Our Speakers


­Danielle Abril

Managing Editor + D CEO

Danielle Abril is the managing editor at D CEO, the business publication for D Magazine. There, she is responsible for overseeing the production of the magazine and technology and startup coverage. She has covered the DFW technology community for the last three years. Prior to D CEO, Danielle served as the technology reporter for the Dallas Business Journal, where she launched the then-daily newsletter Tech Flash. She also formerly served as a reporter for The Dallas Morning News. Danielle is a graduate of Southern Methodist University, a salsa dancer, and self-proclaimed geek.

Plinio Ayala

President & CEO + Per Scholas

Plinio Ayala became President and CEO of Per Scholas in November 2003 after having served as Vice President of Operations with oversight for the bulk of our programs. Today he leads the organization in its national expansion. Plinio previously served as Director of Program Operations at SOBRO, and before that as Chief Program Officer at Jobs for Youth. In 2012, he joined a diverse group of stakeholders with decades of experience in New York City’s workforce system to develop a blueprint for the new Mayor, Re-Envisioning the New York City Workforce System. In 2006, he received the Liberty Award from the New York Post for his work, and in 2005 was issued a Citation of Merit by the Bronx Borough President for his leadership in Bronx County. Mr. Ayala has more than 20 years of nonprofit management experience and is deeply committed to the fight against poverty. When not at Per Scholas, Plinio spends time with his three children and wife — and the New York Mets.


Dr. Timothy Bray

Director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research + University of Texas at Dallas

Dr. Timothy M. Bray is Director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas. As the only research institute to be established by a grass roots community building organization, the Institute retains a flavor that makes it unique among its peers. While many institutes engage in "research for the sake of research", the Institute for Urban Policy Research truly believes that the fruits of research must serve the underserved by motivating the caliber of sustainable change necessary to improve quality of life and build a better world. The Institute continues to build friendships in the communities we serve, helping residents realize their visions of lasting change.

Dr. Bray is also on the faculty of the School of Economic, Political, and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he teaches in the political economy and criminology programs. He teaches graduate and upper division courses in quantitative methodologies and structural correlates of social disorganization. He also mentors graduate students, and involves graduate students in the research work of the Institute. Dr. Bray received his Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.


Michelle Corson

Founder + Champion Impact Capital

After a lifelong investment career, Michelle founded Champion Impact Capital in 2012 to encourage impact investing in Texas, bringing capital market dollars to scale solutions for community needs. Champion has developed projects using tools such as green bonds, TIFs/PIDs, social impact bonds, and ESG private equity funds. These tools have been used to address air quality, economic mobility, homelessness, aging, and pediatric asthma.

One of the most significant efforts Champion has undertaken has been creating On the Road Lending, an initiative that provides a way for families with weak credit to get reliable transportation without the use of predatory lenders. Through this effort, Michelle has become knowledgeable about the needs of the un-banked and under-banked, the efficacy of credit scoring systems, the opportunity cost of public transit on low-income populations, air quality issues, and the Community Reinvestment Act. On the Road Lending is uniquely structured to couple an impact investment fund that serves as the lienholder on notes with a nonprofit financial education agency. The initiative has successfully raised capital and provided a pathway to economic mobility for the working poor throughout Texas.

Prior to forming Champion, Michelle served as CEO of The Real Estate Council where she was responsible for the effective operation, fiduciary performance, and catalytic influence of a large, diverse commercial real estate association and its related nonprofit. A highly visible role, her primary focus was to ensure that the commercial real estate industry was influential in local and state policymaking, to provide a platform for the industry to engage in community revitalization, and to direct economic development activity efforts that benefited the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Among The Real Estate Council’s major contributions are launching and providing seed capital for Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Urban Land Bank.


Gregg Croteau

Executive Director + UTEC

Gregg was hired as UTEC’s first executive director by the founding group of teens and community leaders, Gregg has overseen the growth of the agency from a grassroots safe haven to a nationally recognized youth development agency.

Gregg came to UTEC with youthwork experience that ranged from streetwork to program development in Detroit, East Boston, and his hometown of Revere, MA. With an interest in Vietnamese culture stemming from his work with gang-involved Southeast Asian youth in the Boston area, he spent two years working and conducting research in Hanoi, Vietnam, gaining fluency in Vietnamese language and history.

