2022 Workshop Speaker Biographies

Michael Basford was appointed Director of the State of Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness by Governor Tony Evers in May 2019. Prior to his appointment, he was Associate Director at Housing Initiatives in Madison – an agency which provides permanent supportive housing for persons experiencing homelessness with severe mental illness diagnoses. At Housing Initiatives, he administered nearly $1,000,000 annually of HUD Continuum of Care Rental Assistance and Supportive Services program funding – as well as assisted in the property management of 151 units in Madison. During his 13 years at Housing Initiatives, he helped house over 400 people experiencing homelessness in permanent housing. Basford grew up in Monroe and Madison, graduated from Madison West High School, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His experience also includes serving on the City of Madison’s Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals and Dane County’s Homeless Issues Committee and Poverty Task Force. He lives in Madison with his two cats.

Anne Bonds is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Geography and an affiliate faculty of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a critical human geographer whose research interests include race, racialization, and racial segregation, urban political economy and community development, and housing studies. She is an editor of the journal Urban Geography and currently serves as Chair of the Urban Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). Her work is published in a variety of outlets, including The Annals of the AAG, Progress in Human Geography, Urban Geography, and the Sociological Review.  

Brenda Brown is a Milwaukee Native- Educated in Milwaukee Public Schools. A Graduate of Riverside High School Class of 1974. Brenda has attended Concordia College, Neighborworks of America and has her Title licensing and NMLS licenses as a licensed Mortgage loan Originator for the State of Wisconsin. Brenda takes pride as a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Loan Officer and Assistant Branch Manager at Great Midwest Bank for the past three (3) years.  Brenda has over 25 years of experience in the banking industry. Brenda considers herself as a “Servant Leader” and motivates others to serve and volunteer in the Milwaukee Community. Brenda leads by example. As the Johnsons Park Neighborhood Chairperson since 2017, at the unanimous vote from the Board and Past Chairperson, the Association has been successful in teaming up with other partners in various ways to make the neighborhood stronger, safe and beautiful. In her present role, Brenda has been able to work with the City of Milwaukee Real Estate Department on encouraging new construction of homes in the Johnsons Park and Lindsey Heights Neighborhoods. Subdivisions had sat dormant for over 13 years due to the housing market decline of 2008. Brenda was instrumental in working with the City and connecting Great Midwest Bank to work on improving her neighborhood with financing of the new homes. Brenda also has been able to make qualified referrals to a new Builder, Michael Emem of the Emem-Group.  To date- Great Midwest Bank has been the lead lender on the Walnut Circle/ Josey Heights Subdivisions completing 5 thus far.  Working with the Emem-group together we have closed other new construction homes in surrounding neighborhoods this past year. Brenda has received numerous awards during her career.  As an Entrepreneur, Parent Volunteer and various Community Events.

Michael Carlson, VP Real Estate Development, Impact Seven.

Michael Carlson, VP, Real Estate Development, Impact Seven. My goal is simple and unwavering: Build without ceasing, until every man, woman, and child in my community may know the dignity and comfort of having a place to call Home. I’ve worked relentlessly to develop my skills as a leader, a builder and developer, to bring ever-expanding value to the communities, agencies and clients I serve.

Courtney Cooperman is a housing advocacy organizer on the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) field team. As an organizer, Courtney mobilizes NLIHC’s network to advocate on federal policy priorities and tracks the latest developments in state and local affordable housing policy. Courtney also supports the Our Homes, Our Votes nonpartisan voter and candidate engagement campaign, which aims to increase voter turnout among low-income renters and elevate affordable housing as an election issue. Prior to joining NLIHC, Courtney was an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), the social justice arm of the Reform Jewish Movement. With a policy portfolio that included housing, nutrition, labor, and other economic justice issues, Courtney spearheaded the RAC’s advocacy on COVID-19 relief and recovery legislation. She also wrote blog posts and social media content, created resources for advocates, supported grassroots lobbying, and launched virtual programming to teach high school students about social justice. Courtney graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in political science. Her honors thesis, “Loss of Place, Loss of Voice: How Homelessness Impedes Political Equality,” explored homelessness as a source of political disenfranchisement. Courtney also served on the board of Heart and Home Collaborative, a seasonal shelter for women experiencing homelessness in the greater Palo Alto area.

