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Community Progress Expands Technical Assistance Services

December 18, 2020

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New Senior Advisor, Vice President, and Program Leaders to Lead Local, State, and Neighborhood Assistance   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 8, 2020 — Today, the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress) announced new infrastructure changes and staff appointments to serve more communities through its technical assistance and place-based programs.

“Communities need us more now than ever,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins, President and CEO of Community Progress. “We’re growing and evolving to ensure we can meet these needs spurred by COVID-19, the growth of the land bank movement, and the long-standing challenges of vacancy and racial equity.”

New Infrastructure Updates Unite Place-Based Work and Technical Assistance 

As local leaders seek more effective ways to assess and address the drivers of systemic vacancy and implement equitable vacant property tools and strategies, Community Progress will combine its placed-based and technical assistance expertise to better meet community requests and needs. 

The new operational change will unite the National Technical Assistance, Michigan Initiatives, and Georgia placed-based teams as an enhanced technical assistance division. The new division will continue the organization’s work delivering customized state-of-the-art technical assistance to local governments, state agencies, and neighborhood stakeholders across the country.

New Leadership Appointments Focus on Strengthening Local, State, and Neighborhood Impact

Since 2010, Community Progress has served more than 300 communities in 35 states through its National Technical Assistance program and place-based programs in Michigan and Georgia. 

That work will continue under shared leadership with Danielle Lewinski as the new Vice President of Technical Assistance. To support the infrastructure changes, the new Technical Assistance will be enhanced with additional leadership changes that include:

  • Payton A. Heins appointed the new Director of Michigan Initiatives
    Heins will lead the organization’s policy, technical assistance, and educational activities throughout Michigan. Heins joined Community Progress in 2012, going on to serve as Program Officer for National Technical Assistance, and then Associate Director of Michigan Initiatives.
  • Tarik Abdelazim appointed the new Director of National Technical Assistance 
    Abdelazim will lead the organization’s technical assistance activities outside of Georgia and Michigan. This promotion builds on Abdelazim’s service as Associate Director of National Technical Assistance for the past six years.
  • Kim Graziani to Serve as Senior Advisor of Technical Assistance 
    Graziani will continue providing technical assistance to local partners in her new role as Senior Advisor of Technical Assistance. Over the past ten years, Graziani helped develop and lead the National Technical Assistance Program, serving hundreds of communities across the country. This new role will leverage the relationships and expertise developed throughout her successful tenure at Community Progress and previous years of working within the local government, nonprofit, philanthropic, and social service sectors. 

For more information on the Community Progress team visit

For interviews or more information on Community Progress and its National Technical Assistance Services, email [email protected] or call (877) 542-4842. 

About the Center for Community Progress

Founded in 2010, the Center for Community Progress is the national leader for building strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Today, Community Progress has affected change in more than 48 states and seven countries through leadership education and collaborative systems, policy, and practice reforms. Simply, we work to transform “Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places.”  For more information, visit

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