Speaker Bios

April 20th, 2024
Tangeman University Center

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Mayor Aftab Pureval
Aftab Pureval is the 70th Mayor of Cincinnati. He was raised in Southwest, Ohio, the son of first-generation Americans. He is making history as Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor. As Mayor, he is committed to serving Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods. He has made equitable economic growth a top priority of his administration, as well as a comprehensive reform and improvement of public safety, affordable housing, and environmental action. He served as Hamilton County Clerk of Courts from 2016 to 2021 and was the first Democrat to hold this office in over 100 years. Mayor Aftab graduated from The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati for law school. He resides in Clifton with his wife, Whitney, and their sons, Bodhi and Rami

Christie Kuhns, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
Christie Kuhns is currently the President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, with a mission to help Black people and historically underserved communities achieve their highest true social parity, economic self-reliance, power, civil rights, and justice. Christie is a dynamic, deeply engaged, passionate and trusted corporate and community leader, and has received recognition of her leadership and community work with numerous awards. Christie began her career in leadership at a small not-for-profit organization. In 2015, Christie was elected as an Ohio State Representative in the 131st General Assembly, 32nd District. She then gained experience in the healthcare sector at UC Health, as VP of Operations and Community Relations, and Chief of Staff to the COO. All while volunteering in the community, including 16 years in the Avondale Community. She possesses an impressive record of volunteer engagement, including being an inaugural member of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Cincinnati Reds Diversity Advisory Board, the Ohio Poverty Law Center Board of Directors, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, the Library Foundation of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, the YWCA Board of Directors, Vice Chair and the Board of Bethesda, Inc.

City Manager Sheryl Long
Sheryl M. M. Long is the 18th City Manager for the City of Cincinnati. As City Manager, she leads the City Administration, including overseeing day-to-day operations and the execution of the Mayor and City Council’s policy vision. Sheryl was appointed City Manager on September 1, 2022 after previously serving as Assistant City Manager since April 2019.  Sheryl manages City operations and more than 6,000 employees across all the departments.  She administers the policies set forth by the Mayor and City Council and tasks the Administration with making recommendations to elected officials. Since becoming City Manager, Sheryl has proudly realized several achievements. She led a transparent and exhaustive search for Cincinnati’s 16th Police Chief and appointed Chief Teresa Theetge, the first woman to hold the job. Her administration broke ground on a new $13 million Fire Training Facility at the Cincinnati Fire Department’s Millcreek site. She updated Administrative Regulation 25 to strengthen and clarify the City’s position that use of hateful language by City employees is not acceptable. She has worked with the Mayor and City Solicitor to prosecute bad-acting landlords and set up a task force to take on problematic institutional investors.

Vice-Mayor Councilmember Jan-Michele Kearney
Jan-Michele assumed office as an appointed Councilmember in 2020 and has successfully won the last two elections, securing the most votes of all candidates in 2023.  She is currently Chair, Healthy Neighborhoods Committee. In addition to bringing forward critical neighborhood issues and supporting community organizations, Jan-Michele introduced taking the Committee out into the neighborhoods for once a month evening meetings to enable more residents to participate.  Jan-Michele was born and grew up in Cincinnati.  She is co-founder and president of Sesh Communications, which publishes the Cincinnati Herald, and is an attorney by trade, previously working with the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister.  She received a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a JD from Harvard Law School

Annie Ruth, Visual Artist/Arts Educator & Community Advocate – Eye of the Artists Foundation
Annie Ruth is an acclaimed visual artist renowned for her profound dedication to community engagement through art. With a career spanning decades, she has seamlessly woven her passion for creativity with a commitment to social impact. Through various projects, workshops, and public installations, Annie Ruth has empowered communities across the globe to embrace art as a catalyst for positive change. Her collaborative approach fosters inclusivity and amplifies diverse voices, ensuring that everyone has a platform to express themselves creatively. Annie Ruth’s unwavering dedication to using art as a tool for community empowerment has earned her recognition as a trailblazer in the realm of socially conscious artistry.

Toilynn O’Neal Turner, Founding Director, Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center
Toilynn O’Neal Turner is a visionary artist, activist, and educator dedicated to leveraging art as a tool for community empowerment. As the Founding Director of the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center (ROMAC) and Executive Director of Queen City Foundation, Turner champions diversity and inclusion through creative expression. Her leadership in arts organizations, educational institutions, and community initiatives fosters dialogue, celebrates cultural heritage, and amplifies underrepresented voices. Turner’s unwavering commitment to community engagement in the arts ignites positive social transformation and cultivates vibrant, inclusive communities across Greater Cincinnati. She currently serves on the Board of Invest in Neighborhoods.

