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February 5, 2020

Discussion: Real Estate & Blockchain

Geoffrey Kasselman

Speaker: Geoffrey Kasselman, SIOR, LEED AP

Sr. Vice President & Partner, Workplace Strategy, CRG


Geoff oversees CRG’s national accounts and leads all client-related initiatives for the company’s expanding industrial, office and data center project delivery platform. Geoff also provides clients with strategy for the future of their workplace and technology in real estate. Geoff also sits on various tech Advisory Boards, provides mentoring to select “proptech” start-ups, and owns an energy procurement firm. Kasselman has completed more than 1,000 transactions worth more than $1 billion of aggregate value. Geoff is also known for his volunteer role as the 2017 Global President of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), the largest non-profit trade organization of its kind, and for his keen business-futurist persona.

Zach Smolinsky

Speaker: Zach Smolinski, General Counsel

Smolinski Rosario Law

Zach is an experienced general counsel having a focus on intellectual property, transactional, and M&A law and a strong interest in emerging technologies. His skills include evaluating and negotiating license agreements and cloud services contracts, coordinating IP due diligence for investors and purchasers, and working with founders and executives to optimize their companies’ legal strategies.

Zach is a registered patent attorney with a background in physics, and he speaks regularly on legal matters of importance to founders, executives, and investors. He is also the Editor at Recent Developments in Copyright Law, Landslide (The ABA’s Intellectual Property Periodical), has also written “Blockchain and the Law,” for the FinTech Exchange, and “Copyright for Artists,” for the Illinois Institutes of Art in 2015, 2016. Zach also coordinates and speaks monthly at BUZZ, a blockchain discussion group in Chicago


March 4, 2020

Discussion: City of Chicago - Planning & Development

Speaker: Maurice D. Cox, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and confirmed by the City Council on October 16, 2019.

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. Cox was formerly the design director of the National Endowment of the Arts under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, where he represented the federal government for architecture and design matters and served as an advisor to more than 120 mayors on urban design issues.

Cox is a former professor at Syracuse University, the University of Virginia and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; a former associate dean for community engagement at Tulane University; and former director of the Tulane City Center in New Orleans. He also practiced architecture for 10 years in Florence, Italy, where he met his wife and raised their two children.

Cox has been named by Design Intelligence as one of the "most admired design educators in America" and by Fast Company magazine as one of “20 Masters of Design” in the United States.

A native of Brooklyn, he has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from The Cooper Union in New York City and an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Detroit Mercy. He hopes to continue his 30-year tradition of walking and biking to work from a home he will share with his wife on the Near North Side.

Marlene Hopkins

April 1, 2020

Featured Discussion: COVID-19 & Building Inspections

Speaker: Marlene Hopkins

Managing Deputy Commissioner at City of Chicago

Ms. Hopkins is responsible for the day-to-day management of the department; ensuring that all activities and operations are carried out in compliance with local, state and federal regulations and laws governing the building industry and business operations. She is also esponsible for planning, directing and overseeing policies related to the staff and services of the department, ensuring that the staff and services are well organized and conducive to the progress of the agency. 

She is responsible for developing the department's annual operating and maintenance budget of $30 to $35M, including providing monthly financial reporting, cash flow management, capital spending, and expenditures review and approval. 
Ms. Hopkins has multifunctional support responsibilities not limited to, managing and directing the day to day inspectional activities of Conservation, Demolition, and Strategic Task Force bureaus to ensure all inspections are performed in compliance with the Chicago Building and Zoning Code provisions including Storm Water Management. 

C. Doug Moran

April 1, 2020

Discussion: Applying the COVID-19 Response Act with Employees & Independent Contractors

Speaker: C. Doug Moran

Employment & Commercial Litigation Attorney


For over 25 years, Doug has concentrated his practice on representing employers, including corporations and banks. Doug has represented employers ranging from single-member LLCs and closely-held corporations up to Fortune 500 companies such as Daimler Chrysler Corporation, AT&T Mobility, and Kmart Corporation. Through his employment practice, Doug has advised employers, and litigated when necessary, issues related to state and federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended; the Equal Pay Act of 1963 as amended; the Civil Rights Acts of 1966 1971, and 1991 (race, color, creed, national origin, gender/sex discrimination); the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended (disabilities discrimination); the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 29 U.S.C. §621; the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act; and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1974 as amended; (wage and hour claims). He has prosecuted and defended claims brought under the Uniform Partnership Act, the Fraudulent Conveyance Act, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Uniform Commercial Code, as well as various contract and common law claims.

