2015 Annual Conference Session Descriptions

Opening Plenary Session
Keynote Address
Closing Plenary Session
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: State Budget Update with Ralph Martire

The state budget impasse is hurting the ability of nonprofits to provide safety net services in a wide variety of areas, including the services that are key components of efforts to end homelessness: assisting families experiencing a temporary crisis with homelessness prevention resources; providing emergency shelter to people who are homeless; and operating permanent supportive housing.  At this session, Ralph Martire from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability will talk about how this situation came to pass and what the most responsible options are to restore Illinois to fiscal health.

After Ralph’s presentation and some questions from the audience, we will discuss our collective and individual responses to the budget impasse to date, and what we can do in the future to advocate for a responsible budget.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Keynote Address: Telling Stories—How to Create (and Share) Compelling Narratives with Anne Ford and Adam Ballard

Any organization’s story is the story of the people it serves,” says Anne Ford, independent journalist, oral historian, and StoryCorps facilitator. But how do you capture those stories and make them compelling to a larger audience? During this session, Ford will discuss techniques for finding, documenting, and sharing the personal stories that make your organization unique.

Part independent journalist, part oral historian, Anne Ford is all Chicagoan. Over the last decade, she’s facilitated hundreds of interviews and written more than 500 articles and essays for national and regional publications, including the Chicago Tribune, AFAR, and AAA Living. Her interview series, “Chicagoans,” has appeared in the Chicago Reader since 2010. You can see short films based on some of those interviews here. Anne is also a StoryCorps facilitator whose curiosity, sensitivity, and warmth help her connect with interviewees from diverse populations. She has a couple of books out, too.

Joining Anne will be Adam Ballard from Access Living, who will describe the work they did in partnership with StoryCorps and the Disability Visibility Project to gather stories in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Time: Thursday, November 5 at 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Closing Plenary Session: Collaborations—Be a Part of What’s Working in Illinois

We all intuitively know that we can accomplish more together than alone. Although collaboration can be challenging, it has many rewards. Our closing plenary will focus on examples of how both sector-specific and cross-sector collaborations are working to renew communities and create better and more affordable housing opportunities for people throughout the state. This closing session will delve into what these collaborations are accomplishing, how they function (both the good and the road-bumps), and how you can get involved in a preexisting collaboration or begin one for your own community.  Examples we will highlight include Continuums of Care for homeless service providers, community revitalization collaborative efforts funded by the Illinois Attorney General, and local public education and advocacy coalitions.

Moderator: Mary Anderson, Mission + Strategy

Speakers: Rickielee Benecke, LIFE Center for Independent Living; Deb Elzinga, HomeStart; Jennifer Hill, Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County; Maria Ramos-Cuaya, Latino Policy Forum; Robin Snyderman, BRiCK Partners.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Public Policy Advocacy Workshops

National Housing Trust Fund Implementation: Everything You Need to Know and Do (joint session w/Affordable Housing Development and Management)

Illinois will receive its first allocation of National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) dollars in 2016.  The NHTF is the first new federal housing production program since the HOME program was created in 1990 and the first new production program specifically targeted to extremely low income households since the Section 8 program was created in 1974.  At this session, we’ll provide advocates and developers with detailed information on what you need to know to prepare for the first NHTF allocation.

Speakers: Ed Gramlich, National Low Income Housing Coalition; Jennifer Novak Chan, Illinois Housing Development Authority; Andrea Traudt Inouye, Illinois Housing Council.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Strengthening Housing Security Through Preventing Evictions (joint session w/Ending Homelessness)

Reducing the number of evictions in Illinois would benefit tenants, landlords and the court system. This workshop will examine a variety of options to prevent rental housing evictions, as well as strategies people who have been evicted can use to best prepare themselves to successfully secure new housing. Attorneys representing tenants in eviction court and property managers deciding who they will rent to will share their experiences and expertise.

Speakers: Miles Bardell, Prairie State Legal Services; Kiowna Brown, PATH (Providing Access to Help); Mark Swartz, Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing; Bob Wahlgren, Equity Sharing Partners NFP.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

Disparate Impact and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Implications for Education and Advocacy

In recent months, two major developments in the area of fair housing have been the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the disparate impact standard to decide fair housing cases, and the release of the federal rule regarding Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.  Our panel of speakers will review the details of both and discuss the implications for fair housing education and advocacy in local communities.

