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Join us on Wednesday, October 5th for our 2022 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.

For the past several years, local organizations, government entities, advocacy groups, and even philanthropy have made deliberate steps toward increasing community voice and perspective in their policies and programming. CNHED’s Equitable Communities Conference will focus on uplifting effective approaches to engaging the communities as well as bringing allies and organizations together to workshop new models for integrating community perspectives and voices.

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October 05, 2022
8:00 am - 7:30 pm

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center


Following the Equitable Communities Conference, please join us for our Community of Leaders Reception as we celebrate the local leaders, government officials, community development organizations, and small businesses who are actively working toward including resident and community voices in their programming, policies, and decision-making.

The Community of Leaders Reception will platform how we can continue to build a more inclusive and equitable future through community economic development and celebrate the industry’s accomplishments thus far. During the celebration, we will also announce the Bob Pohlman Lifetime Achievement Award Winner.

The reception is included in your conference registration. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be provided.

Conference Agenda & Speakers

  • 9:00am - 9:30am | Keynote: Barbara Talley

    Barbara Talley

    Poet and Race Unity Expert

    Barbara Talley is a motivational speaker, poet, and professional trainer who specializes in appreciative inquiry, diversity, leadership, resilience, the neuroscience of change, and effective Communication. Barbara is a mother of six and is the author of six books and resides in the Washington, DC area, where she hosts monthly gatherings to promote race amity in the United States.

  • 9:30am - 10:15am | Staying in DC: What We Have and What We Need

    Staying in DC: What We Have and What We Need

    From lack of affordable housing, rising rent costs, and homeownership challenges to business retention struggles, scarce small business financing options, and a saturated procurement landscape; what District residents and business owners want to know is: How can I stay in DC? This panel will talk about the challenges, proposed solutions, what supports currently exist to help, and how community engagement ties into the work.


    John Falcicchio
    Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

    John Falcicchio serves as the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development in the District of Columbia. As Deputy Mayor, Mr. Falcicchio is responsible for the District’s economic development strategy. He oversees several aligned agencies in DC government and manages the City’s portfolio of real estate development projects, including the transformative developments at the St Elizabeth’s East Campus, the Parks at Walter Reed, and Hill East, as well as dozens of other projects across all eight Wards. These projects drive economic development in communities that deliver affordable housing, jobs, and amenities to residents.



    Susanne Slater
    President & CEO | Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC

    Susanne has over 25 years of experience in government, academia, and the nonprofit sector. As Associate Dean for Executive Programs at the University of Maryland, College Park, she created an award-winning program for employees of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with over 2,000 employees completing a four-course certificate program in low- and moderate-income housing development.


    Harold Pettigrew
    CEO | Wacif

    As Wacif’s CEO, Harold leads one of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s leading Community Development Financial Institution’s (CDFI) focused on access to capital products and services, and capacity-building technical assistance to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs of color.

    Harold has spent his career in economic development, with nearly 20 years of experience in small business development, venture capital investing, transportation and transit, workforce development, and public sector management. Prior to joining Wacif, Harold was the Director of Entrepreneurship at Prosperity Now, where he led the organization’s national efforts to advance policies and programs that increase business success for low-and moderate-income microbusiness owners throughout the United States. In addition, Harold has served as an advisor to the World Bank on the private sector, small business development, and business licensing strategies in Somaliland and greater Somalia, and served as an advisor to National League of Cities advising cities across the country on equitable development strategies.


    Raymond Guthrie
    Chief Investment Officer and Head of Capital Deployment | Capital Impact Partners

    Raymond Guthrie is responsible for overseeing the teams that provide a continuum of solutions that MomentusCapital offers to communities including financial, knowledge, and social capital. This includes teams focusing on community development real estate lending; SBA 504 real estate lending; SBA small business lending; equitable alternative credit products; equity investments; capacity building programs, and business advising services. Raymond was previously the Managing Director of the American Heart Association’s Impact Investment Group focused on investing in social enterprises addressing social determinants of health within communities of color. During his time at the AHA, he co-created the first-of-its-kind ESG Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) with New York Life Investment Management, which is currently traded on the NYSE. Prior to that, he was a Senior Partner at a $200M international impact investment fund in London. His career has also included positions at the Skoll Foundation and Calvert Investments, as well as serving as a U.S. diplomat in emerging economies across Africa and Asia. Raymond earned his BBA in Economics and Business Law at the University of Miami, and his Juris Doctor at Howard University.