Cedric Michael Cox, Visual Artist
Cedric Michael Cox is a prolific artist celebrated for his vibrant paintings and murals that serve as catalysts for community engagement. Blending surrealism with representational abstraction, Cox’s work transcends traditional boundaries, inviting viewers into a world of color and imagination. Beyond galleries, his murals adorn public spaces, infusing neighborhoods with joy and cultural pride. From schools to community centers, Cox’s art fosters dialogue and connection, inspiring collective creativity and social change.

Dusty Bryant, Program Manager, Building Futures, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Assistant City Manager Virginia Tallent, City of Cincinnati
Virginia Tallent was appointed as Assistant City Manager for the City of Cincinnati in March 2023 after an initial appointment as interim Assistant City Manager beginning in September 2022. In her role, Virginia manages high-level operations and strategy for the City’s violence reduction initiatives, Human Services, Office of Environment & Sustainability, 911/311 Communications Center, and the Department of Transportation. Virginia previously served as the City of Cincinnati’s Director of Human Services; prior to joining City service, she was a Legal Aid attorney. Throughout her career, she has successfully developed and lead multi-sector collaborations for public service delivery.. Virginia has a Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law (Cum Laude), and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia (Summa Cum Laude).

Captain Matthew Hammer, Cincinnati Police Department
Matthew Hammer is a Captain in his 25th year of service with the Cincinnati, Ohio Police Department (CPD).  He is currently assigned as the District One Commander, overseeing patrol, investigative, and neighborhood functions for Queensgate, West End, OTR, Pendleton, Mount Auburn, and CUF neighborhoods.  Captain Hammer has served in a variety of patrol, investigative, and administrative positions throughout the City during his tenure.  His career, education, and assignments have focused on violent criminal activity, problem solving, and data driven strategies.   Captain Hammer received his B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Dayton (Ohio), his M.S. and Ph. D. (focused on crime prevention) in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. 

Domonique Broomfield, Regional Program Manager, Urban League Financial Empowerment Center

Brian Boland, Principal & Founder, Bridge Forward Cincinnati
Brian is founder of Bridge Forward Cincinnati, an advocacy group created to influence the design of the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project. In 2020 Brian graduated from Xavier University’s Masters planning program in Urban Sustainability and Resilience. His interest in reimagining neighborhoods goes back nearly three decades to when he moved to Covington, Kentucky, to renovate a historic Italianate row house.  In 2018 he and his wife were awarded a Duke Energy grant to help cover the cost of architectural and engineering work for a renovation project in Dayton, Kentucky.  This grant helped lead to the re-conversion of a long dormant and underused building into a coffee shop/bookstore. Brian is co-founder and a long-time member of CNU Midwest and on the host organizing committee for CNU 32, the national gathering of the Congress for the New Urbanism, coming to Cincinnati in May

Meeka Owens, Councilmember, Chair, Climate, Environment & Infrastructure Committee, City of Cincinnati
Councilmember Meeka D. Owens was first elected to Cincinnati City Council in 2021. Prior to her time on Council, she earned degrees from Miami University and Xavier University. She then went into community organizing, joining many community organization’s boards and eventually worked in the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Office. Now as a Councilmember she chairs the Climate, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee and serves on the Budget and Finance Committee and the Equitable Growth and Housing Committee. During her first term she championed the passage of the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan, pivotal legislation to help in the growth of Cincinnati’s housing environment and moved to identify ways to help communities in the wake of traumatic events. Councilmember Owens enters her second term on Council looking to continue the collaborative spirit that makes true systems change in and around City Hall. 

Steve Kenat, Principal & Director of Community Development, SHP
Steve is an experienced architect specializing in projects driven by economic vibrancy, societal health & equity, and the authentically messy urban condition in cities like Cincinnati. In addition to working with Bridge Forward Cincinnati for over 2 years, his clients and projects have included TOD mixed-use and affordable housing, cultural and civic organizations, social profits, urban design and historic preservation. He’s engaged in policy that supports transformational projects for urban neighborhoods and volunteers with ULI Cincinnati, LISC, and YWCA. He and his family live in downtown Cincinnati.

