Meet The Team
Catherine “Katy” Crosby
Catherine “Katy” Crosby serves as the Town Manager for the Town of Apex, North Carolina. In this capacity, she is the chief executive officer overseeing day-to-day operations and a budget of approximately $150 million. Prior to that, she served as the Chief of Staff to Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and the City of Toledo. In this capacity, she was delegated the responsibility as the Chief Administrative Officer providing leadership to approximately 2,700 employees and overseeing day to day operations which included administering a total budget of more than $800 million.
Katy provides consultation to communities and financial institutions on strategies for equitable community and economic development in underserved communities. Her expertise includes enforcing local civil rights ordinances in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodation, and credit; overseeing contract compliance and capacity building programs for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses; and community relations programs that focus on immigrant integration, reducing violence, and improving the relationship between the community and police.
She is the board chair of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an organization focused on policies and strategies that increase wealth for low-income communities and communities of color. She is a member of the Higher Learning Commission board, one of six institutional accreditors in the United States and The Root Cause Coalition, a national coalition of organizations addressing health inequities through cross-sector partnerships. She also serves on the community advisory council for PNC Bank.
Robert Dickerson, Jr.
Executive Director Birmingham Business Resource Center
Bob Dickerson has spent his career finding ways to get money into the hands of people. For years, he did it as a commercial and consumer lending officer while working at several large financial institutions. Today, he does it as the Executive Director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center and Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Capital, a Small Business Administration Certified Development Company.
Bob founded the BBRC in 1996 after realizing there was no program in Birmingham that combined loan programs with capacity building and advocacy – three things every business needs to succeed. Bob secured the support of Birmingham elected officials, and various development companies and boards to start the BBRC. What he ended up with was an organization that has become a “one-stop-shop” for small business financing and technical assistance. The programs the BBRC manages have produced nearly 900 million in loans to businesses since 1996.
Bob graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1973 with a degree in business administration. He has worked at several financial institutions but said that working for Birmingham business icon, A. G. Gaston may have been the greatest moment in his career. Gaston made such an impression on Bob, that he and others started the A.G. Gaston Economic Empowerment Conference in 2005. The annual conference focuses on challenges and achievements of black and other minority businesses and examines how to strengthen them through networking, skills development, and targeted workshops. The conference is held in February in Birmingham, Alabama. Recently, Bob founded Building Alabama Reinvestment (BAR), a statewide coalition of non-profit organizations that works to make sure that banks’ efforts under the Community Reinvestment Act pay dividends to the community.
Bob is a member of several foundations, boards, and civic organizations. He serves as Chairman of the Board of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and he also serves on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Board of Directors. In addition to those, he serves on the boards of the Birmingham Business Alliance, the A. G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club, the Talladega (Alabama) College Board of Trustees, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, the Camino Loan Fund Board of Directors, the city of Birmingham’s Commercial Development Authority, the City of Birmingham Community Development Entity, Community Capital Trust Board of Trustees and the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama’s Boards of Directors.
His efforts in helping people have recently earned him the NAACP Medgar Evers Award and the Tri County Links President’s Award. In addition to these, Bob also was the recipient of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce’s Jesse J. Lewis Jr. Community Service Award and the Birmingham Business Journal’s Minority Business Executive of the Year in 2007.Bob and the BBRC received the National “Access to Capital” Award from the Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency in 2009, and in 2013, Dickerson received recognition as “Executive of the Year” from the Birmingham Business Alliance. Bob serves on community advisory boards for several financial institutions including BBVA, IBERIABANK, Valley Bank, Truist Bank, and Cadence Bank where he helps guide executives with support in creating more successful high impact community development programs. Bob was honored as the 2018 recipient of Keeper of the Dream Award presented by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for his work to achieve economic justice for all.
President and CEO- Urban Land Conservancy
Aaron has 30 years of experience running community development and affordable housing companies. He has over seen more than $1.4 billion in direct economic development, including over 3,000 permanently affordable homes and 1.2M sq. ft. of nonprofit/educational facilities Aaron joined ULC in 2007 and leads this unique nonprofit real estate company in partnering with a wide range of organizations in the Denver metro area on the strategic acquisition and development of land and buildings to preserve and enhance their ability to create sustainable benefits in underserved communities.
ULC has invested over $180 million in community real estate and leveraged more than $1.25 billion in affordable housing and nonprofit facility development. Recently, Aaron led the $62M acquisition of Johnson and Wales University, 25+ acre campus in Denver that is supporting K-12 education, permanent affordable housing (LIHTC), and job training and incubation for start-up businesses of color. ULC has partnered on 11 LIHTC developments. Over 12,500 people and (more than 80% are low income households) and 2,100 jobs are served by ULC’s community real estate investment.
Aaron is a founding member of the Neighborhood Development Collaborative and Mile High Connects, and currently serves on the Board of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC). Prior to his work at ULC, Aaron was the Executive Director of Thistle Community Housing, providing oversight on one of the fastest growing non-profit housing providers in Colorado. In his nine years at Thistle, the organization’s affordable housing production grew from 100 homes to 1,000 rental and ownership homes valued at over $70 million. He completed four LIHTC developments at Thistle. Most importantly, Thistle grew from serving 250 people a year to over 3,000 people annually in need of affordable housing.
Before moving to Colorado, Aaron worked in Baltimore running two inner city nonprofit community development corporations, Southwest Visions and The Loading Dock. He was a Goldsmith Scholar in International Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has his BA in History & International Studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, and a Masters in Public Policy from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Executive Director for HousingNOLA
Andreanecia M. Morris serves as the Executive Director for HousingNOLA, a 10-year partnership between the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA), the Foundation for Louisiana, the City’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and dozens of public, private, and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis.
Prior to her role as Executive Director, Morris spearheaded the HousingNOLA 10-year Strategy and Implementation Plan, released on December 10, 2015. The strategy indicates the need for 33,600 additional affordable units in the city by 2025. Further, the data clearly shows that wages have not come close to mirroring the dramatic rise in housing costs.
A graduate of Loyola University, Morris has worked to create affordable housing opportunities in the Greater New Orleans Area in both the public and private sector. Morris has assisted in creating opportunities for approximately 500 families to become first time homebuyers after Hurricane Katrina, and she was lead organizer for GNOHA when it started in 2007 as collaborative coalition of non-profit housing builders and community development corporations who work to rebuild the City of New Orleans.
Morris has established connections with community members, governmental officials and media to successfully promote the agenda for low to mixed-income housing in the Greater New Orleans region, and many people consider her a key player in rebuilding the city of New Orleans. Leaders like Morris and the organizations she is involved in have been actively sowing the seeds of transformation in a city known for its racial polarization, Nimbyism and challenging political infrastructure. Much of the city’s progress to date has depended upon citizen leadership and an emerging infrastructure of nonprofit organizations that have helped local residents build their ability to influence policy decisions and develop creative, bottom-up solutions to the issues facing their communities.
Morris serves as President/Chairwoman for the GNOHA Board of Governors, which supports and advises the efforts to preserve and production of affordable housing for people within the Greater New Orleans Region and places a special emphasis on the needs of the most vulnerable in society—seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, low-wage workers and low-income families. Morris also co-chairs the Louisiana Housing Trust Fund Initiative, and she is a member of the Housing Authority of New Orleans’ Board of Commissioners, City of New Orleans Interagency Council on Homelessness, Lafitte Greenway Steering Advisory Committee, Louisiana Alliance for Economic Inclusion, CONNECT Coalition Steering Committee, JP Morgan Chase Louisiana Community Advisory Board, lowernine.org Board of Directors, ASI Federal Credit Union Board of Directors, Friends of Lafitte Greenway Board of Directors, Project Homecoming Board of Directors American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) Crescent City Connections Express Network and the American Heart Association Multicultural Leadership Committee. She was recognized by the FDIC in 2011 for her leadership and service in supporting the mission of Southeast Louisiana Alliance for Economic Inclusion (AEI) Initiative. In 2014, she was named to 2014 CityBusiness Woman of the Year Class. She received the NeighborWorks ® Community Building & Engagement Staff Award for her work at the Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center and the NEWCITY Neighborhood Partnership in 2015. Morris was also selected in 2015 to represent New Orleans in the East West Center US-Japan Grassroots Exchange focusing on Citizen Participation in Community Building Post-Disaster. In April 2016, UNITY of Greater New Orleans named Morris Outstanding Advocate for Affordable Housing.
South Bend Heritage Foundation
Arden brings 30 years of diverse nonprofit housing and community development experience to his role as board chair of CRASF. Mr. Shank, as President/CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, has a deep knowledge of specialized community-based housing issues including corporation start-ups, restructuring, fundraising and capital project implementation. Mr. Shank has capitalized on his skills and expertise to expand NHSSF from a small agency of three staff members to a sophisticated operation with a professional team, an engaged 12-member board, and an expanded territory that includes Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. NHSSF has five lines of business including homebuyer preparation, mortgage lending, housing development, real estate brokerage, and neighborhood revitalization.
As a chartered member of the NeighborWorks network, NHSSF is certified to meet a high standard of fiscal integrity and service performance to assist local residents in developing leadership, improving their neighborhoods, and securing decent, affordable housing. Through his association with NeighborWorks, Mr. Shank graduated from Achieving Excellence, an intensive performance-driven organizational investment program for seasoned senior executives in community development jointly sponsored by NeighborWorks America and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He worked with a diverse base of partners to form a consortium of community-based organizations that could pool their talents and expertise to help stabilize neighborhoods reeling from the foreclosure crisis. This resulted in NHSSF and six other partners forming a consortium that was awarded $89,375,000 by HUD through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Round 2. The Consortium, with NHSSF as the lead agency, completed its grant expenditures on time and producing 1500 housing units.
Mr. Shank’s commitment to making communities stronger has resulted in his involvement with numerous organizations including a board member of National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the founder and board chair of Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ Community Advisory Council, and a board of the South Florida Community Development Coalition.
Senior Administrator Fair Lending, Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, Milwaukee, WI
Bethany Sanchez directs the Fair Lending Program at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, working to ensure that every credit-worthy borrower has equal access to fairly-priced credit. In this position at MMFHC for over 21 years, she works across sectors to develop and operate initiatives to encourage sustainable homeownership opportunities, and combat predatory lending and foreclosure. Bethany has over 40 years of experience working in the nonprofit housing and community development sector in California and Wisconsin.
Beverly L. Watts served as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission from July 2007until February 2022. Prior to that she served she served as Special Advisor to the Chair at the U S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission responsible for state and local relations. She has more than 35 years of experience in civil rights enforcement, community engagement, social justice and education in the public and private sector. She served as the first Executive Director of the National Fair Housing Training Academy in Washington DC responsible for developing and presenting training fair housing investigators.
Beverly has served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; Director of Management Advisory Services for the Ralph G. Moore and Associates; Regional Director of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Executive Director, Illinois Minority and Female Business Enterprise Council (MWBE)and as one of the first Title IX coordinators in the country during her tenure at the US Office for Civil Rights. She was adjunct faculty at Spalding University. She has made presentations to numerous organizations on civil rights, diversity, and leadership at the national and international level. She created the KY Commission on Human Rights Civil Rights hall of Fame Beverly has developed collaborative partnerships throughout her career to develop events and programs in race relations, leadership development, human rights, and community building.
Beverly is a two term Past President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA), a membership organization of global human rights agencies. She represented IAOHRA throughout the US, Canada and at the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa. She also served as the IAOHRA in other roles including Southern Region Representative, Vice President, and Annual Conference Planning Chair. She served as Chair of Women Executives in State Government; the Mission Advisor and Power of Inclusion Chair to the Cable Nashville Board; and as Committee Chair of the Stand Against Racism of the YWCA of Middle Tennessee.
She is a life member is a life member of the NAACP where she currently serves as the Special Advisor to the Chair for Fair Housing & Equity. She is a member of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition Board where she chairs the Race, Wealth and Community Services Committee.
Beverly is the recipient of numerous awards including YWCA of Middle Tennessee 2014 Carrie Hull Award, the City of Louisville Martin Luther King Award, the 2018 Cable Power of Inclusion Special Legacy Award, the 2018 YWCA Women of Achievement and the 2022 TN State Conference Achievement Award. In 2005 she was inducted into the KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
She is a graduate of numerous, local, state, and national leadership programs. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University, Southern Illinois University and Executive leadership programs at Duke University and the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Executive Director, Hawaii Alliance for Community Based Economic Development (HACBED), Honolulu, HI
Brent Kakesako is the executive director of the Hawai?i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED), a nonprofit that strengthens the strategic readiness of communities and the capacity of community-based organizations to achieve their vision of genuine wealth. Brent is humbled to carry on HACBED’s 30-year legacy by overseeing its management, operations, and strategy; developing and coaching the team; and providing capacity building, facilitation, network building, and other technical support. Brent co-facilitated a local chapter of a global accelerator that led to the launch of three companies and co-founded a consultancy that supported local entrepreneurs with creating community-focused programs. He received his MBA from the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawai?i at M?noa, a law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law, and a bachelor of arts cum laude from Harvard University. Brent also serves on the Strategic Advisory Board for Hawai’i Energy.