  • 10:30am - 11:45am | Concurrent Breakouts

    Trauma-Informed Engagement

    Residents in marginalized communities live with the daily stressors of violence and concentrated poverty, which stem from historic and structural conditions of racism, disenfranchisement, and isolation. Part of this trauma is the result of an extensive history of broken promises made by those intervening in marginalized communities. It is essential for community-building and engagement efforts to be realistic and transparent about new opportunities and to be truthful about what they are offering.


    Babatunde Oyolede
    President and CEO | Marshall Heights Community Development Organization

    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.


    Sharon Wise
    Mental Health Advocate

    Sharon Wisecalls herself a “Surviving Spirit” and is a dynamic motivational speaker, National, and International Artist, and Award-winning filmmaker who shares her journey with the world. Her life trials have led to major triumphs through her advocacy, community leadership, and humanitarian work as she assists in shaping policies, changing laws, and being an example of are-purposed life. Sharon’s outreach to the unhoused is her crown jewel because she believes it reflects herself and a life she has overcome. As a Trauma Expert, she has consulted with public and private government, national hospital systems, law enforcement, and the Women’s Trade Mission in England. She operated the first drop-incenter for persons with lived experience in the district. Sharon holds a master’s degree in human services with a major in Psychology and is a Certified Whole Health, Peer Specialist, and WRAP facilitator.



    Veronica Wright
    Chief Program Officer, Workforce Development | So Others Might Eat (SOME)

    Veronica Wright, Chief Program Officer of Workforce at So Others Might Eat Center for Employment Training, has worked in workforce development for almost 10 years. She joined So Others Might Eat Center for Employment Training as an educator delivering Instruction and managing data for CET’s portfolio of grants before becoming the Chief Program Officer. In her role as CPO, she sets the strategic vision for SOME CET, ensuring that our spectrum of workforce development solutions meet the needs of District residents with high barriers to employment. As a native Washington, Veronica brings a passion for her community that is evident in her work. Prior to working in workforce development, Veronica spent 8 years in the US Navy and thirteen years in the financial industry at Navy Federal Credit Union. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Connecticut State University and her Master’s in Business Administration University of Maryland University College.






    Community Stories: Affordable Housing

    Tune in as local residents share their experiences with navigating housing insecurity and affordable housing programs in DC. What are the tools, resources and support residents are looking for in order to become more civically engaged and leaders in their communities?


    Robert Cooke
    CNHED Resident Leader | MANNA Board Member






    Venus Little
    CNHED Resident Leader | CNHED Board Member





    Juanita Haynes
    CNHED Resident Leader







    Taha Shabazz
    CNHED Resident Leader






    The Main Street Approach

    DC Main Streets is a comprehensive program funded by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) that promotes the revitalization of commercial districts in DC. Join us for a panel discussion on how these local groups (there are 28 Main Streets in DC!) leverage community engagement and other strategies to engage neighborhoods and help cultivate a vibrant small business ecosystem.


    Edwin Washington
    Executive Director | The Parks Main Street

    Edwin has been the founding Executive Director of The Parks Main Street since February 2019. His career has included leadership roles in; entertainment, energy, and education -nonprofit leadership roles in; youth development, international relations, and fundraising –government leadership roles in; job creation and internal affairs. Prior to joining The ParksMainStreet, Edwin volunteered as a church Administrative Officer and Financial Secretary with Walker Memorial Baptist Church and scratched his entrepreneurial itch by providing business development and fundraising consulting through his Washington Worldwide firm.



    Latisha Atkins
    Pennsylvania Avenue East Main Street Director | Marshall Heights Community Development Organization

    Latisha currently serves as the Director of the Pennsylvania Avenue East Main Street (PAEMS). She has served in this capacity since November 2020. In her current capacity, Latisha works to revitalize retail, empower surrounding communities, and develop businesses along the Pennsylvania Avenue SE corridor. She is responsible for the implementation of the Main Street revitalization program, following the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point approach, and manages the operational aspects of the program by supporting fundraising efforts and building consensus and cooperation among the volunteers, businesses, residents, and organizations that all play roles in the Ward 7 community.