Derrick Rogers, Manager, Community Partnering Center, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Luke Blocher, General Counsel/Chief Strategy Officer, Community Development Fund
Luke is responsible for legal and strategy functions, including management of the affordable housing lending and New Markets Tax Credit programs. He oversees compliance, data collection and reporting required by all CDF funders. He joined CDF in 2022. Previous experience includes Senior Counsel at Taft Stettinus & Hollister and Deputy City Solicitor, City of Cincinnati

Darrick Dansby, Dansby Development, Realtor/Developer Coldwell Banker
Darrick (Da-Reek) Dansby has been a full-time Realtor with Coldwell Banker Realty since 2014. He began is Real Estate career working with the 3CDC and later served as the Director of Development for Price Hill Will. Mr. Dansby professional career began in Social Services as a staffer for the United Way of Greater Cincinnati and later served as President/Executive Director of SmartMoney Community Services. Mr. Dansby recently served as President for the Greater Cincinnati Realtist Association, an organization that was awarded the 2023 “Local Board of the Year” from the Ohio Realtist Association and he was also awarded “Realtist of the Year”. This past summer, Mr. Dansby was the awardee of the “2023 Local Board President” from the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). He works closely in collaboration with the City of Cincinnati, Real Estate Development, Sales & Leasing – Property Acquisition & Management, Real Estate Development, Budgeting, and Design.

Damon DiBari, Snr Vice President, Guaranteed Rate Affinity;

Tyran Stallings. Developer, Construction, RWB Construction
Tyran is a partner in Buildwell Development Group, a black-owned residential and commercial development company. Through this venture, he not only brings properties online but also provides employment opportunities and promotes growth for minority contractors. Tyran Stallings is a proven community leader making impact in a multitude of fields. He is the founder and ED of The D.A.D. Under his leadership, D.A.D. has evolved from its mentoring roots, into a multifaceted organization with diverse programs catering to the needs of African American children, families, and communities. Tyran is also the co-founder and co-ED of TABLE, a non-profit that serves as a hub that catalyzes, incubates, and champions transformative Black leaders and solutions to pressing community challenges. Tyran’s contributions extend beyond his organizations. He has served on several nonprofit boards, including the Hamilton County Community Action Agency, Learning Grove, and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. His exceptional work has been recognized with numerous local and national awards

Angie Jenkins, Homeowner & Investor

Dr Travis Speice, Applied Research Director, the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Dr. Travis Speice is the Applied Research Director of the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Travis earned his Doctorate in Sociology from the University of Cincinnati and bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Psychology from the State University of New York College at Brockport. Prior to his role at the Women’s Fund, he was Chair and Teaching Professor of Sociology at Xavier University.


Iris Roley, Consultant, City of Cincinnati
Iris is the proud partner of RoSho Awards & Graphics, the only Black Owned engraving company in the region. Iris is an original member of the Cincinnati Black United Front.  In 2000, Iris and the CBUF led the effort to mobilize the Cincinnati African American community to report, collect, and document over 400 instances of police brutality and misconduct. The documentation was the catalyst used to file a class action lawsuit against the city of Cincinnati, its police department, and fraternal order of police in federal court. The lawsuit and eventual settlement in March 2001 is known as the historic Collaborative Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Cincinnati and the Department of Justice.  Iris currently is a consultant to the City of Cincinnati for the Collaborative Agreement and is on the City Managers Advisory Board.  She also lends her talents and time to various boards, and mentors CBUF’s Leaders of the Free World advocacy group


Dr. Andrew M. Dudas, Budget Director, City of Cincinnati – Office of Budget & Evaluation
Andrew Dudas is the Budget Director for the City of Cincinnati and has been with the City since 2012 beginning as a Management Analyst in the Office of Budget and Evaluation within the City Manager’s Office. Prior to joining the City of Cincinnati, he served as a Senior Project Manager with the Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs (CPMRA) as well as an Instructor in the Department of Political Science both at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio


Brian N. Gay, Division Manager, City of Cincinnati – Office of Budget & Evaluation
Brian Gay is a Division Manager in the Office of Budget and Evaluation for the City of Cincinnati. Serving the City since 2010, his current primary responsibilities include coordinating the City’s capital budget and supporting budget engagement activities.   

Hannah Ryland, Management Analyst, City of Cincinnati – Office of Budget & Evaluation
Hannah Ryland has served the City of Cincinnati in the Office of Budget and Evaluation for nearly two years as a Management Analyst.