He has been appointed to a number of city and state commissions, including the Governor’s Anti-Crime Council, Governor’s Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants, and the Massachusetts Health Disparities Council. He has presented at various conferences locally and nationally, and has testified at the state and federal levels, including a 2007 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gang violence through the invitation of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He has received recognition ranging from the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award to the Youth Advocacy Foundation’s Commitment to Justice Award. In 2014, he was honored with the “Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice” by the National Association of Social Workers–MA Chapter.  In March 2015, Gregg was appointed to the Governor’s task force on Economic Opportunity for Populations Facing Chronically High Rates of Unemployment.

Gregg received his B.A. from Wesleyan University (majoring in East Asian Studies), while receiving his Masters of Social Work, along with associated masters coursework in Southeast Asian Studies, from the University of Michigan.

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Ignacio Dayrit

Director of Programs + Center for Creative Land Recycling

Ignacio Dayrit coordinates CCLR's technical assistance and training programs for community revitalization. Ignacio is a redevelopment expert having spent 20 years with the City of Emeryville's Redevelopment Agency, where he was responsible for the city's Brownfield Program and instrumental in the redevelopment of hundreds of acres of blighted property into commercial, industrial, affordable housing and civic spaces. His work received three Phoenix Awards for brownfields redevelopment and a Bangemann (now Stockholm) Challenge Award from the King of Sweden.

He has over 30 years of experience in urban and rural redevelopment including fiscal and financial analysis, public debt financing, feasibility analyses, community engagement, partnership building and urban design. His current work includes corridor and transit oriented development, rural town centers, open space planning and inner-city revitalization. Ignacio also co-chairs the brownfields committee of the California Association for Local Economic Development.

Ignacio has Masters in City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley.


Anne Dodge

Executive Director + University of Chicago

Anne Dodge is the Executive Director of UChicago Urban, where she works to make the university’s urban research more transparent and accessible while serving as a guide to the university’s wide array of civic programs and nonprofit partnerships.  Prior to joining UChicago Urban, Anne was the Executive Director of the university’s Urban Network and an instructor at the Harris School of Public Policy, where she taught a graduate practicum about creative placemaking through the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center.  Anne has worked extensively at the intersection of arts and economic development, including as the interim Executive Director of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance and the Oral History Project Director for the National Public Housing Museum.  She holds a Master’s in City Planning from MIT, where her master’s thesis won the 2006 Ralph Adams Cram Award for the best thesis in the School of Architecture and Planning, and BA from Harvard with a joint concentration in Visual and Environmental Studies and History.



Kimberly Driggins

Director of Strategic Planning + City of Detroit

Kimberly C. Driggins is currently the Director of Strategic Planning in the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department.  In this capacity, she is responsible for developing several citywide planning initiatives including: an updated comprehensive plan, open space plan, historic preservation plan, and an arts and culture plan. In addition, she is the Mayor's representative for arts and culture for the City of Detroit.  Prior to joining the City of Detroit, Ms. Driggins worked for the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning for seven years, as the Associate Director for Citywide Planning.  Ms. Driggins began her career as a consultant working on real estate, affordable housing, and neighborhood revitalization projects in the private and non-profit sectors. She received a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree, with highest honors, in political science from Hampton University.  Most recently, Ms. Driggins was a Loeb Fellow (2016) at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; where she explored the intersection of design, civic engagement and creative placemaking through the lens of equity and inclusion.



Hirsh Jain

Global Public Policy Manager + Airbnb
Hirsh Jain is a Global Public Policy Manager at Airbnb, where he focuses on helping craft legislative and regulatory approaches to home sharing in cities around the world. Prior to Airbnb, Hirsh worked at SimplyInsured, a health technology company working to improve healthcare for the millions of Americans who work for a small business, and before that, as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in their New York office. He has a B.A. in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Ashwina Kirpalani

Director of Analytics + Commit

Ashwina is a classroom educator turned business professional with experience in strategy and analytics. She had the privilege of attending school and teaching high school mathematics in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system. Prior to joining Commit!, Ashwina worked at Kaplan Higher Education Campuses as Director of Strategy and Business Analytics. During her 5 + year career at Kaplan, Ashwina led projects to understand how operational changes affected student retention and graduation rates. She also analyzed differences in student achievement for blended and non-blended courses and programs.

