Phillip Henderson, President, Surdna Foundation
Posted under Industry News on June 25, 2014
Phillip Henderson was only 38 when he took the helm at the Surdna Foundation seven years ago, becoming Surdna’s second director in what he calls its “modern era.” Henderson came to the family foundation from a career that had been focused on international philanthropy, but he applied many of the lessons he learned fostering civic engagement in post-Communist Europe to Surdna’s domestic grantmaking. Henderson sat down with Shelterforce to talk about aligning program with mission, cross-pollination between programs, and Surdna’s recent launch into the impact investing world.
Miriam Axel-Lute: Tell us about your experience before coming to Surdna, and how that’s informed your work here.
Phil Henderson: I was an international guy before I came here, and that was a complete accident. I ended up in Romania after the fall of Communism, having never been out of the 50 states before. I went to Romania to teach economics. And I stayed in that world. That was part of the transition-to-democracy period for all these countries; they weren’t even sure where they were going to go. They all ended up being EU members, they all ended up being part of NATO. It’s a big success story in some measure. I was based in that part of the world for five years, and then I came back and was based in Washington, [D.C.], and I worked at the German Marshall Fund for almost a decade.
And during the time I was at the German Marshall Fund, that institution was exploding in terms of size. I was the 14th employee, and when I left there were 100-plus. We had two offices, and then we had eight offices.
My role was to design and work pretty intensively with the grant-making operations that we had going throughout the Balkans, the Black Sea region, [and] Central Europe, to try to figure out how you seed real community engagement there.
I once met somebody in Bulgaria whose business card title was expert-in-chief, which I always thought was the greatest title I’ve ever seen in my life. I was certainly not the expert-in-chief. But, I knew something about how to design good grant-making programs. I had some knowledge about what it meant to actually figure out how to engage communities who were simply not interested, or not in the habit of taking on their own problems because, in the Communist era, you deferred all that to the central government.
Part of the life of working at the German Marshall fund was I was on airplanes all the time. I was in Europe at least once a month, flying coach, and at 6’2”, coach got a little tiresome. And so, after about eight-plus years of that, I began to look around for a job. I was sure I wanted to stay in Washington, D.C., and that I wanted to keep doing international work. And so, naturally, I end up at the Surdna Foundation in New York City running a family philanthropy that’s focused domestically.
But, there is actually a lot of symmetry between the kind of grant-making we were doing in Eastern Europe and the kind of community-building that we’re trying to do here.
Harold Simon: So, what do you see community engagement being, and how do you foster it?
Phil Henderson: So, you have this problem that there are elites at any level, right? There are elites even within a community that has almost no social capital.
The challenge is how do you not just get them to tell you what’s going on but actually engage people who are the everyday folks, who don’t at the time have the bandwidth, don’t have the wherewithal, don’t have the training, perhaps, to be a part of the conversation that you need to be able to [have to] surface what really matters to these places, to give them the opportunity to voice what matters to them and to, in some small way, contribute to that solution.
Miriam Axel-Lute: Are there things that you brought from your work in Eastern Europe here that perhaps were new or a different angle or different lens on the domestic work than what was standard?
Phil Henderson: Over time, I’ve been trying to weave in the idea that we don’t have all the answers. American cities don’t have all the answers. American communities don’t have all the answers. American nonprofits don’t have all the answers. We should be open to the idea that the answers to our problems may be elsewhere. That’s the sort of openness that I brought because of my experience.
Miriam Axel-Lute: When somebody new comes in at the head of a foundation, with new sets of experiences and backgrounds, there’s always some shift in direction. At Surdna there was some consolidation of programs, but the new direction is also clearly built on the skeleton, the structure of what was here. Can you talk a little bit about the shift, and then where you see the foundation going?
Phil Henderson: Yes. I’ll tell you a little more than you may have asked. When I got here, I was taking over for Ed Skloot, who’d been here for 19 years. Surdna is now 97 years old, but the modern era really started with Ed’s arrival in 1989. The foundation before his arrival had some areas of interest but no formal programs, no professional staff.
The modern version of Surdna had been built under Ed’s leadership. And so, it was kind of a big deal to have a transition in leadership. I was, in effect, the second-ever professional staff leader at the foundation. I had a lot of learning to do, both about where Surdna had been but also where Surdna sat in the foundation world.
And so, I did a lot of listening for the first six months or so. The foundation had built, at the time, five grant-making programs. [The board members] were trying to figure out, Are these the right five? Do we give them enough money, the right amount of money out of our budget allocation? And they were trying to find a technical solution: Is it data that we need?
My observation was that the real key to unlocking the answer to that question was getting clear on mission.
Surdna at the time had a mission, and I say this maybe less carefully than I should, that basically said, “We do really important stuff in the world for people that really need it.” And that wasn’t very helpful.
We spent years ultimately retooling the organization around a central mission that’s about sustainable communities, that’s built around the idea that social justice matters.
And so, we were able to take these five programs, keep a couple of them as they were roughly, rebuild a couple of them, and drop a couple of them. We ended up with three programs around thriving cultures, strong local economies, and sustainable environments.
I didn’t write it for them to have them approve it. We actually spent the day, after having spent a year thinking together, and actually built the sentences that are the mission. It’s not a thing that’s written down that we never look at. It’s actually something that we refer to all the time, and it’s allowed us move the foundation into a new era not built around me or what I care about, but built around the collective sense of what Surdna’s values and historical footprint [have] been.
Harold Simon: Kind of like form follows function, and this is programs follow mission.
Phil Henderson: Yes. Yes. When we did the mission, I thought, I wonder how much teeth it will have? I said to the board, “Well, the next step is to figure out, So then what?” I brought back three or four scenarios, and they picked the one that was the most closely aligned with the language they had chosen for mission, which meant much more change for the institution than some of the other options I brought to them, where we could [have faked it a little], saying, “Well, this is sort of the mission. We’ll still do that.” They chose the harder path. They really meant it. They really wanted the institution to go there.
Miriam Axel-Lute: And so, those three programs all relate to the mission. How do they relate to each other in the operational day-to-day?
Phil Henderson: Our board was really interested in what are those overlaps, and isn’t that the place where we might actually focus our attention and be maybe a little different, get a little more effective by looking at where economy and environment intersect rather than having an economic development piece that goes its own way, and then an environment piece that goes its own way?
What does that mean operationally? Do we have an organization where people have multiple specialties? Do we have people who have specialties, and then we help them interact differently so that they can learn from each other? We sort of ended up in between. We ended up with people who are issue specialists, in a way, but we like generalists at Surdna. We like people who are interested broadly, who may be environmental at their core, but they’re really interested in economic issues. They’re really interested in the cultural questions around how environment can be a top priority.
Miriam Axel-Lute: I had somebody say to me recently, “So, what happens if I go to Surdna and I work in culture and economy and environment? I’m not the best at any of them, but I put them together very well. Who do I talk to? Where do I start?”
Phil Henderson: Well, the good news is, if you got in the door here, you’d have them all, because there’s a real interest in that, finding those organizations or those experts that could speak to those multiple venues.
There was a meeting of funders that happened some weeks ago [in New Orleans], and one of the things that our staff said was we were the only foundation there with representatives from our different points of view. Everyone else had their person who was only coming at it from the economic development angle, or the environment angle.
It means we travel more, I suppose, more of us on airplanes, but it really feels like that’s an effective interface for us. Learning happens accidentally in those moments—just being in the room, even if I’m somebody who cares about urban infrastructure and you’re talking to a culture grantee who doesn’t really touch that space much, there are networks that cross over, and there’s learning that happens just because you’re in the room.
We’re trying to see how do you do that as efficiently as possible so you don’t spend all of your time in meetings.
We have overweighted a little bit in terms of the growth on professional staff, which we think is a pretty good investment, and so that does create both more opportunity for the kind of incidental learning that happens because you bump into more people, but the complexity of how you actually share information internally has grown, no doubt.
Miriam Axel-Lute: Yes. And then, there’s also the relationship between you and your grantees, which always is a power imbalance no matter what you do. You’ve spoken about trying to find a balance between being supportive and being directive. How’s that going?
Phil Henderson: The reality of it is that we have the money, and so we have power. We know that. One of the things that we have tried to carry with us since way back before I came here is this value of modesty. I’ll be the first to tell you there’s stuff I don’t know. We don’t have all the answers. Thank goodness, right? If we did, then it would be a heavy burden to bear.
I think the best kinds of relationships for us with grantees are ones where we’re really co-creating an idea and recognizing that you can never quite co-create on equal footing.
One of my former program directors used to say that some grantees get the full concierge service. There’s one we were talking about today, Juxtaposition, which is a social enterprise in North Minneapolis that is arts-based, working with kids, helping kids get skills that they actually can use in the real world in art and design and whatnot. That’s a place that got the full concierge service. George worked with them on some communications stuff. We helped them connect with other potential funders. We worked directly with their staff to try to figure out how we could scale our grants up [so] that they could absorb the additional money and not collapse under the weight of it.
But, the reality is we’re giving away $30 million-plus a year. We can’t do that with every grantee. So, some of them are more sort of pure transactional or longstanding relationships that don’t require that sort of care and feeding. But we like to see that there are at least some places where we’re deploying the full breadth of our assets, our tools, our smarts, our networks, our exposure to other grantees’ learnings. And now PRIs. It’s being able occasionally to move quickly as opposed to moving at a more plodding pace than we moved before.
So, we’re trying to build those muscles. It’s not easy, and I think it requires some delicacy, and at least reminding yourself that you’re not the master of the universe. You don’t have all the answers. We don’t do the work. The folks we’re working with, working through, giving money to, they’re the ones that are doing the work.
Miriam Axel-Lute: You mentioned the longstanding grantees, and that is something Surdna has been known for compared to some foundations—sticking with folks over a longer period of time. What are the advantages and opportunities versus challenges of that particular approach?
Phil Henderson: We try to be pretty careful about not being too big relative to the scale of the institution so that our changing of our minds, or not, isn’t sort of the decisive—like, if you’re 60 percent of someone’s budget, then if you change your mind, then they’re going to have a hard time surviving. So, part of this is engaging with institutions that you’re involved with over the long haul in a sustainable way for them, right?
The other thing that’s been interesting is we had in our arts program, which is now our Thriving Cultures program, a program that was almost exclusively focused on teens’ artistic advancement, looking for high-quality arts programs through which teens were getting training to be better musicians, dancers, visual artists, et cetera.
Now it’s called, instead of Teens’ Artistic Advancements, Teens’ Artistic and Cultural Advancement, so it’s really trying to see how arts institutions are working with the whole kid, not just their artistic skills, particularly focused on disadvantaged communities, communities of color, kids who don’t have access otherwise to these sorts of things.
Some grantees were really good at the former version of what we did and are really not very good at what we’re trying to do now. So, they are no longer grantees. Some of them we worked with for a long time. Good news is they’re really big institutions, oftentimes, and they’ll be fine. But, what’s been interesting is, as we have moved ahead, some of the institutions we’ve been working with for a long time also were moving in a different way, in ways that were only exposed to us because we began talking to them about how we’re thinking now, which is different than the way we were. And they said, “Oh, my gosh, thank goodness. This is something we’ve been thinking about a long time, too. That’s really exciting.”
We’re both responding to the same cultural imperatives, which is a nice thing to see. This kind of growing-together piece means that you can sustain these relationships over time, not in a way that’s static but that actually is responsive to the world around us, which is kind of a nice thing. Sometimes the rethinking of our own priorities allows the conversation to change.
Miriam Axel-Lute: Talk about how you see your PRI work in the larger impact investing space.
Phil Henderson: When I first arrived at Surdna, I swear, the first 20 people I talked to, 15 of them said, “You guys really have to do PRIs.” And I didn’t even really know what that meant.
