Equitable Communities Conference 2023 | A Focus on Racial Equity RSVP Now

September 26, 2023

“Workforce Fridays” Meet-Ups , Capacity Building Institute , Community Development Week ,

Home Events Equitable Communities Conference 2023 | A Focus on Racial Equity

Thank you to our Diamond and Platinum Sponsors



Join us on Tuesday, September 26th for our 2023 Equitable Communities Conference — a day of collaboration, networking, and learning as we work to design and advance community economic development solutions in partnership with community leaders and those with lived experience.

The CNHED Equitable Communities Conference is a full-day program focusing on how developers, community-based organizations, and government entities have launched and employed meaningful initiatives, resources, and tools that actively promote racial equity systems change in the District. The goal of this conference is to look beyond “racial equity rhetoric” and focus intently on specific high-impact change at the systems level. Throughout the day, attendees will not only learn about the field’s progression in the racial equity space but workshop new, innovative ways to implement racial equity strategies that yield high-impact systems change.  The Community Engagement for Equitable Development Conference is part of CNHED’s annual Community Development Week.

Bundle and Save!

Register for both CNHED’s Equitable Communities Conference and Community of Leaders Reception for a special discounted price!

Add to Google Calendar

September 26, 2023
8:00 am - 6:00 pm

JW Marriott | Washington, DC

We are SOLD OUT!

Registration is now closed.

Conference Agenda & Speakers

9:00am – 9:30am

Adjoa B. Asamoah
Senior Advisor for Racial Equity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Adjoa B. Asamoah is the “Senior Advisor for Racial Equity” to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary. She is the first and only person to ever serve in this historic capacity. In her role, she leads the examination and evaluation of HUD’s policies and practices to narrow racial disparities and right historical wrongs.
She is a lifelong racial equity champion and award-winning policy architect. She is also known globally as The “CROWN Act” Champion. She conceptualized, developed the legislative and social impact strategies for, and led the groundbreaking CROWN Act movement, in addition to having spearheaded the legislative victory to codify the nation’s first Office on African American Affairs, as well as establish an Office of Racial Equity.
A trusted advisor to local, state, and federal officials, Adjoa served as the senior policy advisor in the Executive Office of the District of Columbia mayor, was appointed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator to an advisory board, and has been appointed by multiple DC state superintendents to the State Title I Committee of Practitioners, serving as the elected chair for six consecutive years.
Adjoa holds degrees in African American Studies, Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Applied Behavior Analysis. She studied abroad at the University of Ghana, is a licensed therapist, and she is a doctoral candidate at The George Washington University. A former adjunct professor who has taught African American Studies and psychology, she leverages cultural intelligence and behavioral insights to create meaningful systems change.
  • 9:30am - 10:15am | DEI Across Systems: Strategies, Programs, Results

    Join us for an open discussion with local leaders in the DEI space as they discuss their innovative approaches to DEI within their systems and how other sectors can work to replicate their impact and success in integrating racial equity and inclusion throughout their initiatives and programming.


    MODERATOR: KellyAnn Kirkpatrick
    Senior Product Manager, Housing Equity Fund | Amazon

    KellyAnn currently serves as the Grants and Partnerships lead for the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, where she supports affordable housing focused grant making and strategic collaboration as a part of the Amazon In the Community team. With an unwavering passion for diversity and inclusion, KellyAnn has seamlessly merged her dedication to economic empowerment with her expertise in grant-making and strategic partnerships in her current role where she also oversees the Housing Equity Fund’s Accelerator Program.
    Prior to her current position, she was a part of the Amazon Black Business Accelerator team, where she supported Black-owned sellers in their Amazon seller journey. Additionally, KellyAnn previously served as a Senior Program Associate at JPMorgan Chase & Co. within Global Philanthropy, where she concentrated on philanthropic investments aimed at supporting and empowering small businesses on a global scale.
    KellyAnn’s experience spans the private and public sector as she also previously served as a Program Manager at the District of Columbia’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, where her efforts were concentrated on supporting community conscious development and brick and mortar retail in the District with programs like Great Streets and the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund.





    Dekonti Mends-Cole
    Executive Director, Head of DEI Initiatives | JPMorgan Chase

    Dekonti Mends-Cole serves as Vice President for the Mid-Atlantic at JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropy overseeing strategic grant making in the greater Washington region. Dekonti is an economic and community development practitioner having worked on the ground in the country’s most distressed communities. Prior to joining JP Morgan Chase & Co., she served as the Director of Policy at the Center for Community Progress, a national non-profit based in Flint, Michigan, that equips communities with the tools and resources needed to effectively address abandonment, blight, and vacancy. Additionally, Dekonti served as a Deputy Director at the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the country’s largest land bank, and as a fellow with the White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative embedded in the City of Detroit. She brings international experience and best practice to her grant-making role having previously worked on local economic development projects in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa including infrastructure investment strategies in Iraq and Zambia for the United Nations and community development projects tied to the 2012 London Olympics. She holds an MSc from the London School of Economics in Urban Regeneration and Affordable Housing, a Juris Doctor from Georgetown Law Center, and a BA from University of Miami in International Studies and Economics.


    Rosemary E. Kilkenny, J.D.
    Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
    Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action (IDEAA) |
    Georgetown University

    Rosemary Kilkenny, Georgetown University’s inaugural Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion was appointed to this position effective April 1, 2006 by John J. DeGioia, PhD., President. He added the Chief Diversity Officer designation to her portfolio in March 2019. She supervises the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action and the Title IX Office.
    Vice President Kilkenny’s previous positions included administrative and executive roles in affirmative action, educational equity and access at Kent State University and SUNY, Albany respectively.
    Rosemary currently serves on Board of Trustees for the Jesuit Refugee Services and the Academy of Hope, as well as the Editorial Board of the Negro Educational Review. Rosemary is one of eight cofounders of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), and has served on the Board of Trustees of Georgetown Day School, Sports for Education and Economic Development in Senegal (SEEDS), the Board of Directors of the American Association for Affirmative Action, now known as the American Association for Access Equity & Diversity and the Howard Road Academy among others.
  • 10:30am - 11:45am | Concurrent Breakouts

    TOPA: A Tool for Racial Equity, Anti-Displacement, and Strong Communities

    Since its passing in 1980, the DC Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) has served as a vital tool in building racial equity, preventing displacement, and strengthening communities in DC’s rapidly changing housing landscape. It has helped to build assets and stability for individuals and families by granting tenants, particularly those from marginalized communities, an unprecedented opportunity to become homeowners and gain a stake in the communities they call home. More broadly, it has curbed displacement trends and allowed long-term residents to stay rooted in their neighborhoods amidst rising property values and development pressures. Join us in this dynamic session as we celebrate the success and impact of TOPA in reshaping urban landscapes, fostering racial equity, and building stronger, more resilient communities for all.


