Home » Press Releases » Center for Community Progress Welcomes Six New Members to the Board of Directors (Press Release)

Center for Community Progress Welcomes Six New Members to the Board of Directors (Press Release)

August 27, 2018

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About Center for Community Progress


FLINT, MICH. – The Center for Community Progress is pleased to announce the appointment of six national leaders to the organization’s Board of Directors.

The new board members are:

  • Katherine Garvey, professor and director of the Land Use Sustainable Development Law Clinic, West Virginia College of Law
  • Calvin Gladney, president and CEO, Smart Growth America
  • Don Phoenix, regional vice president, Southern Region, NeighborWorks America
  • Tené Traylor, fund advisor for Atlanta, Kendeda Fund
  • Jeanne Wardford, senior program officer, Kellogg Foundation
  • Connie Wright, assistant director and national housing relationship manager, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation


They join current board members:

  • Presley Gillespie, board chair and president, Neighborhood Allies
  • Lisa Levy, vice chair and program officer, Mercy Corps
  • Margaret Dewar, secretary and emeritus professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan
  • Michael Tierney, treasurer, retired chief operating officer of Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • William A. Johnson, chief executive office of Strategic Community Intervention, LLC, and former mayor of Rochester, New York
  • Ellen Lee, director of Community and Economic Development, City of New Orleans
  • Scot Spencer, assistant director for Advocacy and Influence, The Annie E. Casey Foundation


“Katherine, Calvin, Don, Tené, Jeanne and Connie are fantastic additions to the Center for Community Progress Board of Directors,” said Presley Gillespie, board chair. “Their combined years of leadership and expertise will help us continue to carry out and elevate the organization’s work to foster strong, equitable communities across the country.”

“We are delighted to welcome our newest board members,” said Akilah Watkins-Butler, president and CEO. “I am thrilled that their diverse talents and experiences will benefit not just Community Progress, but communities across the country that are working to revitalize their vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.”

Biographies of the new board members are below.

Katherine Garvey is the director of the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at the West Virginia University College of Law. The Clinic assists local government and non-profit clients in West Virginia with real estate and land use planning matters. One of the most common issues faced by local governments in West Virginia is the prevalence of dilapidated buildings. The clinic reviews ordinances addressing dilapidated buildings, assists with real estate services needed to address dilapidation and also assists with legal services surrounding redevelopment plans. Kat 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. 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. Garvey received her JD from the University of Missouri in Kansas City in 2004, and LLM from Vermont Law in 2010. She was born and raised outside of Kansas City, Missouri.

Calvin Gladney, LEED AP, is president and CEO of Smart Growth America and is a nationally recognized thought leader on the equitable and sustainable revitalization of communities. Prior to being named president and CEO of Smart Growth America in April of 2018, Gladney was managing partner of Mosaic Urban Partners, a real estate development and advisory services firm that advised non-profits, cities and elected officials on how to sustainably and equitably regenerate their communities. In 2017, Gladney was also the Urban Land Institute’s Senior Visiting Fellow for Equity.

Over the past ten years, Gladney has worked on community revitalization projects in more than 25 cities and has served as a strategic advisor on projects with estimated development costs of over $1B and totaling more than 5M square feet of planned development. He has worked on community revitalization projects throughout the United States including projects in Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Boston, Denver, Detroit, the District of Columbia, Grand Rapids, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Louisville, Memphis, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Gladney through Mosaic was also part of the team that developed a new 31-unit apartment building and a separate two-story restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Prior to founding Mosaic, Gladney served as vice president of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. (AWC), a D.C. quasi-public real estate corporation where he assisted the CEO with the management of the Corporation and was the project manager for a master-planned, mixed-use redevelopment of 67 acres of City land. Gladney also previously served as the general counsel and transactions manager at BRIDGE Housing Corporation, a private developer in San Francisco, CA. At BRIDGE, Gladney was the lead businessperson in the investment of $60M of CalPERS equity in multiple real estate development deals. He also provided strategic advice on the development and management of more than 2,700 apartments throughout California.

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 Public/Private Partnership Council (Blue Flight). Gladney also serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Masters in Real Estate Program where he teaches real estate entrepreneurship and a real estate market analysis class.

Don Phoenix has 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 a region that includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. He also leads the organization’s Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Phoenix is a founding member of the Georgia State Trade Association of Nonprofit Developers, a member of Georgia ACT, the Partnership for Southern Equity, Emory University’s board of visitors, past chair of the Federal Home Loan Banks’ advisory council and several other community development organizations.

Tené Traylor joined the Kendeda Fund as a fund advisor in March 2016. She oversees the Atlanta program 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.

Prior to joining the Kendeda Fund, Traylor was 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.

Traylor has spent her career in the non-profit and philanthropic sector with United Way for Greater Atlanta and The Zeist Foundation, Inc. Most recently, she was honored as a Georgia Forward Young Gamechanger and Who’s Who in Black Atlanta.

Traylor has a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in public policy and non-profit administration from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Georgia State University. Traylor is on the board of Center for Community Progress and the current board chair for the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative. She also sits on several local committees, task forces and advisory boards. Traylor is a proud Atlanta native and loves spending time with her family.

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 oftentimes innovative solutions to age old problems. She is known for her vigorous policy work and advocacy for children and families.

Prior to joining the foundation in 2015, Wardford was director for National Partnerships at NeighborWorks America in Washington, D.C. In this role, she built strategic collaborations with public and private investors and secured resources for the implementation of a national asset development program, which included financial education, literacy, coaching and community development strategy. She has also worked in community development, fund development and evaluation consulting for TaylarMade Consulting, Inc., where she worked with public, private and academic sectors and their funding partners.

Wardford’s leadership in support of education, racial equity, and economic development is reflected not only in her day to day activities, but also in her membership on a variety of boards, including Detroit Public Library Foundation, Center for Community Progress, Warrior Women, a project of the Michigan Women’s Foundation and National Women’s Business Council.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.

Connie Wright is a seasoned banker of 29 years with Wells Fargo and its legacy companies, is the assistant director and national housing relationship manager for the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. Wright is responsible for managing the National Housing Grant Program to include operational and strategic direction.

Prior to joining the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, Wright was a community development officer with Wells Fargo/Wachovia/First Union for nearly 20 years. While supporting Greater Georgia, she managed 15 mid-tier, small and rural regions. She also supported the Atlanta region during her tenure as a community development officer. Known for collaboration and innovation, Wright has leveraged relationships with both internal and external partners to maximize impact and help lead areas under her purview to three outstanding CRA ratings.

Beyond her role as community development officer, Wright has held several key positions with the bank to include branch manager, volunteer coordinator for the state of Georgia and a First Union loaned executive for the Atlanta Project, an initiative led by President Jimmy Carter to revitalize low-income communities in the city of Atlanta.

About Center for Community Progress

The mission of Center for Community Progress is to foster strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Founded in 2010, Community Progress is the leading national, nonprofit resource for urban, suburban, and rural communities seeking to address the full cycle of property revitalization. The organization fulfills its mission by nurturing strong leadership and supporting systemic reforms. Community Progress works to ensure that public, private, and community leaders have the knowledge and capacity to create and sustain change. It also works to ensure that all communities have the policies, tools, and resources they need to support the effective, equitable reuse of vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties. More information is available at

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