Doug has significant first-chair trial experience representing clients in both jury and bench trials, as well as representing clients in arbitration. He has litigated cases before the Michigan Supreme Court and argued before the United States Court of Appeals in the Sixth Circuit and the Michigan Court of Appeals. Doug is admitted to practice in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, including admissions to: the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; the United States District Court for the Central, Northern, and Southern Districts of Illinois; the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin & Michigan; and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Doug has also been admitted pro hac vice to litigate cases in California, New Jersey and New York.

Jonathan Miller

April 15, 2020

Discussion: Real Estate Insights 

Speaker: Jonathan Miller

President and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm, co-founded in 1986.


Miller Samuel provides appraisal and consulting services on as much as $5 billion worth of property per year in the New York City metropolitan area. He is also co-founder of Miller Cicero, LLC, a commercial real estate valuation firm. Jonathan is a real estate analyst and a state-certified real estate appraiser in New York and Connecticut, performing court testimony as an expert witness in various local, state and federal courts across the U.S. He holds the Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) and Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) designations. He is an Appraiser "A" Member of the Real Estate Board of New York and a former President of RAC, a national organization of appraisers who specialize in providing valuation solutions for complex residential properties.


Since 1994, Mr. Miller has been the author of an expanding series of market reports for Douglas Elliman Real Estate covering the New York City metropolitan area, Boston, South Florida, Los Angeles, Houston, Aspen, and others. These reports are relied on by the media, financial institutions, and government agencies, including the Federal Reserve, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the NYC Office of Management and Budget, the New York State Budget Division Economic Advisory Board and others.


He co-authored a research paper for NYU School of Law, and the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy titled The Condominium v. Cooperative Puzzle: An Empirical Analysis of Housing in New York City, published in 2007 by the Journal of Legal Studies at the University of Chicago. He developed pending home sale indices for the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metro areas in addition to Central Pennsylvania on behalf of Bright MLS, one of the largest multiple listing systems in the U.S. Mr. Miller teaches market analysis as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation in the Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) Program at Columbia University.


He serves on the New York City Mayor's Economic Advisory Panel representing the residential real estate sector. He has participated in studies with institutions including New York University, Princeton University, Columbia University, Baruch College, and Urban Land Institute. He is a well-regarded real estate commentator, covering U.S. and regional housing issues in print, online, television, and radio, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Reuters, AP, CNBC, CNN, ABC, and others.

April 22, 2020

Discussion: Assessed Tax Values & COVID-19 Impact 

Scott Smith

Speaker: Scott Smith

Chief Communications Officer, Deputy Assessor

Office of the Cook County Assessor

Jerry Brown

Speaker: Jerry Brown

Property Tax Attorney, Siegel & Callahan

Southside Builders Assn. Board Member

April 30, June 24, and August 19, 2020

Discussion: Small Business Administration Resources & Real Estate, Illinois

Robert Stainer

Speaker: Robert Steiner

District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Illinois District Office


Steiner joined the SBA in February 2013 and leads SBA’s operations across the state of Illinois. The Illinois District team of small business experts strengthens the entrepreneurial and small business ecosystem by supporting the efficient delivery of capital, comprehensive technical assistance, and access to government contracting.

Prior to joining the SBA, Steiner served with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service.  With the FPS, he managed a $68M budget while overseeing all human capital, logistics, procurement, and support activities.   Steiner joined the Federal Protective Service after eight years in the private sector, with roles in executive management, sales, and marketing.

A United States Naval Academy graduate, he began his career in the military, serving ten years serving in the United States Navy as a commissioned officer and Naval Aviator. During his naval career, he deployed multiple times in support of naval operations across the world.

Stan Bochnowski

Speaker: Stan Bochnowski

Executive Vice President & Chief Lending Officer

Stan is an Executive Vice President of Lakeside and also serves as a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He is the Chief Lending Officer, responsible for oversight of all commercial and residential lending activities at the bank.

Stan joined Lakeside in 1983. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and is a member of the Chicago Board of Realtors, Chicago Home Builders Association and Illinois Mortgage Banker Association. He also is a Director to the following organizations: Hong Kong Club, Valentine Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, Near South Planning Board, Southside Builders Association and the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce

Rose Robert

May 6, 2020
Part I: Cook County Land Bank Working Together

Dubbed “The Change Maker” by Chicago Splash Magazine, Rob leads the Cook County Land Bank Authority, an organization that reclaims distressed properties and clean them up to make them desirable for new buyers.  Rob has a strong vision for the future with the ability to execute that vision among diverse stakeholders bolstered by his extensive background in finance, real estate and community development. Rob serves as a board treasurer of Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago and was recently appointed to the Fannie Mae Affordable Housing Advisory Council.  He also serves on the local advisory committees of financial institutions including Citibank, IFF and Fifth Third Bank.  He has received numerous awards including the NHS Community Impact Award, Dearborn Realist President’s Award, Chicago Defender Men of Excellence.  Rob is a Robert A. Toigo Fellow and is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.  Rob has an MBA from Cornell University and BBA from St. Edward’s University.

Speaker: Robert Rose Jr. (Rob)

Executive Director, Cook County Land Bank Authority


May 13, 2020
Discussion: Multifamily Market Overview and the COVID-19 Impact

Speaker: Brian Mond

Director Essex Realty Group

Brian Mond

Brian Mond joined Essex Realty Group, Inc. in 2016 as a Director focusing on the South Side of Chicago. Brian was exposed to real estate at an early age while working in architecture and construction with his family’s business in Argentina. He has invested, renovated, and leased apartment buildings since 2010. As a broker and investor, he understands how to navigate the complexities and inner workings of an apartment building sale and what it takes for a sale to occur.


Prior to joining Essex, Brian worked for a brokerage firm specializing in the sale of multifamily apartment buildings in the Chicagoland area where he facilitated the sale of over $57 million in transactions during his three years with the company.

In 2007, Brian graduated from the College of Design at Iowa State University in Ames, IA with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Regional Planning. In 2012, he graduated from the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University with a Master’s of Science in Real Estate and was honored as the Hipolito Roldan Scholar.

Brian is involved in a number of organizations and is on the advisory board of the South Side Builders Association of Chicago. He is an active member of team sports, specifically with Chicago's sailboat racing the Mac Race since 2012 and racing J24s, J70s, and Beneteau 36.7s nationals. Brian also enjoys coaching and playing Rugby.

Special Edition: May 20, 2020

Discussion: Part II Navy Pier 

Randy Podolsky

Speaker: Randy Podolsky

Riverwoods Development Partners

Podolsky & Associates, Ltd.

Randy D. Podolsky has served entrepreneurial, corporate, institutional, and Not-For-Profit clients for 45 years. He provides personalized transaction and contract negotiation and advisory services to financial institutions, users, owners and Not-For-Profits for all facets of commercial real estate. Strategizing and executing complex real estate and debt transaction solutions is his passion. Randy is also a Past Commodore, Ninth District Western Region of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The concept of a marina at Navy Pier was born decades ago by avid boaters. Perfected in 2016 as the preeminent transient marina on the Great Lakes, Navy Pier Marina was envisioned by the project developer, Randy D. Podolsky, a Chicago born and raised entrepreneur, out of the need for a Lake Michigan boating destination that could offer boaters short-term, transient docking as well as quick and convenient access to dining, lodging, and entertainment at Navy Pier and the City of Chicago.  After years of planning, Navy Pier Marina offers both.


Navy Pier Marina provides boaters a one-of-a-kind Lake Michigan boating experience. The first and only dedicated transient marina on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier Marina offers exclusive and direct access to Navy Pier and the City of Chicago with hourly, nightly, and longer stay docking options.  All at the heart of the City.

Construction is scheduled to commence Fall 2020 and will be open to boaters in 2021. 

June 3, 2020

Discussion: COVID 19 Assessment Adjustment

Fritz Kaegi

Speaker: Fritz Kaegi

Cook County Assessor 

Donald Meyer

Speaker: Donald J. Meyer

Deputy Assessor - Chief Valuations Officer

June 10, 2020

Discussion: Southside Economic Developments

David Doig

For 25 years, David has served neighborhoods throughout Chicago in various nonprofit and governmental capacities, including as a community organizer in North Lawndale and as Superintendent of the Chicago Park District.  At CNI, David focuses on strategy and raising capital, and helped lead an organizing effort to have Pullman declared a National Monument.  David has an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College and a Master’s in Social Science from the University of Chicago. David is also a member of Millennium Reserve Steering Committee and on the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation.

Speaker: David Doig

President, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives Group

July 1, 2020
Discussion: Sanitizing & Restoring Companies During and Post COVID
Nasutsa Mabwa

Speaker: Nasutsa Mabwa, President ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons

Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, a MBE/WBE certified emergency disaster restoration company serving the Chicagoland area.


Mabwa has also served as a Senior Project Manager for McCaffery Interests, a real estate development firm. At McCaffery, she managed the Lakeside Development, a 600-acre mixed-use community on Chicago’s southeast side. Before joining McCaffery, Mabwa worked for the City of Chicago for seven years as an Urban Planner and Director.


Along with her professional accomplishments, Mabwa has held a variety of community and academic involvement positions. She is a 2018 Chicago Business Journal Influential Women in Business Honoree, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40, and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She currently serves on the board for the Civic Federation, as the Vice President, Executive Committee, to the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the Advisory Board for Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate. She is IICRC certified for (water & fire) WRT & FSRT.


Mabwa holds two advanced degrees: a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois-Chicago and an MBA with a real estate development concentration from Roosevelt University.

July 1, 2020
Discussion: Tax Compliance and Maximizing Profits during and post COVID 
Kevin Cawley

Speaker: Kevin Cawley
National Account Representative for Cost Segregation Services, Inc. (CSSI)

Kevin Cawley has been a National Account Representative for Cost Segregation Services, Inc. (CSSI) since 2015. Previously, Kevin spent 11 years in the construction management industry advising builders on how to safely and properly construct all types of commercial property.


During this time, Kevin learned how important cash flow is to every business owner he encountered. He also learned that relationships are key in business, and if you can develop a good rapport with your team and clientele, then work can flourish on future projects. This vast experience was a perfect fit for the CSSI team and parallels perfectly with building owners. Working through the details of cost segregation with clients not only requires specialized knowledge but also requires great attention to detail and strong communication skills. In fact, some of Kevin’s clients from his past career are still some of his clients with CSSI today. Kevin has lived in Chicago his entire life and currently resides in Portage Park on the city’s northwest side with his fiancé, Lauren. In his spare time, he enjoys taking boat rides with the family, fishing, and golfing. Kevin has also been playing guitar and piano for over a decade and still meets with his brother weekly to play.

Date: July 8, 2020
Panel Discussion: Housing Developments through POAH Initiatives

Speaker: Bill Eager

Sr. Vice President Midwest Region

Preservation of Affordable Housing

Bill Eager

As POAH's Vice President of Real Estate Development for the Midwest Region, Bill oversees all multifamily development activity for POAH’s regional office and leads the company’s implementation of a $30.5 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in the Woodlawn Community.  He supervises project managers in the development process from acquisition to completion of construction and lease-up including, financial analysis, design and construction, on-time and on-budget closings and full lease-up. Bill also serves on the Board of Directors at Chicago Rehab Network.  

Bill holds more than 20 years’ of experience in economic development, affordable housing development and municipal finance. Prior to joining POAH in 2011, he served as Managing Deputy Commissioner for Chicago's Department of Housing and Economic Development's Housing Bureau. He managed the $500 million annual tax increment finance program and the $100 million housing development budget for the City of Chicago.

Alex J.Sparhawk
Felicia Dawson
Speaker: Alex J. Sparhawk, Esq
Director of Acquisitions Development
DL3 Realty Advisors, LLC

Alex joined DL3 in 2015 and is involved in the financial structuring, design, entitlement, construction, marketing and disposition of all DL3 projects. Alex is currently overseeing in excess of $100 million of DL3 Realty’s strategic investments, which are designed to revitalize underserved urban communities and provide economic opportunities for local residents and legacy businesses. 


Alex is responsible for evaluating potential real estate development projects and works with community partners and service providers to source new opportunities. Alex received his Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law and Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs and Urban Planning from San Diego State University. In his free time, Alex enjoys rock climbing, biking and playing beach and indoor volleyball. 

Speaker: Felicia Dawson
Vice President
Community Partnerships, Preservation of Affordable Housing

Felicia Dawson is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for POAH Communities, working as a liaison between the development team and property management around issues of community and resident engagement.

Felicia is responsible for supervising the Woodlawn Resource Center, a community center offering free social service support and workforce training for this South Side community in Chicago. She is working to duplicate the success of the Woodlawn Resource Center across the POAH portfolio, in large developments and other neighborhood revitalization projects. She also works closely with the Vice President of Community Improvement and the Director of Community Impact to establish local partnerships with creative, sustainable organizations that empower our residents toward opportunity.

Felicia joined POAH in April 2011 to develop government and community engagement strategies to successfully revitalize Woodlawn Park, a Choice Neighborhood Site in Chicago. She brought years of experience bridging the gap between community engagement programming and brick and mortar redevelopment—working as a Program Manager and Director at Bethel New Life, a local community investment organization in Chicago, then as a Program Officer for the Steans Family Foundation, and then as the Director of Community Building for The Community Builders.