Speakers: Ed Gramlich, National Low Income Housing Coalition; Anne Houghtaling, HOPE Fair Housing Center; Brendan Saunders, Open Communities.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Supportive Housing: Choosing the Model that Works Best for Your Community (joint session w/Ending Homelessness)

“What are examples of supportive housing and what will work best in my community?” are two of the most commonly asked questions by the housing development, investment, and service provider communities.  There are surprisingly a variety of models of supportive housing that create integrated, community-based housing options for vulnerable populations with disabilities.  As developers, property owners, and service providers help communities to respond to the increasing demand for housing for special needs populations there are remaining questions and concerns about creating successful and sustainable integrated developments.  This session will create dialogue on integration, the basics of quality supportive housing and highlight statewide needs, and provide an overview of six models of supportive housing, including information on ownership, partnerships, and operations; integration strategies; supportive services; and financing.

Speaker: Betsy Benito, CSH.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Ending Homelessness Workshops

Statewide Referral Network: Work to Date and Moving Forward

Through the Statewide Referral Network, Illinois is creating community-based housing options for people with disabilities who have previously lived in institutions and/or experienced homelessness.  These housing opportunities are in scattered site supportive housing, where the services are provided to people living independently throughout the community.   At this session, staff from the Department of Human Services will talk about the Statewide Referral Network’s accomplishments to date and the state’s plans to continue this work.  Participants will have the opportunity to provide feedback based on their experiences in order to strengthen the Statewide Referral Network.

Speaker: Lore Baker, Illinois Department of Human Services.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Zero: 2016 Participant Roundtable

Zero: 2016 is a rigorous national change effort designed to help a committed group of communities end chronic and veteran homelessness outright by December 2016.  Several Continuum of Care networks in Illinois are participating in the effort. Representatives from these communities will talk about the planning and implementation strategies they are using, including coordinated assessment and housing placement systems, to move forward.

Speakers: Jennifer Hill, Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County; Lisa Mayse-Lillig, All Chicago; Brenda O’Connell, Lake County Community Development Division; Angie Walker, City of Rockford Human Services Department.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Affordable Housing Development and Management Workshops


Placemaking is a people-centered approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces in neighborhoods and communities of all sizes. This workshop will demonstrate how placemaking principles can be used to enhance neighborhood vitality, and how technology can help organizations implement placemaking in their communities.

Speakers: Kara Riggio, Metropolitan Planning Council; Brian White, STR, L.L.C.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

Beyond Green Buildings: How Climate Change Will Affect Housing Development

Climate change may bring colder winters, hotter summers and more extreme weather generally to Illinois.  How will the changing climate impact your short- and long-term development plans?  Join a panel of environmental experts to discuss how climate change will impact Illinois, and what developers should be doing to be prepared.

Speakers: Emma Gilmore, StraightUp Solar; JC Kibbey, Service Employees International Union Local 1; Thor Peterson, Parkland College; Ryan Wolber, Elevate Energy.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Affirmative Marketing Plans for Multifamily Properties

This workshop is designed to help property owners and managers to update or develop Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plans (AFHMP). Experts will provide tips to ensure compliance with fair housing rules and regulations.

Speakers: Rob Breymaier, Oak Park Regional Housing Center; Sam Mordka, Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Housing Counseling Workshops

Building Assets: Community Models for Wealth Building

As news coverage of the foreclosure crisis comes to an end, many agencies have found that funding is going along with it. Major funders are now looking beyond housing counseling to models with a holistic approach that promote strong families and communities. The new focus expands what it means to live the American Dream, and financial education and asset building are the tools to help families get there.

