Adrianna McKinley, president of Bootstrap Villages, started her charitable work with the Makerspace movement several years ago when she joined a fledgling group of makers who would go on to create one of the largest independent makerspaces in the U.S. She helped build up the woodworking shop, founding a hot metals area with a blacksmithing setup, taught basic blacksmithing classes, and offered training on Makerspace machines. From there she held a position on the board of Women in Film as well as volunteering her technical skills with a few other organizations. The idea of tiny houses for the homeless had been bouncing around in her head for a couple years when she decided to take her experience in the nonprofit sector and do something she felt passionate about. Bootstrap Villages was born late 2015 and has made great strides toward the goal of building a tiny house village in the city of Chicago.
Aisha N. Davis, Esq. is the Tyron Garner Fellow at Lambda Legal. She was born and raised in the Washington, DC Metro Area (or the DMV). Aisha attended Columbia Law School and participated in a dual degree program with the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. At the conclusion of her dual degree program, Aisha obtained a JD and an LLM specializing in Human Rights, Conflict & Justice. In 2011, she received the Bright Future Award from the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. and in 2012, she received a Certificate of Achievement from the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law. Throughout the course of her legal education, Aisha has worked on human and civil rights both domestically and internationally. Aisha’s scholarship on intersectional issues has been featured in the Columbia Journal on Gender and Sexuality Law Online and the Harvard Human Rights Journal. She has also enjoyed blogging and her work has been featured on The Frisky, For Harriet, and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies’ blog.
Alan Graham, a founding member of Mobile Loaves & Fishes in Texas, has been married to Tricia since 1984. They have four children: Decker, Taylor, Marlee, and Keaton; and a niece, Samantha, who they have raised. Alan was formerly in the real estate development, investment, management, and brokerage business in Austin, founding Trilogy Development, Inc. and co-founding The Lynxs Group, developers of on-airport air cargo facilities. Alan says that it has been through his love for Jesus Christ that he is called to serve in this ministry, empowering others to serve their brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness.
|Andrew Geer, vice president and market leader, Midwest, for Enterprise, has more than 22 years of nonprofit leadership experience in affordable housing and community development. He is the lead in achieving the investment and programmatic goals for Enterprise in Chicago and Detroit with a priority on advancing initiatives with local partners that promote the creation and preservation of green and affordable homes with access to good schools, jobs, transit and healthcare. Prior to joining Enterprise’s leadership team, he led Heartland Housing in the development of more than 1,300 units of affordable, supportive and mixed-income housing with an asset base of over $150M. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies.|
|Angelique N. Miller, MSW, is Senior Director of Housing & Behavioral Health Services at AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Miller has worked with housing and homeless issues for more than 15 years and has experience in the fields of substance abuse treatment, HIV/AIDS, as well as sexual assault and domestic violence. She joined AFC in 2004 and provides oversight of the Housing department and related supportive services, spanning eight permanent supportive housing programs funded by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) and Continuum of Care (CoC) grants, supportive and behavioral health services, housing navigation and rental assistance and emergency financial assistance through five different funding streams.|
Benet Haller is the Principal Adviser of the City of Chicago’s Department of Urban Design and Planning. He reviews individual development proposals in light of maximizing their potential public benefits and long-term sustainability. This means understanding how each site may enhance the existing built environment and support a less energy intensive lifestyle. He works on planning studies to establish a larger vision for how Chicago can maximize its existing assets and create new systems.
Beth Malik, Attorney & Associate Director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Malik joined the Law Project staff in October of 2007. A 2005 graduate of University of Denver Law School, she worked for 18 months as a guardian ad litem for the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, where she represented abused and neglected children involved in the juvenile court. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2010, after three years with the Law Project, Mrs. Malik was honored with the Kimball R. Anderson and Karen Gatsis Anderson Public Interest Law Fellowship, awarded by the Chicago Bar Foundation. Malik’s legal work focuses on providing civil legal services to unaccompanied homeless youth and the educational rights of homeless students.
