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Janell O’Keefe

Associate Director, Technical Assistance

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Janell O’Keefe is an Associate Director of Technical Assistance at the Center for Community Progress. A passionate convener of people and champion for equity, she partners with communities across the country to develop equitable, efficient, and effective strategies to prevent and address systemic vacancy and strengthen communities.

O’Keefe has extensive experience in local policy and program development in areas including vacant land stewardship, real estate markets, data systems, code enforcement, land banks, property repair and rehabilitation, and neighborhood revitalization. She has supported Bay City, Michigan in leveraging $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for home repair and code enforcement improvements; and utilized her knowledge of real estate markets and data to help Flint, Michigan develop neighborhood-specific vacant property strategies. Her work also includes supporting partner organizations in developing impactful programs, such as The Conservation Fund’s Michigan Urban Conservation Small Grant Program, and has supported research projects on vacancy, vacant land stewardship, and violence prevention with the University of Michigan.

Prior to joining Community Progress, O’Keefe helped Detroiters create and access tools to improve neighborhoods. As a cofounder of Keep Growing Detroit, she supported Detroiters in growing small farm businesses and changing local policy to support vacant land stewardship. She also co-created, and still supports, Better Buildings Better Blocks, which trains Detroiters to become neighborhood-based real estate developers.

O’Keefe received a Master of Urban Planning, Master of Social Work, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and is a licensed residential real estate agent in the state of Michigan. A lifelong resident of the Great Lakes State, O’Keefe lives in metro Detroit with her husband and their pets, where she fanatically cheers on her national championship football team.