She has a Master of Public Administration degree in Urban Administration and Nonprofit Financial Management from the University of Missouri Kansas City, and was recently named a 2017 University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy Fellow.

Cyrus Rivetna

July 15, 2020

Discussion: Nuts & Bolts of Chicago Building Codes, Permit, Self-Certification & Additional Dwelling Units

Speaker:  Cyrus Rivetna

Principal, Rivetna Architects

The founder and principal of Rivetna Architects is both creative and practical. He is the recipient of the prestigious American Institute of Architects Henry Adams Award; a published and exhibited photographer; and an expert on ancient Zoroastrian fire temples, witness a recent interview for a CBS documentary.


Much of his professional formation happened during his “Doshi Years”, a two-year stint as senior architect at Sangath (India) at the office of iconic architect Shri Balkrishna Doshi who worked with Le Corbusier in Paris and who returned to Ahmedabad to supervise Le Corbusier’s projects. Those “Doshi Years” were the crucible where the ancient architectural idiom of the east fused with the process and technology of the west, creating what would become the focus of Rivetna Architects: producing quality architecture which satisfies both the spirit and the practical.

Date: July 22, 2020
Discussion: Opportunity Zones

Robin Shabes
Speaker: Robin Schabes
Chicagoland Opportunity Zones Consortium Director

Robin Schabes is the Chicagoland Opportunity Zones Consortium Director at CCLF. In this role, Robin coordinates and supports the work of the Consortium, delivering on key responsibilities such as project pipeline mapping, project/investor matchmaking, technical assistance coordination, and facilitating the implementation of the Consortium’s action plan.

Robin is a practiced community economic development professional and has held management-level positions in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors focused on economic development and real estate development projects and initiatives.  Robin has direct experience and knowledge of multiple incentive programs including Opportunity Zone financing, tax increment financing, special districts, and service areas as well as others to achieve community economic development objectives.

Prior to joining the Consortium team, Robin served as the Division Manager for the City of Napa’s Economic Development Division where she initiated and led myriad endeavors such as the creation of a policy framework and a proforma analysis tool related to local Opportunity Zones; the crafting of a competitive application resulting in Napa being selected as one of six cities nationally to participate in the National League of Cities new cohort focused on healthy communities; the launch of a multi-pronged placemaking/placebranding commercial corridor action plan; and the preliminary feasibility analysis of a work/live campus concept focused on the local creative and production industries.

Robin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Urban Studies from Northwestern University, a Master of Urban Planning and Policy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Master of Science in Real Estate degree from Roosevelt University’s Walter E. Heller College of Business.  Robin is a Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women in Real Estate Scholar and a member of the Alpha Sigma Gamma International Real Estate Honorary Society.

Robert Tucket
Speaker: Robert Tucket
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Programs

Bob Tucker is Chicago Community Loan Fund’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Programs. He leads internal operations and provides strategic leadership to ensure CCLF executes its business plan and fulfills its mission to provide flexible, affordable and responsible financing and technical assistance for community stabilization and development efforts and initiatives that benefit low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.

Prior to joining CCLF, Bob was the Corporate General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS), where he oversaw all legal operations and developed strategies for managing and minimizing risk. Before NHS, he was a Partner at the law firm Chapman and Cutler LLP where he represented numerous lending institutions, corporations, and not-for-profit organizations and also served as the law firm’s Pro Bono Chair. Bob also has been a Freelance Writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and Pioneer Press, providing restaurant reviews and chef profiles.

Bob served as a Village Trustee on the Village Board of Oak Park, Illinois where he held roles on the Finance Committee and as a Trustee Liaison to the Oak Park Economic Development Commission. Bob has a Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, Wisconsin, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Philip Fornaro
Date: July 29, 2020
Discussion: Real Estate Syndication

Speaker: Philip Fornaro

Managing Attorney

Fornaro Law

Philip M. Fornaro is the managing attorney at Fornaro Law. Adopting a “never give up” attitude, Philip has become known for his ability to succeed where others fail for the last 20 years. His decision to diversify his practice in 2004 has resulted in the creation of a full-service law firm that provides quality representation in a variety of legal areas. Philip follows the rule that positive energy will yield positive results. This energy is the driving force behind the success of Fornaro Law.

He has become adept at creating a network and team between clients, Fornaro Law, and other professionals. This team approach and the expanding network have provided further benefits for the clients of Fornaro Law. Fornaro also understands the need to give back to the community by taking roles as President of the La Grange Business Association, scholarship chair of the Rotary, Little League Baseball Manager, and ardent supporter of the numerous local charities.