    MODERATOR: Awad Bilal
    Tenant Organizer| Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC)

    Awad Bilal is a third-generation Washingtonian who joined LEDC as a Tenant Organizer in 2021. He supports tenants in exercising their TOPA rights and preserving affordable housing in the city through advocacy and outreach. Before working with LEDC, Awad spent ten years in the service industry, working from New York City to Albuquerque and returning to Washington, DC, in 2018. Outside of LEDC, Awad is a musician in the bands Clear Channel and Too Free and radio DJ on WOWD-LP 94.3FM, a community radio station in Takoma Park, MD, where he hosts “The Flex.” He is also a member of the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), which advocates for fair pay and better conditions for musicians. In addition, Awad has been championing the opposition to the displacement of low-income and working-class families. Including gentrification for over ten years and the rights and protections of service industry employees in DC for more than four years.



    Fernando Lemos
    Executive Director | Mi Casa

    Fernando Lemos, the Executive Director of Mi Casa, Inc. has more than 40 years of experience in the nonprofit housing and economic development sectors. Originally from Paraguay, Lemos is a long-time resident of Washington, DC with extensive experience working with the Latino community. He is trained in architectural design, housing and community economic development, small business management, and home inspection. Lemos served for many years on the board of the District of Columbia Housing Authority and Cornerstone, and currently serves on the boards of the Latino Economic Development Corporation and the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders.



    Chelsea Dee Harrison
    Board Member | Eleven Nicholson Cooperative, Inc.

    Chelsea Dee Harrison is a theater-maker, an artivist, a public arts facilitator, and a native Washingtonian. She performs, teaches, facilitates, develops curriculum, curates, and produces performing arts events across the city of Washington, DC.
    She is also a Board member for the Eleven Nicholson Cooperative, Inc. in Northwest, DC.




    Cali Slepin
    Director Lending Initiatives | National Housing Trust

    Cali Slepin joined National Housing Trust in 2021 and currently serves as the Director of Lending Initiatives. Cali leads the Lending team’s involvement in local efforts to support the preservation of small buildings. This work blends policy and lending, advocating for the right financing tools to stabilize DC-area families in place and preserve naturally occurring affordable housing. Cali runs NHT’s TOPA Earnest Money Deposit Loan Program, which helped over 900 households pursue their TOPA rights in 2022. Additionally, she works on NHT’s homeownership initiative with Amazon, is a participant on the Small Buildings Collaborative, and serves as a core team member for DC’s Connecting Capital and Communities initiative. Cali graduated with a Master of City Planning degree from UC Berkeley, focusing on affordable housing finance and community land trust policy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies and Anthropology from Oberlin College.


    Strategies for Winning Private Sector Contracts

    While local and federal government contracts get all the buzz in DC, the District’s private institutions spend billions of dollars each year procuring goods and services from small and medium-sized businesses. But doing business with a health system, university, or utility company looks different than contracting for the government. In this panel, we will discuss the primary differences and what winning strategies at both levels look like.


    MODERATOR: Evette Banfield
    Chief Economic Development Officer | CNHED

    Evette facilitates the execution of CNHED’s inclusive economic development agenda, reflecting a commitment made in our strategic plan. Her primary focus is on coalition building, policy and advocacy. Since coming on board at the end of 2014, Evette has led the creation of five working groups reflecting the priorities and needs of CNHED’s members and the broader economic development field. Evette brings a wealth of diverse community building and revitalization experience, working on the ground with residents and community-based groups as well as with the government, private and philanthropic sectors to facilitate system-level changes and targeted local solutions. Prior to CNHED, Evette worked with the consulting firm Urban Ventures Group, where she designed and implemented planning processes; analyzed and synthesized information; and identified suitable and adaptable solutions to complex issues and problems by working with community stakeholders.
    Over her career, she has held roles in project management and coordination and conducted numerous multi-year evaluations on national programs as well as conducted smaller-scale assessments involving intensive fieldwork in individual communities. Evette holds a B.A. in government from St. Lawrence University and a Master’s degree in urban policy and management from The New School. Evette is a foodie and enjoys traveling.


    Tanya-Penny Woods
    CEO | TPW & Associates/JCCI

    Tanya Penny is a senior executive in the Fortune 50 realm. She held several senior leadership roles for Verizon Communications, a $120 billion-dollar technology giant.
    Tanya served as Verizon Communications Senior Vice President of Real Estate responsible for a $2 billion budget and managed 3,000+ staff and contractors. She also served as Chief Procurement Officer, responsible for $35 billion of sourcing and planning activities. Her organization drove over $4 billion spend with diverse suppliers. Tanya has leadership experience in Corporate Finance, Financial Operations and Telecommunications Network Planning.
    Additionally, Tanya enjoys using her big corporation experiences to drive growth in small and diverse suppliers. She provides consulting services to universities, hospitals, and government organizations focusing on supply chain best practices and supplier diversity business growth.
    Tanya also shares her supply chain knowledge as a Professor and the Director of the Center for Excellence in Supply Chain Management at the Howard University School of Business. Tanya Penny holds an MBA (Finance) from the Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania) and a BA from Stanford University. Tanya Penny is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Women Corporate Directors Foundation and Women in the Boardroom. She serves her community through various social advocacy and mentoring organizations.


    Carl Brown
    State/Executive Director | DC Small Business Development Center

    Carl Brown is the State/Executive Director of the District of Columbia Small Business Development Center (DC SBDC) on the prestigious campus of Howard University. He has a wealth of small business development knowledge with over 25 years of experience in consulting, training, human resources, sales, marketing, procurement, and contract administration in the public and private sectors. Additionally, he is the host of the popular radio talk show “The Small Business Report” airing on Sirius XM Channel 141 every Thursday. Additionally, Carl has held executive positions in Telecommunications, Consumer Goods, and Transportation. His public sector experience includes Federal – US Patent and Trademark Oice and Department of Treasury; Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the District of Columbia, Oice of Contracts and Procurement and District Department of Transportation; and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). In recent years, he was the executive producer of the popular television series “Emerging Business Report” as well as the on-air host of “Growing Pains – Taking Your Business to the Next Level.” Carl has been a guest on numerous radio and TV shows, and interviewed by national media outlets including news programs, magazines and newspapers on economic development and small business issues.