This issue had been around Surdna for quite some time, [but] we’re a family institution, fairly conservative in terms of adopting wild new stuff, and so there was kind of an inertia problem.
And then, I got us all wrapped up in this mission stuff. So, it has felt like, in some ways, a long time, a long gestation period. I really wanted us to think broadly about impact investing, not just about one intervention point or one tool, but, I came to the conclusion about two and a half years ago that the comfortable entry point was probably PRIs, because the landscape is well defined, there are lots of experts out there who can help you, [and] even though most foundations have not tried it, there are lots who have.
I really wanted it to be in addition to our 5 percent spending. I wanted it to be seen as a portion of the investment portfolio, lower performing in terms of returns, higher performing in terms of social impact, hopefully.
We really looked intensively at this. I had the CFO here work with our friends at Cambridge Associates and build a financial model. We were able to give the board facts and they said, sure, let’s do it. And then we spent about a year, from the approval moment to the moment we actually had our first—now two—PRIs.
It seems like a lot of money, $18 million. It’s 2 percent of our endowment. And it’s not all going out at once. The idea is, at any one time, we could have up to that much in play, and so far the two deals we’ve got are about $1.5 million total. The real idea here is this is driven from program strategies that could benefit from a different kind of capital, investment capital, as a way of extending the impact.
And so, the first two PRIs [were] BOC Capital [Corp.] around post-Sandy rebuilding and access and then an investment with RSF Social Finance around food hubs. And in each case, we have grant money as well going in to help these institutions do their everyday work.
We don’t have a bunch of bankers here at Surdna. We don’t have a bunch of investment people. We have grant-makers. Luckily we have people who have brought some of that experience to Surdna. Shawn Escoffery, who did the BOC Capital [deal], he’s done affordable housing deals, so he knows how to stack capital. That’s been really helpful.
But, as an institution, we didn’t have ready built-in mechanisms to be able to monitor and deal with loans. We’ve had to build that as we’ve gone, and that’s part of the reason it’s taken us some time to go from board approval to an announcement.
I was told before people would be really interested if Surdna did this, and my perspective was, “Well, Ford’s been doing this for 40 years, or 35 years. Why would anybody care about Surdna?” But, I think certainly within the family foundation world it’s been noted.
Miriam Axel-Lute: There’s been a lot of talk about broader impact investing as a new thing, or a new term for an old thing. Do you have a sense about that—where it’s going, more broadly, and what the foundation’s roles are in it?
Phil Henderson: My lay view is that the sophistication of the possible ways you could go is growing day by day. Cambridge Associates have been great. For 25 years we’ve been working with them. Our endowment’s grown beautifully. Up until four or five years ago, they were see-no-evil, hear-no-evil. They were ignoring that world. And now, their endowment clients are demanding that they be responsive to the demands of their constituents, which is a better and more sophisticated array of ways that you might engage in a mission-relevant way with your assets.
So, it’s not like flipping a switch, but it feels like, over the last 10 to 15 years, the pathway is clear, that this is moving pretty strongly in that direction. Little bit of a hiccup when we all lost 40 percent of our endowments, but I think we’re kind of back where we were.
Harold Simon: It’s interesting to hear you say that the clients are demanding it. Do you sense that there will be enough demand? Is it just institutional or foundation investors who are exhibiting this so-called mission-driven private investing?
Phil Henderson: There was some statistic that came out recently about the increase in people who ride their bicycles to work, and it’s gone from 450,000 to 750,000 in the last two years or five years. On the one hand, you can say it nearly doubled, and on the other hand the writer sort of sarcastically said they went from 0.3 percent of the commuting public to 0.4 percent of the commuting public. So, it all depends on your perspective. I think scale matters here.
So, the big money is still the big money. It’s not university endowments. It’s not little old Surdna. We feel like we’re big, $1 billion, but the amount of money flowing through Wall Street and flowing through the international financial markets vastly outstrips anything we’re doing. So, we should be a little bit modest in our expectations about shifting the whole landscape.
On the other hand, we’ve been funding, over the years, groups like Ceres, who work with businesses about their sustainability, footprint, and their worries about climate. It feels like there is something real happening here, and that part of it is we foundations feeling more conscientious about how we’re spending our money and trying to align it with our mission. But, part of it’s that the broader landscape could well be shifting.
Harold Simon: So, it’s gone from fad to trend.
Phil Henderson: Yes, I would give it trend status. It’s not a fad.
Harold Simon: So, you said you don’t fix communities. So, that’s an interesting thought, because a lot of people do want to fix communities.
Phil Henderson: Here’s what I mean by that. We’ve wrestled with this question. So, when we go to Detroit and we invest our $250,000 in work along the Woodward Corridor, we’re not the [Detroit-based] Kresge Foundation. We’re not the Mott Foundation. We’re not the Kellogg Foundation. That is whose very credibility is on the line about fixing Detroit. We’re not putting $10 million into these things. We’re trying to figure out where we can be useful investors with what we know and what we think matters, to be able to help those efforts, the broader efforts, work in a way that we can then perhaps use in our work elsewhere.
We’re not a New York City funder that’s here to try to fix New York City. We know there’s lots of interesting stuff going on in New York City that we invest in and we think is worthwhile and useful, et cetera, but we’re not delusional, luckily, to think that we are tasked with fixing a particular place. Our role is to be a good, solid partner, to move ideas, to work with lots of other actors, some of which are philanthropic and nonprofit, some of which are not in those categories, to be good civic actors in their space.
We’re a contributing factor, but we don’t find ourselves in the place of believing that we should own the whole problem. If you take that the wrong way, you might think, well, we’re just sort of hopscotching around and doing the fun stuff, right? It’s really not about that, but it’s about saying our role is just different than it would be if we were a place-based funder that had its identity wrapped up in the future of Pittsburgh, let’s say.
Harold Simon: Tell us more about how you collaborate externally with your grantees and others.
Phil Henderson: We really strive to be helpful, thoughtful partners. The good news about being a national funder that’s relatively small as national funders go is we never have the illusion that our money’s enough. And we pick big ideas, right? Got a lot of them. We recognize we have to work in concert with lots of other actors, and we can only do that well if we are a really good, true partner.
We don’t always get it right, [but] we are really a good partner with lots of other institutions, and often we are playing the role of creating some connective tissue among them.
For example, we have been a core funder from the very beginning of, in fact helped create, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. In the era of the Obama stimulus package, there was all this sustainability money, and then the creation of these offices in mayoral offices that were about using money in a sustainable way.
There was a network created of all of them, and we were right in the middle trying to help that happen. That’s kind of emblematic of the kind of thing we want to do.
Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
Posted under Industry News on May 6, 2014
Miriam Axel-Lute: So why did you move from capital markets to volunteering at a nonprofit?
Darren Walker: Because at the end of the day, I wanted a career that was fulfilling and gratifying and that allowed me to have some modest impact on the world, and people and places I care about. I was given that opportunity because my work at the Children’s Storefront School in Harlem introduced me to the community around 129th Street because I was there so often. And so I came to know people and came to really understand at a granular level what it was like to be uptown in 1995, and I decided I wanted to commit my life to doing that kind of work.
I was lucky because while I was working at the Children’s Storefront School, I met Calvin Butts at the Abyssinian Church [which ran the Abyssinian Baptist CDC], and he said, “Come and work for me,” which I gladly did. And so that’s how I came to community development. I didn’t know what a CDC was. I’d never heard of LISC. And all of a sudden I’m working at this newish CDC with a big grant from LISC, which had gotten a big grant from the Ford Foundation. So, it came full circle.
Miriam Axel-Lute: How was the transition from the private sector into the nonprofit sector, and then from the nonprofit sector to philanthropy?
Darren Walker: Well, actually, the transition from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector was easier than the transition from the nonprofit sector to philanthropy. And that’s because in both the for-profit and the nonprofit sector, there are market mechanisms for accountability that demand a set of deliverables from you that are pretty quantifiable. And so, when I was at a bank or a law firm, you had to bill hours, or you had a P&L. And when I was at Abyssinian [CDC] every day, I would open the door of the building, and there’d be people in line waiting, who were part of a program that we had to move people from shelter situations to permanent housing, and people waiting because they wanted to enroll their child in Head Start.
So, you knew on a daily basis how you were doing, because people [said] “When is this project going to open?” and “Why hasn’t it opened?” and “You promised that my kid could be in the Head Start,” and, “Why are these drug dealers still on this block after you’ve been working with us on our block association?” So, every day you had a sense of urgency and a demand on you to deliver in tangible ways quickly.
I think the transition to Rockefeller was challenging because I went to a development foundation that was international in its scope and its focus, and had been on this long trajectory of working to eradicate poverty and hunger in places like India and sub-Saharan Africa. And the urgency was there, but it was a different kind of urgency. It wasn’t the urgency because every day someone was at your door, or someone was saying, “Your numbers are down this month and you’ve got to get them back up or you’re going to be out of a job,” which is the way the private sector works. The pace of things weren’t as urgent as it felt at Abyssinian or at UBS.
Miriam Axel-Lute: Did your experience at Abyssinian about how poverty works and how the field works on the ground affect your work in philanthropy?
Darren Walker: Yes, definitely. From my own lived experience and the experience of working uptown, I understand the totality, the complexity of challenges that confront low-income families and communities, and I certainly brought that experience with me. The barriers to advancement for low-income people in communities are multilayered and multifaceted, and there is no quick fix or silver bullet to solving those issues.
I brought probably a greater appreciation for the importance of culture and cultural practices to Rockefeller, to a development foundation where there really wasn’t much, where our ideas about development were really rooted in a kind of development economics that spoke to basic needs around food, for example, and nutrients.
We talked a lot about nutrients and vitamin C versus vitamin B and what that does to the development of the body, [but] didn’t also say, “What does the idea of storytelling do, and what does the idea of passing on tradition do?” That was not in the conversation. And so, my job was often [to say it].
Where does cultural practice fit into this? As you think about your scientific public health interventions, what do you think about traditional healers or the people rural villagers go to, and are going to continue to go to even when you show up in your nice UN Jeep with your vaccines? These people are going to matter, so how do you think about them?
Harold Simon: It’s so easy to separate body and soul. And soul is so hard to grab hold of.
Darren Walker: Well, that’s where the complexity enters in.
Harold Simon: Yes. May I go back to what you said a moment ago about urgency and the different perception of urgency, in the foundation? Because it seems like that’s a two-edged sword. On one hand you have time to reflect. On the other hand, people are still hurting. And the more you wait, the more people hurt. How do you balance that?
Darren Walker: It is a double edge. I look at that construct as an opportunity. I don’t say that it’s a bad thing that the sense of urgency feels different. It’s only a bad thing if you squander the opportunity that it gives philanthropy.
What I’m excited about is that we do have the opportunity, the time to reflect. We don’t have the demand of being elected every other year, which sometimes can generate distortions and irrational decision-making, because you’ve just got to get this done. You’ve got to have that ribbon-cutting so the congressman can see his picture and get credit for something, so you’ve got to rush it to make it so that it fits. That kind of urgency is not good.
The opportunity [in philanthropy] is the chance to listen, to understand the complexity of the problem, to [be] in partnership with the communities where we work, to craft the appropriate long-term response so you don’t have to say, “But we’ve got to have this done by the next election cycle because the elected official has to get credit.” When you do that, that sometimes results are actually are counter-beneficial.
The opportunity for philanthropy is the opportunity to reflect, to listen, to learn, to craft responses and solutions that are based and rooted in the ideas of people who live and work in the communities that you want to empower and help; the opportunity to be bold and to take risk and not be constrained by some of those limitations of the public and the private sector.
Miriam Axel-Lute: How do you bring that opportunity down to the grantees? Because it feels a little bit like it can be in tension with some of the focus on outcomes measurement, and needing results after a one-year grant or a two-year grant, and yet we are trying to have these long-term goals, experiment, focus on people. Is there a way that some of that philosophy can come down to the grantees who are doing the implementation?