    Gabriela Mossi
    Executive Director | Uptown Main Street

    Gabriela’s professional background includes both local and international economic development and neighborhood revitalization work with nonprofits, local governments, multilateral organizations, and university think tanks. She has focused on cooperative governmental-nonprofit projects; education and outreach to immigrant communities; and assistance to minority-owned businesses. Before focusing on neighborhood revitalization in the DC area, she worked on international development programs at the Kellogg Institute at Notre Dame, the University of Maryland, The World Bank, and UnidosUS. She started her local engagement with Adams Morgan Main Street, one of the first DC Main Street programs. More recently she ran a workforce preparation school for adult immigrants and conducted independent consulting. Her community work includes serving as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Ward One and sitting on the boards of DC organizations focusing on poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship, housing, and voter participation including UPO, LEDC, and the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority. She’s a proud Hoya. After receiving her BSFS at Georgetown University, she completed graduate studies in international development and cooperation at the Institute of Social Studies -The Hague and Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Gabriela is currently leading Uptown Community Initiative, a DC-based nonprofit addressing commercial revitalization and managing two nationally accredited Main Street America programs.

    Bobby Boone
    Founder & Chief Strategist| &Access

    With nearly a decade of experience immersed in retail real estate, Bobby is impassioned about empowering engaged tenants, developers, and cities to create community-serving retail. He ensures the viability and sustainability of retail environments with tailored solutions that draw on his market analysis, planning, and strategic merchandising expertise.

    Prior to founding &Access, Bobby led a citywide effort to attract and maintain small businesses in Detroit and tackled wide-ranging retail challenges as a senior strategist at Streetsense—from repositioning Fortune 500 brands and malls of yesteryear to crafting expansion strategies for emerging brands and commercial corridors.

    Bobby shares his love of retail with others as a University of Maryland and Harvard University lecturer and speaker at conferences across the nation. He received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Florida A&M University and a Master of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati. He holds certifications from the American Institute of Certified Planners and LEED-Neighborhood Development.


    Virginia-Marie Roure
    Grants Management Specialist, Commercial Revitalization | DC Department of Small and Local Business Development

    Virginia-Marie Roure has worked in economic development both internationally and domestically for 10 years. Through working directly with small and micro-businesses and as a former manager of small businesses, she has seen how both individual and community resilience is predicated on cultivating and maintaining relationships, connecting with all members of the community, and equitable access to resources. At the Department of Small and Local Business Development, she works with the DC Main Streets program, collaborating with local community non-profit partners in providing hyper-local support to business owners, community place-making, and community development.

  • 12:00pm - 1:30pm | Lunch

    Please join us for a seated lunch as we enjoy some yummy food and announce some very exciting new initiatives.

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

    Connecting Capital and Community: Reclaiming 2-4 unit Buildings

    2-4 building units are getting left behind in the TOPA process and it’s time to leverage them for community change. Come hear and participate in the discussion on ways in which this change can happen.
    1. What would neighborhoods look like with 2-4 unit buildings being preserved?
    2. What needs to change in the 2-4 unit TOPA process to better serve residents?
    3. Are 2-4 units a way to build assets for residents and not just investors?


    Evelyn Kasongo
    Director, Connecting Capital and Community | CNHED

    Ms. Kasongo joined CNHED in January 2022 as the Director for Connecting Capital and Community. She works with the Center for Community Investment (CCI) 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 degree in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia. Evelyn 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.



    Cali Slepin
    Lending Initiatives Manager | National Housing Trust

    Cali is the Lending Initiatives Manager at National Housing Trust, focusing on small building preservation initiatives and Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) lending in the District. Prior to working at NHT, Cali was a Senior Associate for the Urban Land Institute’s Advisory Services Program. In this role, Cali managed week long study trips that provided technical assistance for communities facing unique land use challenges across the United States. She holds a Master’s in City Planning from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor’s in Africana Studies and Anthropology from Oberlin College.



    Thomas Houston
    Executive Director | Medici Road

    Thomas is the Executive Director at Medici Road and in this role leads all efforts to connect the dots between education, housing, economic development, and public health. He is a tri-sector athlete with 15+ years of consumer behavior, innovation, policy, and racial equity experience. Prior to Thomas’s transition to the public sector, he worked as a brand manager for Fortune 100 companies where he used data to determine consumer needs. 

    He currently is leading several pilots to embed equity during the ideation process of affordable housing and urban planning policy and programs. His chosen techniques are designing equity curriculum, facilitating DEIA workshops, and disseminating findings visually through infographics and presentations. Thomas holds a BBA from Howard University and an MBA from The Pennsylvania State University. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, a three-year-old future systems designer, and a five-year-old future architect.


