By Anna Patterson

Terra Leavell is guiding people along a path toward success with the development of Opportunity Corner. 


Terra Leavell is a businesswoman, but not in the traditional sense. Her business is people. Although her official title is executive director of the Canaan Community Development Corporation (CCDC), Terra prefers a much simpler title: dream developer.

The CCDC, in Terra’s words, helps empower people living in underserved communities through education, health, eradication of violence, and economic development. The organization offers a variety of programs such as the Sons of Issachar, an after-school program for young boys, and the Vintage Club, which helps senior citizens reengage with the community.

After graduating from Western Kentucky University, Terra spent 10 years in banking. She eventually realized her true passion was working with people and shifted her career into the nonprofit world. Terra has since worked for a variety of nonprofits throughout Louisville, such as the Louisville Urban League, American Cancer Society, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. In each of these settings, Terra wore a different hat: fund development, training, workforce specialist, community outreach, director of operations, and now executive director.

Terra is currently undertaking the biggest project of her career: Opportunity Corner. The CCDC recently purchased property at 18th and Wilson, right in the heart of West Louisville, which it will develop and give back to the community. The artist rendering of the project shows brightly colored shipping containers that will be repurposed and remodeled into shops. The result will be a place where people in the community can begin small businesses in everything from retail to restaurants. Opportunity Corner will also include a community computer lab and a small amphitheater where people can enjoy live entertainment. Terra hopes to fully launch Opportunity Corner by June of this year.

Wooden model of Opportunity Corner 

Although she has very little of it, Terra spends her free time with her husband, Joe, and son, Joey. She has toured Switzerland singing with her husband’s gospel band, Joe Leavell with One Purpose, and she helped her husband and son kick-start their own small businesses: Uncle Joe’s Ice Cream, Joe’s lactose-free ice cream line, and Mogul Misfits, Joey’s fashion line.

“When you realize what you’re good at, when you find your passion, stick with it,” Terra says. “Don’t be derailed. It’s that simple.” Her passion is helping others reach their full potential, helping them develop their dreams. And she will not be derailed.