2014 Annual Conference Session Descriptions

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In addition to our plenary sessions and keynote speakers, we offered 18 workshop sessions in 5 different tracks.  Get the specifics about each part of the conference through the following links:

Opening Plenary Session
Closing Plenary Session
Keynote Speaker
Public Policy Advocacy Workshops
Ending Homelessness Workshops
Affordable Housing Development and Management Workshops
Housing Counseling Workshops
Organizational Leadership Workshops

Workshop presentations are available for selected speakers by clicking on the the link associated with the presenter’s name.

Opening Plenary Session: Housing Finance Reform—Why We Need to Pay Attention

Since the foreclosure crisis and the ensuing great recession, the issue of what role the federal government should take in the housing finance system has been a matter of debate in Congress. Whether significant changes are made or we stick with the status quo, there are major implications for our country’s economic health and the availability of affordable housing. At this session, a panel of speakers will cover the basics on all the pertinent abbreviations and acronyms (Fannie, Freddie, GSE, FHFA, etc.) and discuss the implications of housing finance reform options on home ownership, fair housing, and creating resources for the development of affordable rental housing.

Speakers: Spencer Cowan, Woodstock Institute; Andy Geer, Enterprise Community Partners; Anne Houghtaling, HOPE Fair Housing Center; Steve Olson, Illinois Credit Union League; Bob Palmer, Housing Action Illinois

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Closing Plenary Session: Importance of Nonprofit Advocacy to Strengthening our Democracy

Nonprofits play an important role in shaping the public debate on important social issues, such as ensuring that every person in Illinois has access to quality, affordable housing. Advocacy encompasses a broad range of activities, including promoting effective solutions, educating elected officials, working to influence public spending, taking a position on legislation, and ensuring that underrepresented communities have a voice in the public policy process. During this session, we’ll hear from a panel of nonprofit leaders representing different sectors about effective advocacy strategies they have used to build public support for their cause and provide an opportunity for them to talk about how they see their work strengthening our democracy.

Speakers: Rey López Calderón, Common Cause Illinois; Amy Palumbo, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet; Gail Schechter, Open Communities; Doug Schenkelberg, The Donors Forum; Jennifer Walling, Illinois Environmental Council

Time: Friday, October 3 from 12:45 – 2:15 p.m.

Keynote Speaker

John Bouman, President, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

John Bouman, president of the Shriver Center, is widely recognized as one of the most effective and thoughtful public-benefit advocates in the country. He was a leader in the design and implementation of positive aspects of Illinois’ new welfare law in 1997, and he spearheaded the statewide efforts in Illinois to create both the FamilyCare program, which provides health care insurance for up to up to 400,000 working poor parents of minor children, and All Kids, the first state plan to extend health coverage to every child. He has consulted and co-counseled with advocates in many states; helped draft numerous pieces of legislation; given hundreds of presentations; published extensively; and served as counsel in numerous federal and state cases, including Memisovski v. Maram, which established substantial reforms in children’s health care in Illinois.

He currently is working on state-based implementation of federal health care reform, serves on the steering committee of the National Transitional Jobs Network, and leads the Responsible Budget Coalition in Illinois, an effort bringing together more than 200 diverse organizations to advocate for state revenue and budget reform in Illinois.

Before joining the Shriver Center in 1996, he worked for two decades at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, where he supervised public benefits advocacy. Among his honors, he has received the Kutak-Dodds Prize from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award from the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section, Child Health Advocate Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service Award from the United States District Court and Federal Bar Association.

A 1975 graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law and former board member of the Chicago Transit Authority, John currently serves on the boards of Illinois Partners for Human Services and the Center for Law and Social Policy (Washington DC).

Time: Thursday, October 2 at 4:30 p.m.

Public Policy Advocacy Workshops

Legal and Practical Consequences of Crime Free Rental Housing and Nuisance Property Ordinances

At the municipal and state level there has been an increasing amount of legislative activity attempting to regulate the operation of rental housing, most often to address concerns, real or perceived, about property conditions and criminal activity. These measures can have negative consequences for renters, landlords, and communities, including reducing the supply of rental housing and chilling the reporting of crime to the police in the first place. At this session, we’ll discuss several of the most recent initiatives, and offer alternatives to crime free and nuisance property ordinances to promote quality housing standards and to address problems that may arise at specific properties.

