Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today the members of the Cook County Land Bank Authority’s Board of Directors, which will oversee the work of the land bank’s efforts to return vacant properties to productive use.
The board is comprised of a diverse group of professionals with expertise in a variety of fields, including housing, open space, real estate and commercial development to ensure the land bank authority can be nimble in responding to market demands.
“The land bank will be an important planning tool in the economic revitalization of the County’s most blighted neighborhoods,” President Preckwinkle said. “We have identified a diverse and dedicated group who will work to redevelop vacant and abandoned properties to put them back on the tax rolls.”
The Chicago Community Trust approved a $149,000 grant to underwrite start-up activities of the Cook County Land Bank Authority including recruiting staff, developing a business plan, creating program and operating policies and procedures, building a website, and other operational activities. The grant also secured the costs of technical assistance provided by the Center for Community Progress (CCP), the premier land bank experts in the country. The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development is preparing to submit a $20 million grant proposal to the Illinois Attorney General’s office for capital from the National Foreclosure Settlement to assist in funding the initial phases of the Land Bank Authority’s work.
The members of the Land Bank Authority Board of Director’s are:
- Bridget Gainer, Cook County Commissioner (D-10th)
- Jeffrey Sherwin, Mayor, Northlake
- Lawrence Grisham, Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development
- Herman Brewer, Bureau Chief, Cook County Bureau of Economic Development:
- Calvin Holmes, Chicago Community Loan Fund
- Carl A. Jenkins, Harris N.A.
- Sarah L. Ware, The Carter Ware Group, Inc.
- Stephen Porras, Axia Development
- Emy Brawley, Openlands
- Julie Dworkin, Policy Director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Bridget Gainer co-sponsored the ordinance creating the Cook County Land Bank Authority. Commissioner Gainer has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors and her career has provided her a strong foundation in finance, human services and the workings of local government.
Jeffrey Sherwin is the Mayor of the City of Northlake. Previously, Mayor Sherwin was a private practice attorney focusing on real estate matters. Sherwin has served as Chairman of the Metropolitan Mayors, President of the West Central Municipal Conference, Chairman of the North Central Council of Mayors and Chairman of the Lower Des Plaines Advisory Committee.
Lawrence Grisham manages the Housing Bureau of the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development. He co-manages the department and oversees the department’s affordable housing programs and activities. This includes multi-family rental projects, single-family purchase and rehab assistance, foreclosure prevention and mitigation programs, and housing preservation efforts.
Herman Brewer is the Bureau Chief for the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development. He previously served as the bureau’s Director of Capital Planning & Community Development departments. Before joining Cook County, Brewer served as Executive Vice President of the Chicago Urban League, managing daily operations and program areas. Brewer also served in several capacities with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, (LISC) including Program Vice President with the national office and as a senior officer.
Calvin L. Holmes is the President of the Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF). Under his leadership, CCLF’s lending has leveraged nearly $900 million in additional public- and private-sector capital in over 60 lower wealth Chicagoland communities, over 6,700 units, and more than 2.4 million square feet of community and commercial/retail space. In addition, CCLF has solidified its position as a leading early-stage lender for community developers, a primary lender for affordable housing cooperatives and social enterprises and a principal promoter of sustainable development in metropolitan Chicago.
Carl A. Jenkins is Vice President and Director of Community Investments for Harris N.A., the $50 billion U.S. banking subsidiary of BMO Financial Group. He oversees investments through equity and debt partnerships to finance real estate development and business expansion. Jenkins also manages over $100 million of third party investments in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. He previously served as a commercial real estate lender for BMO Capital Markets and Harris’ Community Development team.
Sarah L. Ware is a principal and managing broker at The Carter Ware Group, Inc., a real estate firm that specializes in property sales, purchases and management; market research; and management consulting for investors or real estate assets. Ware represents private equity firms, non-profit institutions, public/government entities, and individual buyers and sellers of residential and commercial real estate and has developed and implemented creative sales techniques and innovative marketing strategies for Chicago’s changing real estate market.
Stephen Porras is the founder of Axia Development, Inc. Porras has served in primary and sub-consulting roles to for-profit and non-profit developers and public housing authorities seeking to undertake affordable rental housing development. Porras has also helped urban planning firms develop neighborhood economic development strategies andmunicipal governments seek to forge successful public-private partnerships for the development of workforce housing.
Emy Brawley serves as Director of Land Preservation for Openlands, a regional leader in conservation. Previously, she lived in Colorado, where she managed transactions and projects for the county’s sales-tax-funded open space program. Brawley has represented local governments, non-profit conservation organizations, and private individual and corporate landowners, primarily in real estate matters. Brawley also serves as Treasurer of the Prairie State Conservation Coalition, the statewide coalition of Illinois land trusts.
Julie Dworkin is the Director of Policy at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), an advocacy organization that works to address the root causes of homelessness. Dworkin worked on a statewide legislative campaign called It Takes a Home to Raise a Child to prevent and reduce family homelessness. The campaign passed legislation that resulted in a statewide homelessness prevention program that has kept more than 100,000 families in Illinois from becoming homeless, a statewide rental subsidy program to provide affordable housing for 2,500 households, and $134 million in the state capital budget for housing. She also co-led a Chicago housing campaign that resulted in the passage of an ordinance dedicating TIF funds for the redevelopment of foreclosed properties as affordable housing.