Executive Board Chair
Shirley Franklin was elected the first African-American female mayor of a major southern city in 2001, and served as Atlanta’s mayor for the maximum two-terms, completing her time in office in 2009. After leaving office, she was appointed to the William and Camille Cosby Endowed Chair at Spelman College and served in this capacity until June 2011.
During Shirley’s eight years as mayor, she was known for her collaborative approach to solving tough urban problems and to enlisting a broad range of support from Atlanta residents, regional business and civic leaders building on her experience as a Cabinet official in the administrations of Mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young. Her many successes as mayor include advocating ethics reform, overhauling municipal government financial and management operations, adopting multiple year budget practices, launching the Atlanta BeltLine initiative, planning and executing over $5 billion in airport and water infrastructure improvements, leading the acquisition of the Morehouse College Collection of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Papers, creating the Atlanta Regional Commission on Homelessness, and developing successful business and public sector partnerships and alliances. Her signature Mayor’s Youth Program provided internships and over $6 million in financial aid to nearly 4,000 Atlanta college students. Aside from her role as a public official, Shirley’s community service spans over 40 years in Atlanta, and includes her active participation in programs for the arts, homelessness, community development and higher education.
Shirley is also Chair of the National Center of Civil and Human Rights, Co-chair of the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Regional Commission on Homelessness, and serves on the Boards of Directors for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, Delta Air Lines, Mueller Water Products, and The Volcker Alliance.
She served as a board member of the East Lake Foundation, and Founding Chair of the Charles R. Drew Charter School. Shirley currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Purpose Built Communities, and President of Clarke-Franklin and Associates, Inc. In January 2013, she joined the faculty of the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin as the Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor of Ethics and Political Values.
Chief Executive Officer
David Edwards has a deep and diverse background in the public, private and nonprofit sectors working on innovative initiatives addressing some of the greatest challenges facing cities around the world. AS CEO, he is responsible for expanding the number of Purpose Built Communities across the country and insuring that they deliver transformative outcomes for families and children.
Prior to joining Purpose Built Communities, David was the Global Offerings Manager for IBM’s Smarter Cities program. In that role, he was responsible for developing innovative solutions to the critical issues facing municipal and regional governments around the world. For example, David led city management improvement initiatives for the cities of Charlotte and San Jose in the United States as well as Beijing and Johannesburg internationally. He also authored or co-authored several reports and articles, including “The Neighborhood Centric City” published by IBM in 2011, and the chapter titled “It Takes a Neighborhood: Purpose Built Communities and Neighborhood Transformation” in the bookInvesting in What Works for America’s Communities, published in 2012 by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, which he co-wrote with former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.
Before joining IBM, David served for eight years as the Senior Policy Advisor to Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. In that role, he was responsible for developing and executing the Mayor’s reform agenda. He also led the development of the original business case and implementation plan for Atlanta BeltLine, the largest comprehensive citywide redevelopment initiative in Atlanta’s history, and the redevelopment of City Hall East, another major economic development initiative of the Franklin Administration. Additionally, David designed the City’s first performance management system – ATLStat. As a result of these and other initiatives, the City improved service quality, while reducing operating expenses by over 20%.
Prior to his work with the City of Atlanta, David spent eight years as a management consultant, most recently with the Boston Consulting Group. He also served as the Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs at Columbia University in New York City where he directed the strategic planning efforts of the university. He began his career in the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President in Washington D.C., where he served as the lead White House analyst for telecommunications policy.
David’s experience also includes service as a Policy Analyst at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a legislative assistant in the House of Commons in London, England, and as an aide in the office of U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker.
David earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and history at Franklin & Marshall College, and he holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Duke University.
