The national skills body for regeneration will use US President-elect Barack Obama’s experiences as a community organiser to encourage more people into the sector, the body’s chair told Regeneration & Renewal this week.

Professor Peter Roberts, chair of the Academy for Sustainable Communities, said the body used video clips, photographs and podcasts to attract people into the sector and that Obama would feature in those materials in the future.

Roberts said Obama’s qualities of “visionary and strategic thinking and an ability to express ideas clearly” were generic sustainable communities skills and could be used in video material to “spread the message of regeneration”.

Obama began his career in community development at the age of 24, directing a scheme to regenerate a blue-collar neighbourhood in Chicago. He also worked on building up the capacity of local communities as a civil rights lawyer after he graduated from Harvard (R&R, 14 November, p11).

Roberts added that Obama was a “great role model” for those living and working in poor communities: “It’s all well and good to say he’s a role model for professionals; you must also get people who live and work (in deprived areas) to be involved.”