|Bradford J. White is the Associate Director of the Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago-based private foundation working for an equitable, just and humane society. Responsibilities include researching and analyzing major project opportunities, providing funding recommendations, and leading implementation efforts. Previously, Brad focused on affordable housing and community development. He is currently a member of the Illinois Housing Council. Brad was appointed by President Barack Obama as a General Public Member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in 2011; he was reappointed in 2014. He is the former Chair of Landmarks Illinois, the statewide not-for-profit historic preservation organization, and Preservation Action, the national grassroots lobbying organization dedicated to furthering public policy related to the preservation of our historic resources. Brad is a graduate of the University of Michigan; he received his law degree from DePaul University College of Law.|
Brent A. Brown, AIA, is a Dallas architect working daily to balance social, economic, and environmental issues by deploying design to enhance livability for all Dallas’ residents. Through his efforts Dallas is re-visioning how it lives, works and plays. In 2005, Brown founded the buildingcommunity WORKSHOP (bcWORKSHOP), a local non-profit community design resource seeking to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making. He is also the Founding Director of the City of Dallas’ CityDesign Studio stewarding the urban design vision for the city. Winner of numerous local and national design awards, he is especially proud to be the 2011 recipient of the Dallas Historical Society Award for Excellence in Humanities for his sensitive work in reconciling and balancing future growth with the interests of existing communities. In 2014, Brent was awarded the AIA Dallas President’s Medal recognizing his contribution and distinguished leadership and dedication in architecture and the community. In 2010, Brent represented the southwest region as part of the President’s Forum on Clean Energy and Public Health at the White House and is an active member of the US Green Building Council. In 2013, Mr. Brown joined the International Economic Development Advisory Board of Rotterdam in The Netherlands and recently joined The Health and Wellness Alliance for Children as a member of its Steering Committee. Since 2010, he has been a guest lecturer of the Public Interest Design Institute at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and served is an advisor to the 2011 AIA Latrobe Prize focusing on Public Interest Practice.
Carlos R. DeJesús Rivera, M.A., is the Managing Director of Housing at Heartland Human Care Services of the Heartland Alliance. He oversees all its supportive housing. From 1991 to 2001, Carlos served as executive director of Latinos United. Carlos has dedicated his professional life to working with and for disenfranchised communities, in the areas of housing, food security, education, health, and mental health. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Illinois Governor’s Environmental Hero Award, the Minority Economic Resources Corporation’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, and Leadership Awards from the National Puerto Rican Coalition, the National Hispanic Housing Council, and the Latino Institute. He has also received mayoral and gubernatorial commission appointments. Carlos has also authored or co-authored several publications including, “(Re)voicing Teaching, Learning, and Possibility in Paseo Boricua”, 2014, “The Greening of a Food Desert: Community Building through Community Food Production”, 2011, and “Latino Access to Federally Funded Housing Programs: City of Chicago” 2002.
Carmen Noriega has worked for 11 years as a construction and building project manager. Her work experience also includes five years in architectural offices, utilizing her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Architecture, and 10 years of construction experience as a union carpenter. Her construction management residential work ranges from single-family construction, new and rehabilitation, to the completion of a multi-family project with 384 units. Noriega’s commercial projects include an historic rehabilitation and addition as well as construction administration for the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Retail and Beverages Facilities in Austin, Texas. Noriega currently is employed with The Resurrection Project in Chicago and has been working on finding, purchasing, rehabilitating and preparing properties for sale to income-eligible families in specified areas of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. She has also been involved with the pre-development work for mixed-use, commercial and residential projects in Back of the Yards and Brighton Park.
Casey Holtschneider, PhD, LCSW, is a visiting research specialist and instructor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current research and practice focus on improving services for young people in high-risk situations. She has 15 years of experience working with unaccompanied youth in housing crisis and is the cofounder and executive director of the LYTE Collective, an organization serving young people experiencing poverty and homelessness in Chicago, Illinois. Casey completed her MSW at the University of Michigan and PhD in Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Catherine Baker is a principal at Landon Bone Baker Architects. After receiving her Bachelor of Architecture from Ball State University, Catherine earned a Master of Arts in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Both disciplines share some fundamental underpinnings that pertain to the work of Landon Bone Baker Architects—understanding people, understanding problems, making connections, and developing programmatic solutions. The importance of understanding neighborhood problems and connections can be seen in the planning projects that Catherine has managed, which include various federally funded programs focusing on neighborhood revitalization such as HOPE VI, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and the redevelopment of a large Section 8 housing project in the Woodlawn neighborhood under the new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. She has also been developing a direct neighborhood outreach program, which fosters better-informed communities while simultaneously gathering the data that informs design.
Danielle Meltzer Cassel is a Shareholder at Vedder Price PC and a graduate of Yale College, Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Prior to her 20 years as an attorney, Danielle worked, studied and volunteered in several fields related to inner-city development and enhancement of public sector and non-profit service delivery. Her three most significant research projects included multi-year studies of the 1990 National Affordable Housing Act; Community Reinvestment Act collaborations among mortgage lenders and neighborhood-based institutions; and bridge loans facilitating non-syndicated LIHTC equity investments. Danielle’s legal practice is concentrated in transactional real estate, land use development and governmental approvals, and public incentives for affordable housing and economic development. She serves on the boards of civic and community service organizations; taught as an adjunct faculty member at both University of Chicago and Northwestern Law Schools; and has received professional, academic and civic honors for her service and achievements.