Robie Suggs, President & CEO Warsaw Federal
Robie is currently the President & CEO of Warsaw Federal.  She oversees banking operations, planning, policies, and practices as well as a variety of other strategic objectives. Under her leadership, Warsaw Federal has transitioned to become the first Minority Depository Institution in Cincinnati- “a community-based bank that provides enhanced financial services, tools, and education to promote economic opportunity and financial equity and help community members invest in the community’s success.”. Robie’s many years in the financial industry have shown her commitment to community: previously she has been the Chief Lending Officer for the Community Development Fund, the Director of Economic Development and Community Outreach, First Financial, and VP Community Development Consultant, PNC. Her commitment extends to her volunteer work, serving on many local non-profit boards, including the Community Building Institute, LISC, Homebase, United Way and more.  Robie has received numerous awards and recognitions, including receiving the inaugural “Friend of the Neighborhoods” award from Invest in Neighborhoods in 2019.


Kenneth L Webb, VP Senior Regional CRA Community Development Officer, Republic Bank

 D.J. Valentine, VP Community Lending Mortgage Manager, Huntington Bank

 Robyn Judge, Snr VP, Community Impact Territory Manager, Fifth Third Bank

Danyetta Najoli, Najoli Learning Group
Danyetta is a principle-driven, servant leader whose large tent is growth mindset and personal foundations. She collaborates with people, teams, and groups within organizations that value soft-skills learning, professional/personal growth, and development. She facilitates unmatched learning experiences with long-lasting results. She is a personal coach and author of 6 books, including Amazon best sellers MicroShift: Small Changes for Big Results and Pain to Profit. Danyetta co-designed Ohio Humanities Council funded The Black American Tree Project which takes into account what happened to Black Americans from pre-colonial Africa to present day. Participants opt-in to read scripts through vignettes that build empathy, raise awareness, and affirm the collective healing of participants.

T. Renáe, Senior Training Manager; Urban League Greater Southwestern Ohio

Rob McCracken (Energy Manager), Office of Environment and Sustainability
Rob McCracken serves as the Energy Manager in the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environmental & Sustainability. His work focuses on implementing the climate action goals contained in the Green Cincinnati Plan by procuring renewable sources of energy, improving the energy efficiency of facilities, and transitioning to a zero-emission fleet.


Molly Robertshaw (Sustainability Manager), Office of Environment and Sustainability
Molly is a lifelong Cincinnatian that came to municipal climate and energy work after two decades in nonprofit and higher education leadership. Her training is in community organizing and social change. She has a strong interest in using her professional strengths to build a more just and equitable world. In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, gardening, and spending time with her kids and other family and friends.


Rachel Bickett (Energy Equity Program Coordinator), Office of Environment and Sustainability
Rachel joined the OES team last summer as a Sustainability Fellow after graduating from Xavier and has now taken on the role of Energy Equity Project Coordinator. Rachel also enjoys engaging with Cincinnati youth to come up with creative climate solutions. When she is not working, Rachel can be found playing tennis or board games with her family or exploring new coffee shops and markets with her friends.


Peri Ledwell (AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow,) Office of Environment and Sustainability
Peri Ledwell is an Americorp VISTA working with the City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability for a year-long program. Her primary focus areas include energy equity, which is largely related to home electrification, partnership cultivation, food access, and community engagement. With federal funding ramping up to incentivize homeowners and building owners to increase building energy efficiency, Peri is working to ensure that Cincinnati residents are aware of and have access to these incentives. A large part of her work in the last few months has been revamping the Electrify Cincy website into a resource hub for residents to ensure that they start the electrification process with the right information.


Nikki Vandivort (FUSE Executive Fellow, Clean Energy), Office of Environment and Sustainability
Nikki focuses on expanding clean energy and electrification across the city and is looking forward to rolling out an education and outreach campaign to the community on the many financial incentives for individuals and organizations in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to decarbonize/electrify, weatherize, and add solar! She had 16 years of experience in environmental consulting for utilities before joining the OES team in October 2023.