    Victor Holt
    CEO and Founder | V-Tech Solutions

    Victor P. Holt is the Founder, President and CEO of V-Tech Solutions, Inc. (V-Tech). A native of Washington, D.C., Victor is a proud graduate of DC Public Schools. He was introduced to Information Technology while serving in the US Air Force. His natural affinity for technology continued to develop and expand while working at Federal, DoD and State government contracting organizations. His management expertise at large integrators such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard, and 8(a) businesses lead him to incorporate V-Tech in 2000. As V-Tech’s President and CEO, Victor translates vision into action. Under his leadership, V-Tech has become a premier small business in health, technology and professional services in the government contracting and commercial sectors. And, as a native Washingtonian and DC-based business, Victor has held steadfast to his roots by driving V-Tech’s successes as a catalyst to contribute to the wellbeing of District residents by providing career opportunities and charitable contributions to institutions that serve the local community. A true visionary, Victor opened the doors to V-Tech with the corporate motto, “Excellence at Work,” which exemplifies his business philosophy and permeates every aspect of the organization. His mandate for service delivery says it all: “V-Tech is committed to quality as a basic business principle. We believe quality means providing our customers with excellent services that satisfy their requirements.”


    Creating Pathways to Employment for DC Residents

    Learn about new and solution-driven workforce development programs and initiatives being employed to break down barriers and increase connections to employment for District residents. This session will examine how local and community-based nonprofits are stepping up to provide pathways to employment to reverse the trend of high unemployment for Black and brown residents, especially in Wards 7 and 8.


    MODERATOR: Veronica Wright
    Senior DirectorWorkforce Development | Rodham Institute

    Veronica Wright is a senior-level workforce development professional with over 11 years of experience in the field. Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly to develop and implement programs and initiatives aimed at providing opportunities for underserved populations in the Washington DC area.
    Veronica’s passion for workforce development began when she started working as a Data Manager for a local nonprofit. Seeing the impact that meaningful employment could have on the lives of individuals and families, Veronica was inspired to pursue a career in workforce development.
    In her current role as Senior Director of  Workforce Development for the Rodham Institute, Veronica is responsible for overseeing a team of professionals who are dedicated to implementing a high-quality home care WFD with a nursing career ladder. She works closely with community partners, government agencies, and employers to identify opportunities and develop programs that meet the evolving needs of the region’s workforce.
    Prior to her current work, Veronica served her country as a U.S. Navy Veteran, in addition to several years working in the financial industry. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Connecticut State University and her Master’s in Business Administration University of Maryland University College.


    Gene Downing
    Galena Yorktown Fellow | Council for Court Excellence

    Gene Downing is a Washington, D.C. native and a returning citizen who served 21 years in prison after being arrested at the age 19. After his release, due to the Second Look Amendment Act, he was selected as the 2022 Congressman John Lewis Fellow. Gene is currently the Galena Yorktown Fellow at the Council for Court Excellence, where he leads an initiative called the Second Chance Hiring Alliance. He is also a Community Outreach Specialist for Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop. Gene also serves as a Poet Ambassador and as the Co-Chair of Thrive Under 25, a transformative coalition in the District that uses advocacy, legislation, and public education to end the racist, damaging, and punitive responses of DC’s adult criminal legal system toward people who came into contact with the system when they were under age 25. Gene is also a very talented spoken word artist, and he uses his spoken word to raise awareness to the social injustices that plagues our country and to connect to the youth. Gene is passionate about giving back to his community, advocating for criminal justice reform and changing the narrative for what being formerly incarcerated looks like.


    Brianne Dornbush
    Executive Director | District Bridges

    Brianne moved to Washington, D.C. in 2009 by way of Kentucky and about 10 other places along the way. She moved to DC with a passion for collaboration and a dream to start a nonprofit focused on “changing the world”. Prior to moving to DC, nowhere she had lived had really felt like home, until DC, and more specifically until Columbia Heights.
    After a couple of years of establishing herself in DC, she took the plunge and founded Collaborate to Impact (CTI), a nonprofit organization focused on collective action in 2011. Through Collaborate to Impact, Brianne was able to work with over 40 nonprofit organizations on development, fundraising, and multi-sector relationship building to spur on social innovation around issues of poverty, justice, health, education, and economic empowerment.
    After four years of CTI, Brianne took a brief hiatus from the nonprofit world (kind of) and ventured into the private sector consulting world, where she worked with nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies, to create strategic and development plans, social media strategies, and cross-sector collaborations impacting social justice and education.
    In 2015, Brianne took on the challenge of developing the Columbia Heights Initiative, a volunteer-led community organization into a sustainable organization for the future. In this new role, she brought together her passions for leadership, collaboration, community development, and relationships.


    Vaughn Perry
    Director | Skyland Workforce Center

    Vaughn Perry is the Director of the Skyland Workforce Center, a project of Building Bridges Across the River, where he manages a partnership of nonprofit organizations that provide employment services for local residents. Before taking on that role, he was the Director of Equity for the 11th Street Bridge Park. An “almost” DC native, Vaughn has been a long-term resident and homeowner in Ward 8. Vaughn’s research interests focus on ecojustice pedagogies, community engagement and job/skill development. 
    Vaughn holds a bachelor’s degree in IT from Strayer University and a master’s degree in Project Management from George Washington University.



    Annemarie Bairstow
    Consultant | Pailton Road Consulting

    Annemarie has over 30 years of project management and community service experience. Most recently, she headed the Skyland Workforce Center, a project of Building Bridges Across the River. At the Workforce Center, she instituted several new programs and partnerships, resulting in over 200 job placements in 2022. Before joining the BBAR team, Annemarie was the VP of Marketing and Communications at WC Smith, where she was responsible for marketing strategy, internal and external communications, and public relations. At WC Smith, she helped found the Skyland Workforce Center and ran the Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides paid summer jobs and workshops to 50-60 young people annually.
    Before joining WC Smith, Annemarie worked extensively with business improvement districts. She was Executive Director of the BID Council, as well as Executive Director of the Adams Morgan BID and Transportation Director at the Downtown DC BID. She managed Councilmember Mary Cheh’s first election campaign and served four years on the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
    Annemarie has a Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Virginia and a BA from Swarthmore College. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Greater Washington program.

