Shirley Franklin
Executive Board Chair

Shirley C. Franklin is currently Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Purpose Built Communities and former Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. She was elected the first African American woman mayor of a major southern city in 2002 and served two-terms as mayor of Atlanta, Georgia until 2009. The mayor is term limited in Atlanta. Upon leaving office, she was appointed to an Endowed Chair at Spelman College and served until June 2011.   

During her eight years, the city experienced unprecedented growth and afforded Franklin the opportunity to partner and collaborate with many local and regional leaders in addressing policy challenges, which included urban planning, economic development and infrastructure. She is best known for advocating for and tackling major government operations and ethics reform, launching the Atlanta Beltline, 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. Papers, launching the Regional Commission on Homelessness and developing successful business and public sector partnerships and alliances.  Aside from her role as a public official, her community service spans nearly 40 years in Atlanta and includes her active participation in the arts, homelessness and higher education.  

She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Mueller Water Products and her civic engagement includes her service as Chairman of the board of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and as a board member of the Volcker Alliance and the CDC Foundation (Centers for Disease Prevention and Health Prevention).  She is a former member of the Delta Airlines Board of Directors. 

Franklin co chaired the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and the DNC Platform Committee for the 2016 Convention.  During her mayoral term she was an active member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. 

Franklin is a frequent speaker and subject matter expert on leadership, public policy and community engagement having served over three decades as an executive in government and business. She counts Ambassador Andrew Young and former mayor Maynard Jackson among her most important professional mentors having served as an executive in their mayoral administrations.

Born and reared in Philadelphia, educated at Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin has lived with her family in Atlanta since 1972. 

David Edwards
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 ensuring 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 more than 20 cities, as well as the teams currently vetting opportunities in more than 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 serves on the Board of Directors of the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) as Vice Chair, the Board of Advisors of the Build Healthy Places Network, the national steering committee of LOCUS, and is an alumnus of the 2016 class of Leadership Atlanta. She is a graduate of the Emory University School of Law and was Executive Editor of the Emory Law Journal, and graduated cum laude 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.

Michelle L. Matthews
Senior Vice President

Michelle Matthews joined Purpose Built Communities in 2016 as Senior Vice President after leading her own consulting company, Matthews Consulting Group (MCG), for more than a decade. She is a trusted advisor with more than 30 years of experience in organizational development, change management and consulting. She is a recognized expert when it comes to developing strategies to improve business processes, maximize human capital and increase revenues.

Michelle’s guidance has enabled nonprofit organizations, such as Families First, the Task Force for Global Health, and Communities in Schools of Atlanta; educational institutions, such as Spelman College and Atlanta Public Schools; and numerous Fortune 500 companies, such as Delta Air Lines, Kimberly Clark and Georgia Pacific to implement strategic change and improve individual, team and organizational performance.

Before founding MCG, Michelle was a senior manager for IBM, KPMG Consulting and Accenture. In these positions, Michelle effectively led teams through engagements requiring strategic planning, group facilitation, organizational change management, executive coaching and business process redesign.

Michelle brings passion, experience and integrity to her work. These traits are the foundation of her ability to quickly grasp the internal and external dynamics of an organization or institution, and successfully facilitate strategic planning retreats and team-building sessions. Believing that change is always possible, Michelle is deeply committed to collaborating with organizations to create customized strategies that are easy to understand and designed to put clients on the path to achieving results that are both remarkable and measurable.

Michelle is a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and the Atlanta Chapter of the Association for Strategic Planning. She is also a board member for the Quality Care for Children.

An authority on adapting to changing environments, Michelle has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise and Smart Money. She has also appeared as a CNN guest on the program “Your Money,” where she shared her experiences in leadership and change. In 2011, Michelle received the Atlanta Business League’s Business Achievement Award, and she was featured in the 2012 November/December issue of Minority Business Entrepreneur magazine. In 2013-2014 Michelle was host of “Growth Matters”, a weekly radio show where she dialogued with executives and entrepreneurs about their insights into growing an organization in today’s competitive environment.

Michelle graduated summa cum laude from Spelman College, with an economics degree.

Kathleen R. Brownlee
Vice President of Operations

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.

Melissa Devereaux
Vice President

Melissa Devereaux brings over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, development and volunteer/partner engagement to her work with Purpose Built Communities. Melissa is a creative fundraising strategist and loves inviting and engaging volunteers and partners into the work of improving the community for all who live there.  She began working with Purpose Built Communities in 2015 as a consultant in the California Bay Area, where she advised the Oakland Purpose Built Network Member, Castlemont Renaissance, and was an independent consultant with several other organizations.


Previously, Melissa spent the bulk of her career in Atlanta, where she served in a range of leadership roles in local nonprofit organizations. As Development Director for The Georgia Justice Project (GJP), Melissa was responsible for raising 100% of the organization’s revenue and led an innovative and successful 25th anniversary campaign that capitalized GJP’s five-year strategic growth plan. As Senior Deputy Finance Director for the Michelle Nunn for Senate Campaign, Melissa was part of a team that raised money and directed volunteers across the state. Previously, she served as Development Director for Hands On Atlanta where she launched the organization’s individual giving efforts. She has provided consulting services to a range of nonprofits including Points of Light, The New School, Hands On Georgia, and the Atlanta Women’s Foundation.


Melissa currently serves on the Selection Advisory Council of GreenLight Fund Bay Area.  Prior to relocating, she served on the Board of the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School and The Odyssey Family Counseling Center.  She founded The Friends of the Grant Park Pool.  Melissa holds a B.A. in Psychology and History from Emory University and an M.S. from the College of Education at The Florida State University. She resides in the East Bay area of California with her husband and two children.

