Jeanne Wardford   |  CHAIR

Program Officer, Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, MI)

Jeanne Wardford is a program officer for Family Economic Security at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. In this role as a member of the Family Economic Security team, Wardford is responsible for advancing employment equity business enterprise development focused policies, practices, strategies and opportunities for affecting positive systemic change within communities aimed at creating conditions in which children can develop, learn and grow. She works closely with staff to ensure integration and coordination of efforts.

Wardford has dedicated her life to working for the betterment of individuals both in the public and private sector. Over the last two decades, she has held several positions of progressive leadership in both the public and private sector. Her interest has always been working to develop young people and the communities in which they live. Throughout her career, she has been recognized for her ability to get to the root of the problem and recommend fair, equitable, and often times innovative solutions to age old problems. She is known for her vigorous policy work and advocacy for children and families.

Jay Williams  |  VICE CHAIR

President, Hartford Foundation (Hartford, CT)

Since July 2017, Jay Williams has served as president of the Hartford Foundation. Since that time, he has been working to build stronger relationships between the Foundation and the local communities it serves. He is currently leading the Foundation’s efforts to address disparities in our community based on race/ethnicity, place and income in order to make opportunities more available to everyone. In his role, Jay serves on the boards of the MetroHartford Alliance, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center/AdvanceCT, and the CHEFA Community Development Corporation. In addition, he is a member of the Governor’s Workforce Council and the Community Foundation Opportunity Network Governing Council.

Prior to coming to the Foundation, Jay served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, where he led the federal economic development agenda as the head of the U.S. Economic Development Administration. He has also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at The White House, where he served as the principal liaison between the President of the United States and local elected officials. Prior to this role, he served as the Mayor of the City of Youngstown, Ohio and led a community development agency in Youngstown.

Don Phoenix  |  SECRETARY

Regional Vice President, Southern Region, NeighborWorks America (Atlanta, GA)

The rich career of Donald Phoenix includes experience in many sectors, including banking, public administration, nonprofit management and housing development. He served as vice president of Carver State Bank of Savannah (GA) and assistant vice president of Great Southern Federal Savings Bank in the same city, transitioned to housing director for the city of Savannah, became executive director for Neighborhood Housing Services of Savannah and then joined NeighborWorks in 1995, where he is based in Atlanta.

As vice president of NeighborWorks’ Southern Region, Phoenix is responsible for overseeing financial and technical services for network organizations throughout 13 states (West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana) and the District of Columbia. He also led the organization’s Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and continues to lead the Southern Region efforts to deliver needed resources to assist communities challenged by natural disaster.

Carey Shea  |  TREASURER

Founder, Neighborhood Homes Investment Coalition (Washington, D.C.)

Carey Shea is the founder of the Neighborhood Homes Investment Coalition, a national policy effort to revitalize distressed single-family home neighborhoods. A former Director of several community development corporations, including Home by Hand and Project Home Again, Shea’s experience includes galvanizing millions in investment for American communities and grassroots neighborhood development.
As a loaned executive to the City of New Orleans, she worked with the City’s Director of Housing Policy and Community Development to design and implement a $52 million soft-second mortgage program that enabled more than 900 residents to become first-time homeowners. Her experience also includes launching and implementing a $25 million Community Revitalization Fund in post-Katrina New Orleans, and leading community revitalization programs at the Surdna and Rockefeller Foundations, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and Habitat for Humanity. Shea is an alumna of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and has been cited in leading publications including the New York Times and Shelterforce.

Vincent R. Bennett

Chief Executive Officer, MBS Properties, Inc.

As Chief Executive Officer of MBS Properties, Inc., Vincent Bennett is responsible for the overall performance of the McCormack Baron companies, including McCormack Baron Salazar (development division), McCormack Baron Management (property management division), McCormack Baron Asset Management and MBS Urban Initiatives, CDE. As President of McCormack Baron Salazar, he oversees all aspects of operations and manages a talented multi-disciplinary team of design, construction, legal, finance, and project management staff across the country. He has particular expertise in the development of public housing transformations (though Choice Neighborhoods, HOPE VI and other public housing funding) and large-scale neighborhood master redevelopment efforts.

Bennett’s experience includes structuring and negotiating mixed-finance/mixed-income transactions that include Low- Income Housing Tax Credit equity, Community Development Block Grants, HOME, HOPE VI/Choice Neighborhoods, PHA Capital, foundation, corporate donations, grants, and conventional debt. He facilitates communication with local community organizations and elected officials, neighborhood residents, lenders, foundations, and state, local and federal agencies. Mr. Bennett has been a champion of the company’s sustainability efforts and has overseen three LEED-ND certifications and eight Enterprise Green Communities certifications.

Karen Freeman-Wilson

President and CEO, Chicago Urban League (Chicago, IL)

The Honorable Karen Freeman-Wilson is the president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, an organization that works to achieve equity for Black families and communities through social and economic empowerment. Prior to this role, she served as the mayor of her hometown, Gary, Indiana, from 2012 to 2019. Freeman-Wilson was the first female mayor of Gary, and the first Black female mayor in the state of Indiana. Her previous roles also include serving as Indiana attorney general, director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, and presiding judge of the Gary City Court.

Katherine Garvey

Professor and Director of the Land Use Sustainable Development Law Clinic, West Virginia College of Law, (Morgantown, WV)

Katherine “Kat” Garvey began her career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII in the National Agricultural Compliance Assistance Center and with the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. Garvey is an ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Certified Lead Auditor. She developed and audited environmental management systems for military and large agricultural operations.

Garvey transitioned from federal to local government in 2006, when she worked for the City of Lee’s Summit, Missouri as the Environmental Coordinator. She helped the City comply with permitting requirements for their airport and landfill. In addition, she helped the City develop a solid waste management plan, stormwater plan, stream buffer ordinance, and a natural resource inventory map.
She continued her focus on local protection of natural resources as an Assistant Professor of Law and Staff Attorney at the Land Use Clinic at Vermont Law School. In Vermont, Garvey worked with local governments, land trusts and other non-profits to address legal questions related to land conservation in the Northeast.

Calvin Gladney

President and CEO, Smart Growth America (Washington, D.C.)

Calvin Gladney, LEED AP, is President and CEO of Smart Growth America (SGA), and has led community revitalization efforts in dozens of communities around the country as a private consultant, a real estate developer and as a government official. His work over the last 15 years has centered on the intersection of land use, transportation, and economic development – all of which will be important in addressing our climate crisis, and our longstanding racial equity issues. Prior to SGA, he was Managing Partner of Mosaic Urban, a real estate advisory services and development firm. In 2017, Mr. Gladney was the Urban Land Institute’s Senior Visiting Fellow for Equity.

Before establishing Mosaic, he served as VP of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. (AWC), a D.C. quasi-public agency focused on environmentally-friendly redevelopment. Mr. Gladney graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, received his B.S. from Cornell University, and is a LEED Accredited Professional. He is a Trustee of the Urban Land Institute and a Board member of the Center for Community Progress. He is also a member of ULI’s national Responsible Property Investment Council (RPIC).

Toni L. Griffin

Founder, urbanAC, llc. (New York, NY)

Toni L. Griffin is the founder of urbanAC, llc. a New York-based planning and design practice that specializes in leading complex, trans-disciplinary planning and urban design projects for multi-sector clients in cities with long histories of spatial and social injustice. Griffin is also Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and leads The Just City Lab, a research platform for developing values-based planning methodologies and tools.

Michael Nutter

David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs, Columbia University

The Honorable Michael A. Nutter served as mayor of Philadelphia from 2008 to 2016. During his tenure, Philadelphia City government received more than 150 awards for innovative programs, good government practices, and excellence. He previously served Philadelphia’s fourth district as a city councilmember for nearly fifteen years. Since leaving public service, Nutter has served on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, and is presently the inaugural David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Policy at Columbia University/SIPA.

Dr. Brett Theodos

Senior Fellow and Director of the Community Economic Development Hub, Urban Institute (Washington, D.C.)

Dr. Brett Theodos is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Community Economic Development Hub at the Urban Institute. A long-time housing and policy researcher, throughout his career Dr. Theodos’ work has focused on economic and community development, neighborhood change, affordable homeownership, and consumer finance.

His research has been leveraged by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Policy Development and Research, the District of Columbia’s Fiscal Policy Institute, and localities nationwide to better understand and inform equitable community development. Dr. Theodos has been recognized for his evaluations of the Economic Development Administration, the New Markets Tax Credit program, Opportunity Zones, and the HUD’s Community Development Block Grant and Section 108 programs. Dr. Theodos is an alumnus of Northwestern University, George Washington University, and Georgetown University.

Tené Traylor

Incoming Vice President of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Urban Institute (Washington, DC)

Tené Traylor is the incoming vice president of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. She was previously a fund advisor at the Kendeda Fund, where she oversaw the Atlanta portfolio with a focus on equitable access to high-quality K12 education and economic opportunity (emphasis on long-term affordability, community wealth building, and accessible quality transit) for historically marginalized populations and communities of color in metro Atlanta. She also managed a short-term national portfolio dedicated to restoring and reclaiming dignity to work for people living with a current or old criminal conviction.

Before joining Kendeda, Traylor was a senior program officer at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. For ten years, she led the Community Foundation’s community development and neighborhood transformation grantmaking including the Neighborhood Fund and launched several related programs and initiatives. Traylor worked to identify, develop, and steward collaborative relationships and resources to amplify the importance of place-based philanthropy, equity and civic leadership.

Mijo Vodopic

Senior Program Officer, Climate Solutions, MacArthur Foundation

Connie Wright

Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, Atlanta, GA