapters and thousands of members nationwide on the issues that most directly impact Black women and their constituencies.

She currently serves as Senior Faculty Advisor and Vice-President Emeritus of the UMD School of Public Health Alumni Network as well as Grants Administrator for Strum Contracting.

Learn about how women, particularly Black women, have had to fight assumptions and racism.

Key Moments:

DeeDee describes her biggest achievement as bringing to the national stage a woman-owned minority-owned business [2:50]

She explains the history of structural racism and minority community housing segregation, how the civil rights movement changed things, and why she decided to pursue a career in housing [4:16]

She describes her journey from a governor's appointee to starting a business in housing and community development [13:23]

Why DeeDee named her company MDStrum as a young Black woman in the early 1980s, how that worked out for her, and the discrimination she faced [19:25]

She talked about her experiences responding to disasters across Alabama for five years and the opportunity it presented [32:07]

The events that led to her involvement with natural gas and the concept of the integration of quality affordable housing and the ability to have affordable utilities [37:53]

Why government programs are still managed as government programs [45:52]

How opportunities help erase inability as viewed by others- the difference that women have made over the years [48:14]

Relevant Links

LinkedIn Dee Dee Strum

Press Release Strum Contracting

Strum Contracting

UMD Speaker


NCBW Past Presidents

National Coalition of 100 Black Women

M.D. Strum LLC

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