Our Principals


CEMDI’s Advisory Board brings unparalleled experience and personal commitment to the initiative. The combination of lived experience and professional credentials serves to ensure CEMDI’s strategies are laser-focused on the needs of emerging minority developers as they grow their businesses in Chicago.

Gwendolyn Hatten Butler


Ms. Hatten Butler is Chair of the Community Development Commission of the City of  Chicago. She is an Independent Director of Mutual of America Financial Group, Wells Enterprises, Inc., and Ferguson Partners, and a Senior Advisor with Capri Investment Group, a real estate development and direct investment firm that has completed more than $14 billion in commercial real estate investments over the past 25 years. She is a qualified financial expert with demonstrated success in developing and executing growth strategies, managing regulated businesses, capital markets, risk management, capital raising, economic development, and non-profit and for-profit corporate board leadership. 

Graham C. Grady


Graham Grady is a partner at Taft Law where he advises real estate developers, investors and property owners. He assists clients in building consensus with local elected officials, government entities, community organizations and other stakeholders. As a former Zoning Administrator, Buildings Commissioner and Ex-Officio member of the Chicago Plan  Commission, his practice encompasses zoning, land use, economic incentives, building code compliance, licensing, construction agreements, government and legislative approvals. 


Leon I. Walker, Esq.


Leon I. Walker, ESQ. is the managing principal at DL3 Realty Advisors, a locally engaged and nationally recognized development firm that invests in high-impact commercial real estate projects pursuant to the firm’s proprietary “Venture  development” model. The firm’s developments have created over 3,000 local jobs in the past five years, and he has a 10-year goal of creating 10,000 new jobs in Chicago’s historically disinvested neighborhoods. He has received numerous industry awards for his development work, including three prestigious LISC/Chicago awards for the most outstanding for-profit neighborhood development, and the 2018 ULI Community Impact Award. 


“Our commitment to Chicago’s neighborhoods and increasing diversity in commercial real estate development is personal. Through the Chicago Emerging Minority Developer Initiative (“CEMDI”), we are helping to build the next generation of African American and Latinx real estate developers in Chicago.”