Darren Walker: One might get the impression from the literature that grantees don’t prioritize outcomes. Grantees care about outcomes. When I worked at Abyssinian, outcomes are what got me up every day. Making an impact is why I went to work every day. So to imply otherwise, which one might conclude from some of the things you read . . . would be unfortunate.
I think, though, the results need to be defined with the grantees and need to be constructed in a way that embraces their reality. Of course you want discipline. You want rigor. But, we can’t put them in a set of boxes with arrows and expect that that actually authentically represents the experience of social change on the ground, because it’s complex. It’s emergent. It’s unpredictable. And that ambiguity we in philanthropy need to embrace smartly, with our eyes wide open, and with some degree of realism about what can be done in a one-year or two-year grant cycle and why, therefore, the need to invest for the long haul is often what’s needed.
Harold Simon: It’s not the way many foundations approach their grant-making.
Darren Walker: I know. Sorry about that.
Harold Simon: The difficulty is you’re not the only foundation. From a grantee’s perspective, you’re not going to supply all their funding. And so, you have this tension between what you want and also the demands of the rest of philanthropy. And the organizations are feeling the brunt of those conflicting demands.
Darren Walker: Yes, and I think that that’s what’s most disconcerting, is the stress and the unnecessary pain that we can sometimes cause, and that’s deeply regrettable.
Miriam Axel-Lute: We’ve been talking a lot about the complexity of the problems that we’re trying to take on. A nice house is not enough if it’s not on a safe street or doesn’t have access to good schools, and yet, that’s how a lot of the work is stratified. A lot of funding streams are separated into departments—culture as its own thing, and health, and housing. How are you thinking about integrating these at Ford and having them interact with each other, or work together?
Darren Walker: We see this intersection of people and place and policy. I think we see a connection between workforce and our education work. We see culture being a cross-cutting theme that touches on all of our work. And so, the question is how do we organize ourselves in a way so that we can benefit from the opportunity for real interdisciplinary work that we have here.
We’re in the midst now of a set of important institutional conversations about how we’re structured and how we do our programming, and we are prepared to be disruptive in our own internal structures and practice to actually work in a way that reinforces the way work actually happens on the ground.
In a building like this, [and] we’ve got offices around the world, you’ve got to have some structure. The question is how do you have structure that actually unleashes the potential of the institution rather than contain it, that unleashes the power of really smart people who want to work with grantees and partners across the different areas. How do you unleash that and validate it? That’s the challenge before me and the leadership team, and I think that’s what we’re going to be tackling these next few months.
Harold Simon: Just a little bit scary, huh?
Darren Walker: It’s daunting, but it’s a huge opportunity.
Miriam Axel-Lute: Yes. And similarly, you’ve seen the community development world struggle with some of these issues over the past decade or two. How do we look at things comprehensively? Where do you see the field going, and are the shifts a good thing, or fad-chasing?
Darren Walker: For me it’s interesting to have been on the journey. When I came into the CDC world, it really was a conversation about neighborhoods, and it’s really moved to conversations about neighborhoods and regions, how those neighborhoods aggregate up into regional strategies, and that interplay, the conversation between the local and the regional. I think [that] is reflected in the way economies work. There are neighborhood economies, but neighborhood economies are subsidiary ecologies of broader regional economic equality and inequality.
That has required a more holistic approach, which is why people and place and policy become so important, because formal and often informal policies are not made at the neighborhood level. Neighborhoods are dealing with broader forces around policy that wash into their community and have one impact or another. For the community development movement to align itself with those regional forces and those regional actors has been something we’ve supported here, and will continue to be an important part of our work.
That doesn’t mean that neighborhoods don’t matter anymore. Neighborhoods are the unit of analysis, ultimately, because at the end of the day, that’s the way people live their lives. And so you’ve got to have mechanisms that allow you to look across the neighborhood and across the region. Organizations like PolicyLink, the large regional equity organization, didn’t exist when I came into philanthropy.
I think it’s important that we continue to evolve. And part of our job at Ford is to support those visionaries, those innovators, like we did with Angela Blackwell when she brought the idea of PolicyLink, which in part was a response to what she had seen at Ford and at Rockefeller, which was a focus on CDCs and not recognizing that CDCs were part of a larger ecology, and that issues of equity were at the core of why CDCs weren’t having more impact.
We’re going to continue to do that innovation, but also support those CDCs and regional actors who are making a difference in a more holistic way.
Miriam Axel-Lute: Economies are regional, like you say, but the policies tend to flow from cities or states, neither of which are actually that regional environment. So it’s a challenge.
Darren Walker: It is. But for example, in transportation, a lot of the policies are regional because they’re regional transport. And increasingly, cities have a love-hate [relationship] with housing: Is it just in my city or is it a broader regional [issue]?. The regional analysis demands more of regions around housing, because as you all know, if you just say “It’s a city thing,” then . . .
Miriam Axel-Lute: That doesn’t work.
Darren Walker: Then everyone can say, “No, that’s Newark’s problem. That’s Paterson’s problem, even though I’m next door. We’ve got great housing here in Summit. We don’t have any problems at all. What’s going on over in Paterson is Paterson’s problem.”
The wonderful thing about the regional analysis is that it recalibrates how policy gets thought about and presents an opportunity to bring more equity.
Harold Simon: I understand everything you’re saying, and very often we talk about those same things. But, on the ground, how do you operationalize that, understanding that these neighborhood players tend to be understaffed, over-extended, they tend to have so many demands on them. And now we’re saying, hey, open your eyes, fellas, because there’s a big, wide world out there that you are totally embedded in.
Darren Walker: I think one way to operationalize it is playing the role of connector and connecting the local and the regional. And that’s one of the things that philanthropy, particularly a philanthropy like Ford, can do. We are positioned to do that, because we fund both. That connector/facilitator/enabler role is something we play at a global level. So, we often have, as I’m participating in in a few weeks, a human rights conference where there are, in the global South, wonderful, amazing, but frail human rights organizations that are up against enormous challenges in some of the countries they are in.
And the role that we play, in addition to funding them, is connecting them to the larger global human rights networks, the rulemaking frameworks and actors, whether they be at the UN or in Geneva or in New York or Washington, so that they can play the role of bringing authentic voice to actually what’s happening in their countries and not being spoken for by some global human rights group in Geneva. You’re bringing the actual voice of the African [for example], to the table and facilitating and creating this space to legitimize and validate their voice.
Harold Simon and Miriam Axel-Lute: Thank you.
Terrence R. Duvernay Award Call for Nominations
Posted under Industry News on February 17, 2015
This award is awarded annually at the Building Michigan Communities Conference. If you are interested in nominating someone for this year’s award, please fill out the form on by February 26, 2015. this site
Lynn Ross joins HUD
Posted under Industry News on June 17, 2014
Lynn Ross has joined the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as its deputy assistant secretary for policy development. Prior to this, Ross worked as executive director at the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing, and as chief operating officer at the National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy.
Jessica Vasquez joins Corporation for National and Community Service
Posted under Industry News on June 17, 2014
Jessica Vasquez, executive director of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of NY State, will be leaving NPCNYS to become state program director for the Corporation for National and Community Service. Paula Gilbert has been named the acting executive director for NPCNYS.
Jill Feldstein Joins New Penn Center for Community Health Works
Posted under Industry News on May 28, 2014
Jill Feldstein is now director of the Penn Center for Community Health Workers, a new center at Penn Medicine dedicated to improving health outcomes among low-income individuals by providing personal, community-based support. Feldstein previously served as organizing director of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project.
George W. McCarthy Named President of Lincoln Institute
Posted under Industry News on May 28, 2014
On July 1, George McCarthy will become the 5th president of the Lincoln Institute, succeeding Gregory Ingram. McCarthy is an economist at the Ford Foundation dedicated to improving the conditions in metropolitan areas worldwide.
Two Enterprise Executives Finalists for Industry Awards
Posted under Industry News on May 13, 2014
Geoffrey Canada to Leave Harlem Children’s Zone
Posted under Industry News on February 18, 2014
Geoffrey Cananda will step down from his role as chief executive of the Harlem Children’s Zone in June, the New York Times reported. Canada has been featured many times in Shelterforce for his work, most recently in the Winter 2013 issue for inspiring President Obama to institute the Promise Neighborhoods program. Read the details here.
Cristina Jimenez Recognized in Forbes
Posted under Industry News on February 11, 2014
Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, was recognized in Forbes Magazine as one of the top 30 law and policy influencers under 30. Jimenez has organized immigrant youth and workers for the passage of the DREAM Act, comprehensive immigration reform, and pro-immigrant legislation since 2004. Read more about Jimenez here.
CPD’s Nisha Agarwal Launching Immigrant Justice Initiative
Posted under Industry News on February 4, 2014
Nisha Agarwal, The Center for Popular Democracy’s Deputy Director and Co-Founder, is leaving CPD to launch the Immigrant Justice Corps. The IJC will be the largest expansion of immigration legal assistance in New York City’s history. See more details here.
Partnership for Working Families Hires New Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on January 28, 2014
Leslie Moody will be leaving the Partnership this summer, passing the duties of executive director to Nikki Fortunato. Fortunato has previously been the director of EBASE, a founding affiliate of the Partnership, and a chair of the Partnership’s board.
Heather McGee Named New President of Demos
Posted under Industry News on January 28, 2014
Heather McGhee has been named the next president of Demos and will begin in the new role on March 10. McGhee joined Demos a decade ago and is currently the vice president of policy and outreach.
Miles Rapoport Leaving Demos
Posted under Industry News on January 22, 2014
Demos announced that Rapoport will be stepping down from his role as CEO of Demos on March 10 to become president and CEO of Common Cause.
NeighborWorks Names New Vice President for Its Pacific Region
Posted under Industry News on January 14, 2014
NeighborWorks America announced that it named Vanitha Venugopal regional vice president for its pacific region. In that role, Venugopal is responsible for NeighborWorks operations and business relationships throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. Prior to joining NeighborWorks America, Venugopal served as program director of community development and investment for the San Francisco Foundation.
Enterprise Community Honors Jim Buckley
Posted under Industry News on December 23, 2013
Enterprise Community Partners honored Jim Buckley, executive director of University Neighborhood Housing Program with the Andrew Heiskell Community Renaissance Award at the annual Gotham City Gala in November. Buckley was honored for his work as a community organizer and now as executive director, empowering residents, fighting for tenants’ rights, and advocating for quality affordable housing
Staci Berger wins Emerging Leader Award
Posted under Industry News on December 23, 2013
The Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Center for Excellence announces Staci Berger, Director of Housing & Community Development Network of NJ, as the winner of its Emergent Leaders Award that recognizes excellence in the nonprofit sector.
Opportunity Agenda Announces New Fellow
Posted under Industry News on December 23, 2013
Tracy Van Slyke will develop the Vox Impact Project, a research and incubation hub dedicated to transforming the communications sector within the progressive movement as the new fellow for the Opportunity Agenda.
Ford Foundation Appoints New Vice President of Economic Opportunity and Assets
Posted under Industry News on December 23, 2013
Xavier de Souza Briggs has been named Vice President of Economic Opportunity and Assets. Briggs will oversee all of the program’s global grantmaking and serve as an officer of the Board of Trustees.
NCRC Director on HUD Intermediaries Coalition
Posted under Industry News on November 18, 2013
Cheryl Cassell, director of NCRC’s Housing Counseling Network, has been named co-chair of the HUD Coalition of National Intermediaries. Cassell will co-chair the coalition with LaTesha Slappy of Mission of Peace.
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty Awards Advocacy Work
Posted under Industry News on November 15, 2013
The Law Center honored Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Judy Curtis for their work to end homelessness at the 15th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards last week.