Carol R. Naughton
Carol Naughton has been a leader in comprehensive community revitalization for more than 20 years and was a founding staff member of Purpose Built Communities. In her role as President, she is responsible for leading the consulting teams that support revitalizations in 12 cities, as well as the teams currently vetting opportunities in 35 additional cities, including several in metro Atlanta. She ensures that clients are focusing their time and resources on the highest impact activities in their respective neighborhoods and serves as the primary public spokesperson for Purpose Built Communities at conferences and events around the country. The work she has led has been recognized as uniquely successful by many, including Warren Buffett, Ben Bernanke, the White House Office of Neighborhood Revitalization, the Urban Land Institute, Mutual of America, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, the Education Trust, the Low Income Investment Fund, the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Education.
Previously, Carol served as the Executive Director of the East Lake Foundation, the community quarterback organization that developed and continues to implement the model of community revitalization that Purpose Built Communities is charged with replicating around the country. In this role she helped develop and nurture cross-sector relationships in wellness and education, including the first public charter school in Atlanta. Under her leadership, the East Lake Foundation was recognized by the Urban Land Institute as a Global Award of Excellence Winner in 2003.
Prior to joining the East Lake Foundation, she was General Counsel and Deputy Executive Director for Legal and Nonprofit Affairs for the Atlanta Housing Authority where she served as a key member of the leadership team that brought AHA from the brink of receivership to national recognition as a sophisticated, progressive sponsor of affordable housing programs and community development. While at AHA, Carol played a significant role in developing the legal and financial model for mixed income housing.
Before joining AHA, Carol was an attorney with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan’s real estate group, where she primarily represented developers, lenders and asset managers. She is a member of the 2016 class of Leadership Atlanta and is on the national steering committee of LOCUS. She is a graduate of the Emory University School of Law and was Executive Editor of the Emory Law Journal, and graduatedcum lauda with an AB in Political Science from Colgate University.
Greg J. Giornelli
President of Purpose Built Schools
Greg Giornelli has worked on transformational projects at the city and neighborhood levels for more than 20 years, playing diverse leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. Currently, he is leading a start-up initiative, Purpose Built Schools, to replicate the successful Drew Charter School model in other communities around the country. He previously served as President and COO of Purpose Built Communities.
Previously, Greg worked for the City of Atlanta in various capacities in the administrations of Mayor Shirley Franklin, including Chief Operating Officer, President of the Atlanta Development Authority and Chief Policy Officer.
Greg was the founding Executive Director of the East Lake Foundation (1994-2001), the lead non-profit organization that developed and continues to implement a bold, innovative and successful model of community revitalization that helps families break the cycle of poverty, from 1994-2001. In this role, he oversaw the redevelopment of the East Lake Meadows public housing project into a revitalized mixed-income community. This successful transformation included Atlanta’s first charter school, a new YMCA, a child development center, the East Lake Junior Golf Academy, and a number of health and wellness programs for neighborhood families.
Greg is also an attorney who has worked in private practice and as an Assistant District Attorney for DeKalb County, located in Metro Atlanta.
John Majors is a Vice-President of Purpose Built Communities, where he works with local leaders in multiple cities around the country. John previously worked as the Executive Vice-President for The Dawson Company, a commercial real estate firm. In that role, John led business development, community relations, and financial analysis for the firm’s development projects and investment management activities. While at Dawson, John worked on over $500 million of transformative urban real estate initiatives.
John currently serves on the board of the Carl E. Sanders Buckhead YMCA, and on the Advisory Council of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. John graduated from Harvard Business School in 2000, receiving a Masters degree in Business Administration. While at Harvard, John served as the Co-President of the African American Student Union and was named the first-ever Goldman Sachs Fellow at the school. Additionally, John was a Junior Achievement Fellow during his time at Harvard. John received a Bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in Computer Science from Morehouse College in 1995.
Kathleen R. Brownlee
Affiliated with Purpose Built Communities since its inception in 2009, Kathleen Brownlee has extensive experience in affordable real estate financing, development, and asset management. For two years prior to joining Purpose Built Communities, she led the C.F. Foundation’s real estate initiatives in Atlanta, focusing primarily on planning and developing mixed-use, mixed-income developments in and around the East Lake community.
Before joining the C.F. Foundation, Kathleen was the first President of Mercy Housing Southeast, a subsidiary of Mercy Housing, Inc., a national not-for-profit affordable housing developer and manager, and lender to affordable housing initiatives. She initiated and administered a community development information program to introduce the Mercy Housing System in the southeastern region, the first such venture by the corporation east of the Mississippi. She led a team of developers, and in less than five years, successfully secured the financing for over $40 million in affordable housing for low-income families and seniors.
Prior to her appointment as President of Mercy Housing Southeast, Kathleen served as Mercy Housing, Inc.’s Director of Portfolio Risk Management. She was responsible for underwriting housing developments and portfolio asset management for the entire Mercy Housing system. Additionally, she supervised Mercy Housing’ audit and tax management services, responsible for insurance oversight of corporate assets in excess of $500 million.
Kathleen chairs the Tapestry Development Board and Mercy Loan Fund Review Committee, and serves on the following boards: Hope Atlanta, the Low Income Investment Fund’s New Market Tax Credit Advisory and Women’s Affordable Housing Network. She is a member of CREW Atlanta, has served on boards of several community and national organizations. Kathleen graduated with honors from Agnes Scott College.
Vice-President of Communications
Christina A. Perry
Community Development Advisor
Christina Perry joined Purpose Built Communities after serving as an educator with Teach for America. Teaching at Forest Park High School and Rex Mill Middle School in Clayton County, GA, she was selected as a regional finalist for the Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award competition. This award ultimately identifies the Teach for America National Teacher of the Year.
She was the first special education teacher to be selected by Teach for America to demonstrate transformational teaching and learning on a national level as part of the national video campaign, ‘One Day for SPED’. Future special educators across the country will use her work in their training and development.
Christina graduated with honors from Roanoke College and earned a B.A. in Political Science.
Community Development Advisor
Evan Smith is a Community Development Advisor for Purpose Built Communities where he works with local leaders to break the cycle of poverty by transforming struggling neighborhoods into vibrant, sustainable communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Before joining Purpose Built, Evan worked in education as a math teacher and an instructional coach for math and science teachers. As a teacher, first at Carlos Truan Junior High School, a traditional public school in Edcouch, TX, and later at KIPP STRIVE, a public charter school in Atlanta, Evan consistently led his students to exceed their expected academic growth. As a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development, first in the Rio Grande Valley and later in Atlanta, he trained and supported first- and second-year teachers and contributed to national design and training initiatives. He began his career as a Teach For America Corps Member in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
A native of LaBelle, FL, he graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.A. in both Economics and Political Science.
Community Development Advisor
Brittany Collins is Community Development Advisor for Purpose Built Communities supporting current Network Members and working with new prospects. Brittany is a Metro Atlanta Teach for America (TFA) alumni, where she spent five years as an educator with Atlanta Public Schools (APS). She served as a mathematics instructor for Pre-K – 5 teachers across Metro Atlanta with TFA’s Teacher Leadership Development Program. She was also selected as a Demonstration Classroom teacher with the APS Department of Learning Excellence, and her responsibilities included evaluating lesson plans, demonstrating model lessons, explaining instructional strategies, conducting informal classroom observations, and providing feedback to peers. Brittany was selected as Teacher of the Year in 2013 by peers based on a successful history of increasing student achievement and attainment of the school systems strategic goals. She has thoroughly enjoyed her work in early childhood education, as she has always wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and young adults in the inner-city community. Brittany graduated from Spelman College and earned a B.A. in Psychology and with honors from Georgia State University with a Master of Early Childhood Education.
Sara Kate Roberts
Sara Kate Roberts has been providing research support to Purpose Built Communities since joining the organization in December 2008. She graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2008 with a degree in creative writing, focusing on fiction and a minor degree in print journalism. She was also on the Dean’s List. During college, she interned at the Georgia Department of Labor.
Sara Kate was a March of Dimes ambassador for four years from ages 8-12 for the triad region of North Carolina. She resides in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta.