Bringing leaders in the field from the public, private and nonprofit sectors together around the goal of building the pipeline of minority developers in Chicago

CEMDI Co-Founders: Gwendolyn Hatten Butler, Graham Brady, and Leon Walker

The Chicago Emerging Minority Developer Initiative (CEMDI) is working to advance equitable development and inclusive growth by building a pipeline of community-focused developers from African-American, Latinx and other minority communities to participate in commercial real estate development projects city-wide. The summit brought together leaders in the field from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to discuss current initiatives and future opportunities to advance this important goal.


Collaboration is keY Panelists

From left to right:
Maurice Cox, Commissioner, City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development
Michael Davidson, Senior Director of Community Impact, The Chicago Community Trust
Collete English Dixon, Executive Director, Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, Roosevelt University
Calvin Holmes, President, Chicago Community Loan Fund
Rob Rose, Executive Director, Cook County Land Bank Authority

Moderated by Leon Walker, Managing Partner, DL3 Realty

panelist bios:

Celebrated for his experience merging architecture, design and politics through multiple public, private and elected positions, Cox is responsible for leading DPD’s economic development, planning and zoning functions while fostering community-improvement initiatives throughout the city. His primary focus is under-invested neighborhoods on the South and West sides.

In his previous capacity as director of planning and development for the City of Detroit, Cox created a new, resident-centered planning and development department and led innovative urban planning and revitalization strategies that championed the equitable redevelopment of neighborhoods that fostered population growth and new mixed-use, mixed-income investment.

Michael Davidson is senior director of community impact for The Chicago Community Trust where he leads the neighborhood investment strategy. His portfolio builds the conditions for neighborhood-scale wealth creation, helping the region’s underinvested communities attract, retain and drive investment. Prior to this role, Davidson was the Trust’s senior program officer in sustainable development. During his tenure at the Trust, he has been involved in the creation of such bold initiatives as Elevated Chicago, the Chicago Community Desk, Food:Land:Opportunity – Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, the Pre-Development Fund, Great Rivers Chicago and others.

Collete English Dixon is the executive director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University. During a distinguished career, English Dixon served as executive director and vice president of transactions for PGIM Real Estate (formerly known as Prudential Real Estate Investors) where she co-led the national disposition efforts. Previously, she was vice president of Midwest Region Acquisitions, where she led the Midwest new investment effort in seven markets. Among her top investments were the development of 550 West Washington, Lincoln Center II and III in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, and Marshfield Plaza in Chicago, and the acquisition of a three-property Kimpton Hotel portfolio in Chicago, Denver and Salt Lake City.

She is a Past President of CREW Chicago, a Past President of CREW Network, a Past Chair of the CREW Network Foundation, a full member of ULI and the 2016-2019 Chair of the UDMU Council/Purple. She is a former member of the Advisory Council for the Chicago School of Real Estate at the Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration, Roosevelt University and the Immediate Past Chair of the Advisory Council for the Goldie Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Real Estate InitiativeIn addition, English Dixon is a member of the Board of Directors of the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry.

Calvin L. Holmes has served as the President of Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF) since 1998. CCLF is a nonprofit, U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution approaching $90 million in assets that provides responsible financing and technical assistance for community stabilization and development efforts that benefit low- to moderate-income neighborhoods throughout metropolitan Chicago. Under his leadership, CCLF’s lending is leveraging over 9,000 housing units, over 4,800 jobs and $1.3 billion in additional capital in 70 lower wealth Chicagoland communities and CCLF has become one of the largest single metropolitan area CDFIs in the country. Holmes’ community development career spans over 30 years, including work as a budget planner for a $140 million rapid-transit project in Chicago and as property manager of a 200-unit assisted housing portfolio in Baltimore.

He recently served as the Chairman of Community Development Advisory Board-CDFI Fund (appointed by President Obama) and currently serves on the Bank of America and US Bank National Community Advisory Councils, Kroger Community Development Entity, LLC Advisory Board, PNC Bank Advisory Board (Illinois) and the Illinois Real Estate Appraisal Administration and Disciplinary Board. He serves on the boards of the Cook County Land Bank Authority (Treasurer), Chicago Community Land Trust (Treasurer), Community Reinvestment Fund & NMTC CDE, South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority and the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago (Secretary), among others. He is a 2003 Leadership Greater Chicago fellow and led CCLF to receive a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. He is a recognized expert in community development finance and issues involving access to capital. He holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, with a concentration in real estate finance, from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from Northwestern University.

Robert (“Rob”) Rose joined the Cook County Land Bank Authority in March 2015, where he is responsible for the Authority’s day-to-day activities and all staff, and the Land Bank’s multi-million dollar budget. Rob has a strong vision for the future of the region, and the ability to execute that vision among diverse stakeholders. This vision is bolstered by his extensive background in finance, underwriting, real estate and community development.