Ashwina is passionate about serving her community, and in particular, working with at-risk youth to develop their math and reading skills. She also helped to launch a computer training program for adults from underserved communities.

A native of South Florida, Ashwina completed both an M.B.A., with an emphasis in Management Science, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering, from the University of Miami.


Sindhu Lakshmanan

Capital Innovations + Living Cities

Sindhu Lakshmanan joined Living Cities in June 2015 as a summer intern, after which she continued to work at Living Cities in a part-time capacity while completing her Master in Public Policy degree at Georgetown University. Upon graduating in May 2016, she joined Living Cities full-time as an Associate with the Capital Innovation team, and focuses primarily on Living Cities’ Pay for Success work and on providing support for the management of the Catalyst and Blended Catalyst Funds.

Prior to Living Cities, Sindhu worked at The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. She was also a Teach for America corps member, serving as a Detroit Public Schools teacher at the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine. Sindhu has a certification in Urban Pedagogy and 6-12 English Language Arts from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Psychology from New York University (NYU).

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Gary Lindner

President & CEO + PeopleFund

In 2010, Gary Lindner became President & CEO. Since then, PeopleFund, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) has grown from a 5 county central Texas service area to a statewide lender (254 counties) with enormous social and economic impact. He hired a high energy staff, and successfully opened seven PeopleFund offices across the state, and tripled outstanding loans. From 2004-2015, Mr. Lindner has been responsible for 6,000 Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) loans to Texas small businesses. Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer at ACCION Texas from 2004-2010 where he quadrupled the outstanding loan portfolio to over $30 million. Mr. Lindner also was SVP of a private insurance company and set profitability records. During his distinguished 29 year military career, he flew intensive air combat missions in Southeast Asia, followed by a series of increasingly challenging flying, staff, and three CEO assignments. He achieved the rank of Colonel and Command Pilot status. An Air Force Academy graduate, Mr. Lindner earned a master’s degree from Auburn University. He has served on numerous local, regional, state and national non-profit boards.


Mark Linton

President + Linton Strategies, LLC

Mark is the President of Linton Strategies, LLC, a strategy and policy consulting practice based in Washington, DC with clients nationwide.  

Mark previously served President Barack Obama in a variety of capacities for over nine years, beginning in then-Senator Obama’s Washington office. Most recently, Mark was appointed by the president as the first Executive Director of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, a multi-sector, government-wide initiative seeking to spark sustainable economic turnarounds and build capacity in some of America’s most iconic cities. Under Mark’s leadership, the initiative helped communities more effectively leverage private-public partnerships and invest over $360 million in existing resources, leading to dramatic improvements in transit, downtown redevelopment, affordable housing, business development, public safety and a range of related issues. Mark helped to scale this model of integrated technical assistance to dozens of additional cities by partnering with a private-sector consortium, including financial advisors and developers, which launched the National Resource Network and the Nation’s first “311 for Cities.”

In addition to directing the Strong Cities Initiative, Mark served in a variety of leadership capacities at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, including as Acting Chief of Staff for then-HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.  

Mark earned his Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages and International Economics from the University of Kentucky. Mark lives with his wife and two children in Washington, DC.


Rachel Maguire

Director + Institute for the Future

As a principal health care researcher for IFTF’s Health program, Rachel combines a deep understanding of health finance with an interest in the impact of new media and mobile personal technologies on health practices. She shares her perspective on the future of health, health care, and well-being as the author or co-author of numerous IFTF reports, as a speaker at health care conferences, and as a meeting facilitator at client workshops and strategic retreats. She serves on the Henry Ford Hospital and Medical Group National Advisory Council.