Speakers: Gwyn Katis, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network; Gail Schechter, Open Communities; Kate Walz, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Time: Thursday, October 3 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Relationship Building with Your Elected Officials

Is it really all about relationships? In this session, advocates and service providers will share their experiences educating and working with their elected officials at the local, state and federal level on issues related to affordable housing and homelessness. We’ll focus on examples of relationship building strategies that led to positive outcomes, as well as strategies to keep the conversation going when an elected official is not predisposed to support your goals.

Speakers: Debra Olson, DuPage Homeownership Center; Sharon Hess, Southern Illinois Coalition for the Homeless; Brendan Saunders, Open Communities; Joel Williams, PADS Lake County

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

Increasing the Minimum Wage: Putting Rental Costs Within Reach

On average, renters in Illinois need to earn $17.34 per hour in order to afford a basic apartment. At $8.25 per hour, a minimum wage worker must work 84 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, to have an equivalent income. On the November ballot, there will be an advisory referendum asking the voters across Illinois whether the state minimum wage for adults over the age of 18 should be raised to $10 per hour. At this session, we’ll hear from representatives from the Raise Illinois campaign, which supports increasing the minimum wage, about how the increase will help low-income families and adults trying to make ends meet, including affording quality housing.

Speakers: Jennifer Cushman, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Gloria Davis, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Samantha Tuttle, Heartland Alliance

Time: Friday, October 3 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Roundtable Discussion on Current State Housing Initiatives (joint session with Ending Homelessness Track)

Representatives from the State of Illinois and others will discuss some of their major initiatives that impact people experiencing homelessness and the agencies that serve them, including increasing the availability of subsidized housing units through developer incentives and targeted referrals, planning for the prevention of youth homelessness, and implementation of a federal grant to address the needs of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in Illinois. Providers will have plenty of opportunity to raise issues and ask questions during the session.

Speakers: Lore Baker, Office of the Governor; Jamie Ewing, Illinois Department on Aging; Lisa Cohen, Illinois Department of Human Services; Kellie Gage, Illinois Department of Human Services; Beth Horwitz, Illinois Collaboration on Youth

Time: Friday, October 3 from 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Ending Homelessness Workshops

Advancing Criminal Justice Reforms in the Areas of Employment and Housing

An estimated 3.5 million people in Illinois have either an arrest or conviction record that can create lifetime barriers to employment and housing even if the offense is old or unrelated to the job or housing. As a result, men and women leaving the corrections system are at high risk of homelessness. At this session, panelists will discuss strategies for improving employment and housing options for people with criminal records including sealing and expunging criminal records, new state policies that expand employment protections, hiring incentives for employers and working with private landlords

Speakers: Todd Belcore, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; Frederick Maclin, Alexian Brothers Housing & Health Alliance; Samantha Tuttle, Heartland Alliance

(Link to Nowhere to Go: Reentry Housing video)

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Helping Clients Address Their Legal Issues

A panel of attorneys from nonprofit legal service organizations around the state will talk about the services they can provide to address common legal issues faced by people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Specific topics to be covered include access to public benefits, evictions and lock-outs, loss or denial of subsidized housing benefits, reasonable accommodations and substandard housing conditions. A speaker from a medical-legal partnership between Hesed House, Aunt Martha’s Health Center and Northern Illinois University Law School will discuss how they help clients address their legal issues through their on-site legal clinic.

Speakers: Colleen Boraca, Northern Illinois University College of Law; Amy Marinacci, Legal Assistance Foundation; Lauren Noll, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc.

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

The HEARTH Act: Successes and Challenges 5 Years Later

On May 20, 2009, President Obama signed the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act into law. The HEARTH Act amended and reauthorized the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act with substantial changes, including a consolidation of HUD’s competitive grant programs, a change in HUD’s definition of homelessness and chronic homelessness, an increase in emphasis on performance, a simplified match requirement and the creation of a Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program. More broadly, a goal of the HEARTH Act was, and continues to be, transforming the service delivery system towards homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing. A panel of Continuum of Care leaders will reflect on the impact of the HEARTH Act on their efforts to end homelessness and suggest ways to move those efforts forward.

Speakers: Lindsey Bishop, Corporation for Supportive Housing; Jennifer Hill, Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County; Kevin Nowlan, Center for Prevention of Abuse; Fred Spannaus, Spannaus Consulting

Time: Friday, October 3 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Roundtable Discussion on Current State Housing Initiatives (joint session with Public Policy Advocacy Track)

Representatives from the State of Illinois and others will discuss some of their major initiatives that impact people experiencing homelessness and the agencies that serve them, including increasing the availability of subsidized housing units through developer incentives and targeted referrals, planning for the prevention of youth homelessness, and implementation of a federal grant to address the needs of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in Illinois. Providers will have plenty of opportunity to raise issues and ask questions during the session.

Speakers: Lore Baker, Office of the Governor; Jamie Ewing, Illinois Department on Aging; Lisa Cohen, Illinois Department of Human Services; Kellie Gage, Illinois Department of Human Services; Beth Horwitz, Illinois Collaboration on Youth

Time: Friday, October 3 from 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Affordable Housing Development and Management Workshops

Working with Tax Credits

The Affordable Housing Tax Credit is the most successful financing program for the production of low- and moderate-income housing in U.S. history. The New Markets Tax Credit program finances economic development projects including grocery stores, hospitals and schools. Is the Affordable Housing Tax Credit the right financing vehicle for your organization and your community? Could a project financed with New Markets Tax Credits be a catalyst for additional neighborhood development? Join a panel of experts for a brief overview of the programs and a discussion of how each program works in both urban and rural markets.

Speakers: Keith Broadnax, Great Lakes Capital Fund; Steve LeClere, City Real Estate Advisors; Larry Pusateri, Lighten-Gale Group; Benjamin Swartzendruber, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen; Warren Wenzloff, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

What Partners!?!: Creating Successful, Quality Integrated Supportive Housing

In the current times, if you are creating affordable housing in your community, then most likely you will also be integrating supportive housing units into your project.  Or maybe you have already designated a number of units for supportive housing and you have no idea what’s the next step.  Creating integrated supportive housing can be a rewarding challenge or an overwhelming task – it all depends on finding and keeping the right project partners.  This session will outline what you need to know about integrating quality supportive housing units into your affordable housing development and how you can access additional training and technical assistance for your project partners.

Speakers: Lindsey Bishop, Corporation for Supportive Housing; John Fallon, Corporation for Supportive Housing

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

Using Data for Planning and Impact Analysis (joint session with Housing Counseling Track)

We all believe that our work matters and that it’s making a difference on the issues we’re trying to address. But how do we use data to help us understand what is happening in our communities? And how can we use data to demonstrate the difference our work is having? In this session, our panel of experts will discuss what data are readily available for you to use and how you can integrate its use into your daily operations.

Speakers: Spencer Cowan, Woodstock Institute; Geoff Smith, Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University

Time: Friday, October 3 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

How to Finance the Small Deal

This panel will look at the various options for financing smaller real estate deals, meaning projects with 30 or fewer units. Access to financing is important for developers looking to build new or rehabilitate existing properties, and to small cities and rural communities seeking housing options for their residents. The panel will explore current programs and how tweaks to those programs could make financing more accessible.

Speakers: Sharon Hess, Southern Illinois Coalition for the Homeless; Tim Klont, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; Barry Ramsey, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development; Christine Moran, Illinois Housing Development Authority

Time: Friday, October 3 from 10:45 – 12:15 p.m.

Housing Counseling Workshops

Fair Housing/Lending Overview in Preparation for the Counselor National Certification Exam

HUD is finalizing rules that require that individual counselors pass a national certification exam on a number of different topics, including fair housing and fair lending. Fair housing laws affect all housing transactions including sales, rentals, mortgage lending, building and construction, home insurance, appraisals and inspections. This workshop will help counselors begin to prepare for the national certification exam by providing an overview of federal fair housing and fair lending laws. Relevant state laws will also be briefly covered so that counselors will learn the additional housing protections offered in Illinois. Counselors will leave this workshop with basic knowledge of state and federal fair housing and fair lending laws and information on how they can help to eliminate housing discrimination through their work.

Speakers: Paula Brkich, HOPE Fair Housing; Morgan Davis, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance; Jessica Schneider, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Effective Coordination Between Housing Counselors and Lawyers

As the foreclosure crisis has taught us, it’s essential for clients that housing counselors work well with lawyers, particularly those at nonprofit legal service organizations and working on court-based foreclosure mediation programs. This workshop will feature a panel of legal service providers from around the state to discuss what type of housing related cases they can address, who the point person is for their respective offices, and how they and housing counselors can work together most effectively. The National Consumer Law Center will also present on effective communication strategies for housing counselors and lawyers involved in foreclosure mediation programs.

Speakers: Daniel Lindsey, LAF; Jennifer Luczkowiak, Prairie State Legal Services, Inc.; Komal Vaidya, University of Illinois College of Law; Odette Williamson, National Consumer Law Center

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 2:45 – 4:15 pm

Using Data for Planning and Impact Analysis (joint session with Affordable Housing Development and Management Track)

We all believe that our work matters and that it’s making a difference on the issues we’re trying to address. But how do we use data to help us understand what is happening in our communities? And how can we use data to demonstrate the difference our work is having? In this session, our panel of experts will discuss what data are readily available for you to use and how you can integrate its use into your daily operations.

Speakers: Spencer Cowan, Woodstock Institute; Geoff Smith, Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University

Time: Friday, October 3 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Discussion Session with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Illinois Attorney General and Illinois Housing Development Authority

Hear and obtain the most up-to-date HUD and IHDA program and policy information affecting funding opportunities, affordable housing and community development. In addition, information will be provided regarding new strategies and initiatives by that will impact housing counseling agencies. A representative from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office will explain the most recent bank foreclosure settlements and how these settlements may impact housing counseling clients in Illinois.

Speakers: Andrew Dougherty, Illinois Attorney General; Amber Lockwood, Illinois Housing Development Authority; Jerrold H. Mayer, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Time: Friday, October 3 from 10:45 – 12:15 p.m.

Organizational Leadership Workshops (Sponsored by PNC Bank)

Mergers & Collaborations

More than ever, nonprofit leaders must be strategic and maximize the resources with which they have been entrusted in order to meet their missions.  One clear way to do this is to consider whether a merger or other type of intentional collaboration makes sense.  This workshop will explore different types of restructuring, such as shared service alliances, networks, and mergers, the issues that need to be considered in preparing for a merger or collaboration, the costs and sources of funding for such a process, and the steps to completing an agreement with a partner(s). Hear from a peer about her recent experiences with merging two organizations to form a new, combined organization serving northwest Illinois.

Speakers: Mary Anderson, Mission+Strategy; Deb Elzinga, HomeStart

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Building Powerful Relationships with Funders

Many of us know that the key to effective resource development is to build relationships with current and potential funders. But how do you actually do this? And how do you break the ice with a potential funder? Hear from experienced fundraisers and trainers about best practices in relationship development and stewardship with foundation and corporate funders.

Speaker: Juan Calixto, Chicago Community Loan Fund; Julio Guerrero, The Resurrection Project

Time: Thursday, October 2 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

New Topics in Strategic Nonprofit Management

Two critical components to achieving long-term organizational success are financial sustainability and talent management.  But what do these concepts actually mean in the nonprofit context, and how do you go about achieving them?  Lauri Alpern, this workshop’s presenter, has extensive experience helping high impact entrepreneurial nonprofits expertly plan and manage the triple bottom line of mission, money and sustainability through strategy and organizational development, business planning, leadership coaching and investment.  She has prepared this workshop specifically for the experienced nonprofit leader who wants a better understanding of the management practices that will result in the best organizational performance possible.

Speaker:  Lauri Alpern, Open Door Advisors

Time:  Friday, October 3 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Ready to Enter the World of Social Enterprise?

Given the uncertain funding climate, nonprofits are increasingly trying to diversify their revenue by utilizing earned income strategies, such as social enterprises. This workshop features a speaker who successfully launched a number of social enterprises and will focus on the practical steps you should take before venturing down this path, such as doing a feasibility analysis, the resources and structures you will need to have in place, and completing a business plan for any social enterprise you may want to pursue.

Speaker: Eric Weinheimer, The Donors Forum

Time:  Friday, October 3 from 10:45 – 12:15 p.m.

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