In Memoriam, Rodney Fernandez
Posted under Industry News on November 14, 2013
With great sadness, we announce the passing of Rodney Fernandez, hardworking practitioner at countless organizations.
Tony Pickett joins the Urban Land Conservancy
Posted under Industry News on November 13, 2013
The Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), has hired community development industry veteran Tony Pickett as vice president, master site development. In this new role, Tony will be focused on creating maximum density developments that incorporate affordable housing and community assets that are pedestrian oriented and accessible by transit to the greater community. He will be directly involved in all aspects of development including financing, partner identification, community engagement and disposition.
Rick Jacobus leaves Cornerstone Partnership
Posted under Industry News on November 13, 2013
Rick Jacobus will be stepping down from his role as director at Cornerstone Partnership to return to independent consulting. Consultant Rachel Silver will continue the work as the new director. Rachel previously worked as the housing development manager for the City of Alameda, California.
White House honors Rev. Norman Fong
Posted under Industry News on October 18, 2013
Norman Fong, executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Community Preparedness.
National CAPACD receives 2013 Philanthropy Award
Posted under Industry News on October 17, 2013
The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement awarded National CAPACD an award for their work to address housing and community development needs.
Inaugural Diane Sterner Award for Community Development
Posted under Industry News on October 16, 2013
NACEDA has established an annual award to be given to individuals embodying leadership and commitment named after Diane Sterner. This award recognizes her impact on the community development industry.
NeighborWorks America names new vice president
Posted under Industry News on October 9, 2013
Kirsten Johnson-Obey was named senior vice president of the corporation’s Public Policy and Legislative Affairs division. In her role as senior vice president, she will provide leadership, vision and strategic direction and is directly responsible for overseeing and managing a wide range of issues, deliverables and relationships related to public policy, Congressional appropriations, legislative and intergovernmental affairs.
Calvert Foundation Appoints Jennifer Pryce President and CEO
Posted under Industry News on October 8, 2013
Calvert Foundation’s Board of Directors announced today Chief Strategy Officer Jennifer Pryce will be the organization’s new President and CEO upon the departure of Lisa Hall, who is leaving to join Anthos Asset Management in the newly created position of Managing Director of Impact Investing.
Sheldon H. Danziger Named New President of the Russell Sage Foundation
Posted under Industry News on October 7, 2013
The Russell Sage Foundation announced that it named Sheldon H. Danziger as the tenth president of the Foundation. He will succeed Eric Wanner, who has led the Foundation since 1986.
Leviticus Fund Hires Gregory Maher as new Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on October 4, 2013
Gregory Maher will replace retiring Executive Director David C. Raynor, effective Sept. 1. Maher brings extensive community development lending experience to Leviticus. For most of his career, he has worked for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), most recently as Senior Vice President for Lending.
Opportunity Agenda announces new director of development
Posted under Industry News on October 3, 2013
Jessica Wells-Hassan has been brought on as the new director of development for the Opportunity Agenda. Jessica has over 13 years of experience in fundraising, management, external relations, and operations at leading New York City nonprofits, with a focus on raising funds for underserved youth and other disadvantaged groups.
Tammye Treviño moves to HUD
Posted under Industry News on October 2, 2013
Tammye Treviño has left her position as administrator of the Rural Housing Service to become regional director of HUD’s Region VI, based in Texas. Richard Davis will serve as acting administrator.
NEXT Seed Capital Awardee Announced
Posted under Industry News on October 2, 2013
Freedom First Federal Credit Union is this year’s NEXT Seed Capital Awardee.
Freedom First will receive $100,000 from The Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance to develop its American Dreamer Loan product, which will provide Roanoke, Virginia-based refugees, as well as immigrants who are legal permanent residents, critical financing to apply for citizenship.
Senate confirms Tom Perez as Labor Secretary
Posted under Industry News on August 16, 2013
The Senate in July confirmed Tom Perez as Labor secretary. President Obama named Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, to the position in March.
Perez is one of the founding Advisory Board members of the Opportunity Agenda.
Frank Ford Moves to Thriving Communities
Posted under Industry News on August 16, 2013
Frank Ford has left his role at Neighborhood Progress, Inc. after 14 years to be a senior policy advisor for the Thriving Communities Institute.
Frank will continue doing research and advocacy work in foreclosure and neighborhood stabilization. Read his article “Cleaning Up After the Foreclosure Tsunami: Tackling Bank Walk-Aways and Vulture Investors” from the 2009 Fall/Winter issue of Shelterforce.
Ford Foundation names Darren Walker President
Posted under Industry News on August 16, 2013
The Ford Foundation Board of Trustees announced July 25 the decision to name Darren Walker its new president.
Since 2010, Walker served as vice president for education, creativity and free expression. Prior, he was vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, and earlier chief operating officer for the Abyssinian Development Corporation in Harlem.
Darren also served on the board of the National Housing Institute and penned an article about faith-based community development for the 2001 January/February issue of Shelterforce.
ANHD Launches NYC Organizing Academy
Posted under Industry News on July 18, 2013
The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development has launched the NYC Organizing Academy as the newest program under the Center for Neighborhood Leadership (CNL). CNL was created to provide new resources to strengthen neighborhood- based organizing in New York City. The NYC Organizing Academy will provide formal training covering the history and theoretical frameworks of community organizing, and much more. Details are available here
HUD’s Study on Housing Discrimination
Posted under Industry News on July 17, 2013
Communities of color, specifically blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, face discrimination when looking for housing, according to the study commissioned by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Among some of the findings were that minority groups are often shown fewer available housing units than whites, even when both prospective applicants had similar qualifications. The study, “Racial Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012” is available here
Center for Housing Policy Hires New Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on July 8, 2013
Lisa Sturtevant will replace Jeffrey Lubell as the executive director of National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy. Sturtevant will begin work August 12 and will also serve as NHC’s vice president for research.
Sturtevant teaches statistics, program and policy evaluation in George Mason University’s Graduate School of Public Policy and has a diverse background with experience in housing research.
HCDNNJ Welcomes New Associate Director
Posted under Industry News on July 7, 2013
Sharon K. Barker will serve as the associate director for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. Barker has over 30 years of experience working for community and human service nonprofits. In her last position she served as co-CEO and senior vice president of community impact and development at the United Way of Bucks County. Barker is also a certified Section 8 Housing specialist. Welcome!
JCHS Releases State of the Nation’s Housing 2013
Posted under Industry News on July 5, 2013
The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released its annual State of the Nation’s Housing Report last week. The report is available for download here and covers topics including the severe housing cost burdens plaguing many Americans and the high mortgage delinquency that is still pervasive. The report was released via live webcast and discussants included Eileen Fitzgerald of NeighborWorks America and George McCarthy of the Ford Foundation.
Urban Land Institute Releases “America in 2013”
Posted under Industry News on July 4, 2013
The Urban Land Institute released “Where American’s Want to Live”, a report based on a nationwide survey of several generations and revealed that there is high demand for residential development that is less dependent on cars for transpoortation. The majority of respondents reported a preference for living in mixed income housing with access to public transportation. The full report is available for download.
Diane Sterner Honored by New Jersey Future
Posted under Industry News on July 3, 2013
New Jersey Future held its 2013 Smart Growth Awards this month. Diane Sterner, founding executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (HCDNNJ) and National Housing Institute board member was awarded the Cary Edwards Leadership Award, which is given to an individual who has done exemplary work to improve quality of life in New Jersey. Congratulations!
The National Community Land Trust Network Welcomes Two New Staff Members
Posted under Industry News on June 24, 2013
The NCLTN welcomed Marcus Presley and Beth Sorce to its team this month.
Marcus Presley will serve as policy associate and brings over 8 years of experience in policy advocacy and community organizing to the Network. He has worked for the Women’s Community Revitalization Project on advocacy campaigns and in various labor unions and other advocacy organizations. He holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.
Beth Sorce will serve as community and capacity building manager and brings years of experience in affordable housing and shared equity to the Network. Sorce worked for the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board and has conducted research on the role of community land trusts in weak market cities, among other topics. She holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of New Orleans.
Surdna Foundation Appoints New Director of Communications
Posted under Industry News on June 20, 2013
For the first time ever, the Surdna Foundation will have a director of communications, George Soule. Soule will be responsible for strategic communication of the foundation with partners, grantees, and others in the public and private sectors. Foundation President, Phillip Henderson, said of Soule: “George will help amplify the voices of our grantees – whether through storytelling or leveraging the latest digital tools…”
YES! Magazine Wins Top Award in Independent Media
Posted under Industry News on June 20, 2013
YES! was awarded the Utne Media 2013 “General Excellence” title. Utne editor Christian Williams said of the magazine ”[Its] message of hope and optimism is both inspiring and essential in these uncertain times.”
National Housing Institute/Shelterforce executive and associate directors, Harold Simon and Miriam Axel-Lute, wrote in YES! last year on cooperative financing and community land trusts (alongside John Davis). Rooflines bloggers Mindy Fullilove and Molly Rose Kaufman were also featured in that issue. Congratulations!
NALCAB featured at Clinton Global Initiative America Conference!
Posted under Industry News on June 19, 2013
The National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders’ “Inversiones: A Small Business Investment Initiative” was featured at the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) Conference on June 13. NALCAB executive director Noel Poyo presented on the initiative that was named “an exemplary approach to addressing challenges in the Small Business Area.” Congratulations!
Live Webcast of Harvard JCHS State of the Nation’s Housing Report
Posted under Industry News on June 14, 2013
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University will release its annual report, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2013 on June 26, 12-1pm EST. The release event will take place in Boston, and will be webcast live on the Joint Center’s website.
NPR Housing & Economics Correspondent Chris Arnold will moderate a conversation about the report, with Eric S. Belsky (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies), Eileen Fitzgerald (NeighborWorks America), George McCarthy (Ford Foundation), and Debra Still (Mortgage Bankers Association).
Tune into the webcast: http://www.jchs.harvard.edu
$100 Million in Federal Funds Going to Michigan
Posted under Industry News on June 13, 2013
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) announced that $100 million in federal funds will be freed up for five Michigan cities – including Flint and Saginaw – to clean up neighborhoods and remove blight. Since taking office, Congressman Kildee has worked to secure Hardest Hit Funds (HHF) for Michigan to address vacant and abandoned properties in communities. He has worked directly with the U.S. Department of Treasury and introduced key legislation in Congress.
Kildee says “freeing up federal money to revitalize and invest in cities, including both Flint and Saginaw in my congressional district, will strengthen neighborhoods and unlock greater opportunity for all homeowners. I’m pleased that the partnership between my office, the State of Michigan and the Treasury Department has resulted in millions of dollars in much-needed funds.”
We look forward to hearing how these funds are utilized to help Michigan!
National Fair Housing Alliance & Wells Fargo Announce Homeownership Collaboration
Posted under Industry News on June 12, 2013
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 13 of its member organizations announced a collaboration with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. that will provide funds in 19 cities to foster homeownership, assist with rebuilding neighborhoods of color impacted by the foreclosure crisis, and promote diverse, inclusive communities.
“NFHA is looking forward to working in collaboration with Wells Fargo to make sure that all communities have a chance at a fair recovery,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “We are thrilled to see Wells Fargo’s renewed efforts and leadership in this area.”
Check out the detailed press release on NFHA’s website http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/NewsReleaseWellsFargoNFHA130606.pdf
Dr. Mindy Fullilove Releases New Book, Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-Out Cities
Posted under Industry News on June 7, 2013
Dr. Mindy Fullilove is a professor of public health at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, community organizer, and longtime friend of Shelterforce. She wrote about UnSorting our Cities in a recent issue of Shelterforce, and is now a blogger on Rooflines. Please join us in congratulating Mindy on her new book, and stop by to celebrate the book launch! Details can be found HERE
Terri Ludwig Blogs on Housing for the Huffington Post!