“I wake up every day motivated to make the world the absolute best place it can possibility be – and it all starts with me.”
This is the philosophy by which Carol Johnson lives, and it is why her passion and commitment to civil rights, social justice, worker protections and economic development and empowerment for everyone – regardless of their race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status – makes her a tireless, passionate and effective leader and advocate for equal rights and economic advancement.
Director Johnson, who now serves the inaugural role as Austin’s first Civil Rights Officer where she directs the City’s inaugural Civil Rights Office, has spent her professional career advocating for housing protections, educational equality, fair wages, safe labor standards, workers’ compensation for injured workers, police reform, and other important and necessary civil rights protections in housing, education, employment and public accommodations.
Director Johnson served as the first African American Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Garland County, Arkansas, and went on to direct the State of Arkansas’ first civil rights enforcement agency – the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission. Director Johnson became one of a few African American Civil Rights Directors for the State of Oregon where she was tasked with defending rights to equal opportunity in employment, housing, public accommodations, vocational career schools, whistleblower, FMLA, pay equity, health benefit protections, paid leave and other state protected laws across more than 30 protected classes and bases. Director Johnson also previously served as Chief of Intake, Programs and Compliance at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for Region X, serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.
Director Johnson notes the highlight of her civil rights career as ushering in civil rights enforcement in Arkansas where she served for 14 years as Executive Director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission (AFHC) – a new state agency and the only state civil rights enforcement agency charged with protecting the civil rights of Arkansans. Director Johnson was named Executive Director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission in 2005, working in a bi-partisan capacity under the Executive leadership of the past three Arkansas Governors.
As Director of the sole civil rights enforcement agency in the State of Arkansas, Director Johnson had the distinction of creating a name for Arkansas as a leader in civil rights and fair housing enforcement by building a quasi-judicial, regulatory, enforcement agency which receives, investigates and otherwise resolves fair housing/fair lending complaints within the State of Arkansas’ 75 counties and nearly 3 million residents.
Director Johnson is responsible for establishing the infrastructure necessary to enforce civil rights in Arkansas, and developed AFHC from its infancy stages and transitioned it from a newly formed capacity-building organization under HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program to a fully functioning and highly recognized fair housing and fair lending civil rights enforcement agency nationwide.
In 2016, Director Johnson was appointed to the Arkansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was in 2018 appointed Chair of the Arkansas Advisory Committee. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was established as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, empowered to, “inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws by studying alleged deprivations of voting rights and alleged discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice. The Commission plays a vital role in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.”
During her tenure with AFHC, Director Johnson resolved numerous civil rights, fair housing and fair lending cases and assisted many Arkansas municipalities in creating and/or amending existing ordinances to comply with civil rights requirements and worked with numerous housing authorities, housing developers, housing providers, lenders, real estate professionals, and others to lend critical technical support aimed at open housing access to protect both the public interest and the needs of the housing industry.
Director Johnson led Arkansas in creating fair housing/fair lending education programs and training opportunities for those in the housing community and regularly trains housing providers, architects, property owners, managers, developers, consultants, appraisers, attorneys, municipalities, non-profits organizations, home-seekers and others on applicable fair housing/fair lending laws and regulations. Director Johnson designed three 8-hour fair housing/fair lending training courses still being offered by the Commission: (1) Fair Housing: Management and Best Practices; (2) Fair Housing: Design and Construction; and (3) Fair Housing: Legal Updates. In addition to providing the subject matter expertise to develop these training classes, Director Johnson also provides professional training to students and adult learners and uses proven techniques designed to provide participants with an overall view of fair housing and fair lending key issues.
Director Johnson is committed to designing and promoting educational outreach opportunities for the general public as well as industry leaders. Since 2005, Director Johnson has hosted free annual Civil Rights Conferences for Fair Housing Month in April to commemorate and highlight advancements in civil rights and fair housing/fair lending statewide and nationally. In 2019, Director Johnson hosted her 14th national conference with more than 400 attendees and 73 local, state and nationally-recognized speakers.
Director Johnson’s commitment to educating and empowering the next generation of civil rights warriors includes her passionate service as an Instructor and Subject Matter Expert for HUD’s National Fair Housing Training Academy, a national fair housing training program that teaches fair housing professionals nationwide how to improve their skills in investigations and strategically enforcing fair housing laws in an effective, comprehensive and timely manner.
Director Johnson serves on numerous boards and committees and is a member of the National Bar Association (Arkansas and Oregon Chapters), serves on the Oregon Black Pioneers Board of Directors and as the Legislative Committee Chair for Portland Chapter of The Links, Inc., an international group of African American professional women.
Director Johnson has worked extensively in the areas of police reform and, as Chair of the Arkansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, held a series of committee hearings in 2019 to review the issue of mass incarceration and its negative impact on communities of color.
Later in 2019, Oregon Governor Kate Brown appointed Director Johnson to the Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force created to address concerns of racial inequity in interactions between law enforcement and people of color.
Also, in 2019, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler appointed Director Johnson to the Portland Police Citizen’s Review Committee, an advisory body to the Portland Bureau’s Independent Police Review (IPR) and Internal Affairs Committee.
Director Johnson was elected to the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA) Board of Directors in 2014, as a board member at-large and in 2017 and 2019 its 2nd Vice President. IAOHRA’s mission is to provide opportunities and forums for the exchange of ideas and information among member agencies and human rights advocates. IAOHRA provides assistance in developing programs to eliminate illegal discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, public services and commercial transactions, including banking and lending practices.
A licensed attorney, Director Johnson has worked in various areas of administrative, civil and criminal law, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas; a Master of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a Juris Doctor from the William H. Bowen School of Law.
Cornell Crews, Jr.
Executive Director of Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida
Cornell Crews Jr. is the Executive Director of the Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida. A non-profit membership organization serving Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, dedicated to the enforcement and preservation of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. His previous employment included 16 years at Partners for Self-Employment Inc. (PSE).
Prior to working at PSE, Cornell served 24 years and retired from the US Army where his many duties included First Sergeant, Special Operations, Communications Chief, Senior Drill Sergeant and Master Parachutist. He participated in numerous missions and deployments. Cornell attended a variety of military schools and training courses. He holds a BA in music performance from the University of Maryland.
Cornell has served on and chaired several boards in South Florida. To include Catalyst Miami – Chair, Miami Dade Economic Advocacy Trust – Chair, Miami Beach Community Development Corporation – Chair, Nonprofit Executive Alliance of Broward – 2d Vice Chair, Florida Coalition of Micro Business Developers – Chair, Connect Capital Miami – Co-Chair, South Florida Youth Symphony, Truist Bank Community Advisory Board, Miami Dade County Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board, First Horizon Bank Community Advisory Board, 5/3 Bank Community Advisory Board, Communities In Schools Miami. He has also served and participated on numerous committees and projects for betterment of our communities.
Cornell is father of three girls and a proud Grandfather of one. Cornell’s interests include music, travel, politics, history, photography and learning to cook.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Chicanos Por La Causa,
Since Adame was named to this post, CPLC has experienced significant growth and expansion in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, Texas, and Mexico.
Adame has been with CPLC since 2008, serving as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer prior to becoming President and CEO. Adame got his professional start at CPLC in 1985 upon graduation from college, serving two years as CPLC’s Director of Economic Development before moving on.
In between this time at CPLC, Adame crafted an impressive career in business, nonprofits and boards, including an extensive resume in real estate and development projects. He was Vice President of Arizona Operations for McCormack Baron & Salazar from 2003 to 2008, responsible for overseeing the firm’s role in Henson Village, a HOPE VI project in Phoenix. He served as Senior Deputy Director of Fannie Mae’s Arizona Partnership Office from 1997 to 2003. Adame was Program Officer with the Phoenix Office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), from 1994 to 1997, where he managed the HOMESTART program, and he worked at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (then called Bank One Arizona) for eight years, including as Corporate Banking Associate and later as Assistant Vice President in the Retail Business Loan Center.
Born and raised just south of downtown Phoenix, Adame holds a B.S. in Business from Arizona State University (ASU) and an MBA from the ASU School of Global Management. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Arizona, and an Honorary Doctorate from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM, or the National Autonomous University of Mexico).
Over the years, Adame has served on numerous boards, including: the Greater Phoenix Economic Council; the AARP Foundation; the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders; the Arizona-Mexico Commission; the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation; Unidos US; the Community Reinvestment Fund USA; the Creighton University Presidential Health Sciences Phoenix Advisory Board; and the Arizona Housing Commission.
Recent honors include the Individual Hero of Education Award by Maricopa Community Colleges and the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce.