Equitable Development Strategies for New Orleans Neighborhoods - June 17, 2015

Speaker Biographies

Robert Collins is the Conrad Hilton Endowed Professor of Urban Studies at Dillard University. He specializes in understanding, preventing, and recovering from disasters. While a faculty member at Harvard University, he taught the first course in the United States on rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, titled "Rebuilding New Orleans: The Role of Urban Planning and Design," commissioned by Harvard just 30 days after the hurricane made landfall. Collins is the creator of "Ten Commandments of Resilience," a guide to disaster survival first published in his book Resilience: Protecting your Business from Disasters in a Dangerous World. Before entering academia, he was an assistant to Bennett Johnston, a former U.S. senator from Louisiana. He worked on governmental operations as well as statewide political campaigns, and he continues to conduct political analysis for specific groups. He received a doctorate in urban studies from the University of New Orleans.

Robert Hickey is a senior research associate with the National Hurricane Center's Center for Housing Policy, where he analyzes the potential of local and state housing policies to address national challenges. His work emphasizes land-use and policy strategies that foster inclusive, mixed-income communities. He leads the center's research exploring the link between housing and transportation policy. He previously was program manager with the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, where he studied the effects of zoning codes on housing affordability, wrote research on workforce housing shortages, and helped small towns and cities develop comprehensive housing plans. His research has been featured in the New York Times, Slate Magazine, CNN.com and other media. He holds a master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ellen M. Lee is director of housing policy and community development for the City of New Orleans. She advises the mayor and directs and manages department programs and administrative activities to address the city's housing and community development needs. She is also the mayor's liaison to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and New Orleans Housing Authority. She worked for nearly six years as senior vice president of programs at the Greater New Orleans Foundation, where she was responsible for grant-making activity. She also served as assistant director of the Disaster Recovery Unit within the State of Louisiana's Office of Community Development, which was created to administer more than $13 billion in federal funds to assist in recovery efforts following the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. She earned a bachelor of science degree in finance and a master's in business administration from the University of New Orleans.  She holds a certificate from the National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. She serves in leadership roles on multiple boards of civic and service organizations, including the Center for Community Progress, the Louisiana Housing Corporation, and the University of New Orleans Foundation.

Silas Lee is Ernest N. Morial Professor in public policy and assistant professor of sociology at Xavier University. His work has included measuring and analyzing local and national opinions about social, political and demographic trends and issues. His polls and research have been cited in more than 600 publications worldwide. He has been a consultant to governmental agencies and public and private corporations. He earned a doctorate in urban studies from the University of New Orleans in 1999, with a concentration on social and cultural change.

Jerilyn Perine, executive director of Citizens Housing Planning Council in New York City, has 30 years of experience in housing and community development. She and her team spearhead a high-impact agenda that includes Making Room, a strategy to reshape city housing that encourages zoning that promotes sensible residential development and regulatory reform to allow sustainable lodging. She was appointed commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development by New York Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. As commissioner, she wrote Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan that set goals for preserving and expanding the amount of affordable housing and improving distressed neighborhoods. Under Mayor Giuliani, she designed and oversaw programs designed to return a significant inventory of tax-foreclosed residential properties to local, private ownership.  She is an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Walter M. Roberts is executive director of Hope Community Inc., which manages housing for low- and moderate-income residents in New York's East Harlem neighborhood. He has more than 30 years of experience in affordable housing and has worked with not-for-profit organizations on several residential projects in the New York metropolitan area. Earlier in his career, he held various positions at New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He received a bachelor's degree from Binghamton University and earned master's degrees in urban planning and social work from Columbia University.

Brad Weinig joined Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that seeks to bring affordable housing to low-income communities, in June 2011. In his role as program director for transit oriented development (TOD), he focuses on creative financing solutions to ensure that affordable housing and community facilities are developed near public transportation. He oversees the Denver Regional TOD Fund, a blend of public, private and philanthropic sector capital that provides financing for such projects. Weinig led the expansion of the fund from a $15 million single-borrower line of credit limited to the city and county of Denver to what is now a $24 million multiborrower fund. Previously, he spent five years with Citi Community Capital in San Francisco, where he underwrote more than $600 million of loans to finance the development or acquisition/rehabilitation of low-income apartment communities. He is a LEED green associate and member of the Urban Land Institute Colorado's Workforce Housing Council.