Posted under Industry News on June 7, 2013
Enterprise Community Partners president and CEO and Shelterforce Editorial Advisory Council member, Terri Ludwig, has joined the Huffington Post to blog on the intersection between housing, health, and social/economic issues. Check out her first posts on the hidden housing crisis among Native Americans and the importance of housing in curbing domestic violence.
We look forward to reading more from her!
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Debuts New Spanish Website
Posted under Industry News on June 6, 2013
The CFPB recently launched its Spanish language website—www.consumerfinance.gov/es—which is optimized for mobile use. The site provides access to essential consumer resources such as how to submit a consumer complaint and answers to consumers’ frequently asked questions.
Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy Leaves HUD
Posted under Industry News on June 5, 2013
Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy, former Senior Advisor to the Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be joining Context Partners in June 2013. Sarkozy-Banoczy
was the vice president and COO for First Nations Oweesta Corporation, a national community development financial institution (CDFI) intermediary and the founding executive director of the CDFI Four Bands Community Fund, Inc.
Neighborhood Funders Group Appoints Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on June 4, 2013
The Board of Directors of the Neighborhood Funders Group announced the appointment of Dennis Quirin as the new executive director. Quirin has two decades of experience as an activist, organizer, and grantmaker and has worked with a number of social change organizations including Californians for Justice, the San Francisco Foundation, and Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.
NeighborWorks America Tops list of Nations’ Largest Affordable Housing Builders
Posted under Industry News on May 28, 2013
Last week NeighborWorks America was named one of the nation’s largest builders of affordable homes, according to the Builder 100 list. NeighborWorks America ranked #3 among builders specializing in affordable for-sale homes.
NeighborWorks America CEO and Shelterforce Editorial Advisory Council member, Eileen Fitzgerald, remarked on the difficulty of providing housing solutions that work in different markets during the recovery phase. Fitzgerald assured homebuyers, however, that “whether building homes as part of developments of detached homes, townhomes or condominiums, in urban, suburban or rural markets, homebuyers can count on NeighborWorks to build quality and affordable homes.”
Asset Funders Network (AFN) Names New Director
Posted under Industry News on May 23, 2013
Joseph Antolín was named the new Director by the AFN Steering Committee. Antolín is the Principal at Antolín & Associates Consulting and has over 30 years of leadership experience in community, nonprofit, and government sectors.
Press Release available here.
John Trasviña Leaves HUD
Posted under Industry News on May 22, 2013
John Trasviña, former HUD Assistant Secretary, has been named the new Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law. Trasviña has worked alongside HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan for the last four years, and was interviewed by Shelterforce in 2011. Congratulations!
REACH CDC Names New Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on May 21, 2013
Dan Valliere will replace Kathy Kniep as the new executive director of REACH Community Development. Before joining REACH, Valliere was the executive director of Chicago Commons, and he brings over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector to REACH.
More information available from the REACH press release
Wayne Meyer receives “Champion of Change” award from White House
Posted under Industry News on May 13, 2013
The White House honored 5 NJ residents and organizations that responded to help victims of Hurricane Sandy last month. Meyer is the president of New Jersey Community Capital which was the topic of a recent Shelterforce article, and he and staff launched the “REBUILD New Jersey Fund” within weeks of the storm to step in and assist residents. Congratulations, Wayne!
Read the full White House Press Release Here
ESOP Announces New Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on May 13, 2013
Roslyn Quarto will replace Mark Seifert as executive director of Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP). Quarto has years of experience in low income housing, real estate law and government advocacy, and most recently served as the associate executive director of the Urban Homestead Assistance Board (UHAB) in New York.
Read the full Press Release Here
Rafael Cestero Honored by North Star Fund
Posted under Industry News on April 23, 2013
Rafael Cestero, president and CEO of the Community Preservation Corporation, has won the Leadership in Affordable Housing award from the North Star Fund. Cestero began his long career at Enterprise Community Partners, where he served as director of New York Programs and chief program officer.
AHC Inc. Named Nonprofit Developer of the Year
Posted under Industry News on April 16, 2013
AHC Inc. has won the 2013 “Nonprofit Developer of the Year” award from the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND). The award recognizes the most outstanding and innovative housing developments, programs and solutions across the Washington, DC, metro area. The award will be presented during the HAND Annual Meeting, June 11, 2013.
More information and a full news release Here
Jeff Lubell to Join Abt Associates
Posted under Industry News on April 4, 2013
Jeff Lubell, executive director of the Center for Housing Policy, will join Abt Associates in June 2013. For seven years Lubell has led CHP and he will continue to work on informing housing policy with Abt. Lubell is recognized as an expert in housing and community development policy, and has worked for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
In 2012 Lubell participated in a Shelterforce Roundtable “The Housing Crisis and the Landscape of Affordable Housing” alongside Raphael Bostic (HUD), Alan Mallach (Brookings Institute), and Chris Herbert (JCHS).
National Community Stabilization Trust names Todd Pawlinski Managing Director of Operations
Posted under Industry News on March 4, 2013
From Press Release
Washington, D.C. – The National Community Stabilization Trust is pleased to announce an important addition to the organization. Todd Pawlinksi has joined the national non-profit intermediary as Managing Director of Operations, as of February 4th, 2013. Todd brings more than 25 years of banking and financial services industry experience to the Stabilization Trust.
From 2008-2012, Todd served as Vice President of Real Estate Management at Saxon Mortgage Services, where he managed the servicing staff and outsource vendors for Saxon’s REO disposition activities. Todd also served as Vice-President for National Pre-Marketing at Countrywide Home Loans from 2007-2008, where he directed a staff of nearly 100 that oversaw all Pre-Sale activities for REO including property preservation, relocation assistance (Cash for Keys), evictions, code violations, valuation orders, HOA payment management, and REO Agents. Todd has held additional leadership roles in servicing and REO disposition at Guaranty Bank and Bank One Corporation.
As Managing Director of Operations, Todd will ensure optimal coordination of Stabilization Trust Operations staff in Dallas, Business Development and Support team in Minneapolis, and Servicer and Community Buyer teams across the country. “We are delighted to add Todd to our senior executive team”, said Craig Nickerson, President of the National Community Stabilization Trust. “Todd’s wealth of experience in the servicing arena will help us increase our effectiveness, while developing new and scalable solutions that can meet the needs of community providers and participating servicers.”
Todd will be based in Dallas, Texas and report to Danny Gardner, Chief Operating Officer.
Pratt Institute Planning Proffessor Ron Shiffman Awarded Two Prestigious National Honors
Posted under Industry News on March 2, 2013
From Press Release
NEW YORK, N.Y. February 11, 2013—Ron Shiffman, professor, Pratt Institute Graduate School of Architecture, and founder, Pratt Center for Community Development, was recently recognized with two national honors: the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership and the American Planning Association’s 2013 National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Pioneer.
Shiffman received the Jane Jacobs Medal for his role in creating the model for community development corporations commonly used today and for his tireless pursuit of and belief in the power of community-based groups to change the makeup of New York City for the better. Along with the medal, Shiffman received a cash award; he donated $50,000 of his award to the New York Community Trust and $25,000 to the program in which he teaches—the Program for Sustainable Planning and Development. Shiffman received the American Planning Association honor for his important contributions and leadership to the field of urban planning.
Shiffman has spent more than fifty years working to promote community-based activism and to empower local groups to participate directly in the development of their neighborhoods. Trained as an architect and urban planner, he is an expert in community-based planning, housing, and sustainable development and a champion of green economies based on local manufacturing. He has had extensive experience bringing together private and public sector sponsors of housing and related community-development projects.
Photo Credit: Peter Tannenbaum
Staci Berger named new Exectuive Director of HCDNNJ
Posted under Industry News on February 13, 2013
The Executive Board has selected Staci Berger as the Network’s new Executive Director, beginning April 8, 2013. After an extensive search, a committee of board members, staff, and key stakeholders agreed that Staci is the best person to maintain the momentum and energy that Diane has brought to the organization. The Board is confident that Staci will continue the Network’s strong, effective and forward-thinking leadership on the critical issues facing the community development sector and our state.
Staci has served as the Network’s Director of Policy and Advocacy since 2005. In that time, she has been responsible for spearheading our policy work, helping to improve the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, adopting the nationally-recognized legislation A.500, developing solutions to the foreclosure crisis and fighting to preserve the state’s fair housing policies and programs. She led the Network’s efforts to develop and implement the Network’s “Advocacy Team” (A-Team) concept to strengthen and enhance the Network’s visibility on policy issues. In these and other efforts, Staci has been thoroughly engaged in all of the Network’s initiatives.
Prior to joining the Network, Staci worked for nine years with New Jersey Citizen Action where she went from being an organizer to the Political and Legislative Director. As the Political and Legislative Director, she devised and implemented political, legislative, and electoral strategy for the state’s largest non-profit, non-partisan independent watchdog coalition. She received her Masters in Public Affairs and Politics from Rutgers University in 2004. Staci worked as a labor organizer with the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute and the Health Professionals and Allied Employees/AFT/AFL-CIO. Staci graduated from Livingston College at Rutgers University, where she led student organizations working for affordable higher education in the Garden State.
Joshua Simon returns to EBALDC as executive director
Posted under Industry News on February 11, 2013
From press release
The board of directors of East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) announced the appointment of Joshua Simon as the organization’s new Executive Director. Simon brings more than 25 years of experience working with diverse communities and expertise in real estate development and affordable housing, most recently as Director of Real Estate Consulting at the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF).
“I believe Josh has the instincts and ability to move EBALDC forward in the current economic environment, to meet the increasing needs of the people we serve,” said Dr. K.M. Tan, chair of the board of directors. “He comes superbly qualified, and I look forward to working closely with him and supporting him to succeed.”
Simon previously worked at EBALDC for 12 years as Director of Real Estate Development and as Senior Project Manager, overseeing the development of major mixed-use complexes that combine affordable rental apartments with community and retail facilities benefitting the broader community. These include Swan’s Marketplace, San Pablo Hotel, Hismen Hin-Nu Terrace Apartments, and Avalon Senior Housing, among others. Simon joined NCCLF in 2006, and has helped to sharpen the organization’s focus on the development of community facilities for social services and progressive arts groups throughout Northern California and the Central Valley. Simon also brings experience working with Innovative Housing, Project Artaud and Chinatown Community Development Center.
Throughout his career, Simon has been an active civic leader, serving for 11 years on the board of the Emeryville Unified School District and various education and housing committees. He also serves as Vice President of Emeryville’s Redevelopment Successor Agency Oversight Committee. Simon holds a BA in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Science in Real Estate Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“The EBALDC team is made up of extraordinary community development professionals. In collaboration with EBALDC’s community partners, we have a unique opportunity to foster healthy communities,” remarked Simon. “I am honored that the EBALDC board has selected me to take on this challenge.” He officially begins on April 1, 2013.
Six Recipients Win 2013 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award
Posted under Industry News on February 7, 2013
The James Irvine Foundation announced the 2013 recipients of their Leadership Award. Recipients are chosen based on the work they do to addresses California’s critical challenges and are granted $125,000 each to continue that work.
From James Irvine Foundation announcement
This year’s award recipients are helping to improve the lives of thousands of Californians every day. Whether it is increasing economic opportunity for low-wage workers or fostering a more productive learning environment for our elementary school children, these individuals remind us that the ingenuity and optimism needed to solve difficult problems exists throughout our state.
“I’m inspired by the transformative results these leaders have achieved by collaborating across sectors to come up with new and effective solutions,” said Jim Canales, president and CEO of the Irvine Foundation. “They each have excelled at building upon the assets of California’s residents and communities to improve the future of our state.”