Ethan "Eytan" Davidson
Vice President of Communications

Eytan Davidson has spent his career working with cities and nonprofits to promote equity and access to opportunity. As vice president for communications, Eytan helps promote the organization in order to grow the Purpose Built Communities Network and consults with Network Members on communications-related issues to help them achieve their objectives in their cities and neighborhoods. He also oversees strategic communications for the East Lake Initiative, working with the East Lake Foundation, Drew Charter School, Purpose Built Schools, and the East Lake Golf Club.

Previously, Eytan served as Director of Communications and Media Relations for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. where he led and executed the communications and marketing efforts of the Atlanta BeltLine, the largest urban redevelopment program in the City of Atlanta’s history, since 2008. Prior to that position, he served as Vice President of Communications for the Partnership for New York City, an international business organization focused on matters of public policy pertaining to the New York metro region.

Before joining the Partnership for New York City, Eytan served in positions of increasing responsibility in communications and administrative roles in the administration of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. He started as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Research and Media Analysis and eventually rose to become the Chief of Staff for the Department of Small Business Services. Prior to that, he worked on the Bloomberg for Mayor Campaign in 2001.

Eytan graduated with a B.A. in History from Columbia University in New York, NY, and completed Columbia Business School’s Senior Leaders Program for nonprofit professionals, earning a Certificate in Business Excellence. He resides in Decatur, GA, with his wife and two children.

Evan Smith
Senior Community Development Advisor

Evan Smith is a Senior Community Development Advisor at Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit, pro bono consulting firm that believes everyone deserves the opportunity to live and raise their children in communities where they can achieve their full potential. Evan provides consulting and technical assistance to local leaders implementing a proven neighborhood revitalization strategy designed to create a healthy, mixed-income neighborhood with pathways to prosperity for the lowest-income families.

Prior to joining Purpose Built Communities, Evan held several roles in the field of education. As a manager at Teach For America he coached first and second year teachers, created professional development exemplars for a national audience, and championed an alternative goal-setting methodology adopted by multiple regions. He taught at a public charter school in Atlanta and began his career as a middle school math teacher at a traditional public school in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.

Evan currently serves on the Board of Directors at Castlemont Community Transformation Schools, a charter management organization in Oakland, CA, and the Enrollment and Admissions Committee at Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta, GA. He is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

A Florida native, Evan graduated from Wake Forest University with a BA in both Economics and Political Science.

Alexandra Wiggins
Community Development Associate

Alexandra Wiggins supports current Network Members and assists new prospects as a Community Development Advisor for Purpose Built Communities. Alex is a recent graduate of Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center where she received her Juris Doctor as well as a Graduate Diploma in Comparative Law. While in law school she served as an educational law policy analyst and legal extern for former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and then served as a policy fellow with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement shortly after graduation.

Prior to entering law school, Alexandra was a Metro Atlanta Teach for America (TFA) corps member where she spent two years as an elementary educator with a Fulton County Charter School. She served as grade level chair and was selected as a national TFA first year corps member case study for excellence in teaching.  Her passion for education and the desire to mandate high quality education for all students regardless of socioeconomic factors led her to explore education law and policy, specifically the constitutionality of educational gerrymandering and halting additional forms of educational segregation.

Alexandra is a proud Georgia Bulldawg – completing her undergraduate studies at The University of Georgia as both an NCAA Scholar Athlete dancer and HOPE Scholarship recipient.

Damon Bailey
Community Development Advisor

Damon Bailey is a seasoned education professional with deep experience in public education in low income communities. At Purpose Built Communities, he serves as a Community Development Advisor supporting Network Members and prospects across the country who are implementing holistic neighborhood transformation initiatives.

Prior to joining Purpose Built Communities, Damon worked in roles of increasing responsibility in the Metro Atlanta Region of Teach for America, culminating in his role as Managing Director on the Teacher Leadership Development team.  In that role, Damon led and managed the execution of secondary math and science strategy while coaching and developing a small team of teacher coaches.  With his colleagues, he was also responsible for analyzing data on teacher performance and satisfaction and developing high impact interventions to address those areas with the ultimate goal of improving student achievement. Damon was a 2009 Teach For America corps member and served for three years at his placement school, Ralph J. Bunche Middle School, as a science teacher. He later spent years coaching and developing new teachers as a Manager, Teacher Leadership Development with Teach For America.

Damon is a proud alumnus of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia where he earned a B.S. in Biology and resides in Atlanta.

Alexa Abbott
Community Development Advisor

Alexa Abbott is a Community Development Advisor with Purpose Built Communities, where she supports Network Members and prospects in cities across the country with holistic, responsible revitalization. Prior to joining Purpose Built Communities, Alexa worked as a consultant in Chicago with Pricewaterhouse Coopers in their Public Sector State and Local Government Group. In that role, Alexa supported non-profit organizations, state and city officials, as well as education administrators with challenges facing their respective entities. Alexa was part of a team that supported a local government in thinking through economic revitalization following one of the United States’ most catastrophic natural disasters. She also supported one of the nation’s largest public school districts in understanding and improving their complex pension system and non-instructional costs.

Her passion for responsible neighborhood revitalization and community development is long-lived, stemming from her time spent living in Detroit and then Metro-Detroit, where she witnessed disparities in education and resources firsthand. 

Alexa graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business with a Bachelor in Business Administration and is a proud Wolverine. During her time at Michigan, she was a Residential Advisor, Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar, Carson Scholar, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow Fellow.

Sara Kate Roberts
Research Assistant

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.