    Ramon Jacobson
    Executive Director | LISC-DC

    Ramon Jacobson joined LISC in 1998 and now serves as Executive Director. He manages LISC’s portfolio in the District of Columbia, and oversees all aspects of community development lending, including underwriting, structuring, loan closing, inspections, disbursements and repayment. Despite DC’s small population, DC LISC has been among the top investment sites of the 31 local programs across the nation. He has managed more than $250 million in CDFI investments – loans, grants, and tax credit equity – in every neighborhood in the District of Columbia. These investments in affordable homeownership, rental housing, commercial and retail properties, as well as community facilities helped to transform desperately poor neighborhoods, while preserving economic diversity in other neighborhoods undergoing broad gentrification.

    Ramon began his career working in the notorious New York City shelter system of the 1980’s, developing programs to get single adults off the streets in the midst of a deadly cold snap. He helped consultants do the groundwork for the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and worked with CSH in the Twin Cities. He also has worked as a consultant and researcher to health foundations where he studied preventable hospitalizations and the impact of primary care. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.





    Prioritizing Equity and Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs of Color

    Join us for an in-depth discussion surrounding the challenges (and solutions!) of meeting the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs.


    Daniel Okonkwo, Esq. (Moderator)
    East Region Executive of Global Philanthropy | JPMorgan Chase

    R. Daniel Okonkwo, Esq. is an attorney and public policy expert with significant experience in the policy, advocacy, the nonprofit sectors. Daniel currently serves as East Region Executive for the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. In this role, Daniel is responsible for strategic guidance for a team of Foundation Program Officers and managing the Foundation’s market-based investments on the East Coast. Prior to this role, Daniel was a Vice President (Relationship Manager) in the Community Engagement where he was responsible for building relationships with key stakeholders, grantmaking in the Mid-Atlantic region, and managing a national grant portfolio, focused on nonprofit capacity building and civil rights organizations.



    Omar A. Velasco
    Chief of Small Business Services and Lending | Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC)

     Omar is a nonprofit executive with over 12 years of experience in business development and entrepreneurship. As LEDC’s Chief of Small Business Services & Lending, Omar oversees a team of 30+ professionals providing small business development services to over 1300 clients annually across five offices servicing 42 counties in the DMV area and Puerto Rico. As a business advisor, he has provided business consultancy and technical assistance to more than 200 entrepreneurs and business owners. His main areas of expertise are financial analysis, business modeling, and process optimization. Throughout his career at LEDC, he has designed and managed several small business development initiatives, including women-focused programs, storefront improvement projects, industry-focused incubators, business accelerators, credit-building programs, and small business lending programs. Omar is an Industrial Engineer with a master’s in process optimization and a certified auditor (ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OSHAS 18001).


    Dr. Shauna Yeldell
    Chief Lending Officer | Wacif

    Shauna has more than twenty-five years of banking and finance experience with multinational institutions such as Bank of America and regional institutions such as Fulton Bank. Her experience includes the management of portfolios exceeding $100 Million including commercial and industrial entities, municipalities, real estate development entities, community development organizations, public-private partnerships. Shauna has served on numerous non-profit boards of directors and advisory committees. She is a long-term Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow. Throughout her career, Shauna has maintained an affinity for developing sustainable communities through the economic development of underserved populations. Shauna is a Doctorate of Business Administration graduate from Temple University where she currently serves as an adjunct professor within the Fox Management Consulting Group. She enjoys yoga, golf, biking, performing arts, and traveling.



    Caleb Spencer
    Junior Loan Officer | CityFirst Enterprises

    As Junior Loan Officer, Caleb is responsible for reviewing financial data, assessing credit risk, and structuring transactions. Additionally, he provides financial and credit analysis, and contributes to business development efforts.  Prior to joining CFE, Caleb spent time serving in various roles at a number of nonprofit and community development organizations. Within these roles, he provided direct services, program management, and independent research relevant to community development and affordable housing efforts. Caleb holds a master’s in social work from the University of Georgia, as well as a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership.