Debbie Reznick is a Senior Program Officer at the Polk Bros. Foundation. Her work supports the Foundation’s Strong Communities program, which has five focus areas that are designed to promote safe and thriving neighborhoods with quality jobs, housing, legal services, and economic activity. Debbie leads the Foundation’s grantmaking strategies to prevent and end homelessness, provide equitable access to legal services and strengthen the capacity of the organizations and sectors in which the Foundation’s nonprofit partners operate. Debbie has played an active role in collaborative efforts to end homelessness, including the development of Chicago’s Plans to End Homelessness (Getting Housed, Staying Housed and Plan 2.0, A Home for Everyone). She is a founding board member of Funders Together to End Homelessness, a national network of grantmakers who are committed to solving homelessness through leadership, education and advocacy. She serves as an advisory board member of Inspiration Corporation. Debbie was an American Jewish World Service 2014 Global Justice Fellow and is a proud member of the board of the Albany Park Theater Project.
Deborah E. Bennett has more than 20 years of experience as a community development practitioner. She is currently a Senior Program Officer at the Polk Bros. Foundation, where she is a program area leader for workforce development, affordable housing, community economic development and safe communities. Prior to joining the foundation, Deborah held several positions at Shorebank Corporation including senior consultant for Shorebank Advisory Services where she crafted housing, labor force and commercial development strategies for a variety of community development entities around the country. She has also worked as an economic development planner at the UIC Center for Urban Economic Development and as director of an employment initiative for low-income women. Deborah has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from Stanford and Kent State Universities, respectively. In 2010 she was awarded an Association of Black Foundation Executives fellowship. Deborah has served on a number of non-profit boards. She currently serves as secretary of the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund and is on the leadership committee of the Preservation Compact and the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance.
Eithne McMenamin is the Associate Director of Policy at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Her background includes policy and direct service work in the areas of sexual violence, reproductive rights, child welfare, and medical social work. Her main area of focus at CCH is on researching, lobbying for, and implementing affordable housing and jobs programs that are targeted at people who are homeless, formerly homeless, and extremely low-income. Her personal interest in tiny homes has developed into a conviction that tiny homes are a model of living that can be applied to the affordable housing shortage in Chicago. She earned her Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. CCH is a political and legal advocacy organization that seeks to address the root causes of homelessness, including lack of affordable housing, living wage jobs, and affordable healthcare.
Flora Koppel received her BA from Brooklyn College and her MSW from New York University. Flora and her family relocated to Chicago in 1983, beginning her Chicago career as Director of Special Programs at Traveler’s and Immigrants Aid (now Heartland Alliance). In this role she helped initiate a number of programs for homeless youth and adults including the Neon Street Drop In Center and the Neon Street Dorms. Flora has worked at Unity Parenting and Counseling since 1998, moving into the role of executive director in 2002. In this role she has been responsible for developing seven programs for the homeless, five of which are focused on serving youth. This includes a low-threshold overnight shelter, the newly developed storage locker project, a transitional housing program for young singles and families headed by youth and a transitional housing program for youth living with HIV/AIDS. Flora has been an active member of the Chicago Coalition For the Homeless since 1983 and has served as the Committee Chair for a number of years. She is also co-chair of the Chicago Continuum’s Plan Advisory Committee and on Chicago’s Homeless Youth Task Force.
Gerardo Garcia has accrued a diverse experience in achieving the City of Chicago’s urban and economic development goals. Gerardo advocates for the importance of civic infrastructure both in practice and research and has developed and implemented policies and programs for the City of Chicago, such as Make Way for People—CDOT’s placemaking initiative. He also developed and led the implementation of the Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Guidelines—an integrated 5-year sustainability plan which helps to minimize the City of Chicago’s environmental impact. Gerardo has been able to put these policies into practice while overseeing the design and management of dozens of public space and urban design projects, in coordination with city-wide planning efforts. Gerardo is also an adjunct professor teaching Complete Streets and Urban Design at the College of Urban Planning at the University of Illinos at Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Gerardo has also previously been a guest critic and guest lecturer at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His work has been presented at the NYC Mayor’s Office for Long Term Planning and Sustainability, Columbia University, and the Roddom Institute in Ukraine.