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Christopher E. Donald
Executive Director/CEO
District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency
Christopher E. Donald was sworn-in as the Executive Director/CEO of the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) in March 2021. Mr. Donald served the Agency as the Interim and Acting Executive Director/CEO from January 2020-March 2021. He is responsible for the overall supervision, coordination, and strategic direction of the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency. Mr. Donald joined the Agency in October 2016 as the Senior Vice President of Multifamily Lending and Neighborhood Investments where he served as part of DCHFA’s senior management team. His primary responsibility was to manage the day-to-day operations of the Multifamily Lending and Neighborhood Investments (formerly Public Finance) department and assist the Executive Director & CEO with the development of multifamily programs, products, polices and strategic planning.
Mr. Donald has over 15 years of experience in real estate finance, community building, development, land entitlement and construction. He’s entitled over 1MM square feet of mixed-income, transit-oriented, amenity-rich housing. Mr. Donald specializes in acquisitions, entitlement, community visioning and deal structuring. He has completed over $1 billion in real estate financing over the course of his career and renovated over 1,000 multifamily units and entitled and underwritten almost 3,500 multifamily units throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Mr. Donald has also acquired and programmed commercial space for small local businesses and retailers.
As the Director of Development at the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), Mr. Donald underwrote and structured $60MM in Low Income Housing Tax Credit transactions. Over the last several years he has provided underwriting services to the Office of State Superintendent for Education for the District of Columbia and financed over $300 million in improvements for public charter schools using New Markets Tax Credits, tax exempt bonds and other tools. Mr. Donald began his career in finance at Lehman Brothers in the Municipal Finance Group and underwrote $200MM in revenue bonds for the District of Columbia.
Prior to his tenure at DCHFA, Mr. Donald served as the Principal and Co-Founder of The Leidesdorff Group. The Leidesdorff Group (TLG) is a diversified real estate advisory firm focused on the regeneration of urban communities within the Mid-Atlantic region. As a principal of TLG, Mr. Donald focused on distressed and disinvested urban communities. Mr. Donald serves as the secretary on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (NALHFA) and DCHFA. From 2018-2020 he served on the boards of the African American Real Estate Professionals of D.C. and the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) boards. Mr. Donald is a member of the Urban Land Institute. He is a graduate of Stanford University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.


  • 1:45pm - 3:15pm | Concurrent Breakouts

    Community Voices: A Masterclass on Self-Advocacy and Resilience

    Hear from D.C. residents, recent completers of the first cohort of Community Voices Academy, on how educating residents on advocacy strategies has fostered a sense of action and urgency among District residents. This panel will speak to the resilience of the unhoused population and the historic power of grassroots mobilization in affecting policy change.


    MODERATOR: Lamar Richards
    Director, Advocacy and Community Engagement | CNHED

    Lamar serves passionately as CNHED’s Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement. In this role, Lamar is responsible for coordinating all aspects of CNHED’s advocacy campaigns and engaging in community engagement initiatives. Lamar also coordinates CNHED’s collaborative efforts to engage national thought leaders and colleagues who are engaged in similar work, including affordable housing developers, small business technical assistance providers, workforce development providers, lenders, homelessness prevention and supportive services practitioners as well as tenant advocates, academic experts, and elected representatives.


    Rachelle Ellison
    Graduate, Community Voices Academy | CNHED

    I am Rachelle Ellison, a woman with the lived experience of being homeless with co-occurring disorders for 17 years straight, who now is in long-term recovery. I am a speaker and advocate for the National Coalition for the Homeless.
    I have worked through a lot of early childhood trauma. Today I stand in the Gap, for those still unhoused with COC needs. I am the Senior Mentor Advisor and Lead of the Rhonda Whitaker Streets to Life DC Women’s Initiative at People for Fairness Coalition. I am on the Interagency Council on Homelessness, onboarded at the consumer engagement working group where I advocate and do peer mentoring. I also am facilitating the next cohort for CNHED. It is my duty and passion to help others in the homeless population learn to become their own best advocates.


    Luther Lacy
    Graduate, Community Voices Academy | CNHED

    Luther Lacy has 25+ Years of lived experience of being Chronically Homeless. A Resident mentor at Community Family Services for 13 years. Currently a Community organizer with the outreach and advocacy group People For Fairness Coalition, Capitol Hill Towers Tenant Association, and a graduate of The First Community Voices Working Group of CNHED.



    Isaac Harris
    Graduate, Community Voices Academy | CNHED

    Isaac Harris is a native Washingtonian who has been homeless for five years and is a DC Homeless Activist with 12 years of volunteer experience at the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV).
    Issac is also recent graduate of the Community Voices Academy at CNHED.




    Forging Procurement Pathways for BIPOC Business Owners

    Diversity and inclusion are integral to today’s business landscape, and our panelists stand at the forefront of their organizations’ work on these issues. We will discuss how each of these leaders is forging pathways for BIPOC business owners through access to contracting opportunities as well as mentorship, training, and resources. If you’re a business owner looking to harness new opportunities or a leader at your organization looking to create a more inclusive economy, this panel is for you.


    MODERATOR: Phillip Berkaw
    Senior Director, DC Community Anchor Partnership (DCAP) | CNHED

    Phillip Berkaw joined CNHED in 2022 as the Senior Director of the DC Community Anchor Partnership (DCAP). CNHED’s DCAP initiative is a collaborative of local “anchor institutions” – hospitals, universities, and utility companies – harnessing their purchasing power to grow DC-based minority-owned business enterprises (DC MBEs). Led by CNHED and co-convened with the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), DCAP works with its Anchor Members to re-engineer institutional procurement systems and create equitable access to contract opportunities.
    Prior to joining DCAP, Phillip led the Inclusive Entrepreneurship Network at the National League of Cities, an innovative program that helps cities implement more inclusive, entrepreneurship-led economic development policies and programs. He created partnerships between city leaders, entrepreneurship support organizations, and national nonprofits to facilitate the growth and expansion of BIPOC-owned businesses in cities nationwide.
    Before earning a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2019, he was a high school science teacher and department head in the Recovery School District in New Orleans and a Teach for America corps member. Phillip graduated with a B.S. from the University of Michigan in 2013. He loves exploring new cities, going on runs, and trying new recipes.