Councilmember Reggie Harris, City of Cincinnati
Reggie Harris, MSW, LISW-S, is a Cincinnati City Councilmember, chairing the Budget and Finance committee and vice-chairing the Equitable Growth & Housing Committee. A former professional ballet dancer with ten years of performing experience, he danced for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet Austin, River North Chicago Dance Company, and Dances Patrelle. Reggie spent four years working in Chicago’s first public performing arts high school, developing and teaching aspiring young dancers. As a clinical social worker and nonprofit leader, Reggie has worked in affordable housing development, LGBTQ homelessness, housing case management, and behavioral health therapy. In addition to his council work, Reggie is a Senior Fellow at the Children’s Funding Project, where he helps local governments expand equitable opportunities for children and youth through strategic public financing. Reggie also is a consultant with EJP Consulting Group. He supports cities in applying for the competitive Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Initiative grants. Reggie received his undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University and his Master of Social Work from Boston University.

Councilmember Jeff Cramerding, City of Cincinnati
Councilmember Jeff Cramerding was born and raised in Cincinnati. Prior to joining council, he served as legislative aide to Councilmember Todd Portune and has been involved in numerous candidate and issue campaigns in Cincinnati. He built his career as a labor lawyer and currently serves as Director of Contract Administration for the American Association of University Professors at UC. Jeff is an active Price Hill community member and a founding board member of Price Hill Will. He has been a long-time advocate of supporting mixed-income neighborhoods in Cincinnati as the affordable housing crisis becomes more prevalent and serves as the chair of the Equitable Growth and Housing Committee. Jeff lives in Price Hill with his three children and one terrible cat.

Florence Rothenberg, Heart of Northside
Dr. Florence Rothenberg is a Board Certified Cardiologist and owner of the Heart of Northside, a community health center focused on prevention of cardiovascular disease. The goal is to create a new model of health that pairs healthy food and health education, while strengthening community and connection. Dr. Rothenberg cares for Veterans and teaches medical trainees at the Cincinnati VA since 2006. 

Becky Richey, Northside Farmers Market  
Becky Richey has worked for the Northside Farmers Market since April 2021. She also works on farms and recently completed OEFFA’s Produce Farm Manager Apprenticeship Program. As a resident of Northside and board member of CAIN (a non-profit in Northside that operates an expansive choice-based food pantry, among Dr Xinhao Wang,, Professor of Planning at UC DAAP other programs), she loves combining her experiences as a community member and farmer in service of the market’s mission to expand food access, create a vibrant community hub, and support small farms and producers. 

Alex Heppner, Co-owner of Lierer’s Market

Jeff Swertfeger, GCWW Water Quality Superintendent;
Jeff Swertfeger is the Superintendent of the Water Quality and Treatment Division for Greater Cincinnati Water Works.  Jeff’s responsibilities include ensuring excellent drinking water quality from source to tap including, treatment in Cincinnati’s two treatment plants and distribution of the water throughout the Greater Cincinnati region.  He has 32 years of experience with water quality issues and is responsible for maintaining compliance with all water quality regulations for the utility.  Jeff earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science from Indiana University and a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Cincinnati.  Jeff also holds a Class 4 water supply license from the Ohio EPA.  

Kevin Kappers, GCWW Lead Team Manager
Kevin Kappers is the Lead Program Manager for Greater Cincinnati Water Works.   His group administers the Lead Service Line Replacement Program.  Kevin has 14 years of water resources and utility engineering experience.  He has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Ohio University. He lives with his wife and two children in the Clifton neighborhood

Dr Christopher Auffrey, Professor of Planning at UC DAAP
Christopher Auffrey, PhD, is Professor of Planning, College of DAAP,  at the University of Cincinnati.  He teaches courses in healthy urban planning, planning theory and ethics, planning history and planning economics.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Chapter of the American Planning Association. His current research focuses on understanding how demographic change impacts urban neighborhoods; and how good planning practices address health disparities and can create healthier neighborhoods.

Max Linder, student MCP, School of Planning, UC
Max Linder is a graduate student in the Master of Community Planning Program (MCP) in the School of Planning at the University of Cincinnati.  He and MCP student Xavier Yozwiak are working with Professors Xinhao Wang and Christopher Auffrey in collaboration with Jeff Swertfeger of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) to develop a prioritization model for the replacement of remaining lead service lines in the GCWW service area. Before entering the MCP program, Max earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of Cincinnati.