Heather Smith is a Senior Program Officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois, and has worked in philanthropy since 2013. Prior to the Field Foundation, Heather served as the Planning Director for the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) coordinating planning and urban design charrettes and member initiatives. Before joining CNU, she coordinated the Metropolis Plan activities for Chicago Metropolis 2020; a business based regional planning organization. She is a member of Chicago Women in Philanthropy and the American Planning Association and was nominated to Lambda Alpha Land Economics Society Ely Chapter. She also serves on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Land Use Committee. Heather is an adjunct faculty member in DePaul University’s Geography Department teaching three courses per year. Heather holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University in the City of New York and a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Japanese from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Jeff Bone, as principal at Landon Bone Baker Architects, is motivated by the belief that good design should be available to all. Jeff and LBBA have successfully balanced context, technology, and economy in their work—while bringing a strong sense of ownership to the residents of a wide variety of new and rehabbed affordable, subsidized, and supportive housing developments. Jeff has nurtured the firm’s “grassroots” approach to help nonprofit community-based clients translate their vision. From large-scale urban design and planning initiatives to small non-profit projects integrated into existing neighborhoods, LBBA has offered unique design solutions to people in communities across the city of Chicago and beyond.
jeff obafemi carr is the Founder of the Infinity Fellowship (www.myIF.org), a Nashville, TN-based, non-profit Interfaith Gathering that applies ancient wisdom to modern living, with a particular emphasis on personal development, diversity, social justice and community action. A licensed and ordained minister, he serves at Infinity as the Chief Spiritual Officer and Lead Professor of Transreligious Spirituality. An award-winning Media Scientist, playwright, and producer/director, Professor carr has logged over 100 social commentaries on media outlets including National Public Radio, Radio One, and VoiceAmerica Network. He has also been featured for his activism in USA Today, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Ebony Magazine, and on Al-Jazeera Network’s America Tonight, TV-One’s Black Men Revealed, and Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports. His dramatic works have been featured on stage repeatedly at the National Black Theatre Festival, and he was a recipient of the Merit Award from the Tennessee Historical Commission for his play, Ordinary Heroes: Nashville’s Battle in The Civil Rights War. In the summer of 2015, Professor carr led Infinity’s efforts to build Nashville’s first Micro-Home Village, conceived in partnership with his long-time collaborator and construction specialist Dwayne A. Jones. The goal was to provide red tape-free relief for the homeless former residents of Nashville’s dispersed Tent City. With zero funding in place, Professor carr moved away from his home that he occupies with his wife Kenetha and their five children, and into a 60-square foot Tiny House on an empty lot near downtown Nashville. From there, he launched a GoFundMe campaign and began to raise awareness. He lived in the home for 45 days, eventually raising over $60,000 from contributors from all over the world. Within 10 days of raising the funds, the six tiny houses that became known as the Infinity Village Project were put in place to provide shelter for people who were previously sleeping on the ground. Each home has a custom murphy bed, laminate floors, insulation, a ceiling fan, electrical outlets, and double-sided locking security doors. Professor carr is now working to build Infinity Center, an innovative, holistic community center that embraces all people regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status.
Jeri Lynch Linas, Executive Director Teen Living Programs (TLP), joined the agency in January 2010. Prior to joining TLP, Jeri worked for 10 years as the Assistant Director of the Chicago Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence (MODV) after having served as founding member, assistant director and then executive director of Rainbow House/Arco Iris, a comprehensive social service and shelter agency serving battered women and their families in Chicago since its inception in 1982. In her capacity as assistant director to Mayor Daley’s Office on Domestic Violence, Jeri was responsible for assisting with developing, implementing, managing and directing many of MODV projects and policies as well as coordinating MODV efforts with other city departments, community based organizations and the general public. Since 2012 Jeri has co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Homeless Youth. An immigrant from Belfast, N. Ireland, Jeri is a graduate of the University of Illinois in Chicago.
John P. Greenan is an attorney with 19 years experience in commercial litigation. During the financial crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Greenan recovered more than $100 million for depositors from the owners and professionals of failed financial institutions. In 1999 Greenan joined Central Dallas Ministries to serve the community as a public interest attorney, and to provide the organization with general counsel services. Since 2001, Greenan has been the Executive Director of Central Dallas Community Development Corporation. His expertise in the analysis of complicated financial real estate transactions is an essential component of Central Dallas CDC’s expansion into the affordable housing arena.
Kasey White is a student and advocate. She was featured in the 2015 documentary The Homestretch, which followed three homeless young people in Chicago as they worked to finish their high school degrees and navigate their futures. She works to advocate for homeless youth and also contributes as a writer for Windy City Times.
Katrina Van Valkenburgh has more than 25 years of experience in social services and housing development. As the Central Region Managing Director at CSH, Van Valkenburgh provides leadership and coordination for the agency’s work throughout the center of the country, directly supervising CSH staff and their teams deployed in six offices, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and Texas. She helps develop and implement strategies to maximize impact on high need communities in the Central Region, while also assisting with development of CSH’s national priorities, strategy and management, loan and program monitoring, and continuous quality improvement. Van Valkenburgh also served as the Program Director for both Illinois and Indiana, after beginning at CSH in 2000 as an Illinois Program Manager. Prior to joining CSH, Van Valkenburgh was the first Director of the Supportive Housing Providers Association, a trade association of not-for-profit supportive housing providers in Illinois. She also worked at Deborah’s Place as the Director of Project Development and was responsible for the development and rehabilitation of three permanent supportive housing projects. She has a BA in Sociology from Kalamazoo College and completed the Urban Developers Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Van Valkenburgh serves on the Community Investment Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, the Advisory Board of the Law Project, as Secretary of the Deborah’s Place II and Deborah’s Place III Board and is a Board Member of Capital Service Fund, Inc. She received the Gem of the Community Award from archi-treasures in 2009 and the Legacy Award from the Chicago Rehab Network in 2014 in recognition of exceptional commitment and contribution to building strong communities.
Kavita Sharma, vice president of Bootstrap Villages, is a digital marketer and an alumna of the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has volunteered her time with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. She also volunteers and helps care for rescued dogs for a local humane society. She has also volunteered her skills with other companies, and supports local, national, and international organizations that support causes such as childcare, poverty alleviation, education, environment, and animal welfare. Kavita felt passionate about helping the homeless find a more long-term and sustainable form of housing. She became intrigued by the concept of a tiny home village in Chicago, and joined her friend, Adrianna McKinley, to help co-found Bootstrap Villages.
Kelly Suzanne Saulsberry is a proud Chicago native. She is the Director of Policy and Outreach at the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, the civil-rights department at the City of Chicago. In her role, she works on policy, education, and public engagement initiatives. She is honored to serve as Co-Chair of Pride Action Tank’s Advisory Council, where she can share her passion for policy, advocacy, and community building. Kelly serves on the boards of SHE100 and the Chicago Wellesley Club, and is a member of Affinity Community Services’ Leadership Advisory Council. She is currently an IMPACT Fellow, a leadership development program of the Chicago Urban League and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Kelly earned a BA from Wellesley College and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.
Kim L. Hunt is the executive director of the Pride Action Tank, a results-driven group that addresses challenges facing individuals and groups within LGBTQ communities through a collaborative process of inquiry, advocacy, and action. She is an advocate, urban design geek, and lifelong learner. During her 30-year career Kim has focused on strengthening communities. She is the former executive director of Affinity Community Services, a 20-year-old Chicago social justice organization that works with and for Black LGBTQ communities and queer youth. Prior to Affinity she owned a community development and management consulting firm. She has taught mini-courses at the University of Chicago, is co-host of OUTSpoken! LGBTQ Storytelling, and serves on several boards and advisory councils.
Lala Thomas is a senior a Wells Community High School. Lala is heading off to college in August. Lala is a dancer, model and actress.
Lara Brooks is a Chicago-based consultant, youth worker and organizer. Since 2001, Brooks has been a part of projects and organizations that support LGBTQ youth, survivors of violence, and youth experiencing homelessness. Currently, Brooks is a driving force behind the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative, a coordinated, citywide storage solution for youth experiencing homelessness. Brooks consults, trains, and teaches on accessible and visionary program design, program and system evaluation, harm reduction, and community accountability practices.
Lee Bey is a respected expert, writer, and photographer of the built environment. The public affairs television show Chicago Tonight, calls Bey “one of the keenest observers of Chicago architecture and urban planning.” Currently, he is the host of Architecture 360, a weekly podcast on the Rivet Radio ap. He is also an urban planning consultant. Bey is former architecture critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and served a deputy chief of staff for architecture and urban planning under Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. He also worked as director of governmental affairs for Skidmore Owings and Merrill. Most recently, he served as the Associate Director for Special Projects at the University of Chicago.
Lon Stousland, Associate Architect—Antunovich Associates, Chicago, B. Arch—University of Notre Dame (’11). Inspired by the belief that architecture can highlight and enhance the best qualities of a place, Lon hopes to engage with local neighborhoods and encourage residents to express their values in built form. From overseeing new multi-family residential construction in Chicago’s Logan Square and Lakeview neighborhoods to exploring the adaptive re-use of historic warehouse buildings in Pittsburgh, Lon is always eager to explore the many ways architecture and design can enhance a community’s urban fabric. On the winning team of the recent Tiny Home Design Competition.
