Our Board

Kenneth W. Banta, Co-chair
Ken Banta is the Founder and CEO of The Vanguard Group For Leadership.  He also created and leads the Vanguard Forum, a leadership development program for rising top executives. Ken advises CEOs and companies on leadership, building high performance cultures and driving  transformational change.  Previously Ken was a member of the senior management teams of Bausch + Lomb, Schering-Plough and Pharmacia Corp. Earlier he was an executive with the public affairs firm Burson-Marsteller and worked for 10 years at Time Magazine as a writer and foreign correspondent.

Brooke Denihan Barrett, Co-chair
Brooke Denihan Barrett is the CEO of Denihan Hospitality, where she leads the operations of The James and Affinia brands and Denihan’s luxury independent boutique hotels The Surrey, The Benjamin and The Carlton. With a lifetime of hospitality management experience in her family’s 50+ year old hospitality business, Brooke has helped lead the transformation of Denihan into a nationally recognized leader in the boutique hotel management and investment industry. In 2013, Real Estate Forum named Barrett a ‘Legend’ among influential women in real estate. In 2011, she was named an ‘Outstanding Woman in Real Estate’ by National Real Estate Investor, and in 2011, 2012 and 2013 was among Real Estate Forum’s ‘Women of Influence’. Brooke was honored with the Stevie Award for ‘Woman Executive of the Year’ in 2012 and together with her brother Patrick Denihan, was named a New York finalist in the EY (Ernst & Young) Entrepreneur of the Year awards in 2016.  A strong and noted advocate of women in business, she is a co-founder of the New York/New Jersey Chapter of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s ‘Women in Lodging’, the New York Women’s Forum and the Committee of 200 (C200).

Dr. Bernard Banks
Dr. Bernard (Bernie) Banks is a noted expert on the subjects of leadership and organizational change.  Currently, Bernie is the Associate Dean for Leadership Development and a Clinical Professor of Management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he is accountable for Kellogg’s integration of its Leader Development Initiatives across its global portfolio of programs.  Dean Banks retired from the Army as a Brigadier General in 2016, after having successfully led West Point’s Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership.  In addition to having studied leadership extensively, Dean Banks has led multiple organizations ranging in size from 10 to 500 people.  A West Point graduate, Dean Banks is broadly educated.  He holds graduate degrees from Northwestern, Columbia and Harvard Universities.  Additionally, he earned his Ph.D. in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University.  Dean Banks’ work has been published in a variety of outlets including the Harvard Business Review and the New York Times.

Dr. Jill Ker Conway, Chair Emerita
Jill Ker Conway is an Australian-American author and corporate leader with extensive board governance and leadership experience at such companies as Nike, Colgate Palmolive and Lend Lease. Well known for her autobiographies, in particular her first memoir, The Road from Coorain, she was also Smith College's first woman president from 1975–1985. From 2011 to 2014, Jill served as the founding Board Chair at Community Solutions.

Fred Dust
As a Partner at IDEO, Fred Dust works with leaders and change agents to unlock the potential of innovation networks in business, government, and society. Prior to joining IDEO, Fred was a project architect at Fernau & Hartman, where he worked on retail and corporate projects, such as the Smith & Hawken headquarters and retail prototype and Oxygen Media. He also spent eight years working in the art world with major organizations (Hotwire Productions, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Galería de la Raza, and others) and independent artists, supervising the development of interactive art installations and assisting in the production of film video projects.

Rosanne Haggerty
Rosanne Haggerty is President of Community Solutions and an internationally recognized leader in developing innovative strategies to end homelessness and strengthen communities. She has more than 20 years of experience developing permanent supportive housing and advising communities in the U.S. and around the world on their efforts to end homelessness. She is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, an Ashoka Senior Fellow and a Hunt Alternative Fund Prime Mover. 

Abby Hamlin
Abby Hamlin is a New York City based real estate developer and civic thinker.  She is the founder and President of Hamlin Ventures, which is one of a handful of successful woman-owned development companies.   Focusing on select, design-driven projects that engage urban issues Hamlin’s innovative projects earn the support of communities, win design awards, and at the same time, deliver stellar returns to their investors.  Ms. Hamlin is especially proud of her role as initiator of The Schermerhorn, a 217-unit supportive housing residence completed in partnership with Common Ground Community, which demonstrated the collective benefit of public/private collaboration in helping affordable housing keep pace with market rate development. Prior to forming Hamlin Ventures in 1997, Ms. Hamlin was President of Swig Weiler & Arnow Mgt. Co., Inc. a premiere commercial real estate company that developed, owned and managed major office properties, as well as the Fairmont Hotels.  Known as an active civic leader and expert in the field of public design, Ms. Hamlin currently serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, the Forum For Urban Design and Art Omi. Previously she chaired the board of the Van Alen Institute.  She has also served as a juror for the NEA’s ArtWorks program, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the Enterprise Community Foundation, as well as an advisor to the Mayor’s Institute of Design. From 2010-2016 Ms. Hamlin was an adjunct professor at Columbia University where she taught graduate courses in real estate development.  Ms. Hamlin holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters of Urban Planning from Princeton University

James Johnson-Piett
James Johnson-Piett is responsible for the overall management of operations and strategic vision for Urbane Development, a community and economic development consultancy based in New York City. His work focuses on strengthening small businesses operating in underserved communities through market intelligence, technical assistance, and access to capital.  Johnson-Piett will lead on structuring financing for the market redevelopment, creation of a 2-year pop-up market, and overall market management post-construction.  Some of his clients include: The Green Grocer Project, Flatbush Caton Market, NYC EDC, NYC DCA, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Seattle Office of Economic Development, Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), WK Kellogg Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Centers for Disease Control, Yale University, Toronto Public Health Department and hundreds of independent, small business clients throughout North America.  James was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture by Brooklyn Magazine in Spring 2016.  He is currently Vice Chair of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and is a 2013-14 BALLE Local Economy Fellow, is a Co-Convener of the National Healthy Corner Stores Network, and sits on the advisory board of American Communities Trust of Baltimore.  James is an alumnus of Swarthmore College and attended the MIT Center for Real Estate Professional Development Institute in 2007.

Ben Wise
Ben Wise is Senior Advisor of Strategic Projects at the International Rescue Committee, an international humanitarian NGO that employs 12,000 staff across 40 countries to deliver assistance to people affected by crisis in settings such as Congo, Somalia, Syria and Afghanistan.  As Senior Advisor, Ben works with the C-suite and leads cross-cutting initiatives to structure and solve the organization’s toughest strategic and operational problems. Prior to joining the International Rescue Committee, Ben was Senior Consultant at L.E.K. Consulting, where he led teams to advise leading global corporations and investors on a range of topics, including growth strategy, product launch and M&A target identification and assessment. Ben also brings experience in nonprofit management and investment strategy from previous positions in the industry.  At National Equity Fund, a nonprofit fund that has invested over $12B in affordable housing, Ben executed multilateral transactions and conducted financial analysis of prospective partner organizations.  He was a visiting scholar at NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, where he authored working papers and led a strategic planning process to define the vision and future direction of the institute.  He also co-founded and managed a successful organization that builds mixed-income, sustainably designed housing in Rwanda, and held field positions at international organizations such as Partners in Health and Innovations for Poverty Action.  Ben holds an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business and an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from Brown University.