PCRG’s 2019 Summit:

Session Descriptions


WEDNESDAY, May 8, 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

INTERACTIVE SEMINAR: Under Our Own Power: Games to Inform, Organize, Build Capacity, and Compel Action

Monongahela ROOM

Communities often have an asymmetrical relationship to those who manage capital in community development. Developers, investors, and even nonprofits and planners have a shared language and understanding of development processes that can be intimidating. As a result of this expert gap, residents can feel left out, even when significant efforts are made to include them.  The result  could be a backlash against well-intended ideas or, worse, an exploitation of an uninformed and unengaged community.

Games and simulations are a way of creating two-way forums where citizens can gain knowledge of complex and/or technical issues while sharing their own specific understanding of their community. Done well, this can flip the script: residents are recognized as having expertise, enabling more robust decision-making in community processes. When citizen expertise is elevated through games and simulations, the process becomes more symmetrical and more citizens can positively affect their neighborhood.

Games and simulations are ideally suited for community engagement because they allow citizens to adopt different roles, understand the rules that organize phenomena in their community, and provide a low-risk means of testing different scenarios and understand the results. This session will discuss how complex economic and regulatory topics can be made more transparent with games and simulations.

Through several gaming activities, attendees will learn how to build an engagement plan that advances community understanding with effective use of nontraditional activities, including games and simulations. The session will demonstrate different types of games and simulations and discuss methods for constructing a game. Attendees will have the opportunity to share games and simulations they have used in their own work and the presenters will share successes and challenges. A portion of the session will provide time for attendees to play games that the session organizers have created and used for real community projects, including a TRID simulation, an air quality card game, and a green infrastructure role-playing game.

Following this introduction to effective games, attendees will have the opportunity to play Transit! The Game. Can you “win” for your community by deploying effective, equitable and efficient transit service? We will challenge you to position the pieces like BRT, fixed-route buses and rail that will accomplish your community’s most vital priorities. Score big with Light Rail—if you can find the funding! Or, bring thrilling services to an under-served neighborhood! Transit planners will show you how data, geography, community vision, and other good planning practices can work together to make the most of your region’s transit assets. Do you have what it takes to win the community development game—WITH TRANSIT?

Session facilitators:

Andrea Elcock, Port Authority of Allegheny County
David Totten, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission
Christine Mondor, evolveEA
Elijah Hughes, evolveEA
Ashley Cox, evolveEA
Daniel Klein, evolveEA

WEDNESDAY, May 8, 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM

Housing For All: Introducing Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning in Lawrenceville (and beyond)

sky room

Recommended by the City of Pittsburgh’s Affordable Housing Task Force, inclusionary zoning is increasingly used by municipalities across the country to produce affordable housing and mitigate displacement. Starting in September 2018, community groups in Lawrenceville worked with the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning and City Councilwoman Deb Gross to launch a robust community process to create the first mandatory inclusionary zoning program in Pittsburgh.

In this session, attendees will learn about the sudden changes in Lawrenceville’s housing market, the grassroots campaign for inclusionary zoning in Lawrenceville, the City’s work with Grounded Solutions to develop recommendations for an inclusionary zoning program in Pittsburgh, and the policy details that emerged in the Inclusionary Housing Interim Planning Overlay District for Lawrenceville. The session will also cover status of the legislation and how this process could be a model for other neighborhoods and municipalities to adopt inclusionary zoning, as well as a Q&A with the audience.


Dave Breingan, Lawrenceville United
Robert Damewood, Regional Housing Legal Services
Celeste Scott, Pittsburgh United


Opportunity Zones - What We've Learned So Far

allegheny Room

Are you confused about Opportunity Zones? What are they? How do they work? Well, you’re not alone! Opportunity Zones are still young – less than a year old – and we still have so many questions. During this session we will discuss what Opportunity Zones are, how to identify whether your project is in a designated Opportunity Zone, and how to benefit if it is. We will review the guidance and regulations that have been released by the IRS. Panelists will present how they are navigating the largely unknown environment of Opportunity Zone. Participants will hear from a consultant, project manager, funder, and community representative. Finally, we will discuss the most effective way to move forward.