Lydia Stazen Michael is dedicated to building a Chicago where all our citizens have a place to call home. She currently serves as Vice President of Development and Communications at All Chicago. During her career in fundraising and communications, Lydia has raised more than $12 million for anti-poverty organizations in the Midwest. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), and graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management’s “Greater Good” Nonprofit Leadership Program.
Marisa Novara joined Metropolitan Planning Council in 2011. She directs MPC’s housing and community development work, and manages technical assistance and support to communities facing development challenges related to housing, transportation, environment and economic development. Her work directly assists communities to promote revitalization, housing in job-rich areas, sustainable development and conservation, and interjurisdictional and corridor planning.
Prior to MPC, Marisa spent a year in Milan, Italy, completing her master’s degree in urban planning with a focus on international community development. Her studies were informed by years of work on the ground in Chicago, most recently as the senior project manager for Lawndale Christian Development Corporation. She also worked in community development at the Steans Family Foundation and Carole Robertson Center for Learning. Marisa serves on the Community Development Committee of The Resurrection Project, the Public Policy Committee of the Urban Land Institute, was a 2014 Marshall Memorial Fellow and is in the 2016 class of Leadership Greater Chicago.
Marty Sandberg, AIA, is Partner—Via Chicago Architects, Project Architect—Norsman Architects, Ltd., B. Arch—University of Notre Dame (’11). Marty and his wife, Cristina, are partners in Via Chicago—a small design shop based on the North Side. The pair are restoring an apartment building in the historic quarter of Panama City, and exploring residential projects here in Chicago. As a project architect with Norsman Architects, he is also leading the renovation of a Bridgeport warehouse for Marz Community Brewing. Design-oriented and driven by an urge to create—rather than simply think—Marty is always on the lookout for clever solutions hidden in our everyday environment. On the winning team of the recent Tiny Home Design Competition.
Mary Howard serves as the Acting Chief Resident Services Officer for the Chicago Housing Authority. Howard is responsible for implementing programs that increase economic independence and earning power, enhance academic achievement, housing stability and quality of life for residents. Since joining CHA, Howard has developed and strengthened programming to include evidenced-based models that have led to more than 7,000 job placements for adults and more than 6,000 paid work experiences for youth; assisted in the creation and launch of CHA’s nonprofit affiliate, Springboard 2 Success, and has designed and implemented research-based programming such as Housing Opportunities and Services Together (HOST) with the Urban Institute, and the groundbreaking advance earned income tax credit pilot. Howard has more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit and housing service industry including management, program design, evaluation, coaching and training. She has worked on issues that impact vulnerable populations such as addiction, homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as implemented a variety of workforce development, housing, and anti-poverty programs. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.
Mary Tarullo is a senior organizer with ONE Northside. She started organizing in 2005 in Boston as a Section 8 tenant organizer at the Mass and National Alliance of HUD tenants. She moved to Chicago in 2007 and began working at Lakeview Action Coalition, focusing on affordable housing issues. She has been the lead organizer on several affordable housing campaigns, including the successful passage of the Chicago SRO Preservation Ordinance in November 2014.
Melinda Nichols has been a member of the board of the Low Income Housing Institute, based in Seattle, Washington for 20 years. She is currently President of the board. She has been involved in the construction industry for more than 40 years. She became a carpenter in 1972 and has worked as a carpenter, project manager, facilities director and other related construction work. She has also been involved in apprenticeship training and was a member of the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council for 22 years. Melinda was also manager of the apprenticeship system for the State of Washington. All these activities assisted in pulling together the innovative Tiny House Village project that was just completed in Seattle earlier this year. They are currently building their second village, with many more to come.
Mike Newman has been an architect in Chicago for 17 years, and worked previously in Boston and Philadelphia. His work has focused on public interest design opportunities including issues of sustainability and affordability in housing and social justice projects. Other concentrations have been on constructability and professional practice topics. During his career at SHED and at his previous firms he has designed and managed many projects including affordable housing, community planning designs, commercial and institutional projects, and sustainable market rate developments, including Tryon Farm, a 150-unit development in Michigan City, Indiana. Mike has a keen interest in teaching, and has taught at the School of the Art Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Archeworks. Mike also has a special interest in design / build and has participated in several community-built projects while involved with Madhousers, Habitat for Humanity, and an array of student efforts.