Please join us in honoring and celebrating these inspiring leaders. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on their success, so that their proven solutions can inform state policymaking and better the lives of more Californians. We want to encourage others to help grow and replicate their models for an even greater impact on our state.
About the Awards
Now in its eighth year, the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards recognize and support individuals who are advancing innovative and effective solutions to significant state issues. Nominees may be working in any field — such as education, health, housing, economic development or the environment — in the public, private or nonprofit sector.
Since the program was launched, we have recognized 45 recipients, including both individuals and groups.
Information on all award winners can be found by visiting www.irvine.org/leadership/leadership-awards
NeighborWorks America and Wells Fargo Help 1,600 Buy Homes through ‘LIFT’ Programs
Posted under Industry News on February 7, 2013
From Press Release, February 5, 2013
LIFT Programs Assist Potential Homeowners through Comprehensive Education and Down Payment Assistance
NeighborWorks America, a national non-profit organization which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes and improve their lives, and Wells Fargo, one of America’s leading financial services companies, today marked the one-year anniversary of its NeighborhoodLIFT and CityLIFT programs by announcing the efforts have helped 1,624 moderate income buyers purchase homes with the help of homebuyer education training and $27 million of down payment assistance grants. In addition, 460 applicants have a contract to purchase a home through the programs with the help of nearly $8 million for down payment assistance. More than $64 million remains available for down payment assistance grants through LIFT programs in participating housing markets.
The $170 million initiative created by Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks America has sought to keep the dream of homeownership within reach for prospective homebuyers facing down payment challenges in cities deeply affected by the housing crisis. The programs – first launched in February 2012 in Los Angeles and Atlanta – have made down payment assistance grants ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per homebuyer depending on the housing market.
Pre-qualified applicants must meet certain criteria including annual income not exceeding 120 percent of the median income for the area; complete required homebuyer education training administered by HUD-approved housing counselors such as NeighborWorks America affiliates; and earn their down payment assistance grants when they buy and reside in an eligible home for five years. Mortgages available through the program are not exclusively offered through Wells Fargo, America’s largest mortgage lender, and the down payment grants, while funded by Wells Fargo, are administered by NeighborWorks America’s network of non-profit affiliates.
“NeighborWorks America and Wells Fargo have reached an important milestone in helping more than 1,600 families achieve the dream of homeownership through the LIFT programs,” said NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen Fitzgerald. “These programs contribute to community stabilization because they promote successful, sustainable homeownership that’s grounded in making responsible buying choices.”
“At Wells Fargo, we believe in programs like LIFT because they provide community-based solutions that deliver real help to families,” said Jon Campbell, Wells Fargo’s executive vice president and head of Government and Community Relations. “These programs encourage the kind of collaboration that needs to keep happening between the private sector, the non-profit sector and elected and public officials.”
Since the inception of the programs, more than 14,000 potential home buyers have attended NeighborhoodLIFTS and CityLIFTS events in the following cities: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Houston, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, Sacramento, and Oakland. The next CityLIFTS program homebuyer event is scheduled April 5-6 in Baltimore. Visit www.nhsbaltimore.org for more information about the CityLIFTSM program in Baltimore.
For more information about LIFT programs, go to www.neighborhoodlift.org. For more information about NeighborWorks America, go to nw.org.
ESOP Announces New Board President
Posted under Industry News on February 1, 2013
From Press Release, February 1, 2013
CLEVELAND, OH – After the loss of Founder and Board President Inez Killingsworth, the Board of Trustees has selected Barbara Anderson as its new president.
“Long before she got sick, Inez was grooming Barbara to become a future leader of the organization,” said Mark Seifert, Executive Director. “Barbara brings a wealth of knowledge, energy and commitment to her new role with ESOP.”
“After working with my mentor for the last 12 years, I am excited about the opportunity to continue the work that Inez started,” said Anderson. “I am committed to the mission of ESOP and making sure her voice remains to be heard.”
Anderson first came to Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People for assistance as a homeowner. She then became active as a community leader and later served as Board Treasurer. She currently works as a Consumer Protection Specialist for the City of Cleveland.
Ms. Anderson has a long history of community leadership and activism, serving on several community boards over the years. She has testified before Congress on the predatory lending and foreclosure crisis, served as a panelist on numerous forums, and was a featured speaker to the Democratic Presidential Candidates in 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. She also had a principal role in the award winning movie “Cleveland vs. Wall Street” which puts “Wall Street” on trial for the housing crisis in Cleveland. She is also the four and an active leader and instructor at her church.
In Memoriam, Inez Killingsworth
Posted under Industry News on January 24, 2013
With great sadness we announce the passing of Inez Killingsworth, founder of Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP).
Killingsworth devoted much of her life, over four decades in fact, to community organizing. In 2010, Killingsworth was awarded the Purpose Prize from Civic Ventures in recognition of her work to prevent foreclosures in Ohio and across the nation. That same year, Michael McQuarrie wrote “ESOP Rises Again” in Shelterforce
and made mention of Killingsworth’s work with ESOP. Inez was known by family and friends as a fighter, but ultimately lost her battle with cancer last week at the age of 75.
Anne Kubisch named President and CEO of the Ford Family Foundation
Posted under Industry News on January 24, 2013
Anne Kubisch, former director of the Roundtable on Community Change at The Aspen Institute, is now president and CEO of the Ford Family Foundation in Roseburg, OR. The Foundation works to build successful rural communities in Oregon and California. Kubisch established the Roundtable in 1994 and since then it has become “the premier national knowledge center about community development in disadvantaged locations across the country” according to Aspen Institute’s president Walter Isaacson. In 1996 Kubisch wrote about comprehensive community initiatives in an issue of Shelterforce.
Melora Hiller named Executive Director of the National Community Land Trust Network
Posted under Industry News on January 18, 2013
Melora Hiller, former interim executive director for the National Community Land Trust Network, has been hired as the executive director. Hiller brings over 20 years of experience in affordable housing and community land trusts to the Network, and after 6 months as interim ED “quickly realized that (she) wanted to stay with the organization for the long term.”
Carol Galante Confirmed as FHA Commissioner
Posted under Industry News on January 14, 2013
After a year and a half as acting commissioner of FHA and assistant secretary for housing, Carol Galante was confirmed at the end of the year. Before she stepped into this role, Galante had served as deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing programs since 2009. Prior to joining HUD in 2009, she was president at BRIDGE Housing Corporation.
Senate Republicans were purportedly concerned about FHA’s fiscal health (see Rooflines posts on why their critiques were off base here and here) and threatened to hold up her nomination. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that a letter from Galante promising reforms won over Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who supported her in an otherwise party-line vote.
William Apgar Back at Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc.
Posted under Industry News on January 7, 2013
From HousingWire, December 20, 2012
Former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary William Apgar rejoined the Board of Directors for the Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc., a nonprofit housing organization that restored nearly 8,000 housing apartments in nine states. Apgar was one of the first board members of POAH.
As a senior scholar at the Joint Center for Housing Studies and lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Apgar studies housing, community and economic development as well as housing finance and capital markets.
Read the full HousingWire Release: http://www.housingwire.com/fastnews/2012/12/20/former-hud-assistant-secretary-rejoins-preservation-affordable-housing
Shelterforce interviewed Apgar in 1995 when he directed the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard.
Dave Beckwith Retires as Needmor’s Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on January 7, 2013
Dave Beckwith, executive director of the Needmor Fund, has retired. Before joining Needmor in 2003, Beckwith was a community organizer for over 30 years, nearly half of them with the Center for Community Change. He continued his commitment to organizing at Needmor, which supports individuals and organizations that work towards social, economic, and political change.
“Dave is one of the happiest organizer I’ve ever met,” said NHI executive director Harold Simon. “That optimism isn’t built on delusion or some misplaced effort to motivate the troops (though he certainly does!). Dave sees hope in the people who care enough to do something, often at their own personal risk, and promise in every victory, no matter how small. That’s a rare talent and a powerful skill.”
Beckwith will be continuing to work for the causes he believes in, he says, as well as “traveling, fishing, reading, singing…”
Amy Hovey to Serve as Congressman-Elect’s Chief of Staff
Posted under Industry News on January 7, 2013
Amy Hovey, chief operating officer and vice president for capacity building at the Center for Community Progress, will join Congressman-elect Dan Kildee as district chief of staff. Hovey stepped down as CCP’s interim executive director when Tamir Shapiro was selected to fill the permanent position.
In Memoriam: Jon Kest
Posted under Industry News on December 13, 2012
Jon Kest, director of New York Communities for Change, a founder of the Working Families Party, and former head organizer for the New York chapter of ACORN, died of cancer on December 5. He was 57.
Kest was an organizer for more than 30 years, working to improve the lives of New York’s low-wage workers. His most recent campaign culminated in the November 29 strike of more than 200 fast-food workers around the city, demanding higher wages and the right to organize. He also spearheaded a recent effort to unionize car wash workers.
Prior to coming to New York, Kest organized ACORN chapters in Arkansas and Philadelphia. More than 17,000 home day care workers belong to the United Federation of Teachers today, in no small part due to Kest’s organizing drive that began in the early 2000’s.
Kest’s campaign to have residents take over abandoned buildings in East New York led to the conversion of hundreds of apartments in dozens of buildings to affordable housing for low-income residents, and his work during the Giuliani administration ensured that the Mayor’s workfare program treated workers more fairly.
Stephanie Allewalt becomes Senior Planner at GRAEF
Posted under Industry News on December 13, 2012
Stephanie R. Allewalt has started as senior planner at GRAEF, an engineering and design firm based in Milwaukee. Allewalt was previously fund development manager at the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation.
Allewalt is an accredited professional with the American Insitute of Certified Planners (AICP) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED AP) program, has over 10 years of experience as a planning consultant and neighborhood revitalization specialist for both the private and public sector. At the core of Stephanie’s interests is utilizing planning principles to build a central vision and establish supporting systems that kick-start physical change. She has been a Rooflines blogger for the past year, but will be stepping back from that role with her new position. As one of Shelterforce’s “6 Under 36” young community developers wrote Use Planning to Filter and Focus in the Summer 2011 issue of Shelterforce.
Amy Schur to become Campaign Director for ACCE
Posted under Industry News on December 13, 2012
Amy Schur, Executive Director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) since its founding in 2010, will transition into the role of Campaign Director for the organization. Prior to helping to launch ACCE, Schur was Head Organizer of California ACORN and had worked as a community organizer on the South side of Chicago, in Detroit, and in cities across California.
From 2004 to 2007, Schur served as ACORN’s National Campaign Director. At the end of 2007, she left ACORN and did a brief stint at SEIU, working at the national level to develop its child care center organizing project.
In her more than two decades of organizing, Schur’s organizing work has included a statewide tenants’ rights effort that led to passage of strong slum housing protections, a housing campaign that passed anti-predatory lending laws in several cities and at the state level, and a fight in LA County that stopped many of the abuses of the Workfare program, a welfare-to-work program that forced welfare recipients to “work off” their aid without receiving a paycheck or basic workers’ rights or protections.
Christina Livingston to become Executive Director of ACCE
Posted under Industry News on December 13, 2012
Christina Livingston will take over as Executive Director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) on January 1, 2013. Christina began her organizing career in 2004 and helped launch ACCE in 2010, serving as Field Director, Deputy Director, and most recently Co-Director. The board of ACCE credits Livingston with helping to lead a successful coalition effort that passed landmark foreclosure prevention legislation.
“Christina’s talent and leadership has been evident to all of us,” wrote the board in a statement. “[S]he brings a passion and a deep commitment to ACCE’s mission, driven in large part from her own experiences as a woman of color who grew up in poverty here in California. She came from the communities ACCE works with and understands firsthand the critical need to engage and empower low income communities and people of color.”