Marcus Atkinson, ServErie
Jeni Cooper, PNC Bank
Joshua Lavrinc, Callay Capital, LLC
Mathew Wachter, Erie Downtown Partnership


Writing Policy and Organizing to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing in Pittsburgh


The Fair Housing Act created a legal duty for all levels of government to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH), taking meaningful actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination. Over the last few years, members of the City of Pittsburgh’s AFFH Task Force have assessed barriers to Fair Housing in our region, written policies that could address those barriers, and presented those policies to the public for feedback and suggestions, including ideas for other needed policies. Members of the AFFH Task Force will speak as panelists, discussing their experiences of:
     * fair housing barriers in Pittsburgh as members of protected classes;
     * assessing barriers to fair housing and the policies that they have been most involved in promoting to address those barriers, explaining specific examples of policies that have been shown to address barriers to affordable, accessible, quality housing that prevent forced displacement in all neighborhoods and to increase choices within neighborhoods of opportunity, as well as access to public transit, healthy food, schools, family-sustaining jobs, etc;
     * organizing to educate and listen to the public through public feedback process, to hold our local government to their Fair Housing obligations, and to pass or enforce specific policies that would affirm fair housing.


Helen Gerhardt, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Task Force
Paul O’Hanlon, Neighborhood Legal Services Association
Carl Redwood, Jr, Hill District Consensus Group
Crystal Jennings, Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition

How does equity and data inform walkability and mobility planning?

Monongahela Room

Come and hear how three levels of planning (at the county, station, and intersection level) use data to identify gaps in access. Through the City of Pittsburgh's Safe Streets, Smart Cities intersection project and Port Authority's Equity Index and First and Last Mile Plan, you'll learn how agencies access and apply data as a decision making tool...and how you can to!


Andrea Elcock, Port Authority of Allegheny County
Aniqua Zahra, Port Authority of Allegheny County
Kristin Saunders, City of Pittsburgh - Department of Mobility and Infrastructure
Bryanna McDaniel, Allegheny County Health Department

THURSDAY, May 9, 9:45 – 11:00 AM

Demystifying New Markets tax Credits

As the New Markets Tax Credit Coalition states, " The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) was designed to increase the flow of capital to businesses and low income communities by providing a modest tax incentive to private investors. Over the last ten years, the NMTC has proven to be an effective, targeted and cost-efficient financing tool valued by businesses, communities and investors across the country."

This program was enacted in 2011, and since then it has assisted many community projects in the country and in the City of Pittsburgh.

Even though it is effective it can be complicated with lots of jargon and formulas. Nevertheless it is a worthwhile tool to consider when putting together a successful expansion or development project.

This session seeks to take some of the mystery out of the NMTC and provide information in plain language regarding how you could use it.

This session will look at;

  • What the tax credit is?

  • How is it used?

  • Where can it be used in the City of Pittsburgh?

  • What projects have used it in the City?

  • What are Investors looking for?

  • Who can help steer your project to a successful closing?


David Gibson, PNC BANK
Jennifer  Kirkley, CohnReznick
Rebecca Davidson-Wagner, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh


Planning from the Ground Up: the Riders' Vision for Public Transit 


In 2017-2018, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, in coalition with Just Harvest and Mon Valley Initiative, led a successful campaign to prevent severe transit service cuts to the communities of the Mon Valley. Through grassroots mobilization and collaboration with borough and municipal leaders, this issue became a litmus test in regional political elections and highlighted disparities in access to mobility. However, the work hasn't stopped at simply preventing additional harm to underserved communities. PPT rider leaders have since leveraged the energy of the BRT 61 bus campaign victory, and used it to launch a regional transit vision for equitable, sustainable public transit improvements entitled the “Riders’ Vision for Public Transit.” The Riders' Vision campaigns are calling for equitable fare pricing, a participatory planning process of an East Busway extension, policies linking affordable housing to transit, and redirecting Clean Air funding to free transit days. In this session, we will talk about the strategies we employed for successful community engagement and leadership in preventing the Mon Valley bus cuts, and how grassroots leaders can put forward a positive agenda for a more effective, equitable and accountable public agency.