Rachel’s research efforts center on the intersection of health care delivery systems and mobile technologies. She studies how smart, mobile, and increasingly less expensive technologies are transforming self-care and beginning to disrupt clinical care. She has been a contributor to the Health Horizons program’s annual forecast perspectives, map of the decade, and annual retreats since 2006. Rachel holds a BA in politics from Oberlin College and an MPAff (master of public affairs) from the University of Texas at Austin.


Justin Milner

Senior Research Associate + Urban Institute

Justin Milner is a senior research associate in the Urban Institute's Policy Advisory Group. He is also director of the Pay for Success Initiative and the Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative. Milner's work focuses on the intersection of research, policy, and practice; supporting efforts to engage effectively with policymakers and practitioners in applying research findings; and developing new evidence.

Before joining Urban, Milner was a senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where his work focused on increasing the supply and take-up of evidence-based programs in child-serving public systems. He has also been a presidential management fellow in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Milner spent three years teaching in Los Angeles through Teach for America.

Milner received a BA in political science from Yale University and an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.


Marysol McGee

Senior Community Development Analyst + Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Marysol McGee is currently a Senior Community Development Analyst in the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  Currently, her work focuses on small business and entrepreneurship issues. Prior to joining the Board, Marysol worked as a director for a private equity firm were she was responsible for the management and oversight of investment operations including the execution and structuring of private equity investments. Marysol received a Master of Arts in Economics from the Johns Hopkins University and has Bachelors degrees in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. 


Alex Notay

Director of Product and Service Innovation + Places for People

Alexandra is a strategist, problem-solver and skilled people manager with a global network of board-level relationships and strong 12-year record of successful delivery. In September 2016 Alex joined Places for People having previously operated as an independent advisor to public and private sector organizations providing strategic advice and project leadership. Alex is responsible for driving innovation and streamlining processes across the Group, with a particular focus on delivering new Build to Rent, Custom-Build and Retirement developments.

Alex is a published author and editor of over 30 books and reports on real estate including the renowned ULI UK Best Practice Guide on Build to Rent (2014 and 2016).

She is an internationally recognized conference speaker, moderator and workshop facilitator. She has led masterplanning, regeneration and PPP consultancy projects in London, Moscow, New York, Istanbul, Barcelona and many other global cities.

Prior to joining Places for People, Alex operated as an independent advisor to public and private sector organizations providing strategic advice and project leadership. Her private consultancy client portfolio between 2011-2016 included Grosvenor, Grainger plc, M&G Real Estate and Greystar as well as the Greater London Authority and the UK government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. She retains an advisory role with Global Apartment Advisors.

She also served as UK Policy Director for the Urban Land Institute, of which she remains an active member, serving on the ULI UK Executive Committee and as a Vice-Chair the ULI UK Residential Council.


Theresa O'Donnell

Chief Resilience Officer + City of Dallas

Theresa O’Donnell serves as the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Dallas. In this role, Ms. O’Donnell leads the development and implementation of a robust Resilience Strategy for the City of Dallas within the policy framework of the 100 Resilient Cities Program and Global Network, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Ms. O’Donnell’s long tenure and broad knowledge of land use planning, zoning, development, housing, transportation and city operations provide her the skills necessary to lead this new initiative.  Ms. O’Donnell has more than 25 years of experience as a professional planner and has served the City of Dallas since 2003 in a number of roles, most recently as Chief Planning Officer overseeing the Departments of Planning and Urban Design, Transportation Planning, Neighborhood Vitality, Housing and Community Services and the Office of Fair Housing.  Her prior positions with the City include Interim Assistant City Manager over Sustainable Development & Construction, Housing & Community Services, and the Department of Aviation.  Ms. O’Donnell also served as the Director of Sustainable Development and Construction for more than 10 years.


Andrew Olowu

Chief Technology Officer + Axxess

As Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Axxess, Andrew Olowu is responsible for the development and execution of the software portfolio and overall technology vision of the fastest growing home health technology company.

With more than 16 years of experience in the information technology (IT) field, Andrew has played key roles in solving complex business problems by building enterprise solutions. His innovative approach and aptitude for IT solutions has elevated the scope and influence of IT in the home health industry.