ACCE was founded in January, 2010, and has grown to have 30 staff members. The organization has spearheaded campaigns for local ordinances defending neighborhoods from the effects of the foreclosure crisis, worked on the statewide passage of the Homeowner Bill of Rights, and organized for Proposition 30 which prevented further cuts to public schools.
New York Housing Conference and National Housing Conference 39th Annual Awards Program
Posted under Industry News on December 10, 2012
From the Press Release
This year’s Award Program Honorees have contributed to various aspects of affordable housing:
Empire Award for Leadership in Affordable Housing – J. Ronald Terwilliger
J. Ronald “Ron” Terwilliger has a lifetime of real estate and development experience, having worked as CEO of Trammell Crow Residential for 22 years and served as chair of numerous affordable housing and development board committees. He has given a number of substantial financial contributions to causes related to affordable housing, including: a $5 million gift to establish the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing, a $5 million gift to Enterprise to establish the Enterprise Terwilliger Fund, and a $100 million legacy gift to Habitat for Humanity International. In addition, Ron has also given substantially of his time, helping rebuild in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina, as well in tsunami-affected areas in Thailand and Indonesia.
NeighborWorks America, Northeast Region, named Nonprofit of the Year
Mayor Micheal R. Bloomberg Administration for the New Housing Marketplace awarded Public Service Award
The Arker Companies named Private Developer of the Year
Mercedes Marquez named Deputy Mayor of Housing for the city of Los Angeles
Posted under Industry News on November 30, 2012
Former HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Mercedes Marquez has been named Deputy Mayor of Housing for the city of Los Angeles. “The Mayor has asked me to be the person who focuses on the transfer of the redevelopment housing assets to the city,” she said, in an interview with The Planning Report, “who focuses on possible new sources of funding, and who creates new strategies for affordable housing.”
While at HUD Marquez was responsible for CDBG, HOME, ESG, HACLA, empowerment zones, neighborhood stabilization, much of CDBG, homelessness prevention and disaster relief. She was interviewed in Shelterforce in 2010.
Sarah Bloom Raskin named new board chair of NeighborWorks America
Posted under Industry News on November 16, 2012
From NeighborWorks America News Release
NeighborWorks America, a top community development organization, today announced the appointment of Sarah Bloom Raskin as its board chair. Raskin, who succeeds former Chair Christiane Gigi Hyland, has served as the Federal Reserve Board of Governor’s representative to the NeighborWorks America board since January 2011.
“Adequate housing is a significant component of family and individual well-being and household wealth,” said Raskin. “In my new role, I hope to help further the work being done at the grassroots level through the NeighborWorks network to fulfill that vision.”
As board chair, Raskin will provide strategic leadership and oversight in support of NeighborWorks America’s mission to create opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives, and strengthen their communities. NeighborWorks America supports a network of more than 235 nonprofit organizations, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The full news release is available HERE
Tamar Shapiro named new President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress
Posted under Industry News on November 16, 2012
From Center for Community Progress Press Release
Tamar Shapiro, a widely respected leader in the field of urban and regional policy, has been chosen by the Board of Directors to become the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Community Progress, the nation’s preeminent organization promoting neighborhood revitalization through the prevention and creative reuse of vacant and abandoned property. Ms. Shapiro, who will assume the positions on December 1, 2012 replaces founding President and CEO Dan Kildee, who was recently elected to U.S. Congress, and Amy Hovey, who served as Interim President since May while the search for a new leader was conducted.
Ms. Shapiro, who currently serves as Senior Director of Urban and Social Policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), brings long and broad experience to her new role. At GMF, Ms. Shapiro launched the highly regarded Cities in Transition Initiative, which convenes land use and economic development practitioners from America’s “rust belt” cities, as well as federal and state officials, with their European counterparts to explore shared challenges and effective strategies. In her role at GMF, Ms. Shapiro also spearheaded the launch of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellowship Program, working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other partners to place highly qualified mid-career professionals in selected pilot cities in order to build local capacity and promote innovative economic development strategies.
For the full press release, click HERE
Zdenek Tapped to Lead NCRC Housing and Banking Program
Posted under Industry News on September 27, 2012
Bob Zdenek is the new director of National Neighbors Silver, a program of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition that addresses housing and banking needs of economically vulnerable older adults. Zdenek, a member of the National Housing Institute board, has served as president of New Jersey Community Capital, executive director of the Alliance for Healthy Homes, president of the National Congress for Community Economic Development, and as senior program officer at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Click here for more.
Walsh Joins Housing Partnership Network Executive Team
Posted under Industry News on September 17, 2012
From the Housing Partnership Network:
Dee Walsh, the executive director of REACH Community Development in Portland, Ore., will join Housing Partnership Network in October 2012 as the executive vice president for peer learning and member engagement where she will assume overall leadership for the peer learning and exchange, sourcing and replication of innovation, the International Housing Partnership, and Strength Matters.
Walsh, who will serve on the HPN executive team and report to the CEO, will oversee the staff team at HPN that supports these activities. She will maintain a home in Portland and will be working part of the time from her home and part of the time out of the Network’s Boston headquarters office.
Under her tenure, REACH became one of the most successful and innovative nonprofit housing developers and owners in the country. She has served as CEO of REACH since 1990 after a two year stint as deputy director. Before that, she worked as a community development specialist at Pacific Power, and in progressively responsible community development positions in the city governments of Minneapolis, Seattle, and Portland. She got her start as a VISTA volunteer for Network member Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis.
Click here for more on the Housing Partnership Network.
Chris Estes Takes the Helm at National Housing Conference
Posted under Industry News on August 6, 2012
Chris Estes is the new president and CEO of the National Housing Conference where he leads the organization’s policy and advocacy work. Estes joins NHC after nine years as executive director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition where he is credited with building the staff and broadening the coalition’s membership, as well as increasing the supply of affordable housing in the state. Estes succeeds Maureen Friar, who left NHC in 2011.
Estes will work with a newly elected leadership team at NHC, including new NHC Chair John L. Kelly, a partner in the New York office of law firm Nixon Peabody.
Melville Trust Names Housing Veteran to Top Spot
Posted under Industry News on July 30, 2012
The Melville Charitable Trust named Janice Elliott
as its new executive director. Elliott succeeds the late Bob Hohler, who passed away in June 2011.
Elliott previously served as managing director for the Corporation for Supportive Housing’s (CSH) four national programs: policy and research, project development and finance, resource center, and strategic partnerships. She also led several national programmatic and policy initiatives, including Taking Health Care Home, a multi-site initiative that advanced systems reforms to address chronic homelessness.
NeighborWorks America Names New COO
Posted under Industry News on June 22, 2012
NeighborWorks America named Charles “Chuck” Wehrwein as its chief operating officer. Wehrwein will oversee the organization’s divisions of field operations, national initiatives and applied research, training, organizational assessment and information management. He joins NeighborWorks America from the Housing Partnership Network where he was president of the Housing Partnership Exchange, which encompasses HPN’s cooperative businesses including its health insurance company, property and casualty insurance company; group buying organization; and Housing Partners in Health (a health benefits insurance company). Wehrwein reports to NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen Fitzgerald, who in a statement lauded Wehrein’s “track record of establishing successful partnerships in the public and private sectors will add momentum to our efforts to advance community development across the board.”
From 2000 to 2007, Wehrwein served as senior vice president for strategic development Initiatives at Mercy Housing, where he led the planning and implementation of Mercy’s portfolio acquisition initiative. He was also responsible for Mercy’s underwriting and asset management activities, the Mercy Loan Fund and new business development, and he served as regional president of Mercy Housing Southwest, Midwest and East.
Before joining Mercy Housing, Wehrwein was chief operating officer of the National Equity Fund, where he was responsible for all program operations, including acquisitions, asset management, portfolio management and information systems, with annual equity placements of $300 to $400 million. Previously, he served as deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and as Deputy Administrator for multifamily housing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service. A Certified Public Accountant, Wehrwein earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MBA from DePaul University.
Click here for more.
Gurfel to Helm ULI Greenprint Center
Posted under Industry News on May 13, 2012
Helen A. Gurfel, a widely renowned expert in real estate investment and sustainability, has been named executive director of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Greenprint Center for Building Performance, the institute announced in early May.
The ULI Greenprint Center was created in early 2012 and is part of ULI’s broader Climate, Land Use and Energy (CLUE) initiative, which promotes industry best practices regarding environmentally conscious design and development that conserves energy, land and natural resources. Gurfel will head up the center’s staff in its new headquarters, located at 270 Lafayette Street in New York City alongside the offices of the ULI New York district council.
Gurfel, who began her new assignment on May 8, was most recently a director of GE Capital Real Estate’s global sustainability group. As the executive director of the ULI Greenprint Center, she will be responsible for the overall management and executive leadership of the center and the implementation of its work program. In addition, she will direct the production of the center’s annual Greenprint Performance Report as well as other associated research and work products.
During her time at GE Capital Real Estate, Gurfel spearheaded a number of initiatives, including the development of sustainability programs for GE’s portfolios in France, Canada, and the United Kingdom; leading a rooftop solar program to deploy solar installations across properties in North America and the United Kingdom; incorporating innovative technologies into GE-owned properties; strengthening public-private partnerships in order to promote sustainability; and most recently developing a global strategy to measure energy consumption, cost, and emissions across GE’s portfolio. During her time at GE, she was also a member of the GE Capital Real Estate’s global valuation team and GE Energy Financial Services’ portfolio management team.
The flagship product of the ULI Greenprint Center is its Greenprint Performance Report, which includes the Greenprint Carbon Index (GCX), a tool used by Greenprint members to gauge relative progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time. The first volume of the report, issued in 2010, contained results obtained from performance during 2009 as a baseline measurement. The second volume, issued in 2011, had results for 2010 that included 1,623 properties in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and which covered a total of 31 million square meters of commercial space. It showed a 0.6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the previous year on the like-for-like portfolio of submitted properties.
The international scope and size of the report, including the GCX, make it one of the real estate industry’s largest, most verifiable, transparent and comprehensive energy benchmarking tools. It is unique in that it provides an open standard for measuring, benchmarking and tracking energy usage and resulting emissions on a building or portfolio basis. The third volume is expected to be released in the summer of 2012.
For more, click here
Amy Hovey Named to Lead Community Progress
Posted under Industry News on May 6, 2012
From the Center for Community Progress:
Center for Community Progress chief operating officer and co-founder Amy Hovey will assume the role of interim president and CEO when current President and CEO Dan Kildee, begins a leave of absence on May 15th to run for U.S. Congress.
Hovey and Kildee have worked together for more than a decade, at the Genesee County Land Bank and the Genesee Institute. Prior to her work at the Land Bank and Institute, Hovey served as Program Director of the Michigan State the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Before joining LISC in 1996, Amy worked for four years in private business in management, finance and community relations with First of America Bank. In addition to technical assistance, Amy has extensive training and meeting facilitation experience including an annual fifteen-day training program on comprehensive real estate development.
“Amy is the right person to lead Community Progress during this transition,” said Kildee. “She understands the challenges that vacant and abandoned property create, and how to help stakeholders craft strategies and the larger community support they need to tackle these issues. There could be no better person to take the reins of Community Progress and its critical work at this time.”
The Center for Community Progress assists communities in the reuse of vacant, abandoned, and problem properties and serves as the national resource for policy, information, capacity building, and training regarding the redevelopment of vacant, abandoned, and problem properties.
Asst. Sec. Mercedes Marquez to Leave HUD in May
Posted under Industry News on April 25, 2012
HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Mercedes Marquez has informed HUD field offices that she will step down from her post May 18, HUD officials have confirmed. At this time, no announcement on her replacement has been made.
Márquez came to HUD in 2009 as part of a housing “dream team” as the administration appointed some of the housing field’s best talent into its leadership posts. Having previously served as general manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department, Márquez is also an attorney who has specialized in public interest litigation including slumlord, fair housing, public housing, sexual harassment, employment discrimination, and constitutional issues cases.
During her time at HUD, she administered nearly $8 billion in programs designed to spur community development, affordable housing, as well as a variety of special needs assistance programs. One of the last projects Márquez will work on at HUD will be releasing enhancements to the Consolidated Plan that are expected to represent a major change in how communities will use the plan and, according to the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, “provide them [with] tools to achieve meaningful plans as the result of a priority-setting discussion.”
Look for Marquez’s article on changes to the Consolidated Plan to be published on Shelterforce.org in mid-May.
In a 2010 interview, Marquez told Shelterforce that on-the-ground stabilization efforts, particularly those implemented from the federal level, like NSP, had to be coupled—despite their manifest imperfections—with an aggressive upstream approach as well:
We have to be sober about how we got here. So much of it is where people were buying too much. We have to understand that having a legal piece of paper that says you’re the owner, when the conditions for you to remain an owner are so onerous, is that really homeownership? If you have equity in a property, if you can take out that home loan that’s going to help you buy the used car or that helps get your kid to college, that’s homeownership. If you can never build any equity, that’s a lease.
Honoring and helping our families do better is the American dream. What’s important is for people to have decent housing, and that their kids get to move on and get educated and get their dreams met. It doesn’t matter if you’re a renter or homeowner to do that.
Marquez’s departure from HUD marks the conclusion of her second turn at the agency, having first served as the senior counsel for civil rights and fair housing to HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo during President Clinton’s second term.
Maurice Jones Sworn In As HUD Deputy Secretary
Posted under Industry News on April 19, 2012
Maurice Jones was sworn this week as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Jones was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 29, 2012. As the second most senior official at HUD, Jones will be charged with managing the Department’s day-to-day operations, a nearly $47 billion annual operating budget, and the agency’s 8,900 employees.
“President Obama and Secretary Donovan have blessed me with the opportunity to join HUD during this critical period when we continue to support a fragile recovery from an historic housing crisis,” said Jones. “I’m ready to help continue transforming an organization charged with moving beyond the yesterday’s experiences to tackle today’s challenges and those we’ll face tomorrow.”
“Maurice has one of the strongest public and private sector track records I’ve seen for building consensus and solving big problems,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan “As we continue to confront our current housing challenges, HUD will certainly benefit from Maurice’s intellect, his proven management experience and his great people skills.”
Jones added, “Public service has been a passion of mine since my high school days in rural Lunenburg County, Virginia. As a ninth grader, I was fortunate enough to be selected to serve as a page during that year’s legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly. The experience changed my life. I resolved then and there to enter public service when I grew up so that I too could work to make things better.”
Jones most recently worked in Norfolk, Virginia as President of Pilot Media, the largest print and digital organization in Hampton Roads. Pilot Media’s businesses include The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, Pilot Interactive and Targeted Publications and Media. Jones served as President and Publisher of The Virginian-Pilot, the locally owned and managed newspaper founded in 1865.
Jones joined Landmark Media Enterprises, owner of Pilot Media, in 2005, serving as Vice President of the Landmark Publishing Group, consisting of multiple newspapers including the News & Record in Greensboro, NC; The Roanoke Times; The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD; and Landmark Community Newspapers, Inc., based in Shelbyville, Ky. In 2006 Jones became the Vice President and General Manager of Pilot Media and in 2008 he became president and publisher of The Virginian-Pilot.
A Kenbridge, Virginia native, Jones also served as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services and deputy chief of staff to then-Virginia Governor Mark Warner. At the U.S. Treasury Department, Jones was special assistant to the general counsel and he also served as legal counsel to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and as director of the fund during the Clinton Administration. Jones also worked for the law firm of Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Virginia and he was a partner at a Partner in Venture Philanthropy Partners, a firm that invests millions in the Washington, DC metropolitan area to assist low-income children.
Jones graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in Hampden-Sydney, Virginia and attended Oxford University in England on a Rhodes scholarship. He later earned a law degree from the University of Virginia.
Patty Rouse, co-founder of Enterprise Community Partners, Dies at 85
Posted under Industry News on March 21, 2012
Patricia “Patty” Traugott Rouse, who co-founded the Enterprise Foundation with her late-husband Jim Rouse, died March 5, 2012. She was 85. Rouse leaves a significant legacy in the affordable housing and community development world.
Established in 1982, the Enterprise Foundation, (now Enterprise Community Partners) has emerged as a leading provider of the development capital and expertise it takes to create decent, affordable homes and rebuild communities.
“Enterprise is forever indebted to Patty, our visionary co-founder, for her unwavering commitment and the groundbreaking legacy she has left the affordable housing and community development industry,” said Terri Ludwig, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners.
Read more here.
MacArthur Announces Housing Matters Grant Recipients
Posted under Industry News on March 20, 2012
The MacArthur Foundation has issued a total of $2.7 million to research the role housing plays in the long-term health and well-being of children, families, and communities. The grants are part of the foundation’s $25 million research initiative, How Housing Matters to Families and Communities, and the recipients – University of Michigan, LeadingAge Center for Applied Research, Syracuse University, Ohio State University, and New York University, will use data sets and other resources to examine the effectiveness of housing policies and related public programs.
Additional information about these new grants and previously funded housing research projects is available at www.macfound.org/housingmatters.
MacArthur Awards “Creative and Effective” Nonprofits
Posted under Industry News on February 20, 2012
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named 15 organizations in six countries as recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions that recognizes and supports institutions that “address some of the world’s most pressing problems in creative ways.”
The recipients of the 2012 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions follow. The size of the award varies from $350,000 to $2.5 million, depending on the annual budget of each organization.
- Albertine Rift Conservation Society—Kampala, Uganda ($350,000) champions collaborative conservation initiatives in one of the world’s most important ecosystems;
- Business and Professional People for the Public Interest—Chicago, Illinois ($750,000) works to strengthen impoverished communities, preserve and increase affordable housing, improve Chicago schools and promote open, honest government in Illinois;
- Carnegie Moscow Center—Moscow, Russia ($2.5 million) provides impartial analysis of Russian politics and policy;
- Center for Investigative Reporting—Berkeley, California ($1 million) produces groundbreaking nonprofit investigative journalism;
- Center for Responsible Lending—Durham, North Carolina ($2 million) protects homeownership and family assets by working to eliminate abusive financial practices and products;
- Community Investment Corporation—Chicago, Illinois ($2 million) provides assistance to developers of rental housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Chicago;
- Conservation Strategy Fund—Sebastopol, California ($750,000) trains conservation professionals in economics and policy analysis to strengthen and protect the environment;
- Crisis Action—London, United Kingdom ($750,000) works to avert conflicts, prevent gross human rights abuses, and ensure that governments fulfill their obligations to protect civilians during times of conflict;
- Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University—New York, New York ($1 million) uses objective evidence to spur thoughtful discussion and effective reform of housing and community development policy;
- Girls’ Power Initiative—Calabar, Nigeria ($350,000) empowers and educates adolescent girls about their sexual and reproductive health and human rights;
- International Center for Not-for-Profit Law—Washington, DC ($1 million) promotes a global legal environment where civil society, philanthropy, and civic participation can thrive;
- Moscow Helsinki Group—Moscow, Russia ($750,000) advances the protection of human rights through advocacy, monitoring, analysis, networking, and training;
- National Juvenile Defender Center—Washington, DC ($750,000) supports juvenile defenders and justice system reform at the national, state and local levels to protect all children;
- Red Nacional de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todos” (Red TDT) (National Human Rights Network “All Rights for All”)—Mexico City, Mexico ($350,000) is a national network of human rights organizations that monitors and documents human rights abuses;
- The Moth—New York, New York ($750,000) is dedicated to the art of storytelling to document our common humanity.
In making these awards, the MacArthur does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.
The award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future. Organizations will use this large infusion of support to build endowments, develop strategic plans, and upgrade technology and physical infrastructure.
Center for New York City Neighborhoods Names New Executive Director
Posted under Industry News on February 20, 2012
The board of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN), in conjunction with the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) today announced that following an extensive search, current CNYCN Interim Director Christie Peale has been named as the organization’s Executive Director. CNYCN is an independent non-profit created in 2008 as New York City’s public/private foreclosure prevention resource and response. CNYCN works with and provides funding for more than 26 nonprofit, community-based organizations that assist homeowners in all five boroughs. CNYCN grew out of efforts by local leaders, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and non-profit partners, to create a systematic response to rapidly rising mortgage defaults and foreclosure filings, particularly in communities hardest hit by subprime and other unconventional loan products as well as job loss. CNYCN is funded by HPD and the City Council, along with generous contributions from numerous foundations and financial institutions.
“Christie Peale’s public service track record and her steadfast commitment to helping the City’s most at-risk residents makes her an ideal choice to lead CNYCN,” said HPD Commissioner and CNYCN board member Mathew M. Wambua. “As CNYCN’s Deputy Director, Christie helped establish the foundation for the City’s reasoned and concerted response to mitigate the effects of the foreclosure crisis. We are excited that Christie has agreed to take the reins: her vision, ingenuity, passion, drive, and ability will serve us all well. We look forward to continuing our partnership to ensure that more New Yorkers can stay in their homes.”
“Christie Peale is an excellent choice to lead the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, which has a critical role in helping homeowners in distress,” said New York City Consumer Affairs Commissioner and CNYCN board member Jonathan Mintz. “Christie has worked successfully with DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment to address both mortgage issues and the broader financial challenges these New Yorkers face.”
“I’m thrilled Christie Peale has been named CNYCN’s new Executive Director,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Christie has been at CNYCN since its founding, and has proven her dedication to helping homeowners avoid foreclosures time and time again. Christie’s commitment to New York City is unparalleled, and I look forward to our continued work with CNYCN to support homeowners and preserve our neighborhoods.”
As Executive Director, Peale will coordinate the activities of the CNYCN office, strengthening its position as the nexus of the City’s anti-foreclosure activities and overseeing CNYCN’s broad range of homeowner outreach and foreclosure prevention programs. Through comprehensive citywide programming that includes legal services, housing counseling, and consumer education, CNYCN pursues multiple strategies to assist those at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. CNYCN helps distressed homeowners navigate the foreclosure process, preserve their rights and options, and identify and obtain sustainable housing solutions.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead an organization and staff that is dedicated to combating the foreclosure crisis and strengthening New York City’s neighborhoods,” said CNYCN Executive Director Peale. “While we have accomplished a great deal since CNYCN’s doors first opened in 2008, there are still many challenges ahead. I look forward to continuing to work with our incredibly skilled network and all of our public and private partners to provide innovative solutions for people in danger of losing their homes. Facing the specter of foreclosure can be confusing and stressful – we’re here to tell New Yorkers that they don’t have to go it alone.”
“Christie is quite terrific. She has a wide range of invaluable experience in government, lending and nonprofit arenas,” said CNYCN Board Chair Herb Sturz. “The CNYCN Board has had an opportunity to work with her in her capacities of deputy and interim executive director. We’re delighted that she is now assuming the mantle as CNYCN’s new executive director.”
“I am pleased that Christie Peale has been selected to continue the ongoing good work of the Center. The Center has literally kept thousands of New Yorkers in their homes. I know Christie will keep that effective work going forward,” said Council Member and CNYCN board member Lew Fidler.
Peale joined CNYCN in 2008 as Deputy Director and became Interim Director following the departure of the organization’s first director Michael Hickey. Immediately prior to her work at CNYCN, Peale served at the New York State Housing Finance Agency, where she underwrote tax-exempt bond deals to preserve affordable housing. Since 1994 she has worked for public service organizations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Women’s Prison Association, the Medicare Rights Center and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the Building Services 32BJ Pension Fund. Peale has a BA from Harvard and a MSW from the Hunter College School of Social Work in Community Organizing and Planning.