Michael Emem, President & CEO, Emem Group. Michael is a proven leader in the built industry with over 15 years’ experience in architectural design, construction management and real estate development. Michael’s career objective is to create socially responsible real estate projects in areas that have historically lacked investment. A Milwaukee native, he has managed over $100M in construction and development projects, including over 600 new housing units. His firm, Emem Group, currently has $43M in active development projects and another $95M in projects in the pipeline. Michael graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a B.B.A concentrating in Finance and Real Estate. He also holds an A.S. in Architectural Technology from Milwaukee Area Technical College. Michael is also a graduate, and Valedictorian of the 2015 ACRE class and was a 40 Under 40 recipient at age 25. He is a proud husband and father of four.

Heidi Erstad is a retired educator, with experience as a classroom teacher, curriculum director, and educational systems consultant. BA in elementary education, MS in Instructional Technology, and Director of Instruction license.

Kristine Giornalista, AbleLight’s Vice President of Real Estate Development, is focused on creating AbleLight Village, which are housing communities that support choice, inclusion and independence for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Giornalista leads development in three metro areas, including Milwaukee, Wisconsin. AbleLight is a Wisconsin-based non-profit organization that provides life changing services that empower people we serve to thrive. Giornalista’s expertise is in creating affordable housing developments for vulnerable individuals and families. She has been involved in development projects totaling over $245 Million, ranging from public housing transformations to supportive housing to urban infill. She has experience with many forms of financing used in affordable housing, including LIHTC, Historic Tax Credits, HUD grant programs, FHLB Affordable Housing Program, Tax Increment Financing and brownfield remediation grants. Giornalista most recently served as VP of Real Estate Development for Impact Seven in Wisconsin. Kristine also advanced affordable housing projects at IFF and Heartland Housing in Illinois. Giornalista earned a Bachelor degree and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Rebecca Giroux is the Community and Economic Development Officer for Central/Southwest Wisconsin, spanning 19 counties, and project lead for WHEDA’s Rural Affordable Workforce Housing Initiative.  WHEDA’s CED team serves as the local presence throughout the entire state and partners with many stakeholders by serving as ambassadors, convenors, and collaborators to move forward affordable housing and economic development efforts. Rebecca joined WHEDA in May 2019 with an extensive 17-year background in retail banking, marketing and community relations. As a lifelong resident of Wisconsin, she is passionate about WHEDA’s mission of stimulating the state’s economy and improving the quality of life for Wisconsin residents by providing affordable housing and business financing products.

Heather Godley is a high school Social Studies teacher at Case High School in Racine. Born in Iowa, she has lived in Wisconsin for over a decade.  Her academic degrees include a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa, an M.A. from the University of Iowa, and an M.St. from the University of Oxford.  She began learning more about Milwaukee’s history as part of the education committee for the “200 Nights of Freedom” initiative to commemorate the marches for open housing in the 1960s.  She has really enjoyed the opportunity to write curriculum with “Divided by Design,” and looks forward to continuing to develop curriculum to help students see how the past impacts the present and to help them feel empowered to create change in their own communities. 

Noel S. Halvorsen, President & CEO, NeighborWorks Green Bay. Serving as President & CEO of NeighborWorks Green Bay since October 2000, Noel Halvorsen has extensive experience in resident leadership, asset management, housing, and community development.  Noel has led the acquisition, renovation, or development of 302 units of housing and 50,000 square feet of commercial space.  During his tenure, NeighborWorks Green Bay has counseled 15,412 area households and helped 3,453 families to purchase homes.  Noel has led the agency to ever-greater self-sufficiency, realizing 68% of total revenue from earned income versus gifts and grants. Noel is active in local and regional organizations including the Brown County Homeless & Housing Coalition, Envision Green Bay, and the NeighborWorks Alliance of Wisconsin.  He serves on the board of the National NeighborWorks Association, is a member of the NeighborWorks America Advisory Council and chairs the NeighborWorks America Technical Advisory Committee. Noel was raised in Sheboygan Wisconsin and moved to Green Bay to attend UW-Green Bay where he majored in Urban Studies.  He worked in local government planning and in the development of geographic information systems.  He has three children, collects books, and enjoys writing haiku.

Wendy Hamilton is equipped with over 25 years of experience in nonprofit sectors that focus on housing and community development. She has been employed with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC) since 2020 as the Program Manager of the Inclusive Communities, Opportunity MKE mobility program. Mrs. Hamilton’s primary focus is on assisting families with Housing Choice vouchers with the ability to access low-poverty communities. Through the delivery of mobility service components, families are successfully making moves to communities where their children and families will experience greater life outcomes. Her expertise allows her to navigate families through a myriad of barriers that they may encounter.

Andy Heidt has been an Ombudsman, Executive Director of a permanently affordable Family Housing/Supportive Service Non-profit, policy analyst and elected official. He is focused on permanent affordable housing for people at the lowest incomes and has a long history in social justice issues. He is an avid lover of nature and the outdoors. He is partial to bird migrations, mountains, and wild areas. 