Kevin Wright, Principal and Co-founder, Yard & Company
Kevin is a Co-Founder and Principal at YARD & Company, an urban growth firm focused on urban design, planning and real estate development projects in North America and abroad. Kevin is a leader in community development, economic and real estate development finance, planning, and placemaking. His previous work as Executive Director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation (WHRF) was where he first began utilizing his diverse background in storytelling and community planning to help a struggling organization grow and eventually spearhead over $60 million in mixed-use development. Since co-founding YARD & Company, Kevin has led teams in the creation and implementation of dozens of projects ranging from small and large-scale placemaking projects to downtown master plans.

Joseph Nava, Esq, President, Carthage Civic League, Attorney-at-law, Nava Law LLC
Joseph Nava has been advocating for the rights of citizens beginning with his time with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and vice-president of the national Hispanic organization, HIRE. Mr. Nava has 25 years of experience in taxes, business, and business consulting. As always, his goal is to help the average citizen, whether it be with building a successful business or understanding an IRS audit. Mr. Nava earned his MBA from Xavier University and graduated from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase Law school in 2011.  He clerked for Judge Timothy Black, United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio. He has been involved with the Children’s Law Center for many years and is interested in protecting children and ensuring they are treated fairly in the court of law. In addition to his legal accomplishments, he serves as the President of the Carthage Civic League, showcasing his passion for civic engagement and leadership in the Carthage neighborhood.

Joseph Malek, Development Manager, Dept of Community and Economic Development, City of Cincinnati
Joseph Malek, Development Manager at the City of Cincinnati, empowers non-profit organizations to leverage public resources, coupled with private development partnerships to implement new community development opportunities.  With over eight years of experience in the Department of Community & Economic Development, Joseph’s background also includes years of civic engagement during his youth through programs that were funded through government resources. Joseph now works to sustain and grow the City’s strategic plan through job creation, housing development, and small business development initiatives. Joseph holds a Bachelor in Finance with an additional focus in Real Estate, from the University of Cincinnati.

 Alexus Wimbish, HomeBase Cincinnati
Alexus joined HomeBase in May of 2023, after earning her Master’s in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning. Her daily work includes connecting with neighborhood CDCs, Community Councils, and everyday experts across the City to understand more about what resources HomeBase can offer toward building CDC capacity. This work exists between creative problem-solving and data-driven results. Outside of the office, Alexus participates in annual speaking engagements surrounding intersectional environmentalism and women’s health and is currently on the Advisory Board for the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Kathleen Norris – Managing Principal of Urban Fast Forward
Kathleen Norris is a licensed realtor, and Managing Principal of her own firm, Urban Fast Forward, specializing in urban real estate and revitalization. She made her entry into this practice area as Leasing Consultant for the Gateway Quarter, in Cincinnati’s historic Over the Rhine, where she developed the concept for a new destination retail center.  In 2 years, she recruited more than 20 retailers and restaurant operators to Over the Rhine, creating one of the most popular new shopping and dining destinations in Greater Cincinnati.  She has since become one of the most sought-after consultants and practitioners on real estate issues pertinent to urban revitalization, known for a creative approach paired with an understanding of and sensitivity to community issues.  At present Ms. Norris is a consultant on urban revitalization, comprehensive planning, and form-based code zoning revisions and works regularly with a range of local governments, economic development organizations, developers and community revitalization corporations on issues pertinent to urban real estate. 

Jeff Rosa, Realtor Alliance of Greater Cincinnati

Heather Kopf, Realtor Alliance of Greater Cincinnati

Robert Sanders, Sanders Development Group
Robert Sanders founded Sanders Development Group (SDG) in 2019 based on a strong foundation in commercial development and financial services – industries that, when combined, have a direct impact on expanding access to economic opportunity and fostering neighborhoods that are healthy and vibrant. SDG provides expertise in all aspects of real estate and development. SDG’s mission is “Build With Stronger Clay,” which comes from Robert’s belief that through strategic collaboration, projects and expectations can far exceed anything that is attempted individually. Robert built his expertise in a variety of finance and commercial development roles, most recently at The Port. His career spans roles of increasing responsibility at Corporex Companies, managing development and construction projects, and business lending at U.S. Bank. At The Port, as Director of Commercial Development, he developed innovative financing programs for small businesses and commercial real estate development in many Cincinnati neighborhoods. Sanders serves on the board of NAIOP and was a founding board member of Urban Land Institute’s Real Estate Accelerator Lab, a program that boosts minority participation in real estate development, equity investment, ownership. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Cincinnati Development Fund.