Since joining Axxess in 2008, Andrew has been the architect of the Axxess software platform, a game-changing technology solution in home healthcare. He leads all aspects of the platform, including mobile and desktop development, cloud computing, distributed databases and vendor integrations. As CTO, he has introduced strategic innovations that have increased software performance, improved client satisfaction and grown market share.

Prior to Axxess, Andrew held a variety of leadership roles in information technology and led digital systems development for BMW, HP, T-Mobile, Reed Smith LLP and other brands. His contributions at BMW were instrumental in the complete redesign of the bmwusa.com website. At HP, Andrew played an integral role in its Global Risk Management System, widely used by HP credit analysts and which realized cost-savings of $2 million per day. During his tenure at Reed Smith LLP, a global law firm, he was architect for a web-based workflow system to manage more than 40 SEC filing sheets for the Investment Management Group. 

In 2016, Andrew was recognized as Corporate CTO of the year by Tech Titans, The Technology Association for North Texas, for his significant contributions to the industry.  

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, and his interests include private cloud computing and enterprise architectural patterns


Rolf Pendall

Co Director + Urban Institute

Rolf Pendall is codirector of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute. In this role, he leads a team of over 40 experts on a broad array of housing, community development, and economic development topics, consistent with Urban’s nonpartisan, evidence-based approach to economic and social policy.

Pendall’s research expertise includes metropolitan growth trends; land-use planning and regulation; federal, state, and local affordable housing policy and programs; and racial residential segregation and the concentration of poverty. He directs the Urban Institute’s Mapping America’s Futures project, a platform for exploring implications of future demographic change at the local level. Other recent projects include Urban’s evaluation of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods demonstration; a HUD-funded research study on the importance of cars to housing choice voucher users; and long-standing membership in the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Building Resilient Regions. Between 1998 and mid-2010, Pendall was a professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, where he taught courses and conducted research on land use planning, growth management, and affordable housing.


Erika Poethig

Institute Fellow and Director + Urban Institute

Erika Poethig is an Institute fellow and director of urban policy initiatives at the Urban Institute. In this role, Poethig leads the Policy Advisory Group, which assembles in-house experts to help local leaders draw insights from research and navigate policy challenges facing urban America in the 21st century.

Before joining Urban in 2013, Poethig was acting assistant secretary for policy, development, and research at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development where she also served as deputy assistant secretary for policy development. At the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, she was associate director for housing. She also was assistant commissioner for policy, resource, and program development at the City of Chicago's Department of Housing. In the late 1990s, she developed Mayor Richard M. Daley's campaign to combat predatory lending, prevent foreclosures, and stabilize communities. Previously, she was associate project director of the Metropolis Project.

Poethig was a Phi Beta Kappa member at the College of Wooster, a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Vienna, and has an MPP with honors from the University of Chicago.


Stacy Richardson

Chief of Staff + City of Chattanooga, TN

Stacy Richardson currently serves as Chief of Staff to Mayor Andy Berke in Chattanooga, TN. In her current role, Stacy leads a team of 15 senior government officials who oversee the development and implementation of the Mayor's priorities. She has overseen the drafting and passage of the City's first open data policy, lead the development of the City's early childhood education agenda, and coordinated efforts to reform the City's budgeting process. Prior to her time in City Hall, Stacy worked at the crossroads of politics and policy -- either in her capacity as a researcher or working on political campaigns. She graduated with highest honors from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is currently pursuing her masters degree at the Sol Price School of Public Policy. Stacy serves on the board of the Chattanooga Urban Design Studio and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Arts & Sciences.

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Bill Sabo

Industry Lead for Technology + The Network

Bill Sabo is the Industry Lead for Technology for the City of New Orleans in The Network for Economic Opportunity. For the past year, he has worked to identify and train disadvantaged and non-traditional individuals for technology careers that move people from low-wage jobs into middle-skilled careers in existing openings in New Orleans.

To bridge the gap between job seekers and skilled jobs, The Network for Economic Opportunity put into action Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Economic Opportunity Strategy by introducing a new way to connect job seekers to “pathways to prosperity.”

The Network trains and places individuals in several industry sectors including healthcare, hospitality, construction, advanced manufacturing, technology and the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. In the past two years, The Network has played a key role in reducing unemployment for African-American men from 52% in 2014 to currently 44%.

The Network partners with anchor institutions – universities and hospitals, and has built new partnerships with employers and community-based organizations with workforce development functions, known as opportunity centers, that support investing in workforce pipelines and hiring locally.

Prior to his current role, Bill spent 25 years in the newspaper industry with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and E.W. Scripps, first as an award-winning journalist and then as a senior advertising and marketing executive in Boulder, Louisville and Nashville.

Bill is a graduate of Tulane University with majors in philosophy and English and completed executive leadership programs at Stanford and MIT graduate schools.


Nirav Shah

Director + Social Finance

Nirav is a Director on the Social Investment team for Social Finance. Nirav works with nonprofits, governments, and private sector funders to develop and execute public-private partnerships to measurably improve the lives of people by scaling evidence-based social service programs. Nirav is working on projects to improve maternal and child health outcomes, expand access to permanent supportive housing for the homeless, and improving recidivism and workforce development outcomes for individuals with recent criminal convictions. Nirav has experience in the public and private sector.

Prior to joining Social Finance, Nirav worked in the Office of Management and Budget within the Executive Office of the President. Nirav spent the early part of his career working for Cambridge Associates, an investment advisor, and Bank of America. Nirav holds a Masters of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Boston University.


Amanda Timm

 Executive Director + LISC

Amanda Timm is the Executive Director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Houston office.  LISC works to connect neighborhoods to the resources it needs to be healthy and strong.  It does that by providing capital, partnerships and information to community-based nonprofits. During its more than 25 years of working in Houston, LISC and its affiliates have invested more than $243 million and leveraged more than $637 million in projects for housing, real estate development, and other community revitalization efforts. Houston LISC is an affiliate agency of the United Way of Greater Houston

Amanda began her tenure at LISC as a program officer in 2001 working on capacity building with community partners. After taking the leadership role at Houston LISC in 2007, Amanda orchestrated the program’s strategic shift to a comprehensive approach for community development.  The implementation of this strategy has included the launch of Great Opportunities (GO) Neighborhoods, Houston LISC’s place based approach to comprehensive community development, and the Financial Opportunity Center program, an evidence based model to help families reach financial stability.  

Prior to her work with LISC, Amanda served the City of Houston as a Senior Planner with the Planning and Development Department. 

Amanda serves on the Executive Committees for EarlyMatters and UpSkill Houston, two region wide collective impact efforts to address early childhood education and workforce and employment challenges respectively as well as the Steering Committee for Plan Houston, the city’s first every general plan. Amanda is a member of the Urban Land Institute and serves on board of directors for Blueprint Houston. 

Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southwestern University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.   


F. Javier Torres

Director of National Grantmaking + Art Place

F. Javier Torres was the Senior Program Officer for the Arts at the Boston Foundation for over three years. Under his leadership the Foundation’s arts strategy explored the role of culture as a tool for transformation, sustainability, and as central to the development of vibrant communities. In his tenure, Javier has successfully supported the Foundation in balancing the institution¹s whole contributions to the field across several grantmaking mechanisms as they sought to impact the regions whole cultural ecology. In partnership with the Boston Foundation’s donors, Javier supported the Foundation in stewarding ten million dollars annually to the field. Prior to his role at the Foundation, Javier spent six years as the Director of Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, a program of IBA, a community based multi-disciplinary arts complex that operates as a regional presenter and local programmer for Latino arts. Currently, he serves as Secretary of the board of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and is a board member for Grantmakers in the Arts. He has previously served as a board member for MASSCreative, a member of the MA Governor’s Creative Economy Council and Chair for the Boston Cultural Council.