Brad Hinkfuss is the Executive Director of Housing Initiatives, Inc., a non-profit organization with a 28-year history of providing permanent supportive housing to clients with who present with histories of homelessness and serious mental health conditions. The organization combines the roles of housing provider and supportive service provider in ways that few others attempt. His longer history includes over 20 years in working with affordable housing and service provision to highly vulnerable populations, including 15 years with Porchlight, Inc. and a shorter term with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. He has managed the design and construction of several large affordable housing projects and has worked closely with service providers to ensure that those designs anticipate the needs and issues that typically accompany supportive housing. Brad believes in keeping it real by never being too far removed from the people the agency serves. He is also a firm believer that excellent and appropriate design can go a long way in helping to address some of the most challenging issues in affordable housing. Strong services integrate with good design to create effective housing options.

Lawrence Hoffman is a broadly trained geographer and GIS professional interested in working on socially conscious projects that reconsider the logic and power dynamics of spatial production. His background in geography includes a BA from UW-Eau Claire, an MA from University of Arizona, and a GIS graduate certificate from UW-Milwaukee. In addition to his academic training he has experience in youth development, community engagement and bicycle advocacy. As GIS program program manager for Groundwork Milwaukee, he oversees projects that collect, analyze and publish geographic data in ways that augment Groundwork projects focusing specifically on putting the power of maps in the hands of residents who can use them to advocate for resources. He also leads GIS youth programming intended to excite the next generation about geography while teaching them technical skills.

Reggie Jackson, B.S., is a Co-Founder & Lead Trainer/Consultant for Nurturing Diversity Partners. He is a nationally heralded independent scholar and much sought-after speaker, researcher, writer, and consultant to the media on race relations. He helps institutions and individuals understand how our country’s racial hierarchy developed historically, its impact on our lives today, and how we can realize America’s promise for all its citizens. Reggie shares seldom-told stories and data about the experiences of African-Americans and other peoples of color past and present. In 2002 Reggie began serving as the Head Griot (pronounced GREE-oh: oral historian/docent) for America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM), leading hundreds of tours and training new griots. He also served as ABHM’s board president and became the protégé and close friend of its founder and historian, Dr. James Cameron, the only known survivor of a US lynching. Following Dr. Cameron’s death and the museum’s shuttering during the 2008 Great Recession, Reggie continued offering ABHM’s public history and dialogue programs in libraries, churches, and community organizations. This “museum beyond walls” initiative led to the successful rebirth of ABHM as a virtual (online) museum and laid the groundwork for the organization to work towards opening a new physical gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As ABHM focused its attention on opening a new physical museum, Reggie and his colleague Dr. Fran Kaplan decided to embark on a new adventure: creating Nurturing Diversity Partners (NDP) to provide education, training, and consulting services that foster diversity, inclusion, and equity. They sought to expand the types of communities they worked with, soon delivering programs in cities, suburbs/exurbs, and small towns all over Wisconsin and beyond. While NDP occasionally still consults with ABHM on specific projects, we are a completely separate organization with our own (albeit complementary) mission. Reggie has been working with NDP full time since 2018. A Navy veteran, Mr. Jackson has also taught sociology as an adjunct university professor, served as a middle school special education teacher, coached children’s sports, and worked as management at a workforce development firm. Trained as a Nurturing Parenting Program facilitator, Reggie is married and the father of a talented adult daughter.

John D. Johnson is a Research Fellow in the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, where he specializes in applying research practices from academia and data science to pressing policy issues facing Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Areas of focus include housing, demographics, and political trends. In addition, Johnson collaborates with Professor and Director of the Marquette Law School Poll Charles Franklin on all of the Law School’s polling projects. Johnson’s research has appeared in numerous publications including The AtlanticThe EconomistFiveThirtyEight, the Financial Times, WisPolitics, WUWM, and Wisconsin Public Radio. His writing appears in the Milwaukee Journal SentinelUrban Milwaukee, and the Marquette Lawyer magazine. He posts frequently at the Law School’s Faculty Blog, and he has been invited to speak to a Congressional select committee, the Urban Institute, the National League of Cities, and many other organizations. Prior to Marquette, Johnson grew up in rural west-central Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in History from Western Illinois University followed by a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He joined the Law School as a Research Associate in April 2016.

Anthony Kazee‘s background is in Construction Project Management and Estimating. He is responsible for overall project management starting with the safety and health of the worksite, including controlling budgets, negotiating subcontracts, and providing day-to-day communication with the project team to ensure jobs remain on schedule and within budget. Anthony fosters an environment of teamwork and ensures that strategy is clearly defined while overseeing performance and maintain morale. He has an excellent track record of strong working relationship with owners, architects, and engineers, resulting in successful construction experiences. His strong communication and client service skills enhances the Construction’ safety and process driven management philosophy. Anthony has completed over thirty rehabs and worked on numerous commercial projects as a Project Engineer and construction estimator. Anthony earned his Bachelor of Science in Construction Science and Management from Tuskegee University. Most recently became a 2019 graduate of LISC Milwaukee ACRE real estate program and earned his certification as a Rental Housing Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council. Anthony also received the 2018 Rising Young Professional in Construction Award. Most recently Anthony was featured in the Milwaukee Business Journal. Anthony is committed to community involvement and has participated in several community events. Anthony currently sits on the Harambee Neighborhood Improvement District, the FLSP board, and a member of the Mequon Milwaukee Rotary club.

Ariam Kesete was born and raised in Eritrea, East Africa. She came to the United States in 1997 with her
mother, entrepreneurial spirit. Ariam tapped into that spirit at a young age becoming the fourth
generation dedicated to furthering the improvement of her community and, to people as a whole,
through real estate development. She is an established real estate developer who founded her own company, AK Development, LLC in As the President, she established a vision for the company focused on the development of real estate, communities, and people.
AKD focuses on four core principles:
• Security: Addressing the basic needs of infrastructure to provide safe and secure
environments
• Responsibility: Igniting personal responsibility that creates a sense of ownership and pride in
real estate development in our communities.
• Accountability: Building projects that help address community concerns regarding the type of
development happening in our communities.
• Collaboration: Collaborating with community members and community leaders during
development process ensuring that the real estate development is reflective of what is
appropriate for our community.
• AKD projects consist of kitchen incubator, with 32 fully license member clients. Department of
Correction recovery housing, translational housing in partnership with existing organizations
working on the program for independent living; and, a homeownership program through an
AKD rental program. Since 2016 AKD has secured over 100 units and redevelop the North
Southside of Milwaukee for supportive housing services.
Ms. Kesete is currently building communities through her real estate development company and believes
that you are the architect of your life — but you have to know how to build the foundation by properly
laying the bricks.

Jani Koester has been the Lead TEP Resource Teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Transition Education Program (TEP) since March of 1989, before that she was a Special Education Teacher for 7 years. As an educator of children and youth for over 40 years, she has spent the last 33 years as part of the TEP team implementing the federal McKinney Vento law and supporting families experiencing homelessness in the Madison Schools.  She actively supports Madison’s 4K – 12 programs through technical support, awareness building, advocacy, professional development and community connections.
Jani is an active member of the Homeless Services Consortium – HSC (Dane County CoC) for years, both as a previous board member and currently supports many committees of the HSC.  She co facilitates The Double Up Workgroup (DUW) which focuses on the needs of doubled up and self paying in hotel populations experiencing homelessness and the ECHW (Early Childhood Homeless Workgroup) that focus on the awareness and needs of families experiencing homelessness with children that are not yet school aged. She values her involvement in the schools and community, especially when she is able to bring the voice of children and their families to the conversations. 

Kaitlin Konyn, Senior Manager, Baker Tilly. Kaitlin specializes in consulting with, and assisting developers apply for various sources of funds to build multifamily, affordable housing developments. She provides advisory services on real estate transactions that typically involve tax incentives such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Additionally, she­ provides consulting services to housing authorities and developers on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program from initial application to award to financing plan to RCC to closing.

Lisa Kuklinski, Senior Director, Residential & Community Programs, Heartland Housing. Lisa joined Heartland Housing in 2015.  As a part of Heartland Housing’s senior leadership team, she focuses on the participant experience in housing, ensuring deep collaboration between property management and services in operations as well as collaborating with Heartland’s real estate development team in planning future developments.  She has experience in all aspects of supportive housing development and operations.  Her responsibilities include design, monitoring and evaluation of resident services; monitoring contracts and performance with 7 third party resident services providers; external stakeholder and community building; leadership with community partners including local governments.  Lisa is also responsible for leading in policy and advocacy work on affordable and supportive housing issues in collaboration with Heartland’s Policy and Advocacy division. Prior to Heartland Housing, Lisa was Vice President for Public Affairs & New Markets at Mercy Housing Lakefront (MHL).  She was with MHL for 14 years in various roles in government and community affairs, public policy, communications, new market development and resident services. Lisa Holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Loyola University of Chicago.

Beth Lappen, MSW, APSW, is the Downtown Outreach Coordinator for Milwaukee County Housing Serivces and Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. Beth has a twenty-year career in homeless outreach and community mental health.  Beth has a passion for serving the more vulnerable and a strong sense of pride in her community. She enjoys partnering with law enforcement and security officers, businesses and citizens to identify individuals in need of assistance. Beth and her husband were both born and raised in Milwaukee and continue to live in and love the city.

Dean Loumos worked at Housing Initiatives in Madison, WI providing permanent supportive housing for over 700 chronically homeless individuals for 25 years.  Prior to that he worked in homeless Outreach programs in Dane Co and also learned his housing “chops” in opposing red lining and unscrupulous criminallandlords in Chicago in the early 1970’s who were setting fire to their apartments to collect insurance money.   He retired at the end of 2018, but came back to assist in providing supportive services at the Rethke Terrace Permanent Supportive Housing Program in Madison in the Fall of 2021 now being supplied by Tellurian.  Dean has been promoting Housing First policies for many years and has extensive experience in managing SHP’s from both Property Management and Supportive Services perspectives. Dean has been attending the Home for Everyone Conference for many years, assists in planning the conference and is a former Chuck Hill Award winner. 

Todd Mandel, Executive Director, Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development. Todd joined WPHD as Executive Director in 2021 after serving as a board member for the organization for 6 years. Todd brings deep experience in affordable housing to WPHD, particularly in rural and small communities. He previously oversaw development of more than $12 million in affordable ownership and rental housing, mostly in communities of less than 10,000 people. He is an experienced grant writer with more than 20 years of experience in the governmental and non-profit sectors. He has previously been a member of the Community Investment Advisory Council at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago as well as a member of the Great Lakes Advisory Council for the Minneapolis Federal Reserve. In 2020, Mr. Mandel completed a Master of Arts in Servant Leadership degree from Viterbo University in La Crosse.

Walter J. Orzechowski, Executive Director, Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP). Wally has master’s degrees in health care planning and business administration. His background includes public health, hospice, affordable housing, housing market research and development and community development. For almost twenty years Wally has been the Executive Director of SWCAP a rural, Wisconsin anti-poverty agency and has focused on reducing health disparities, developing affordable housing, encouraging local food production, job creation, small business development and many other projects to eliminate or reduce the problems faced by the rural poor. In recent years Wally’s focus has been on developing housing for specific rural populations including farm worker housing, small scale housing in rural communities and housing for person recovering from opioid addiction.  Most recently helping low income persons and families recover from the Covid 19 pandemic has been  another top priority.  

Brad Paul, Executive Director, WISCAP. Brad brings more than twenty years of local, national, and international experience developing partnerships and managing policy, education and research agendas related to issues of land, labor, housing, and poverty reduction. Brad has long been active in national anti-poverty and homelessness policy and advocacy work, serving as both the Housing Policy Director and Director of Public Policy at the National Coalition for the Homeless and then as co-founder and Executive Director of the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness (NPACH). His writings on housing, homelessness, human rights, and labor have appeared in such publications as Clearinghouse Review, Ms. Magazine, Shelter Force, International Union Rights, and the Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working Class History. He is also the primary author of the 2003 Bringing America Home Act, comprehensive federal anti-poverty legislation introduced in the 108th Congress. Prior to joining WISCAP, Brad worked in the field of international development for a number of organizations, including Technoserve Mozambique and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In this role, he served as liaison with a number of partner and donor agencies including the Government of Mozambique, USAID, USDA, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Irish Aid, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Aspen Institute. He also created and managed TechnoServe’s cooperative agreement with the Magellan MBA program at the Porto Business School (Porto, Portugal). In addition, Brad has previously served as Visiting Scholar in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Brad earned his PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where his research focused on 19th and 20th century U.S. Labor, and comparative labor and industrialization in South Africa and the American South. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Brad has also worked for the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Metro Atlanta Fair Housing.

Margaret Porco is the Vice President of Porco Consulting where she utilizes the Client Centered Management system, to help business, nonprofit and individuals achieve their goals and create impact. In addition, Margaret has served for over 10 years as the Assistant Director of Housing and Community Learning Centers at Housing Ministries of Wisconsin (HMW). As an Asst. Director, she works with residents and staff at six low-income housing communities in both Madison and Milwaukee, WI to manage housing and further the educational and employment programs that are offered at each site’s Community Learning Centers. Margaret has witnessed and been a part of the growth and success of these communities over her entire lifetime. As such, she is a dedicated advocate of the unique management model and principles at work in these communities and strives for greater awareness of the real potential that exists within our communities, particularly low-income communities, across the country. She has been a member of the Wisconsin Anti Poverty Strategic Planning Committee, is currently serving as the Secretary/Treasurer of IREM’s Madison Chapter and is a member of the AFHE Collaborative group. Margaret has a Bachelor’s of Arts from Lawrence University, is a lifetime learner and resides in Madison with her husband and 3 children.

Elisabeth Rask, Development Manager, Cinnaire Solutions. Elisabeth joined Cinnaire in 2021 as Development Manager in our Milwaukee, WI office. She if focused on matters related to the organization’s real estate development strategy and manages and coordinates the implementation of development projects. Elisabeth is driven to use her experience and talents to improve communities. She is particularly interested in addressing racial inequity by supporting affordable housing. Prior to joining Cinnaire, Elisabeth served as a Community Investment Programs Specialist at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago where she was a senior application reviewer of Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant applications. While pursuing her master’s degree, she also worked as a graduate research assistant facilitating community-led planning initiatives in economic development and housing, including managing community visioning sessions, increasing youth engagement, and translating community vision into planning recommendations. Elisabeth earned a B.S. in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Fausto Rivera joined Forward Community Investments (FCI) as a Community Lender in December 2021 and brings a wealth of financial and real estate knowledge having previously held positions with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and WWBIC. In his role with FCI, he will work with borrowers throughout the state at various stages of the financing process, from assisting with applications, assessing the viability of borrowers, conducting financial analyses, reviewing documents for loan approval, and presenting proposals to FCI’s lending committee. In addition to that, he will assist FCI as we continue to expand our reach throughout Wisconsin. In addition to his professional work, Fausto is very community-oriented and has involvement with the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County, Asset Builders of America Inc., and the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Young Professional Chapter and is a graduate of LISC Milwaukee’s Associates in Commercial Real Estate Program (ACRE).

Luke Rosynek, Quality Assurance and Strategy Coordinator, Milwaukee County. Born and raised in Milwaukee in the Roosevelt Grove neighborhood, 53216. Currently works in the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, Housing Services Division, as the Quality Assurance and Strategy Coordinator. Selected in 2015 to help found the Housing First Initiative. Since then, unsheltered homelessness in Milwaukee County has been reduced by 92%. In the same time, the total homeless population has been reduced by 46%. Organizes the Resident Advisory Council which is comprised of Milwaukee County residents who have lived experience of homelessness. The Council identifies system gaps, reflects on policy initiatives, and provides voice to people who have experienced homelessness in system evaluation, planning, and strategy. Luke manages supportive housing programs, case management and shelter contracts, and is a member of the Milwaukee County street outreach team.

Brandon Rule, President, Rule Enterprises. I’m a community advocate, leader, and strategist. I have a background in economics and sociology which enables me to understand complex financial issues in addition to the cause and effect of various economic phenomena. As a Developer at Rule Enterprises, I structure innovative commercial real estate developments to: – Create quality living for those in urban communities via housing, retail, office and community establishments. – Create revenue for federal, state and local governments. – Create jobs, those which may not have been available without the particular investment. I use my passion of community development, to create and consult for multifamily development, creation of wealth through business ventures and opportunity through equity to dismantle the economic disparities in communities of color across the country. My work in both Milwaukee, WI and Washington DC has allowed me to witnessed firsthand the major issues that small communities within a fairly large metropolitan areas are faced with. Brutal inequalities in measures of poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, and health benefits are all problems that are within the realm of correction. Whether its racial disparities, socioeconomic status, or get the attention of political figures, I will continue to listen to those from communities similar to mine and be the liaison that is needed to create and empower change.

Luke Samalya is President of Danna Capital. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Le Moyne College and a Master of Science from Marquette University, where he began his development career by evaluating the housing needs of vulnerable and at-risk members of the community. During his time as a Mental Health Therapist in Milwaukee, Luke realized that his patients were united by a common problem: a lack of safe and affordable housing. Inspired by the housing first movement, which prioritizes providing safe housing to address the root cause of mental health challenges, Luke made the decision to transition his career to affordable housing development. Luke graduated top of his class from the Associate in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) program, an industry supported initiative to expand minority representation in commercial real estate, and began working for both non-profit and for-profit housing developers in Wisconsin. In May 2020, Luke founded Danna Capital with a mission of providing resident and community-centric housing solutions. In the first year of operations, Danna Capital was allocated more than $20M dollars in state and federal credits as a co-developer for two affordable housing communities in Wisconsin. As a minority business owner, Luke is a passionate advocate for the importance of diversity and representation in the provision of housing solutions. For his work in the space of inclusivity and affordable housing, Luke received the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s 2021 Community First Award for Emerging Leadership. This award recognized the significant impact he has made in the world of affordable housing and for his leadership and advocacy in expanding minority and disabled representation.

Kori Schneider Peragine is an experienced housing professional employed with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC) since 1998. Housing policy and its racial and ethnic impacts as well as impacts on persons with disabilities is her area of expertise. Ms. Schneider Peragine has completed municipal housing reports called Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing for seven entitlement jurisdictions in Wisconsin, as well as one for Memphis, TN.  These reports identify barriers to equal access to housing opportunity and makes recommendations to remedy these barriers. Recently Ms. Schneider Peragine was responsible for the implementation of Opportunity MKE, a housing mobility program on the metropolitan Milwaukee area.  This program is part of a random assignment study and works with local Public Housing Authorities to assist families with rent assistance vouchers to secure housing in low poverty, high opportunity areas. In 2010, under Kori’s lead, MMFHC filed a federal fair housing complaint against Waukesha County for its failure to use its federal funds, as required, to reverse harmful effects of segregation, otherwise known as affirmatively furthering fair housing. Related, but not a part of her work at MMFHC, Ms. Schneider Peragine volunteers to lead Divided By Design|Milwaukee, a project aimed at teaching the history of Milwaukee’s housing segregation. Kori is a 1997 graduate of UW-Milwaukee’s MUP/MARCH joint degree.

Megan Schuetz, Real Estate Developer and Real Estate Development Program Manager, is in her fourth year at Movin’ Out leading the development of integrated, affordable, multi-family projects from inception through stabilization.  This includes six projects complete or under construction totaling almost $150M and over 500 units.  Movin’ Out’s mission is to provide integrated, affordable housing for people with disabilities and their families.  Prior to joining Movin’ Out, Megan spent 12 years with a top national real estate developer where she worked on over 40 multi-family housing development projects totaling more than $400M and creating over 2,500 units of affordable housing. 

Caroline Schultz is a senior associate at MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social policy research organization. She coordinates technical assistance for MDRC’s Supporting Moves to Opportunity study, which is examining the implementation and impact of housing mobility services in Milwaukee and St. Louis. These mobility programs collaborate with parents who have Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) as they search for housing in neighborhoods or communities that may offer greater long-term economic opportunities for the parents and their kids. Before joining MDRC in 2004, Caroline worked on community development and employment projects in Milwaukee.

Tyler Sheeran, Development Associate, Commonwealth Development Corp, leads entitlement and permitting activities for new multifamily developments in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. He works directly with local officials, community partners, landowners, and legal representatives to coordinate all activities throughout a project and bring it to a successful completion. Sheeran holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance with a minor in Economics from Winona State University. Tyler has prior experience with The Commonwealth Companies, spending a summer interning with the development team. Since joining Commonwealth full-time in 2020, Sheeran has worked on a variety of project types including Acquisitions and rehabilitation of existing apartment communities as well as ground-up new construction projects across the country. Since taking on a production role, Sheeran has overseen the development of nearly 500 units securing $91M in federal and state LIHTC equity.

Talis Shelbourne is a native Milwaukeean and investigative solutions reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a focus on affordable housing and lead issues. In addition to being a cat mom and a yogi, Talis enjoys knitting, jiujitsu, art, music, hiking, movies, documentaries, and long walks by the beach.

Lydia Smith is Director of the Emerging Minority Developer Fund (EMDF) for National Equity Fund, Inc. (NEF). EMDF is a $100M+ investment fund established in 2020 to build the financial capacity and experience of emerging Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) developers to help them overcome high barriers to entry in accessing Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to develop affordable housing. As the EMDF Director, her work is focused on identifying, nurturing and advocating for minority affordable housing developers, and LIHTC focused businesses owned and/or led by people of color. Lydia’s affordable housing experience spans a decade working in both the Accounting and Asset Operations departments for NEF.  She is passionate about making Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity more accessible for minority developers of color. She is committed to growing awareness about EMDF and driving education on the need for forward-thinking resources to support the next generation of developers. 

Jeffrey Stingley, Founding Member, Milwaukee County Resident Advisory Council. Born in Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac and raised in Milwaukee in the Hillside neighborhood, 53205. Jeff experienced homelessness most of his life until exiting homelessness permanently through the Housing First Initiative. He met them in 2015 while experiencing chronic homelessness. He moved into his first apartment on September 11, 2015. Jeff “graduated” from supportive housing and currently lives independent of Housing First services. He stays connected to the team to help improve Milwaukee’s homeless system. Jeff sits on the Board of Directors for the Milwaukee Continuum of Care and is a founding member of the Milwaukee County Resident Advisory Council. The Council identifies system gaps, reflects on policy initiatives, and provides voice to people who have experienced homelessness in system evaluation, planning, and strategy. Today, Jeff lives in a brand new apartment building in the Walker’s Point neighborhood.