Debra Green, Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Nickole Nesby, The City Of Duquesne
Laura Wiens, Pittsburghers for Public Transit

Building Partnerships to Sustain Affordability, Increase Safety, and Protect Investments for Low-Income Homeowners


Small and growing organizations are pushed to identify needs through thoughtful assessment and data collection. Using this data, they are able to build neighborhood specific, city and county-wide partnerships in order to fill gaps in services that are not being satisfied due to capacity and budgetary restraints. There is a responsibility across local governmental and nongovernmental housing stabilization and rehabilitation organizations to work together and actively share information, as it is critical in providing homeowners with necessary services. This ultimately protects the homeowner's investment and decreases home maintenance costs, allowing for long term affordability and the opportunity to age in place and build equity. For homeowners who fall in the low- to extremely low-income limits as defined by HUD, these services - accessibility repairs, utility assistance, weatherization services, and pro-bono legal services for tangled titles and preparing wills - are key resources needed by homeowners to stay in their homes, which have often been in their families for generations. Making it possible for these families to maintain and stay in their homes are not only critical to the welfare of individual families, but also the stabilization of entire neighborhoods.

This session hosted by Director of Programs, Katie McAuley and Program Manager Rebecca Aguilar-Francis from Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Community Development Coordinator Gabrielle DeMarchi from Operation Better Block, Inc. and Program Manager Jennifer Saks from the Allegheny County Lead Safe Program, will explore successful partnerships built between organizations at different capacity levels with different geographical reaches to eliminate gaps in services. It will also discuss the challenges still present and will share best practices highlighting the importance of collaborative and connective work versus simply redirecting homeowners to other services without providing meaningful context.


Rebecca Aguilar-Francis, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh
Gabrielle  DeMarchi, Operation Better Block, Inc.
Katie  McCauley, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh
Jennifer Saks, Allegheny County Lead Safe Program


Turning Pittsburgh’s High Energy Burden for Low-Income Households into a Retrofitting Opportunity

Monongahela Room

Pittsburgh—and the surrounding region – ranks as having one of the worst “energy burdens” in the entire country. While energy rates aren’t comparatively high, energy bills still consume a disproportionately high portion of a household’s total income, creating crushing burdens for low-income families.  The fact that these households lack capital to maintain and repair their homes leaves the buildings in poor-performing condition.  Even households of modest and middle-income means find the deck stacked with some of the oldest housing stock in the country, years of deferred maintenance, and juggling a financial structure that focuses on appraised value to unlock improvement funds.

Fixing homes, not just flipping them to achieve building performance matters.  We can reduce carbon, push for economic justice and achieve sustainability and often affect health of occupants as well. Stabilizing housing for lower-income communities who are disproportionately affected will lift all families.

The widespread regional challenges of aging housing stock calls for a different approach and treating housing as critical infrastructure to be revitalized. In a region plagued with a shortage – or pockets of shortages – of affordable housing, we simply cannot afford the short-sighted approach of tearing down all of the naturally-occurring affordable housing and hoping to replace it. Nor can we leave it untouched to continue its slow path of decay.

What are the tools to reverse this?  What is exists? What roles do the private, financial, and public sectors play in this?  Who is doing this work and how can people plug in to make change?


Aftyn Giles, City of Pittsburgh, Dept. of City Planning
Lu Ethel Nesbitt, McKeesport Housing Authority
Jeaneen Zappa, MBA, LEED-AP, Conservation Consultants Inc.

THURSDAY, May 9, 1:30 – 2:45 PM

Transfer of Development Rights- An Underutilized Equitable Development Tool


In this session we will develop an understanding of Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs), also known as Density and Intensity Transfers, through instruction on concept, historical uses and applications. This is a two-part session, with slide instruction followed by charrette and practical application.

Part I: Instruction The City of Pittsburgh already allows Transfer of Development Rights in the Golden Triangle, and ALT will illustrate how expanding that program can support equitable redevelopment in other City neighborhoods. We will show how a program could be applied in a small-scale example and also show how the program can be integrated into existing performance zoning initiatives. We will then illustrate how TDRs can be used to fund critical greening and community initiatives providing relief for the City to address other critical issues.

Part II: Workshop/Charrette The session will then show how TDRs can be applied as an equitable development tool in the City of Pittsburgh through a small group workshop breakout session.  The group will assess a hypothetical neighborhood, determine TDR Program factors and deliver a theoretical TDR Program framework.  Each table grouping will have the roles assigned as Community Representative, City Representative, Developer and Planner and work through the process.  Each table will have the same TDR program scenario to compare program results at the end of the session.


Alyson Fearon, Allegheny Land Trust


A Public Engagement Strategy for Pittsburgh: Recommendations and Resources for Equitable, Transparent, and Inclusive Engagement in Planning and Policy Development

Sky Room

Meaningful public engagement is an anchor activity critical to the successful implementation of plans, stewardship of our City, and to meeting the vision for a resilient City that is livable for all, especially as the City begins works to complete its Comprehensive Plan which will shape policy and practice for the City’s sustainable growth to 2030 and beyond. Recognizing that all City Departments and Authorities participate in public engagement efforts with varying levels of success, the Department of City Planning worked with a broad and diverse Public Engagement Working Group over the course of winter 2018 and spring 2019 to co-create a Public Engagement Guide for Pittsburgh, which will create consistency in quality of engagement across the public’s interactions with the City.

With the help of a Working Group of over 35 people representing every Council District in Pittsburgh and a diversity of backgrounds, a panel of experts from around the US, a series of engagements with the general public, and Pittsburgh’s MonWin Consulting, we have developed a Guide that acknowledges local expertise and looks to the experience and advice of our residents to inform the development of these standards and our collective expectations for public engagement.

In this session, hosted by members of the City team and the Public Engagement Working Group, we will present our method and results, discuss how this Strategy will change the way the City does engagement, and use interactive techniques to showcase some of the innovative engagement tools used throughout this process. We will discuss how the Guide encourages active, inclusive participation across a broad and diverse cross-section of the Pittsburgh community, what the principles for public engagement accomplish, and how City staff and members of the public can use the Guide and its palette of tools to achieve better engagements and exceed expectations.


Ivette Mongalo-Winston, MonWin Consulting
Renee Robinson, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Sophia Robison, City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning


Leadership and planning for the future: How to keep the momentum going when the leadership changes


Seven out of ten nonprofit leaders are expected to transition out of their positions in less than a decade. In today’s competitive environment, a successful leadership transition is critical to the ongoing success of nonprofit organizations. Part one of this session is designed to provide you and your organization with the tools required for a successful transition and future for your service to the community.

Part two of the session will discuss the role of the board during a leadership transition, how to support staff during transition gaps, how to support the new leadership, and how to manage an organization in instances of sudden change or loss of leadership. We will also examine what it takes to curate a strong board and what it takes to be a good board member. Whether you sit on a board, plan to join a board, or are managed by one having a clear understanding of the role of a board member, duties and responsibilities, alignment of values and commitment to mission is crucial to the success of the organization. Is the board a managing board or a strategic board? Learn the difference in board roles and how organizational leadership is directed or guided.


Stephanie Buckalew, SLB Consulting
Darnell Moses, Allegheny County Department of Human Services


Public Banks: The Next Step in Economic Democracy?

Monongahela Room

In the wake of the Great Recession, activists, candidates, and government officials have questioned the role of private banks in managing public funds. Many U.S. cities have explored the use of a public bank as a tactic to address concerns that the status quo does not align city funds with public priorities. Though public banks may take on different characteristics, they are usually thought of as an innovative way for cities to free up capital currently dedicated to paying for banking services to go toward public priorities (e.g. affordable housing), offer banking services to unbanked businesses and people, and divest from financial institutions that misalign with a city’s values.

Public banks are not without challenges, however, particularly when it comes to governance, regulatory hurdles, and gaining public approval. Nevertheless, cities across the U.S., from Santa Fe to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have taken steps toward establishing their own public banks as a critical means of maximizing the value of public dollars to advance key policy priorities. These precedents offer lessons for policymakers and activists seeking to form a public bank. 

This session’s goal is to examine the objectives and feasibility of establishing municipal banks in the U.S., including lessons learned and alternatives for achieving similar objectives. Drawing on HR&A Advisors’ experience examining the feasibility of a public bank in Seattle, this session will bring diverse perspectives together to discuss lessons learned from previous and current attempts at establishing public banks.

The session’s guiding questions are:

1.What were the primary objectives for establishing a public bank in your city?

2.What benefits/drawbacks can a city expect from a public bank?

3.What are available alternatives to public banks?

4.What lessons can be learned from previous efforts? From other movements to expand financial empowerment?