Trevor Theunissen

Public Affairs Lead + Uber

Trevor Theunissen serves as Public Affairs Lead for Uber based in Austin. He is responsible for policy and communications for Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Trevor works with elected officials and other stakeholders at the local and state levels to help build a regulatory environment that fosters innovation, builds economic growth and promotes Uber’s mission. Before arriving in Texas, Trevor served as Public Policy Manager for Uber in the Southeast region across eight states. He has roots in New Orleans where he worked for the law firm of Coats | Rose and served as Chief of Staff to a City Councilmember. He also worked for the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency set up to develop policies that helped Louisiana rebuild following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


Andrew Trueblood

Chief of Staff + Washington DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)

Andrew Trueblood is the Chief of Staff at DC’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). He oversees the operations of the 80-person agency, its $50 million budget and leads the executive oversight of 11 District agencies, including housing, transportation, regulatory, and creative agencies. He has worked on key Mayoral projects including the St. Elizabeth’s Entertainment and Sports Arena, the retention of the headquarters of the Advisory Board Companies in DC, and the Mayor’s affordable housing initiative. Prior to this role, Andrew was Deputy Chief of Staff, during which time he created DMPED’s economic intelligence program that focuses on market monitoring, operational analysis, and data reporting. Before joining the District Government, Andrew spent three years at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau developing an analytics team to model consumer risk for financial institutions. He has also worked at Treasury's Community Development Financial Institution Fund standing up the Capital Magnet Fund for affordable housing and supporting the New Markets Tax Credit program. Prior to his federal government service, Andrew worked on redevelopment planning and finance for the DC Housing Authority. Andrew holds a Masters in City Planning from MIT and a B.A. from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.


Laurie Vignaud

Vice President + Capital One

Laurie Vignaud has overall responsibility for the development, monitoring, management and promotion of community development programs and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) initiatives for Capital One Bank in Louisiana and Texas. She has been instrumental in bringing millions of dollars in grant financing to the bank that were used to support affordable housing programs. In addition, she has created and led some of the bank’s most innovative affordable housing, small business and asset/capacity building initiatives in the region. One such program, Getting Down to Business, has received national recognition.

The team led by Ms. Vignaud recognizes and cultivates community development projects, which may involve the new construction and renovation of single-family housing units throughout Capital One’s south central region. Ms. Vignaud serves as the President of Capital One’s Community Development Corporation, which is the entity that provides capital to nonprofit housing developers for the construction of new single-family homes sold to low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers. She works directly with various governmental, non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide and promote affordable housing, small business and economic development, and asset-building opportunities.

 A New Orleans native, Ms. Vignaud received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of New Orleans and a graduate degree in banking from the Southern Methodist University Southwest Graduate School of Banking in Dallas. She also attended Southern University of New Orleans, where she studied social welfare.

Active in the community, Ms. Vignaud serves on the board of the NAACP Texas State Corporate Advisory Board, City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity Advisory Board, Texas Southern University Business School Advisory Board, and the board of the Ensemble Theater.


John Yochum

Senior Vice President + Capital One

John R. Yochum Senior Vice President and Director, Community Development Finance Capital One Bank Houston A part of Capital One Bank’s team since 2007, Yochum helped build a new affordable housing debt and equity portfolio in Texas as part of the bank’s community reinvestment initiative. Before joining Capital One, he worked for Fannie Mae’s American Communities Fund, purchasing debt participations in affordable housing construction loans from regional and national lenders. Yochum has also worked at Bank of America’s Community Development Bank, American General Corporations (now AIG) and Sun Communities. As a vice president at Bank of America, Yochum originated affordable-housing construction loans. At American General, he worked in the company’s land-development division, developing master-planned residential communities across the country. While at Sun Communities, a Detroit-based real estate investment trust, Yochum was involved in acquiring manufactured housing land-lease communities across the country

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Connie Yowell

CEO + Collective Shift

Connie is the visionary and CEO of Collective Shift, bringing considerable experience from the MacArthur Foundation where she oversaw a $150 million program on Digital Media and Learning.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Connie was an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, publishing scholarly work that examines the complex interplay among young people’s emerging identity, their social context and achievement. Connie briefly served as Policy Analyst in the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton Administration, and has worked closely with teachers and administrators to develop programs for youth development.  

In 2004, Connie received the Distinguished Fellows Award from the William T. Grant Foundation, an award to support scholars seeking to bridge research and practice, under which she worked with the National Writing Project to develop approaches that integrate web 2.0 technologies into the social practices of teachers.

Connie earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale, and her PhD from Stanford University.