Philip graduated from Northwestern University and then received his law degree from the John Marshall Law School.

Marisa Novara

Date: August 5, 2020 
Discussion: The City of Chicago, Department of Housing Updates

Speaker: Marisa Novara


Department of Housing

Marisa Novara was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Housing (DOH) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in June 2019.

As DOH Commissioner, Novara directs the City's efforts to keep Chicago affordable for all income levels through projects and policies that address the needs of tenants, landlords, developers, homeowners, and other community stakeholders.

DOH programs, under her direction, support affordable housing construction and rehabilitation projects, provide purchase assistance for first-time home buyers, enable accessible repairs for seniors, provide grants for home improvement projects, and offer development incentives for the redevelopment of vacant and abandoned buildings. DOH also administers the City's affordability requirements for multi-family construction projects and monitors compliance for all City-assisted affordable housing projects and policies.

Before joining the Department, Novara served as a policy director for Mayor Lightfoot's transition team and was formerly vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). During her 8-year tenure at MPC, Novara designed and managed the Cost of Segregation project, a 2017 study that concluded decades-old patterns of racial and economic segregation cost the Chicago region an estimated $4.4 billion in additional income each year. She also led the subsequent creation of the region's first comprehensive guide to a more racially equitable future, among other reports, studies and articles.


Prior to MPC, Novara directed affordable rental and for-sale housing development for Lawndale Christian Development Corp. in the North Lawndale Community. Novara has a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in sociology, master's degree from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, certificate in affordable housing finance, development, and management from the University of Illinois Chicago, and a master's in urban planning from the Istituto Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy.

Brien Wloch

Date: August 26, 2020
Discussion: Water Saving Programs and Commercial Lending Opportunities

Speaker: Brien Wloch

Managing Member

Dearborn Capital Commercial Real Estate, LLC

Brien Wloch has over 30 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, closing $15 billion in loans in his career. Prior to founding Dearborn Capital in 2012, Brien was the Executive Director for J.P Morgan with responsibilities that included heading up both the Midwest and national CMBS origination platforms. He originated CMBS loans for Barclays and Deutsche Bank, as well.

Brien also brings experience as a commercial real estate owner and investor, owning such property types as retail centers, office buildings, industrial, and multi-unit residential buildings. His understanding of property owners’ and borrowers’ goals, motivations, and challenges uniquely positions him to deliver creative solutions to their various financing needs.

Panel Discussion:

Tax Increment Financing in Chicago

Date: September 16, 2020
Southside Builders Assn. & Cook County Bar Assn. 

CCBA Logo.jpeg
David Doig

Panelist: David Doig

President, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives Group

For 25 years, David has served neighborhoods throughout Chicago in various nonprofit and governmental capacities, including as a community organizer in North Lawndale and as Superintendent of the Chicago Park District.  At CNI, David focuses on strategy and raising capital, and helped lead an organizing effort to have Pullman declared a National Monument.  David has an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College and a Master’s in Social Science from the University of Chicago. David is also a member of Millennium Reserve Steering Committee and on the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation.

Paul Shadle

Panelist:  Paul Shadle


DLA Piper's Development, Land Use, and Government Affairs

Paul Shadle is a partner in DLA Piper's Development, Land Use, and Government Affairs practice group. He concentrates his practice in the areas of general real estate development transactions, real estate finance, corporate real estate services, land use, and zoning, public-private finance, historic/landmark preservation, incentives for development and facilities location, and related government affairs.


Mr. Shadle represents owners, tenants, developers, investors, lenders, retailers, and a variety of entrepreneurial and institutional clients in complex real estate, private and public financing, annexation, zoning, and government-related matters for corporate, office, industrial, retail, residential and mixed-use projects. Prior to practicing law, Mr. Shadle worked on a variety of urban economic development and planning matters as a land use planning and transportation analyst for EG&G Dynatrend and the U.S. Department of Transportation, and as a staff member for Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) and Congressman Patrick Williams (D-MT). He is a graduate of Kenwood High School in Chicago’s Hyde Park, Carleton College (B.A. in History, 1986), the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (M.P.P., 1991), and the University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 1996).

