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.
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 Redmond Naughton is the President of Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving racial equity, economic mobility and health outcomes in communities across the country. Purpose Built works to improve neighborhoods so that they become platforms that support families working to improve their lives. Building on the framework developed during the revitalization of Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood, Purpose Built Communities works with local leaders to help them plan, implement and sustain holistic neighborhood revitalization initiatives that create healthy neighborhoods that include broad, deep and permanent pathways to prosperity for low income families.
For seven years leading up to the creation of Purpose Built Communities, she served as the Executive Director of the East Lake Foundation, the innovative nonprofit organization that serves as the “community quarterback organization” for the East Lake neighborhood. Prior to joining the East Lake Foundation, Carol was the General Counsel for Atlanta Housing Authority where she played an instrumental role in the revitalization of traditional public housing communities into economically viable, self-sustaining, mixed-income communities and was a key member of the leadership team that transformed AHA from a failing bureaucracy to a national leader in community development. Prior to joining AHA, Ms. Naughton was engaged in the private practice of law with Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan’s real estate group, where she primarily represented real estate developers, lenders and asset managers.
She is a graduate of the Emory University School of Law and Colgate University. Ms. Naughton serves as the Chair of the Board of the Directors of the Low Income Investment Fund, a national community development financial institution with over a billion dollars invested in low income communities across the country. She is a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Charles R. Drew Charter School and currently serves as its Vice Chair. She serves on the national advisory board of the Build Healthy Places Network and is currently serving as an expert advisor to the Fannie Mae Sustainable Communities Challenge.
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.
Mikki is a seasoned and passionate community development professional whose career has been intentionally focused on affordable housing development, community engagement and capacity building.
For more than 13 years prior to joining Purpose Built Communities, Mikki served as Vice President of Development for The Michaels Organization, one of the nation’s largest affordable housing developers. Before relocating to Michaels’ Atlanta office in 2017, Mikki served as Vice President in Michaels’ Chicago office where she played an integral role in the development of more than 1,500 housing units under the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation.
Prior to working for Michaels, Mikki served as Program Officer for Housing and Economic Development for the Steans Family Foundation, whose mission focused solely on the revitalization of the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. At the Foundation, Mikki was responsible for creating and implementing strategies for supporting affordable housing development and economic growth opportunities. She also provided housing-related technical assistance to non-profit, community-based housing developers and Community Development Corporations.
Her professional experience also includes a post as Development Manager with The Habitat Company, a Chicago-based for-profit housing developer charged with serving as the court-appointed Receiver for the Chicago Housing Authority. As Development Manager, Mikki had primary responsibility for the day-to-day management of a variety of development efforts including comprehensive HOPE VI, mixed income, and mixed finance revitalization efforts as well as more conventional scattered site developments.
Ms. Anderson received a BA in English from Northern Illinois University and additionally completed extensive studies in housing and community development through certifications from the Urban Developers Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Rehab Network’s award-winning Community Empowerment Series.
Kathleen R. Brownlee
Vice President of Operations and Principal Financial Officer
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 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 is a Vice President 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 Purpose Built, he worked as an educator. As a teacher, he led his students to achieve significant academic progress. As a manager at Teach For America, he developed and led professional development efforts, on both a regional and national level, to increase classroom rigor and student achievement. While working as a manager in the Teach For America – Rio Grande Valley office, he created and championed an alternative goal-setting methodology that was adopted by the other Texas regions. He began his career as a 7th grade math teacher and soccer coach in Edcouch, Texas.
Born and raised in LaBelle, Florida, Evan loves outdoor adventures. He has hiked more than 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail with plans to hike the entire trail; paddled all the Wilderness Waterway (in Everglades NP); and summited Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States.
Senior Community Development Advisor
Alexandra Wiggins supports current Network Members and assists new prospects as Senior Community Development Advisor for Purpose Built Communities. Alex is a 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.
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.
Community Development Advisor
Grace Baranowski is a Community Development Advisor with Purpose Built Communities, where she supports local leaders implementing equitable revitalization strategies across the country. Throughout her career, Grace has positioned affordable housing investment as a platform for comprehensive community development, recognizing current residents as a neighborhood’s greatest asset.
Prior to joining Purpose Built Communities, Grace served the Georgia Department of Community Affairs as Senior Housing Policy Analyst. There, Grace managed the creation, implementation, and evaluation of the State of Georgia’s multifamily affordable housing policies. As manager of the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP)—the document that annually enumerates the State’s criteria for allocating Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC)—she prioritized developments that would further a community’s redevelopment goals or place residents in areas of opportunity. In 2016, inspired by the cross-sectoral partnerships championed by Purpose Built Communities, Grace stewarded the creation of a new resident-led approach to leveraging housing construction and rehabilitation as a tool for neighborhood revitalization: “Community Transformation.” Appearing for the first time in the 2017 QAP, this new Scoring Section incentivizes affordable housing developers to partner with local service providers and community quarterbacks already serving neighborhoods to engage future tenants in the process of creating a Community Transformation Plan. Residents lead the process of defining what challenges they face in accessing opportunity and how the proposed housing could be a platform to connect residents to health, education, transportation, and employment services. Identifying best practices in place-based revitalization strategies, Grace has presented these findings to local governments and urban planners in forums across the State.
Grace grounds her community development service in a commitment to collaboratively defining best practices. In 2016, Grace approached the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to create the Atlanta Regional Housing Task Force, a collaborative working space for the region’s U.S. Housing & Urban Development (HUD) grantees—cities, counties, and public housing authorities—to define a shared vision for regional affordable housing. The Task Force has since expanded to include non-HUD-grantee municipalities in the region and has served as a planning vehicle for the ARC’s regional housing strategy formation. Prior to moving to Atlanta, Grace served as Associate Managing Editor of Giving USA, the annual report benchmarking American philanthropic trends and data, at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Indianapolis, IN.
Grace currently serves on the AB67 board of the BeltLine, Atlanta’s largest urban redevelopment program, and is a member of the Women’s Affordable Housing Network and the American Planning Association. Grace earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy at Duke University and holds a Master’s of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Community Development Advisor
Uthara Ramesh currently serves as a Community Development Advisor where she supports local community development organizations equitably revitalize disenfranchised communities across the country.
Prior to this position, she served as the Director of Operations of Atlanta Children’s Foundation (ACF), a 501(c)(3) committed to connecting individuals, national organizations, and resources throughout the State of Georgia for the benefit of abused and neglected children. In that position, she balanced playing a leadership role where she built relationships with partner organizations and oversaw the implementation of high-quality programming, while doubling as an advocate for the children in care.
While she has served in management roles, she consistently approaches her work through an equity and community empowerment lens. Uthara whole-heartedly believes that adopting a place-based strategy alongside community leadership is the most holistic, sustainable method to combat generational poverty and inequity. The quote that guides her work is, “Give a man a fish, he will eat today, but teach a man to fish and he will eat forever.”
Uthara graduated from New York University (NYU) with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Public Policy and continues to play an integral role at ACF as an active board member.