Mike Simmons is a fifth generation Chicagoan. Mike found his calling in public service, going to work in Sen. Dick Durbin’s office in Washington. He returned to Chicago in 2009 to launch the policy shop of Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer. In 2011, he was appointed Policy Director for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, where he managed a team responsible for creating and implementing policy initiatives, and provided strategic direction to the policy staff. He played a leading role in the successful redevelopment agreement that will bring Whole Foods to Englewood, and also played a leading staff role in the enactment of the groundbreaking vacant property ordinance, and the food truck and urban agriculture ordinances. He also helped lead the drafting of the Mayor’s Plan to End Homelessness 2.0, and developed policy proposals to address high unemployment. He brokered an agreement between the Chicago Police Department and community organizers that led to a new set of policies intended to protect the dignity and safety of transgender Chicagoans in interactions with law enforcement. At the end of 2013, he was promoted to Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, where he focuses on providing management to the fiscal arm of the department, serving as the city planner for two large sections of Chicago, and providing leadership on policy initiatives touching on housing, neighborhood development, and other issues.
Nicholas Bouyer, 20, states: “I attended Robert A. Black Magnet school as well as Mt. Carmel High School both on the Southeast Side of Chicago. Due to financial issues that followed my mother becoming suddenly ill I left Mt. Carmel High school. I am a firm believer in everyone having a place to lay their head; be it a former convicted felon, single mother, youth who is homeless, a disabled person or those with mental health issues. I hope to someday become a powerful public figure who can help my community and many other communities be able to thrive off of good human nature. I want to make positive change in many people’s lives; I feel that should be everyone’s purpose in life.”
Paul W. Hamann, President of The Night Ministry (TNM), has 27 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations, with the last 17 in administration. He joined TNM in 2002 as Director of Finance & Administration and became its President in 2007, following in the footsteps of its Founding President. Since assuming the leadership role at TNM, the organization has expanded its youth housing program by 37 shelter beds, has implemented electronic medical records for use on its Health Outreach Bus, has begun systematic approaches to performance measurement, has become a recognized leader in working with transgender youth and staff, and recently completed a successful capital campaign that resulted in the purchase of a new Health Outreach Bus. Before arriving in Chicago, Paul lived in the San Francisco Bay Area where he worked in two homeless shelters. He also worked at the Chinatown Youth Center, spent time in El Salvador during the civil war, and developed a model community school program. He is serves on the Board of Directors of The National Network for Youth (in Washington, D.C.) and also the Illinois Collaboration for Youth. Paul was named by The Chicago Community Trust as a 2012 Nonprofit Experienced Leader Fellow and focused his fellowship on the study of performance measurement. In the same year, The White House named him a champion of Change in the Fight against Youth & Family Homelessness.
Rashmi Ramaswamy is an architect and co‐founder of SHED Studio, a mission‐driven architectural & sustainable design collaborative. She has a deep background in participatory design, arts‐based activism and civic engagement pertaining to environmental advocacy, community building, and the social safety net. At SHED Studio, she has designed and managed several affordable housing, urban agriculture and community counseling center projects for nonprofit clients, with a special focus on community involvement, sustainability and materials based design. Rashmi’s work is based in Chicago and Boston. In addition to her work at SHED Studio, Rashmi has served in leadership roles on boards of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Faith in Place, USGBC Chicago Chapter, Rebuilding Exchange and archi‐treasures and is co-chair of the Boston Society of Architects Committee on Homelessness. Rashmi is also co-founder of ModFarm, a think-tank that develops innovative solutions to food access issues in urban areas; Converge:Exchange, a platform for communities, activists and practitioners in Chicago to engage in a dialogue about the social issues and their relationship with the built environment. Most recently Rashmi has worked on the Y2Y Harvard Square Young Adult Homeless Shelter in the Boston area, and hosted a public art event “What is Home?” on PARKing day 2015, soliciting ideas about the elements of home (and hence security and well-being) that is missing from the lives of individuals who experience homelessness.