    Johnny Seikaly
    Director of  Contracts and Compliance| MCN Build

    Johnny utilizes his 20 years of international economic and community development experience to maximize the positive economic impacts of capital projects in the DMV. As Director of Contracts and Compliance, Johnny leads MCN Build’s community engagement and economic inclusion efforts. His experience working in post-conflict and recovery environments allows him to enter communities and develop relationships with stakeholders in order to jointly identify and overcome barriers to entry for local individuals and businesses that can serve the project’s needs.
    Prior to joining MCN Build in 2018, Mr. Seikaly was a serial entrepreneur. From 2014 – 2018 he founded and ran a social enterprise that created markets for small food makers in the DMV. From 2007 – 2014 he founded and ran Key Development Services (KDS) in his native Lebanon. KDS worked with international agencies and NGOs to design, monitor and evaluate economic development initiatives throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.
    Prior to 2007, Johnny worked for Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a large USAID contractor, in the US, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


    Korey Gray
    Director of Compliance and Business| DC Water

    Korey Gray, As DC Water’s Vice President of Compliance and Development, Korey Gray leads the Authority’s contractor diversity and workforce development initiatives. With over 20 years of experience in the field of supplier diversity and inclusion, Korey is never satisfied with the status quo.  His pursuit of improved diversity and inclusion practices demonstrates Korey’s leadership in advancing DC Water’s innovative approach to building relationships with diverse suppliers in every aspect of its procurement program.
    Under Korey’s leadership and with the support of the Chief Executive Officer and General Manager (CEO/GM), DC Water recently completed a major overhaul of its Business Development Plan.  This effort was the culmination of two years of work that will foster a new standard of doing business with DC Water. To ensure the transparency of this process, Korey led an ambitious public engagement process that involved “listening sessions” with the community and the receipt of recommendations from DC Water staff, diverse suppliers, prime contractors, government agencies and advocacy organizations.
    In addition to his role as Vice President, Korey is also DC Water’s Business Development Plan Liaison. The designation of a liaison for this program assures the diverse supplier community that the implementation and accountability measures of the Business Development Plan are unencumbered and increase the program’s visibility within DC Water and among its industry peers.
    Mr. Gray also ensures that DC Water plays its part in creating opportunities for certified firms and local residents while helping to build and transform lives.
    Among his key achievements, in 2018, Korey successfully created and launched the DC Water Works Program. Its purpose is to connect local residents with the approximately 100 new jobs created by DC Water contractors annually. Since its inception, nearly 600 jobs have been filled through DC Water Works.
    The success of Water Works enabled Korey to develop and implement a multi-trade Apprenticeship Program. Since 2020, thirty-one (31) District residents were hired as apprentices in one of eleven trades.
    As an industry leader in the water utility industry, Korey is highly sought out for his strategic insight and successful innovative business practices. Korey is a native Washingtonian who grew up in the Fort Lincoln neighborhood in Ward 5. In his spare time, he enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends and is an avid fisherman.


    Cory Raymond
    Program Manager| Purple Line Transit Project

    Cory Raymond is a key member of the Modern Times, Inc. (MTI) team, starting his career with the company in 2015 on the Mid-Coast Corridor project in San Diego, CA. He relocated to the DC/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) area in 2018 to support the Purple Line Transit and various other projects on the East Coast. He brings community relations, vendor outreach, business management, workforce development, and equal employment opportunity experience to his role as Senior Director of Inclusivity Programs.
    Cory has implemented and managed small business and diversity programs, including Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and workforce development programs, on some of the largest and most complex transportation projects in metropolitan areas. This includes the rapidly growing Public-Private Partnership (P3) and Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC) delivery methods.
    In his current role, Cory assisted with the development and implementation of the supplier and workforce diversity departments for Purple Line, managed a community engagement/outreach team for the DC Water Lead-Free initiative, and served as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager for the American Legion Bridge and I-270 P3. He helped with efforts to exceed the DBE goal on the Mid-Coast Corridor project and assisted the team in their efforts to engage a broad spectrum of small businesses, which ultimately led to the team being named and awarded the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Champion of the Year 2017!
    He has also served on committees for mentoring programs that focus on providing knowledge and resources needed by small businesses to be successful on public works contracts. Cory has been an unwavering supporter of disadvantaged communities and is a seasoned public speaker.


    Advancing Racial Equity through Homeownership

    Now more than ever, people are hoping to leave the rental market and jump into homeownership. They are moving from spending money on rent that they’ll never recoup to investing that same money into a property they own. Still, this group of potential buyers, specifically black and brown families, and individuals, have their own unique issues to deal with. In this session, we will discuss successful approaches and resources that work to assist renters in becoming homeowners and overcoming barriers such as salary, down payment, and home maintenance.

    WELCOME SPEAKER: Mecedeh Mortazavi
    Vice President of Global Philanthropy | JPMorgan Chase & Co

    Mercedeh Mortazavi, Vice President of Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Mercedeh Mortazavi is a Vice President at JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Global Philanthropy department, a global leader dedicated to driving inclusive economic growth in communities worldwide. JPMorgan Chase has made a commitment to invest $2 billion over five years to strengthen workforce systems, strengthen neighborhoods, grow small businesses, and improve the financial health of individuals – an investment part of the firm’s $30 billion racial equity initiative. Mercedeh is responsible for helping establish and execute the firm’s national philanthropic strategies on neighborhood development, a $400 million, five year portfolio focused on affordable housing connected to economic opportunities.
    Mercedeh also manages large-scale national initiatives, including the PRO Neighborhoods Competition and AdvancingCities Challenge aimed at advancing solutions that tackle major social and economic challenges across the country. Mercedeh has been with the firm for over 7 years. Prior to this role, Mercedeh managed the Greater Washington, D.C. region strategic initiatives in Corporate Responsibility by working across lines of business to implement business, community, and employee strategies to increase brand awareness, revenue, and impactful philanthropic and business initiatives.
    Mercedeh holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and International Business from the Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business. She also studied International Business at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

    MODERATOR: Evelyn Kasongo
    Director, Connecting Capital and Community | CNHED

    Evelyn joined CNHED in January 2022 as the Director for Connecting Capital and Community. Ms. Kasongo will work with the Center for Community Investment to assemble teams of stakeholders and manage relationships with technical assistance providers and critical partners including financial institutions, neighborhood organizations, foundations, affordable housing developers, government agencies, and other stakeholders critical to moving the needle in the affordable housing system.
    Prior to joining CNHED, Evelyn worked for the District of Columbia Office of Planning for 15 years. While there, she served as both a Senior Neighborhood Planner as well as a Lead Planner for Equity Initiatives. Additionally, she acted as the agency’s Equity Officer where her work focused on the physical environment in which people lived their lives, and brought equity, access, and enhancement to the quality of life to communities of various scales.
    Evelyn holds a Master’s of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia. Ms. Kasongo has over 20 years of diverse experience in private and public practice. Her areas of expertise include land use, military and campus planning, as well as urban design and large-scale mixed-use design projects.


    William (Bill) Milko
    Business Development Manager, Single Family Programs | DC Housing Finance Agency

    Bill Milko joined the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) in 2015. In this role, as Business Development Manager for DCHFA’s Single Family Programs division, he trains local lenders on DCHFA’s loan programs and serves as a community liaison teaching homebuyer education courses.
    Prior to joining the Agency, Milko spent five years at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development where he was the Program Manager for the Maryland Mortgage Program. During his more than 30 years in the mortgage industry, he has been an underwriter, and a loan officer and owned his own mortgage company. Milko is a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR).



    Adam Maloon
    Director of Stewardship |Douglass Community Land Trust

    Adam Maloon serves as Director of Stewardship for the Douglass Community Land Trust, facilitating the work of maintaining permanently affordable housing from generation to generation. Adam’s professional background has covered a broad range of the continuum of housing, from emergency shelter to traditional homeownership. Prior to Douglass CLT, Adam served as Vice President of Affordable Housing at City First Homes (CFH), where the Douglass CLT was incubated.
    In this role, he contributed to the development of Douglass CLT as a community-led organization, from arranging capacity building for Advisory Committee members to leading discussions on foundational elements of the CLT such as the resale formula and ground lease. Adam oversaw the shared appreciation loan program and homeowner stewardship, conducting direct outreach with program stakeholders and ensuring program compliance.
    Prior to CFH, Adam worked as an attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid, where he assisted residents in organizing and represented residents and resident associations in efforts to preserve affordable housing developments. Adam also worked with community land trusts throughout the San Francisco Bay area, providing technical assistance to homeowners, developing advocacy and policy recommendations to promote community land trusts throughout the region.
    Adam received a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where he participated in the Harrison Institute for Housing and Community Development Clinic.


    Noel Shepherd
    Senior Mortgage Loan Officer |Fulton Mortgage Company

    Noel Shepherd has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. After 15 years of retail banking and lending operations, he left to establish and lead his own company focused on clients who needed a personalized mortgage service experience seldom offered by the traditional industry providers. He found a strong reputation for building a solid service practice for underserved homebuyers. With his expertise, traditional industry providers recruited him to rejoin and lead minority and community development mortgage programs.
    Noel is motivated to assist client needs and dispel the myth, through actions, that banks do not want to lend to minorities. He focuses on guiding first-time home buyers to navigate the home buying process with community-based organizations and home buyer education. His philosophy is that any lender can get you a loan; his goal is to find the right loan for you.
Snack Break


  • 3:45 - 5:00pm | Concurrent Breakouts

    The Power of Small Business Support Organizations

    Explore the essential role of small business support organizations in fostering the growth and success of Black and brown business owners and entrepreneurs. In DC’s competitive environment, it is paramount that small business support organizations adapt their strategies to address the unique challenges faced by BIPOC businesses and entrepreneurs.


    MODERATOR: Mereb Hagos
    Economic Development Manager | CNHED

    Mereb joined CNHED in January 2023 as the Economic Development Manager. In this role, she will assist CNHED’s Chief Economic Development Officer in supporting the District’s small business community and replicating the small business ecosystem-building process in other cities. Mereb will also work to develop and update CNHED’s small business resources.
    Prior to serving at CNHED, she worked as a Program Manager at the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, where she provided research and technical assistance to local, regional, state, and federal clients on economic and workforce development efforts. Mereb also supervised the maintenance of the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database and C2ER State Business Incentives Database. Both databases are leading resources for research into economic and workforce development and tax policy.
    Mereb holds a Master of Public Policy degree with a concentration in Regional Economic Development from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her dog, Achilles.


    Kimberly Gayle
    Chief Program Officer | Wacif

    Kimberly D. Gayle provides leadership and management oversight of Wacif’s small business and entrepreneurship advisory services and technical assistance initiatives. Before Wacif, she was the Regional Director for the Minority Business Assistance Center led by the State of Ohio’s Minority Business Development Division and hosted by the Columbus Urban League. The Columbus Minority Business Assistance Center served the needs of Ohio’s small, minority, and socially economically disadvantaged businesses in 18 counties. She is a certified business advisor with extensive experience driving business growth in start-up, turnaround, and well-established cultures.
    Her professional career began as a Business Consultant at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP after earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and master’s degree in Public Administration. While Kimberly had many careers in the financial sector including banking, auditing, and mortgage lending, she quickly realized that her education, expertise, and consulting background could help small businesses. She knew that having meaningful work driven by her values, purpose, and mission would lead her to a more fulfilling career. She is a business strategist who brings ideas from conception through completion as she designs cost-conscious solutions and initiates successful programs for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.


    Emi Reyes
    Chief Executive Officer | Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC)

    Meet Emi—a nonprofit executive, financial strategist, and force for good. As LEDC’s CEO, Emi brings more than a decade of strategic leadership experience, including five years at LEDC. With a passion for entrepreneurship and small business, Emi’s career has focused on transforming nonprofit and for-profit organizations by catalyzing change and fueling growth. Born to Salvadoran immigrants who operated a family-owned restaurant, Emi’s foray into the world of small business and entrepreneurship started at a young age. While pursuing her degree in political science at Bennington College in Vermont, Emi co-founded the college’s first student farm, trained women entrepreneurs in South Korea in business communications and English, and organized hundreds of volunteers as a campaign fellow for Obama for America. Emi played a pivotal role in Chipotle Mexican Grill’s expansion strategy across New York, Maryland, and Washington, DC, spearheading operations across eight locations while directing up to 56 employees and multiple budgets of up to $12M. Joining LEDC in 2017 as a Microfinance Lending Intern, Emi swiftly assumed positions of increasing responsibility, serving recently as Director of Operations & Risk Management and Chief of Operations, Risk & Investments. Strategizing with key leaders across the organization, Emi has steered funding and expansion initiatives while stewarding organizational assets and government funds with the utmost diligence. A champion for small businesses, Emi chairs the Entrepreneurial & Food Jobs Working Group for the Mayor’s Food Policy Council to support the growth of minority food businesses in low-income areas. She resides in Washington, DC.