Kai Lewers, Principal + Founder, Kaiker Development + Construction
Ever since Kaiker Development + Construction Principal and Founder Kai Lewars was young, he made it clear that he wanted to be involved in construction. Growing up Kai enjoyed seeing the positive impact that resulted from development and construction projects and their influence in transforming communities, businesses, and residents’ lives for the better. It was only a matter of time until he would realize the role he would play as he focused his education on the many niches of the construction process. Motivated to excel by witnessing and learning from his family’s wisdom, hardships, and successes, Kai earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and studied Construction Engineering Management at Oregon State University. He began his career interning with Bremik Construction and later with Gores Construction in Portland, OR. After living and working in the Pacific Northwest for most of his life, in 2016, Kai purchased a portfolio of properties prior to moving to Cincinnati, following the advice of his Cincinnati native father. He continued to develop his experience with Terrex Development & Construction until June 2021 when he left to scale and grow his own company, Kaiker Development + Construction.

Michael Golden, Penrose
Michael specializes in the development of multi-family housing, community engagement, and securing financing for real estate development projects. Currently, Michael focuses on all aspects of the development process including applications and proposals for funding sources ranging from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, City HOME, state and local gap grants, loans, and private equity investment.

Art Dahlberg, Director & Eileen Turner, Supervising Management Analyst, Buildings & Inspections
Art Dahlberg is the Director of the Department of Buildings & Inspections for the City of Cincinnati.  Mr. Dahlberg previously worked as the Commissioner of the Department of Neighborhood Services for the City of Milwaukee, where he managed Milwaukee’s new construction, fire prevention and property maintenance programs. During his time there he was responsible for reintegrating the permitting and inspection process, creating a uniform system for the interpretation of numerous construction codes.  Prior to the City of Milwaukee, Mr. Dahlberg served as the Commissioner of Buildings in Richmond, Va., and Director of the Code Enforcement Bureau for the City of Richmond, Va. He has also worked as a Patent Examiner and Structural Engineer.  Mr. Dahlberg holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Kansas State University.

Jon Vogt, City Law Department, Quality of Life Division
Jon Vogt is an attorney for the City of Cincinnati Law Department’s Quality of Life Division where his practice focuses on community problem solving and nuisance litigation. Prior to his work as a litigator, Jon served as an assistant prosecutor in the City Prosecutor’s Office. During his tenure he tried hundreds of cases and as the Appellate Coordinator for the office, appeared dozens of times in front of the First District Court of Appeals and several times before the Supreme Court of Ohio. He resides in Mt. Auburn.

Emma Shirey-McNamara, Blume Community Partners
Emma is currently the Project Manager at Blume Community Partners and prior to that spent 8 years at the Community Building Institute at Xavier University. In her current and former roles, Emma has managed a variety of projects including comprehensive neighborhood planning efforts, issue-based research projects, community development strategies, grant writing and other projects. Emma has a passion for helping communities and organizations align resources to further their vision for the future of their community. She is committed to values of balanced growth and equitable development. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology-Anthropology from Denison University and is a graduate of class 4 of the ULI’s Real Estate Accelerator Lab

Elisabeth Risch, Executive Director, Housing Opportunities Made Equal
Elisabeth Risch is the Executive Director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Greater Cincinnati (HOME). She started in this role in April 2022. She leads and oversees the organization’s mission to eliminate unlawful housing discrimination in the Cincinnati area. HOME advocates and enforces housing regulations for all protected classes to promote stable and integrated communities. Under her leadership, HOME published the Roadmap for Increasing Black Homeownership in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, which has over 30 endorsing partner organizations and identifies six policy recommendations to increase and preserve Black homeownership.  

Hope Wilson Working in Neighborhoods 
Hope Wilson is the Director of Operations & Housing Programs for Working In Neighborhoods (WIN).  Hope is a HUD Certified Housing Counselor & Homebuyer Educator helping families attain and maintain homeownership in the Greater Cincinnati region. Prior to her current role she worked as the Community & Housing Development Manager and been involved in the development process for over 50 single family homeownership units and 18 senior rental units.  Hope was involved in the acquisition, rehab, new construction, and sale of WIN’s homes that are sold to low-moderate-income first-time homebuyers.   Hope started at WIN as a Community Organizer focused on housing & lending issues. Ms. Wilson has a Masters in Urban and Regional Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

Jeremiyah Hairston, Community Engagement Specialist, City Planning and Engagement

Eunique Avery, Community Engagement Specialist, City Planning and Engagement

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