Starting at Home: Retrofitting Opportunity

Wednesday, November 8: 10:45am – 12:15pm

This follow-up to April's Starting at Home Conference assesses the role of opportunity areas and fair housing in the development of equitable communities. Panelists will discuss how to build neighborhoods accessible to families of all incomes and backgrounds.

Session Materials:

Starting at Home: Retrofitting Opportunity Presentations (7.01 MB Adobe PDF File)


Janet Hales, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE)
Janet Hales recently became the Executive Director of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a legal aid organization covering 32 counties in Western Ohio. Prior to joining ABLE, Janet was the Director of the Ohio Poverty Law Center and served as Director of Advocacy for Legal Aid of Western Ohio. In private practice before joining Legal Aid, Janet was a partner at Cooper & Walinski, LPA and litigated cases in trial and appellate courts, including fair housing class actions that successfully challenged insurance redlining, complex employment, contract, insurance coverage, and tax appeal cases, as well as serving as a national litigation strategic manager for a large corporation. Janet has been honored by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for her fair housing litigation and advocacy and the Toledo Bar Association for leadership on the Pro Bono Advisory Board. Janet served as law clerk to the Hon. Barbara K. Hackett, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan immediately after law school and worked with children and adults with disabilities as a special education teacher and advocate before attending law school.


Zachary E. Kenitzer, Ph.D. Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Ohio State University
Zachary E. Kenitzer, Ph.D. is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. He is a specialist in policy and program evaluation, opportunity mapping, and implementation. Zachary has a passion for effective and equitable community engagement, effective visual communication, and equity.

Leah Evans, Homeport
Ms. Evans joined Homeport in 2013 as the Director of Home Ownership and in 2016 was promoted to Vice President of Neighborhood Strategies. Ms. Evans oversees the financing, development and implementation of all neighborhood revitalization initiatives and leads Homeport's business development strategies to support the targets of Homeport's strategic plan and increase investment and impact in Central Ohio communities. In addition, Ms. Evans, oversees Homeport's for-sale housing development and Homeport's sales of for-sale and lease option homes. Prior to her work at Homeport, Ms. Evans served as the Deputy Director of Planning & Development for the City of Gahanna where her duties included overseeing the building, code enforcement, land use planning and zoning activities and managing the administrative functions of the department. Additionally, Ms. Evans served as a community representative serving on the Loan Review Committee for the Economic & Community Development Institute, the Board of the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to being promoted to Deputy Director Ms. Evans was the city's first Economic Development Manager and previously held several positions in community and economic development with the Ohio Department of Development (now known as the Ohio Development Services Agency). Ms. Evans holds a Masters in City & Regional Planning from The Ohio State University, is a trained Project Management Professional and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional. She has over 15 years of experience in the community and economic development field and is committed to building and sustaining strong communities.

Michael Lepley, Housing Research & Advocacy Center
Michael Lepley is the Senior Research Associate at the Housing Research & Advocacy Center, a fair housing nonprofit located in Cleveland, Ohio. Michael's research and advocacy focus on the expansion of fair housing rights, affordable housing, discriminatory lending practices, and residential integration. Michael also carries out investigations of housing discrimination in lending, rental, and sales markets. Michael earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Alex Pereira, UP Development, LLC
Alex Pereira is a Project Analyst at UP Development, LLC, a Chicago-based affordable housing development company operating across the Midwest with a specialty in Permanent Supportive Housing. Alex is primarily responsible for the various aspects of project development – including community and partner relations, site control and zoning, and the preparation of financing applications. Previous to working with UP Development, Alex worked at the Boston Housing Authority and had a brief stint as Community Development Intern at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Alex holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Amherst College and a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he researched housing policy and community development.

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