    Lauren Counts
    Sr. Director of Strategy, Innovation and Impact Management | Capital Impact/Momentus Capital

    Ms. Counts is Sr. Director, Head of National Programs at Capital Impact Partners, a national Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), part of the Momentus Capital family of organizations, which bring over 80 years of combined experience, a national presence with local offices and strategies, and nearly $3 billion total portfolio under management.   Over the past 25+ years, Ms. Counts has worked with commercial banks, CDFIs, investment funds, philanthropy and government agencies to expand access to finance globally.  At Capital Impact, Ms. Counts leads a team of experts managing multi-year programs across the country to drive innovation and equitable economic development in affordable housing, small business, health, inclusive food systems and cooperatives.


    Evette Banfield
    Vice President of Economic Development Policy and Wealth Building Strategies | 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.



    Policy Meets Practice: Local Government and Community Engagement

    Local governments are in contact with people in the most direct way. They receive demands, claims, and complaints from residents while developing and enacting policies that directly affect lives. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted their critical role in addressing the political and social challenges of the pandemic. Tune in to our panel of local government officials to learn more about how the District approaches community engagement.


    Karima Woods
    Commissioner | Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB)

    In her role, Commissioner Woods serves as the chief financial services regulator for the District’s financial services industries, including insurance companies, captive insurance companies, investment advisors, securities broker dealers, mortgage loan originators, mortgage lenders and brokers, state-chartered banks, student loan servicers and money transmitters. Woods has over 20 years of experience in community and economic development with a focus on providing strategic leadership, organizational development, stakeholder engagement and global outreach to businesses and community organizations.




    Ben Mindes
    Director of Interagency Initiatives | Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)

    Ben Mindes is the Director of Interagency Initiatives at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). In his role, he leads, coordinates and oversees a variety of economic equity and strategy projects at DMPED. He currently oversees the Strong Families, Strong Futures direct cash transfer program implemented by Martha’s Table and the District’s disparity study. In addition, he is the DMPED lead for the Upward Mobility Project and co-leads the development of the District’s five-year economic development strategy (2023-2027) to be completed by the end of 2022. Prior to his time at DMPED, Ben served at the Mayor’s Office of Policy following a career in international democracy development. Ben is a native Washingtonian living in Ward 2 with his wife Megan and dog, Ruby.


    Dr. Amber Hewitt
    Chief Equity Officer | Office of Racial Equity (ORE)

    Dr. Amber A. Hewitt, is the Chief Equity Officer for the Government of the District of Columbia. In this role, she works in collaboration with District leadership and agencies to apply a racial equity lens across government operations. In 2018, she was appointed by Mayor Bowser to the Commission on Fathers, Men, and Boys. Amber was the Director of Health Equity at Families USA, a national, nonpartisan consumer health advocacy organization. She also previously worked as a health care lobbyist for an integrated, children’s health system. Amber’s background also includes serving as an American Psychological Association/ American Association for the Advancement of Science health policy fellow in the Office of U.S. Senator Cory Booker.



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

    Resident Services: The Foundation of Housing and Engagement

    Quality, affordable housing is a foundational social determinant of health and can serve as a platform to increase access to opportunity and promote the independence and dignity of residents. In order to realize the full benefits of housing as a platform to create healthier and more equitable communities, housing and services must be connected in a way that not only provides resources to residents, but also recognizes and supports the agency of residents and gives them a real voice and shared power in shaping the design, culture, and the operations of their community. A systematic and strategic approach to resident services coordination is a critical tool for making such a connection.

    The Resident Services panel brings together experts from affordable housing organizations with deep commitment and initiatives related to resident services to discuss the impact that resident services have in the community and how resident service programs prepare tenants to engage more meaningfully both civically and economically.


    Miya Gaskins
    Director of Resident Services | Jubilee Housing


    Miya Gaskins is the Director of Resident Services for Jubilee Housing in Washington, DC. All of her professional experience has been in various levels of leadership in the non-profit sector serving diverse at-risk populations. Prior to her position with Jubilee Housing, she was the Operational Development Director with an organization that provided Medicaid-funded mental health case management across four counties in Maryland. She holds Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social work and holds a Master’s degree from McDaniel College in Counselor Education with a focus on Community Mental Health. Her background as a former Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor helps inform her current work with a trauma-informed, strengths-based lens in her approach to creating supportive programming to the residents of Jubilee Housing. Miya likes to believe her first training ground in management came as the oldest sister to 13 siblings.

    Rachel Nicholas
    EVP, Chief Housing Officer | So Others Might Eat (SOME)

    Rachel Nicholas has worked with homeless and vulnerable families for nearly 20 years, in both a direct service and managerial capacity. She has extensive experience with family strengthening, parenting skills, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence and homelessness. She joined SOME in 2008. Prior to becoming Chief Program Officer, Rachel served as a Program Manager and Director of Family Services. She serves on the Resident Services Committee at the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Lafayette College and has finished all coursework towards a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health.



    Phil Hecht
    President & CEO | Housing Up

    Philip H. Hecht, President & Chief Executive Officer, has worked to address family homelessness in the District of Columbia for more than 25 years. In the late 1980s, he helped form the partnership of Christ Lutheran Church, Community Family Life Services, and Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington that became Housing Up (formerly THC). Phil was a member of Housing Up’s board of directors for its first 25 years, serving as President from 2000 to 2003. He served in the same capacity for Housing Up Development (formerly THC Affordable Housing). Phil received Housing Up’s 15th Anniversary Appreciation Award in 2005 and the Carla B. Howery Service Award in 2015. Phil was a partner in several Washington, DC law firms for 23 years, and chaired K&L Gates LLP’s pro bono legal program for 10 years. He also served on the board of directors and as President of CFLS, and has served two terms as Council President of Housing Up’s founding member Christ Lutheran Church. He has lived in the District of Columbia since 1980, mostly in Ward 4. Phil earned a B.A. from Amherst College, an M.A. from Oxford University, and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School.


    Lauren Taylor
    Affordable Housing Preservation Program Manager | LEDC

    Lauren Taylor (LT) joined LEDC in May 2020 as a bilingual tenant organizer and currently works as the Affordable Housing Preservation Program Manager in DC. In this role, they support an incredible team in organizing DC tenants to defend their rights, improve conditions and decide what happens to their building when it is for sale. LEDC’s tenant organizers use grassroots organizing, popular education, and advocacy to preserve affordable housing, prevent displacement, and fight for safe, affordable, and dignified housing for all. Originally from Indianapolis, LT studied history and political science at Indiana University, Bloomington. They bring over ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including harm reduction, reentry support and advocacy, gender violence prevention, and survivor support. Prior to joining LEDC, most of their organizing experience has been part of movements working to dismantle mass incarceration and immigrant detention and deportation.


    Personal Engagement: Meeting People Where They Are

    How to create safe learning spaces for adults to organize, raise awareness, create collective solutions, heal, and have tools, language, and training to better advocate for themselves, families, and communities.


    Charlyn Anderson
    Founder & CEO | Starting with Today

    Charlyn Anderson is the founder and executive director of Starting With Today, Inc.(SWT), a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization in the Washington, D.C. area that promotes Black wellbeing and liberation. In May 2018, SWT launched The Shape Up: The Barbershop Talk Series which provides free group therapy and wellness sessions led by and designed for Black men in Washington, D.C. Since launching, The Shape Up has partnered with John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, The Funk Parade, and has been featured on WUSA9. As a response to its success, in June 2020, Starting With Today launched#MyHairAppt- a space for Black women to define, explore, and cultivate their own wellbeing. Charlyn uses her expertise in employee development and engagement, program management, and community development in the nonprofit, local government, and corporate sectors to create lasting impacts within our communities. As a trustee for the Awesome Foundation’s D.C. Chapter and a mentor for the U.S. DreamAcademy, she believes in honoring and elevating her communities in dope, fun, and authentic ways. A community advocate, womanist, and social entrepreneur, Charlyn can often be found playing outside with her friends.

    Aaron Warren

    Aaron Warren is a licensed barber born and raised in Washington, D.C. With over18 years of experience, 

    Aaron uses his chair to help transform the lives of his community by not only serving his clients but also for people without housing and reentry community members. 

    Aaron is the son of Dr. Lee, the owner of the famous Lee’s Barber Shop in Southeast DC, who both use the barbershop as a community hub for conversation and education. So, it was a natural fit for Lee’s Barber Shop to be the first home of Starting with Today’s THE SHAPE UP: The Barbershop Talks Series that provides group mental health sessions designed for Black men. In THE SHAPE UP, Aaron uses his life experiences, his University of Maryland at Eastern Shore education, and his love for people to empower the community around him.


    Shinar Little
    CEO | Foghill, Inc.

    Shinar is the Chief Executive Officer of FogHill, Inc a commercial facilities maintenance firm headquartered in Washington, DC. He is a native of Washington, DC, and was educated in business at American University. He also completed a graduate certificate in Executive Leadership Management at Duke University. Shinar has over 16+ years of experience in professional staffing and workforce training and development. FogHill has granted him the opportunity to successfully train a skilled workforce of over 130 unemployed residents, and residents residing within disenfranchised communities of the District, allowing them access to living wages and marketable skill sets. Shinarensures FogHill meets its internal and external Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which include customer discovery, fiscal projections, and performance.


    Kayla Crosby
    Project Manager | Foghill, Inc






    Jason Thomas
    Quality Control Supervisor | Foghill, Inc.






    DC Community Anchor Partnership

    Hospitals, universities, and utility companies purchase billions of dollars worth of goods and services annually. The DC Community Anchor Partnership (DCAP) is a consortium of 11 of these institutions that are rethinking how they use their purchasing power to drive community wealth and create more equitable economic opportunities for historically excluded business owners. In this workshop, our panelists will discuss the role DC’s anchor institutions play in community development, how community outreach can create more equitable access to contracts, and how DCAP stakeholders measure success in the near and long term.


    Chris Murphy
    Vice President of Government Relations and Community Engagement | Georgetown University

    Christopher Murphy serves as Vice President of Government Relations and Community Engagement at Georgetown University where he manages the university’s strategic relationships with the Federal and district governments, community organizations and leaders, and the Georgetown neighborhood. Through this work, he seeks to advance the university’s long-term sustainability, promote the common good, and enrich students’ educational experiences. From 2011-2014 Murphy served as Chief of Staff to former Washington, DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray. In this capacity, he managed the Executive Office of the Mayor to advance Mayor Gray’s highest priorities: growing and diversifying the District economy to create jobs and expand revenue, educating our children and preparing our workforce for the new economy, and improving the quality of life for all District residents.



    Sylvester Bush
    Owner | MGS Group, Inc.

    Sylvester Bush, the owner of the MGS Group Inc. of Washington, DC. is a Vietnam-era veteran who graduated from Howard University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He retired from the federal government after 34 years of service, the last twenty-eight spent as an IT Project Manager. As President of The MGS Group, Inc., he opens the line of communication between clients, customers, and businesses to get projects done. With over 30 years in both the public and private sectors, Sylvester has experience in management consulting, professional development, strategic implementation, and company collaboration. Sylvester manages the business to establish long-term strategic relationships to supply essential products(Technology, Office Furniture, Office Supplies, Medical & Lab Supplies, Ink & Toner, Janitorial & Sanitation, Food Services, and Industrial products) while providing quality services at affordable prices for clients. He creates efficiencies to generate and maximize revenue.


    Phil Berkaw
    Senior Director, DCAP | CNHED

    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.


    Delores Johnson-Cooper
    Consultant | JCCI Consulting

    Delores Johnson-Cooper is owner/CEO of Johnson Cooper Consulting Inc. (JCCI) a Strategic Sourcing and Management Consulting Company focused on government and business supply chain strategies, including minority and diverse business growth. A former Verizon Executive, Delores held numerous leadership positions in both Domestic and International Marketing, as well as Enterprise Procurement. She led Global Supplier Diversity, Procurement Operations andQuality. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and The Links, Incorporated. Delores is also, a Board Member of the First Tee Program of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and former Vice President of the Caldwell Fellows Alumni Association of North Carolina State University. Delores enjoys reading and golf.


  • 5:00pm - 6:00pm | Funtivity Hour

    As you wait for the Community of Leaders Reception to begin, stick with us for an offering of fun activities during our Funtivity Hour!

    All FREE Activities Include:


    About Faces Entertainment

    About Faces has been providing entertainment at events since 1989. Mike Hasson, the founder and owner, started the company drawing caricatures.



    Professional Headshots

     Lateef Magnum Photography

    Audiovisual Producer, Photographer, Photo Archivist



    Massage Chairs

    Spa Flow’s specialties are mobile in-home massage, on-site chair massage, and yoga services.






  • 6:00pm - 7:30pm | Community of Leaders Reception

    The Community of Leaders Reception will platform how we can continue to build a more inclusive and equitable future through community economic development and celebrate the industry’s accomplishments thus far. During the celebration, we will also announce the Bob Pohlman Lifetime Achievement Award Winner.

    The reception is included in your conference registration. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be provided.


Bookings are closed for this event.

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

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