|Ray Willis, a graduate of Kansas State University (Master’s Degree in City Planning) in 1971, serves as the Director of Community Planning and Development for the Chicago Regional Office of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Willis has full responsibility for management and oversight of one of the Department’s largest portfolios in the country of community development programs, administering an annual budget in excess of $1 billion. In this capacity, Willis leads HUD’s Illinois efforts in key program areas such as the Community Development Block Grant program, Supportive Housing for the Homeless, Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS, Disasters, and other affordable housing and economic development programs. Willis has made numerous contributions over the past 38-years career at HUD as planner, innovator, and manager of HUD programs. Several noteworthy events while at HUD were Willis’ selection as a Chicago Delegate to the United Nation’s sponsored “Human Settlement” conference held in Istanbul in 1996; 2014 Kansas State University Alumni Fellow Award; 2015 recipient of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award, presented by South Park Baptist Church and Chicago NBC Channel 5.|
|Richard J. Monocchio has dedicated his professional career to public service for nearly 25 years. He began his housing career under the Clinton Administration, serving in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to that, he served as senior advisor to the late U.S. Rep. George E. Sangmeister. Known for his ability to get things done, he served in several city government capacities as Buildings Commissioner, Aviation Chief of Staff, and First Deputy Housing Commissioner for the City of Chicago under the Daley Administration. In 2011, Monocchio was appointed Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Cook County, where he continues to be an advocate for safe, affordable housing. The Housing Authority of Cook County is the second largest housing authority in Illinois. The Agency is credited for transforming its portfolio with multi-million dollar improvements and renovations of the Authority’s 23 housing developments located in suburban communities throughout Cook County. These quality of life improvements have led to more than 2,100 owned units, with more than 13,000 families served under the rental assistance programs. Under Monocchio’s leadership, dozens of recreational, educational and vocational programs have been implemented to connect people, opportunities, and communities, ultimately helping residents achieve a better quality of life.|
Robert (“Rob”) Rose Jr. is Executive Director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority, where he is responsible for the Authority’s day-to-day activities and all staff; and manages the Land Bank’s multi-million dollar budget. Rob has a strong vision for the future of the region, and the ability to execute that vision among diverse stakeholders. This vision is bolstered by his extensive background in finance, underwriting, real estate and community development. Rob previously was Chief Operating Officer at the Chicago Community Loan Fund. Prior to that, he managed a $170 million loan portfolio as Director of Commercial Real Estate for Urban Partnership Bank. Rob also has worked for apartment developer Lynd and for GE Capital.
Stephanie Reyes is the Youth Services Manager at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center. She has two main focus areas which include creating safe spaces for youth and ending LGBTQ youth homelessness in Memphis, Tennessee. Stephanie works with the local school district and library system to help make them more inclusive of all students. In addition, she developed PRYSM, a youth group for 13-17 year olds, to give young people a safe space to be themselves. With a large focus on solving the LGBTQ youth homelessness issue in Memphis, Stephanie has developed a long-range plan which includes an annual youth count, shelter evaluations, an emergency services program, and finally a transitional housing project. Stephanie has lived in Memphis for 2.5 years and is originally from NYC.
Teri W. Hammer is part of the Tiny Houses Greensboro, First Presbyterian Church, Vice Chair of the Greensboro Permaculture Guild, a board member of StepUp Greensboro and she does holistic job training and mentoring. She is a risk management consultant with Triad Risk Management Services.
Terry “Vic” Howell, AIA, LEED GA, Associate Architect—Antunovich Associates, B. Arch—University of Notre Dame (’11). Terry finds inspiration in the use of architecture to address social issues and engage the community. He is particularly excited to collaborate on a design project just blocks away from his former home. With interests in all aspects of a building’s design and construction, he has made it a point to diversify his experience through education and employment in business, construction management, and architecture. He hopes to one day be a notable figure in the revitalization of Chicago’s south side. He was on the winning team of the recent Tiny Home Design Competition.
Tracy Baim is publisher and executive editor at Windy City Times, which she co-founded in 1985. In 2014, she was inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame. Baim’s most recent book is Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer. Her other books include Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America; Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage; and Out and Proud in Chicago. Baim was executive producer of the lesbian film Hannah Free, starring Sharon Gless, and Scrooge & Marley. She is creator of That’s So Gay!, an LGBT trivia game. Baim is the founder of the Pride Action Tank. She was also co-vice chair of Gay Games VII in Chicago, and in 2013 was founder of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality.
|William (Bill) Pluta has more than 39 years of housing and community development program experience, having worked for state and local governments in Illinois, Texas and Louisiana. He has worked at Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) since 1992 as Director of its Office of Housing Coordination Services (OHCS). His Office has been responsible for developing and coordinating the state’s HUD-required housing plan, as well as the state-mandated Annual Comprehensive Housing Plan, also serving as staff to the Governor’s Housing Task Force. His Office also operates a housing information clearinghouse on all major state and federal housing and services programs, and coordinates programs between state agencies. As part of these roles, he has also represented IHDA on a large variety of state and local advisory groups. His office has also worked extensively with public housing authorities, community action agencies, non-profit developers and services providers, and others.|