Tegan Swanson is the Systems Change Coordinator at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, where she advocates for holistic, survivor-centered transformative responses to violence, harm, and healing. She works with anti-violence programs around Wisconsin, supports community-based multi-disciplinary teams, and offers systemic advocacy on the WI DCF Domestic Violence Task Force, the WI DOJ Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, and with housing partners at the WIBOSCOC.

Katrina Van Valkenburgh has more than 30 years of experience in social services and housing development. As the Central Region Managing Director at CSH, Ms. Van Valkenburgh provides leadership and coordination for the agency’s work throughout the center of the country, directly supervising CSH staff and their teams deployed in five offices, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Upper Midwest and coordinates Supportive Housing Institutes in Wisconsin and Missouri. She helps develop and implement strategies to maximize impact on high need communities in the Central Region, while also assisting with development of CSH’s national priorities, strategy and management, loan and program monitoring, and continuous quality improvement. Ms. Van Valkenburgh also served as the Program Director for both Illinois and Indiana, after beginning at CSH in 2000 as an Illinois Program Manager. Prior to joining CSH, Ms. Van Valkenburgh was the first Director of the Supportive Housing Providers Association, a trade association of not-for-profit supportive housing providers in Illinois. She also worked at Deborah’s Place as the Director of Project Development and was responsible for the development and rehabilitation of three permanent supportive housing projects and at Housing Opportunities for Women. She has a BA in Sociology from Kalamazoo College and completed the Urban Developers Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ms. Van Valkenburgh currently serves as Secretary of the Deborah’s Place II and Deborah’s Place III Boards of Directors. She received the Gem of the Community Award from Archi-treasures in 2009 and the Legacy Award from the Chicago Rehab Network in 2014 in recognition of exceptional commitment and contribution to building strong communities.

Mikal Wesley, President, Urbane Communities. Urbane Communities LLC is a real estate development and investment firm, headquartered in Milwaukee, WI. Urbane Communities works to develop strategic partnerships with public and private investors to further its goal of transforming urban landscapes and building communities. Urbane Communities specializes in commercial corridor development, commercial real estate development, rehabs and acquisition of existing multi- family units. Urbane Communities is currently partnering on real estate development projects in neighborhoods on Milwaukee’s North side and surrounding communities. Urbane Communities believes revitalized neighborhoods create a better sense of community among residents and greater opportunities for economic empowerment.

Matthew White is the Equal Rights Division Investigations Bureau Director, havingpreviously worked for the Department of Workforce Development as an Equal RightsOfficer and a Program and Policy Analyst for the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison Law School in 2006 with afocus in public and private sector labor and employment law.

Mary Wright is the President of the Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corp. And is responsible for the leadership and management of a $500M asset-size company. WHPC’s primary business is to acquire, develop and preserve affordable rental housing for lower income residents. WHPC maintains an AA- rating from Standard & Poor’s and owns 144 properties with over 8,300 units located throughout the State of Wisconsin. Prior to joining WHPC, Mary was a Vice President/Senior Relationship Manager in Commercial Banking for Wells Fargo Bank. She was responsible for providing financial solutions for local and global companies, strategic client relationship management, and growing the bank’s regional Wisconsin-based market share. Mary served as the Director of Multifamily Lending at the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), overseeing a staff of 52 professionals with responsibility for lending, tax credit allocation, credit risk management, asset management, and contract management for a $3.2B financial services entity. This was her second time returning to WHEDA where she worked in various positions in Asset Management and Multifamily Development. Mary spent 10 years as Vice President of Commercial Lending at Johnson Bank, Madison, Wisconsin.  Her responsibilities included business development, managing a $200M loan portfolio and a $45M bond portfolio, building the bank’s reputation in targeted markets, providing business finance solutions to clients, and cross selling other lines of business. Mary was instrumental as a corporate team member for the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program which included responsibility for creating a new corporation called Johnson Community Development Corporation, working on the submission of five applications to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and achieving four successful NMTC awards totaling $182M. Mary attended the Southern Methodist University Graduate School of Banking Commercial Lending School and received a BS in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.  Mary serves on numerous boards with a special interest in health care organizations. She enjoys volleyball, camping, and biking with her husband, Craig, and their two sons.