Andrea Batista Schlesinger, HR&A Advisors

 THURSDAY, May 9: 3:15 – 4:30 PM

Community Land Trusts: Basics and Beyond

Allegheny Room

In 2015, LC began work on the region's first community land trust, and by fourth quarter 2018, LC had developed and sold 7 community land trust homes. In 2017, acknowledging that real estate markets transcend neighborhood boundaries, LC initiated a partnership-driven initiative to explore CLT expansion and create a multi-neighborhood, multi-municipal CLT. This initiative came to the following conclusion: the Community Land Trust model of homeownership and stewardship is to work in Western Pennsylvania, it is best implemented by an organization that operates beyond the capacity, resources, and permanence of a neighborhood-based organization. The Expansion Steering Committee developed and empowered City of Bridges Community Land Trust as an independent nonprofit to advance an ambitious strategy to realize permanent affordability throughout Pittsburgh and beyond.

This session will be a 2-part program: first, a “CLT 101” presentation by Ed Nusser, Director of Real Estate at City of Bridges CLT, will orient attendees to the key facets of a community land trust. Then, a panel will be moderated by Christine Mondor, the convener of the aforementioned steering committee process. Panelists will include: Tom Hardy of Palo Alto Partners and CLT real estate project manager; Sonya Tilghman, Executive Director of the Hazelwood Initiative and City of Bridges board member; and Brittany Reno, Executive Director of Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization and steering committee representative from Sharpsburg.


Tom Hardy, Palo Alto Partners
Christine Mondor, FAIA, LEED AP
Ed Nusser, City of Bridges CLT
Brittany Reno, Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization (SNO)
Sonya Tilghman, Hazelwood Initiative

Real Results: Impact of…Economic Development in Effect

Franklin/Greene Room

Highlighting the results of economic development implementation in southwestern Pennsylvania. Focus will showcase how our strategies increased sales, retained and increased jobs, financed capital and established new businesses.


CathyMcCollon, McCollom Development Strategies LLC
Christy Rowing, City of Washington Citywide Development Corporation 
Michael Wholihan, University of Pittsburgh, Small Business Development Center

BID: Building Inclusive Development

Monongahela Room

Allegheny County’s construction boom is a strong signal of the county’s economic growth, and it is an opportunity to help create greater and much needed racial equity within the construction, contracting, and real estate industries. Many factors conspire to keep African-American business owners’ profit margins substantially lower than those of their non-minority counterparts. Among the most pervasive barriers is lack of access to capital and to professional networks. These limitations, when not averted, adversely affect the financial potential of minority-owned businesses.

This moderated panel discussion will address these issues with an emphasis on initiatives that accelerate the growth of minority-owned businesses by strategically augmenting their access to markets, capital, networks, and talent. Each panelist will speak about their engagement with innovative programs that, respectively, provide access to debt capital and bid procurement services, deliver professional mentorship in the sphere of real estate development, and actively leverage commitments and resources of high-capacity partners across the public-private spectrum to increase contracts with minority-owned businesses. While providing details on distinct programs and efforts, the panelists will also describe the ways their organizations have aligned efforts to ensure a strong mutually reinforcing effect that responds to the regional need for collective action.


Mamadou, Balde’, ACTION-Housing
Brian Burley, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Ron Hantz,Network for Developing Conscious Communities
Chris Kujawa, PDDM Soulutions
Blair Schoenborn, Bridgeway Capital, Inc.


Navigating Pittsburgh’s Small Business Support Ecosystem   

Sky Room

Representatives from four local organizations and owners of several small businesses will speak about small business support organizations and funding sources throughout the small business lifecycle.   

The workshop will introduce attendees to the services offered by SBDCs, accelerators, and incubators as well as a variety of financing options including CDFIs, crowdfunding, and government loans.  A panel of local funders and service providers will then discuss when and how business owners can access those services and community leaders can replicate or bring those services to their communities.  Finally, a panel of business owners will share their experiences navigating the small business support ecosystem and give advice for others looking to do the same.  


Karen Denton, KSC Commercial Cleaning Services
Jason Jones, Idea Foundry
Krissey Giles, Chocolati
Topiltzin Gomez, Honeycomb Credit
Emily Keebler, Kiva Pittsburgh / Riverside Center for Innovation
Tom Link, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh   
Alyssa Lyon, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
Lindsey Matesic, Idea Foundry