    Babatunde Oloyede
    Executive Director | Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MHCDO)

    Babatunde serves as the President and CEO of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Inc. (MHCDO), a non-profit community-based organization that has undertaken economic development activities in Washington, DC, since 1979. MHCDO is one of the oldest and largest African-American community-based organizations in the District of Columbia. MHCDO has five components that comprise its economic development model: Health, Education, and Wellness, Small Business Development, Housing, Real Estate Development, and Workforce Development Training.
    Throughout his career, Babatunde has held various leadership positions within organizations providing both managerial skills and mentoring. His career has encompassed advising clients, streamlining operations, negotiating contracts, managing assets, real estate acquisitions, conducting due diligence, and developing strategic initiatives for both the private and public sectors. Prior to MHCDO, Babatunde developed, renovated, and managed single-family and multi-unit residential properties during his career. Many of his projects focused on revitalizing distressed commercial and residential properties. Through his projects, Babatunde has become well-versed in HUD housing standards and has acquired significant experience managing market-rate and HUD-subsidized units. In addition to his real estate and management experience, Babatunde assisted with the launch of Custom Cut Clothiers, a start-up that aggregated the world’s leading custom apparel manufacturers and combined them with a network of professional style consultants to offer made-to-measure and customized apparel at ready-to-wear price points.


    Community Change from the Bottom-Up

    It’s no secret that a bottom-up, inclusive approach to creating a comprehensive community development plan is the gold standard for galvanizing residents, engaging hard-to-reach populations, and upholding racial equity best practices. However, we’ve seen that a bottom-up approach is harder said than done. This session, led by Ward 8 Community Economic Development (W8CED) will discuss their process for creating a community development plan that reflects the needs and vision of community residents, on-the-ground stakeholders, and organizational partners.

    MODERATOR: Lamar Richards
    Director, Advocacy and Community Engagement | CNHED

    Lamar serves passionately as CNHED’s Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement. In this role, Lamar is responsible for coordinating all aspects of CNHED’s advocacy campaigns and engaging in community engagement initiatives. Lamar also coordinates CNHED’s collaborative efforts to engage national thought leaders and colleagues who are engaged in similar work, including affordable housing developers, small business technical assistance providers, workforce development providers, lenders, homelessness prevention and supportive services practitioners as well as tenant advocates, academic experts, and elected representatives.



    Mustafa Abdul-Salaam
    Managing Partner | Ward 8 Community Economic Development

    Mustafa Abdul-Salaam initiated and facilitated the Ward 8 Community Economic Development planning process and now serves as Senior Facilitator and governance group member for the Ward 8 Digital Collective. He is an experienced manager, planner, trainer, and coach possessing expertise in serving high-risk populations and creating partnerships between urban communities and the private/public sectors. He has more than 40 years of experience in urban youth, family, and community development, workforce development, strategic planning, and facilitation of public/private partnerships at the national, state, and local levels. His background includes for-profit and nonprofit management, program development/evaluation, financial and human resource management, organizational development, fund-raising, government and public relations.
    Previously, Abdul-Salaam was the Managing Partner at Community Economic Development Partners LLC for nearly 13 years. He served as ANC Ward 8C05 Commissioner in the District of Columbia from 2018 to 2022. Before that, he led the Ward 8 Senior Community Development Committee for three years, creating a vehicle for seniors in Ward 8 to participate and provide leadership in community development activities. He also provided technical assistance to the Ward 8 Workforce Development Council for four years.
    He holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Anthropology from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Science in Urban Management and Economic Development from Southern Connecticut State University.


    Ayana Bias
    Director of Community Advocacy & Volunteer Services| United Planning Organization (UPO)

    Ayana Bias born in raised in Southeast, Washington, DC is a dedicated advocate and the Director of CommunityAdvocacy & Volunteer Services at United Planning Organization (UPO). With over two decades of invaluable experience in community engagement, outreach, and advocacy. Ayana has been a driving force behind the organization’s outreach, engagement, and advocacy initiatives for more than 15 years.
    Ayana’s impactful work extends to the implementation of UPO’s Community Leadership Academy, a pioneering program designed to train, engage, empower, and mobilize community residents, fostering their active involvement in the community. She has played a pivotal role in the Ward 8 Community Economic Development movement, recognizing that residents are the bedrock and framework of any thriving community.
    Ayana’s passion lies in witnessing D.C. residents not only survive but thrive and evolve. She acknowledges that in order to manifest change it requires a thorough examination of existing policies and the creation of new legislation to foster an economical and sustainable society, with a focus on addressing the systemic issues contributing to poverty. Her vision for community development is rooted in the belief that residents are the foundation and structure upon which prosperous and resilient communities are built.
    Ayana was named one of the 2023 Social Impact Women to watch by Non-Profit HR. She holds a Master’s degree in Non-Profit Management and Organizational Development from Trinity University in Washington, D.C., a testament to her commitment to personal and professional growth.


    Nysheka Mack
    Founder | Fresh Start 4 U

    Nysheka Mack, a devoted mother of three residing in Ward 8, Washington, D.C., is a Community Engagement Specialist who passionately advocates for D.C. residents’ well-being. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in social work at Catholic University.
    In her role as a Community Engagement Specialist, Nysheka ensures active collaboration and participation in mental health services for D.C. residents. She also advocates for her client’s healthcare needs and medical coverage. With her compassionate approach, she provides wraparound resources and services that include household and personal hygiene. Nysheka also engages her clients in crisis management while identifying coping strategies. Nysheka’s multifaceted approach includes empowering individuals in developing their physical, economic, vocational, recreational, social, emotional, and daily life skills, ultimately striving to enhance their quality of life.
    Nysheka is a published author, having penned the inspiring book, (2023), Cool, Calm, Conquer, designed to empower young boys to overcome challenges and cultivate self-confidence.
    Nysheka is also the visionary founder of Fresh Start 4 U ‘Life Renovation Services”, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for women and children who have experienced trauma in their lives. She is a Certified Life Coach. Her unwavering commitment to this cause stems from her personal journey of overcoming adversity. Her mission is to break the chains of these traumas offering women and children a path to wholeness and success.


    Racial Equity and Healthy Housing

    The relationship between poor housing conditions and health problems, such as asthma and lead poisoning, is well-documented.  Any home can have problems with mold, lead, or pests, but houses in uninvested neighborhoods are far more likely to have chronic issues. In the District of Columbia, race, income, and neighborhood too often predict poor housing conditions that can lead to serious health problems. Creating healthier housing will promote the health of all DC residents, especially children, and could save billions in health care costs. This panel will discuss racial equity in healthy housing and highlight efforts to improve housing conditions in the District through data analysis and mapping, advocacy, programs and policy change.


    MODERATOR: Abby Charles
    Program Director | Institute for Public Health Innovation

    Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Abby Charles, MPH joined The Well Project Board of Directors in the Spring of 2012. She presently works as a Program Manager at the Institute for Public Health Innovation, the Public Health Institute for DC, MD and VA. Ms. Charles joined the Institute after serving for five years at The Women’s Collective, a nationally-recognized organization providing care, prevention, and advocacy services for women, girls and their families living with and at risk for HIV in the Metropolitan DC area. Leveraging her knowledge and experience in sexual health and HIV, Ms. Charles provides leadership and coordination for two programs in DC and Northern Virginia that aim to increase the participation of people living with HIV/AIDS in medical care using a network of peer Community Health Workers and by increasing connectedness among clinical and non-clinical service providers. In this role, she has been an advocate for including peers as integral members of the interdisciplinary care team and as essential members of the health system in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
    Ms. Charles is involved in various community HIV coalitions and community advisory boards (CABs)including the DC Community Coalition, the DC D–Center for AIDS Research CAB, and the GW University HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) CAB. Ms. Charles also volunteers on the Board of Directors for The Women’s Collective and the Alumnae Association of her High School Alma Mater, Bishop Anstey High School, as well as serves as the language arts coordinator at the Cultural Academy for Excellence.
    A dancer and performing artist, Ms. Charles performs with the Taurus Broadhurst Dance Company as well as with other dance and theater companies. In the fall of 2012, Ms. Charles will be featured as a monthly host of CaribNation Television a Caribbean based television show that airs in the DC region as well as in 19 islands of the Caribbean.
    An alumnus of George Washington University, Ms. Charles earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Health in Global Health. In 2006 Ms. Charles was awarded the George Washington University Martin Luther King Junior Award for Service and was honored with an Impact award from the GW Black Alumni Association. Ms. Charles is also an inductee of the George Washington University Wall of Fame.

    Aluveller Perkins
    Community Engagement Advocate

    Aluveller “Velle” Perkins Velle Perkins is a lifelong resident of Washington, D.C. For the past 18 years, she has continued to grow in her role as an administrative assistant at The Catholic University of America, where she also volunteers for the campus ministry.  Previously, Perkins held administrative positions at businesses throughout the D.C. area. Knowing firsthand the daily challenges of trying to make ends meet, Perkins is a fierce advocate for people struggling against hunger and poverty. Her tireless advocacy led to an important SNAP policy change for D.C. residents who are working, but still struggling to put food on the table. Perkins had applied for SNAP but was not eligible because her income was slightly too high. Because of her mother’s wisdom “A closed mouth don’t get fed,” Perkins called D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, and lent her voice to successfully advocate for the D.C. Council to pass “Categorical Eligibility, which increased the SNAP gross income test, allowing her and others to apply for SNAP and access vital nutrition assistance.
    In 2013, Perkins was recognized for her many contributions to her community with The President of the United States Volunteer Service Award. That same year, she also was awarded a Community Preservation and Development Corporation Certificate of Appreciation Volunteer Service, which she also had received the year prior.
    Her public speaking engagements include the Ward 3 Housing Town Hall where she advocated for affordable housing, Martha’s Table 30th anniversary, and a press conference in support of the DC Food Stamp Extension Act.
    Perkins says her greatest accomplishments are her four sons: Anthony, Alexander, Amir, Aaron, and her two grandchildren.


    Nikita Kachroo
    Clinical Manager, IMPACT DC | Children’s National Medical Center

    Nikita Kachroo, Clinical Manager at the IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic, Children’s National Hospital, is a dedicated advocate committed to advancing racial equity and healthy housing in Washington, D.C.
    Over the past four years, she pioneered a novel virtual asthma home visiting program and led the development of an innovative healthy housing map that blends pediatric asthma data with housing code violations, empowering communities for informed and systemic change. As the leader of IMPACT DC’s population health portfolio, Nikita continues to drive collaborations aimed at enhancing the availability of green, affordable, and healthy housing in the nation’s capital.



    Makenna Osborn
    Policy Attorney | Children’s Law Center

    Makenna Osborn is a policy attorney at Children’s Law Center. Together with DC children and families, the Children’s Law Center uses the law to solve children’s urgent problems today, improve the systems that will affect their lives tomorrow and strengthen our community so that change endures. Informed by the experiences of Children’s Law Center’s clients, Makenna advocates for District-wide housing policies that ensure all DC children have access to safe, healthy, and stable housing.
    Makenna is a graduate of Colgate University and Georgetown University Law Center.



    Janet Phoenix, MD, MPH
    Chairperson | DC Asthma Coalition

    Janet Phoenix, M.D., M.P.H, MS. is an Assistant Research Professor in the Departments of Health Policy and Management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, DC.  She chairs the DC Asthma Coalition and serves on the Executive Committee for the DC Healthy Housing Collaborative. She is a physician by training who has managed research, risk communication, and health prevention and promotion programs for many organizations. Dr. Phoenix is the Founder and Manager of the Asthma Home Visiting Program for Children’s National. Dr. Phoenix conducts research in children’s environmental health, with an emphasis on community-based participatory methods such as health impact analysis. She is the Principal Investigator for a study exploring allergen exposure for children living in public housing in the District of Columbia.
    She received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Colorado in Denver and her M.D. from Howard University. Dr. Phoenix also completed a Masters of Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. Prior to coming to George Washington University, Dr. Phoenix served on two federal advisory committees, the CDC Lead Poisoning Advisory Committee and the EPA Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee. She currently serves on the Board of the Healthy Schools Network.







Program subject to change.

Thank you to our Champion and Leader Sponsors

Thank you to our Builder and Partner Sponsors

Bundle and Save!

Register for both CNHED’s Equitable Communities Conference and Community of Leaders Reception for a special discounted price!


This event is fully booked.

If purchasing tickets, you will be redirected to our secure payment portal.

Become a member of CNHED today

and join the fight for a District where all residents can live in thriving communities that are racially, economically and socially just!

Become a Member

Stay in touch with CNHED news & events by subscribing to our free e-newsletter.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.