Speakers: Jody Blaylock, Illinois Asset Builders Group; Melinda Croes, Heartland Human Care Services; Jenna Kearns, Mid Central Community Action.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Should I Sign the Lease: Legal Rights and Pitfalls for Renters

Attorneys at LAF will discuss tenants’ legal rights and responsibilities in Illinois with a focus on security deposits and responding to housing conditions problems. The Community Engagement Manager from Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) will discuss and demonstrate the free statewide resources that ILAO has created for advocates, tenants, and other pro se individuals. ILAO will show how their resources can assist people without prior legal knowledge to easily find and use information specific to their legal situation and location. Attendees will have many opportunities to raise issues and ask questions during this interactive session.

Speakers: Amy S. Clark, Illinois Legal Aid Online; Eli Wade-Scott, LAF; Kevin Zickterman, LAF.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

Counselors and Attorneys: Working Together to Benefit Homeowners
This session is generously sponsored by Boston Community Capital

Housing counselors and attorneys are two of the most important advocates for families seeking to purchase a home or save it from foreclosure.  But these two groups don’t often communicate with one another.  This workshop will decode the language used by counselors and attorneys and facilitate better communication between the two.

Moderator: Deborah Hagan, Illinois Attorney General’s Office

Speakers: Jessica Brooks, Boston Community Capital; Liz Caton, Northwest Side Housing Center; Odette Williamson, National Consumer Law Center.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

2016: The State of Federal and State Housing Counseling

What can the housing counseling community expect in 2016?  Representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Illinois Housing Development Authority will provide updates regarding funding, programs and regulations.  Tim Klont, from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, will highlight the Bank’s homeownership programs, including Down Payment Plus and the Affordable Housing Program.

Speakers: Tim Klont, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; Jerrold H. Mayer, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Housing Counseling; Nicki Pecori Fioretti, Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Organizational Leadership Workshops (Sponsored by Midland States Bank)

Using the Community Reinvestment Act to Promote Stable Housing and Community Revitalization Efforts Statewide (Part 1)

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires that banks meet the credit needs of the communities where they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and individuals.  It also requires federal regulators to evaluate banks’ lending, investment and service records to rate how well they are meeting their CRA obligations. But how does this translate into action for nonprofit organizations working on the range of housing and homeless services necessary to ensure people have quality affordable housing and shelter? This interactive session will provide an overview of CRA, including current trends, and examples of how organizations are using CRA and bank partnerships to support their missions and revitalize their communities.

Speakers: Angela Frazier, Mid Central Community Action; Paul Ginger, Office of Comptroller of the Currency;  Brian Hollenback, Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation; Jenny Taylor Dandridge, FDIC.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Opportunities for Equitable Community Economic Development through Bank and Community Development Organization Collaboratives (Part 2)

Building on the knowledge gained in Part 1 of our CRA discussion, this workshop focuses on how to develop strategic relationships between banks and nonprofit housing organizations in order to maximize support (both financial and otherwise) of the organizations and their missions. CRA officers from different sizes of banks will provide examples of what they believe works – and what doesn’t – in terms of mutually supportive partnerships.

Moderator: Paul Ginger, Office of Comptroller of the Currency.

Speakers: Jerome Maddox, State Farm; Gretchen Murphy, Soy Capital Bank & Trust; David Noble, Midland States Bank.

Time: Thursday, November 5 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

Fair Lending: Ensuring Fair Housing and Equal Access to Credit

This session will cover fair lending requirements, with a particular focus on how these requirements are different from but supportive of CRA goals. The panelists will discuss current efforts to ensure that lenders are promoting fair lending and making quality credit available in all communities, as well as the barriers that may be inhibiting these efforts.

Speakers:  Spencer Cowan, Woodstock Institute; Timothy Smyth, HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Office of Systemic Investigations.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Successful Succession Planning

Are you serious about the long-term success and sustainability of your organization? If so – and what leader isn’t? – then you need to attend this session that will provide you and your Board with the tools necessary to begin planning for a smooth and thoughtful transition of leadership. An effective succession planning process requires open communications and candor between board members, the incumbent executive and key staff members so that a strong foundation for change can be built. This session will cover succession planning for different types of events (such as planned leaves, retirement and emergencies), and is targeted for Board members, Executive Directors, and senior organizational leaders.

Speaker:  Mary Anderson, Mission + Strategy.

Time: Friday, November 6 from 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.