David Merriman

Panelist:  David Merriman

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Stukel Presidential Professor Dept. of Public Administration University of Illinois at Chicago

David Merriman a distinguished scholar at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and is Stukel Presidential Professor Dept. of Pub. Admin., Univ. of Illinois at Chicago. He also directors the U of Illinois’ Fiscal Futures Project, which monitors the fiscal condition of the State of Illinois and serves on the State of Illinois Council of Economic Advisors.  He is an associate editor for the journal Economic Development Quarterly.  Professor Merriman’s scholarly work has included numerous papers on business taxation, tax increment financing, Cook County assessment caps, and Walmart’s effect on local retail markets.  Professor Merriman’s work has been published in many scholarly journals.  He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

See his Lincoln Institute of Land Policy report on tax increment financing (TIF)

Improving Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for Economic Development

Date: October 7, 2020 

Panel Discussion: Private Lending 

Jose Baeza

Panelist: Jose Baeza

Owner & Founder Efunding Experts

Jose Baeza has built seasoned relationships with over a hundred national, regional, and local commercial lenders who are actively lending to small businesses. Our team of financial experts have a deep understanding of what lenders need to see in order to instantly approve your company for business capital. We leverage that information to ensure you receive the most funding possible in the shortest period of time with the most competitive rates.

Michael Hobbs

Moderator: Michael Hobbs


PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy

Michael Hobbs, MAI, SRA, LEED GA, CRP of PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy, is a columnist, author and national speaker addressing the topics of entrepreneurship, real estate investing, real estate appraisal and sustainable and energy efficiency's impact on property values.

Michael is the President of PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy, a multi-disciplinary real estate appraisal and consulting firm founded in 2000. He is a state-certified real estate appraiser in Illinois, performing court testimony as an expert witness in various local, state and federal courts.  Additionally, when he is not speaking and writing on real estate, he focuses on investing and entrepreneurship, as he has founded 8 companies.  He is a Forum Trainer and board member of The Entrepreneur Organization (EO) Chicago Chapter, a global network of more than 14,000 business owners in 80+ countries.

Brandon Moulton

Panelist: Brandon Moulton

Senior Vice President 

Renovo Financial, LLC

Born and raised in Toledo, OH. Graduated from the University of Dayton in 2006 with a finance degree- Go Flyers! Upon graduation moved to Chicago and took a position as a commercial underwriter at Metropolitan Capital Bank. From there, Mr. Moulton moved to Renovo 5 years ago and has since ascended to SVP of Lending. Additionally, Mr. Moulton currently resides in the City with his wife, Dana, and new born boy, Van.


About Renovo Financial

Founded in 2011, Renovo Financial is a fast-growing Chicago-based private lender for real estate entrepreneurs who rehab or build investment properties. Renovo uses local market expertise, real-world underwriting, and a service-driven approach to create a financing relationship that delivers more than simply working capital. Renovo Financial was recently recognized by CRAIN’s CHICAGO BUSINESS as a FAST 50 company, a list of the fastest growing companies in Chicago.

Ralph Martire

Date: October 21, 2020 

Discussion: Fair Tax

Ralph Martire

Executive Director

Center for Tax and Budget Accountability

In addition to Ralph Martire’s role as executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (“CTBA”), he is also the Arthur Rubloff Endowed Professor of Public Policy at Roosevelt University. CTBA is a bipartisan 501(c)(3) think tank committed to ensuring that state, federal and local workforce, education, fiscal, economic and budget policies are fair and just, and promote opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or income class. During his time at CTBA, Ralph has helped obtain numerous legislative successes (including passage of the Evidence Based Model of Education Funding in FY2018, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, creation of a bipartisan legislative task force to integrate workforce and economic development policies, passage of the 2011 Temporary Tax Increases, corporate accountability legislation that, among other things, requires public reporting of economic development benefits created through receipt of tax breaks and other subsidies, decoupling Illinois tax policy from both the federal bonus depreciation rules and the federal repeal of the estate tax).

In addition to his professorship at Roosevelt University, Ralph has taught fiscal policy seminars and education finance courses for various universities and the International Fulbright Scholar Program. Ralph has been featured as a tax policy expert for numerous television and radio news programs such as WTTW, the Chicago PBS affiliate, and WPWR, the Chicago NPR affiliate. He is also a regular columnist on education, fiscal, and economic policy for the State Journal Register, the Daily Herald, and The News Gazette.

Date: December 2, 2020

Discussion: Michael Reese Hospital Site Development 

Morgan Malone

Morgan Malone

Director of Development and External Affairs

Farpoint Development

Morgan Malone currently serves as Director of Development and External Affairs at Farpoint Development, a Chicago-based commercial real estate development firm. Boasting experience in community development, municipal finance, procurement, and external affairs, Morgan is responsible for a wide-range of responsibilities. Most prominently, this includes stewarding the $3.5B Bronzeville Lakefront development, formerly the Michael Reese Hospital site, in the Bronzeville Community. Bronzeville Lakefront is a 100-acre site poised to become the largest QOZ redevelopment in the Midwest and the life sciences headquarters for all of Chicago. Prior to joining Farpoint, Morgan worked for the Chicago Department of Aviation to advance O’Hare’s $8.5B expansion and administrative operations at both O’Hare and Midway Int’l Airports.


Infusing equity into all that she does, Morgan is an equitable development enthusiast and consistent figure in Chicago’s neighborhood and economic development sphere. Hailing from Old Dominion University, Morgan majored in Women's Studies, where she honed her conviction in advocating for the most marginalized among us. Morgan was featured in Forbes in August of 2020 for her work in anti-racism, is a 2020 Crain’s Business Chicago 20 in their 20s honoree, and is a Commissioner on the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation.

Ciere Boatright

Ciere Boatright

Vice President, Real Estate and Inclusion

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Inc. 

Scott Goodman

Scott Goodman

Founding Principal

Farpoint Development

Farpoint Development’s founding Principal, Scott Goodman, is an innovative real estate leader who cares deeply about how a development relates to the community it sits within.  For 30+ years, Scott Goodman has successfully helped neighborhoods and buildings thrive by retaining the integrity of the neighborhood while making a culturally unique home for businesses and people.


Goodman focused on launching Sterling Bay in the mid-1980s, a firm that grew to national acclaim under his drive for innovation. He deployed a visionary approach to revitalizing existing commercial buildings and new developments in unexpected locations. He implemented strategies like warehouse loft office space and the condo/commercial subdivision of buildings. These concepts in adaptive reuse stood out in the world of commercial development.  As a leader, Goodman brought together a team that infused artistry, architecture and experience into each development. Over the years, he championed major projects for such prestigious clients as Google, Sara Lee, and gogo, bringing deep insights into how people and office tenants experience and benefit from a development within a community.


After Sterling Bay, Goodman sought to transition to a more streamlined operation that was even more responsive to client and community needs. His focus on investor relations, procurement of financing and equity and transaction structuring serve as the foundation for Farpoint Development. Under Goodman’s guidance, Farpoint has been defining and delivering notable Chicago projects,from the purchase and enhancement of Prairie Shores in the Bronzeville community to the development of the 100-acre Bronzeville Lakefront, a mixed-use district championing life sciences and health innovation in Chicago.


Goodman’s insight and sense for real estate reinvention come from a diverse education, background and sense of commitment to a cause. Goodman’s Bachelor of Science in Economics was earned at the University of Michigan. Additionally, he received an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. As his career accelerated, he served as the former Board Chair of the PKD Foundation and Heartland Alliance and is a current Board Member for both prestigious organizations. His membership in the Chicago Economics Club offers insight to his fiscal acumen as well.

Ciere Boatright is the Vice President, Real Estate and Inclusion for Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Inc.  Since joining Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) in 2013, Ciere has managed the planning and development of new projects, including Pullman Park, the 180-acre mixed-use site at 111th Street and I-94, where CNI has coordinated over $400 million of new investment and created nearly 1,800 new jobs.  In addition to planning and development, Ciere has been instrumental in leading CNI’s community engagement process. By forging positive relationships with community groups, community members, she fostered widespread support for: Artspace, an innovative new work/live space; the new Whole Foods Distribution Center in Pullman; the new Gotham greens in Pullman, Amazon in Pullman, a Mariano’s in Bronzeville; and a new community center in Pullman, the largest year-round, indoor athletic complex of its kind in the region.


Ciere spearheads CNI’s efforts for diversity and inclusion: Through her management and project oversight, CNI has achieved between 30 to 50 percent minority business enterprise contractor participation in its projects. Active in the civic space, Ciere is on the Chicago Community Land Trust Board, serves as a Commissioner for the Roseland Medical District and a Commissioner for SSA 71.  Ciere also serves on the executive board of ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and is a Link Unlimited volunteer and Sponsor. Ciere received a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and a Master’s in Urban Planning at University of Illinois Chicago in 2016.


Ciere is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and was recognized as one of Crain’s 2019 Notable Women in Commercial Real Estate.  Ciere received the 2019 Link Unlimited’ s Richard T. Smith Alumni Award & UIC CUPPA’s Jim Marek Alumni Appreciation Award and was recently recognized as one of Crain’s 2020 40 under 40 honorees.

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