Name: Raina Dawson
Years lived in Toledo: 32
Occupation: Housing Advocate at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE).
My story, in one sentence: I’m just a woman who loves finding joy in the little things.
One song lyric to describe my ideal self: You’re young, gifted, and black, and that’s a fact.” – Nina Simone
What I’m doing and what I want to achieve: I’m a housing advocate and I want to contribute meaningfully towards making Toledo a more liveable city for everyone.
Most people know me for: My smile!
I wish more people knew me for: My love of french fries.
The best thing I’ve ever eaten in Toledo was: There is so much good food here. This is difficult to answer. Currently, I am thinking about King Crab avocado toast from Hannon’s Block or ribs and fries from Ann’s BBQ. I am also thinking about fried catfish, greens and macaroni and cheese from the Classic Lounge.
The street I drive on/walk on most often is: Dorr Street
The best time I ever had in Toledo was: This is so difficult to answer. I have lived in Toledo most of my life. I enjoyed K-12 education. I enjoyed undergrad and graduate/doctoral education. I love our symphony, our opera, our museums, our theaters and our parks. The list goes on and on. I cannot pinpoint one moment.
If I could change one thing about Toledo: I would eradicate homelessness.
If I knew I could get away with it, I would: ensure everyone was housed, fed and clothed.
The best view in Toledo: from The Heights in downtown Toledo.
When I’m craving: BBQ brisket, mac and cheese, I go to: Brick Bar.
The artists and musicians I love: I am not good at picking favorites. I like all types of musical genres.
The Toledoans I most admire: Eddie Cole, Nick Komives, Ardenia Jones-Terry . . . there are many so it is difficult to list them all.
If I could apologize to anyone: The younger me for believing I had to tolerate and accept people treating me poorly.
What my ideal day looks like, from morning to night: In Toledo, an ideal day off work looks like: gym, coffee from Onyx, brunch at Focaccia’s, hanging at a local park, then lunch from Chosica Peruvian Restaurant. Then I’d like to stop at a local festival, fair or performance. I’d probably hit up Merce Culp to see if she has a cool exhibit that day. I’d have dinner at a local restaurant, currently thinking of Georgio’s. I’d end the night at TolHouse, at a local food truck, maybe grabbing some Toledo Wings from LaBaron’s on the Move or I’d stop at Night Owl.
The thing I truly need to let go of: stressing over things that I have absolutely no control over.
The reason I am most proud of myself right now: Being selected to win 20 under 40. I am still blown away.
What makes me truly feel alive: Seeing other people win, thrive and overcome adversity.
Three negative adjectives and three positive adjectives to describe Toledo:
Negative: small, potholey, cliquey.
Positive: growing, lively, innovative.
Adjectives that best describe me: genuine, persistent, thoughtful.
The last time I had a serious-oh-my-god-my-stomach-hurts-now belly laugh: I created a 109 page powerpoint slide presentation and my siblings ripped me to shreds for creating such a long presentation.
When I was in high school, I probably would have been described: as a nerd.
If I met the 16-year-old me, she would be: surprised that I am extroverted and I am still passionate about serving the community.
If you could have a drink with any person or character— fictional, real, living or past— who would it be, what would you drink, and why? Diane Reamer-Evans. She was the pioneer for CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) in the City of Toledo. I’d drink a lemon drop with her and let her know that CEDAW is going strong in the City of Toledo! I’d let her know her work was not in vain.
My favorite local people to follow on social media are: Blizzard Bill Spencer, Alexis Means, Sonia and Urban Wholistics.
On a typical day, I wear: My Raina Dawson uniform. I typically wear a shirt, a cardigan, pants and shoes.