Rob comes to the Cook County Land Bank Authority from the Chicago Community Loan Fund where he served as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to that, he managed a $170 million loan portfolio as Director of Commercial Real Estate for Urban Partnership Bank. Rob also has worked for apartment developer Lynd and for GE Capital. He has an MBA from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and an undergraduate business degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

Creating Joint Ventures That Work Panelists

From left to right:
Mike Drew, Founding Principal, Structured Development
Charlton Hamer, Senior Vice President, Habitat Affordable Group
Denise Lewis, Retired Senior Partner, Urban Redevelopment Practice Group, Honigman LLC
Sarah Wick, Vice President, Affordable Housing, Related Midwest

Moderated by Gwendolyn Hatten Butler, President and Chief Investment Officer, Capri Investment Group

Panelist bios:

As a founding principal of Structured Development, LLC, J. Michael Drew has been engaged in the real estate development and construction management business for nearly 40 years. Michael matriculated at the University of Illinois where he studied Business Administration and Architecture. Over 25 years as a general contractor, Michael has had extensive experience in all phases of the construction process, especially scheduling of labor forces and subcontractors and comparative purchasing of material and equipment. Michael represented the Builders Association of Greater Chicago on the City’s Minority Relations Committee, served on the recent Land Use Task Force Committee, and is a long term member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Urban Land Institute, and Lambda Alpha International.

As Senior Vice President of Habitat Affordable Group, Charlton Hamer provides leadership and oversight for all affordable housing clients. Habitat’s affordable portfolio consists of 13,000+ units located in Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri. Charlton’s experience spans development and both asset and property management. His focus on top-level operations sets the stage for portfolio growth in the affordable housing market.

Charlton has served in several leadership roles at real estate firms like Redstone Urban Properties, LLC; VESTA Corporation and Shore Area Community Development Corporation.

Professionally, Charlton is a member of the Urban Land Institute, the American Planning Association and the University of Illinois Alumni Association. Additionally, he served as the chairman of the Bridgeport, Connecticut, Redevelopment Agency.

Charlton holds a Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He is a licensed real estate broker in the state of New York.

Denise J. Lewis is a retired Senior Partner of Honigman LLP, a preeminent business law firm based in Michigan.  Ms. Lewis has served as a Board member of the Real Estate Executive Council and continues as a consultant in urban redevelopment.  Ms. Lewis has concentrated her practice in representing national real estate developers in complex and sophisticated transactions that include public-private partnerships, urban redevelopment and mixed-use development. Ms. Lewis has been recognized in Chambers USA as a leading business lawyer.  She is a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and the American College of Mortgage Attorneys.  She has also been recognized by Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.  She has been named by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as one Michigan’s top “Women in Law.”  She was recognized by Savoy Magazine as one of the 2015 Most Influential Black Lawyers in the U.S.  She serves on the boards, and is an officer, of several civic and philanthropic organizations including the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, McGregor Fund, the Wayne State University Foundation and the Detroit Investment Fund.  Ms. Lewis received her B.A. degree with honors from Columbia University and her J.D. degree with honors from the University of Michigan Law School. 

Sarah Wick, Vice President, leads the company’s affordable housing business and is currently spearheading the revitalization of Lathrop, a multi-year, multi-phase project that is transforming the historic property into a vibrant mixed-use, mixed-income community. Under her management, the first phase of the renovation was successfully completed in 2019, delivering 414 market rate, affordable and subsidized units, along with a revitalized park and riverwalk.

Since joining Related Midwest, Wick has been instrumental in managing the financing, acquisition and development of 3,800 affordable residences throughout Chicago and the Midwest, representing a total investment of approximately $660 million.

Wick previously served as a project manager at The Community Builders Inc. and Jonathan Rose Companies, where she successfully helped finance and manage tenant-in-place renovations in Chicago, New York City and suburban New York.

The anatomy of an affordable housing deal


Kristin Faust, Executive Director, Illinois Housing Development Authority

Kristin's bio:

Kristin Faust is the Executive Director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority. As the state’s chief affordable housing official, Executive Director Faust provides leadership in state housing policy to advance IHDA’s mission of financing the creation and preservation of affordable housing throughout Illinois. She is also a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago Community Investment Advisory Council where she advises the FHLBC on ways in which it can better carry out its housing finance and community investment missions in Illinois.

Prior to joining IHDA, Executive Director Faust served as President of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS), a community development organization committed to helping homeowners and strengthening neighborhoods. As President, Ms. Faust’s strong leadership and holistic vision helped spur community revitalization by creating homeownership opportunities for those most vulnerable, improving not only their lives, but their neighborhoods as well.

Before joining NHS, Faust was Chief Credit Officer and Director of Lending & Network Services at Partners for the Common Good. In that role, she was responsible for the growth and oversight of the domestic and international loan portfolio. In addition, Executive Director Faust served as president of the Enterprise Community Loan Fund, one of the largest non-depository community development financial institutions in the country.

Earlier in her career, she spent 15 years in community development banking in Chicago, primarily with LaSalle National Bank, where she started the Community Development Lending Department. Her work in Chicago earned her distinction in Crain’s Chicago Business “Forty Under 40” list.

Ms. Faust is a graduate of Harvard University, where she obtained a Master in City and Regional Planning and Brown University, where she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy.