ABOUT THIS PROGRAM
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In connection with our Welcome to Brookhill exhibition we will have a series of conversations about the themes in the work.
Our next community conversation will examine various plans and attitudes that impact Charlotte’s need to address and provide more affordable housing options for residents.
Share your thoughts and perspectives in a stimulating dialogue about a critical part of the economic landscape in our city. Join panelists James E. Ford, Principal Consultant of Filling the Gap Educational Consultants and co-chair of the Opportunity Task Force; Greg Jarrell, co-founder of QC Family Tree and co-chair of the Westside Community Land Trust; Taiwo “Tai” Jaiyeoba, Charlotte’s Director of Planning, Design and Development and Dionne Nelson, President & CEO of Laurel Street Residential as we take a closer look at Charlotte’s growth.
About The Panelists
James E. Ford is an award-winning educator and consultant on issues of equity in education. He is the former Program Director at the Public School Forum of North Carolina, an education think-tank and policy advocacy organization. Prior to this, he served as the 2014-15 North Carolina Teacher of the Year and the representative for 95,000 public school teachers throughout the state. While in this position, he lobbied the state legislature to help secure the first post-recession raises for teachers and was made chair of the Governor's Teacher Advisory Committee, which earned him acknowledgements during the Governor’s 2015 State of the State address. In Spring 2015, Ford and 54 other state teachers were honored by President Barack Obama at the White House during Teacher Appreciation Week.
A civic leader in Charlotte, Ford also serves as the co-chair for the Leading on Opportunity Council, an effort to change the systemic barriers to economic mobility in the city. He also is the Principal at Filling the Gap Educational Consultants, LLC. He considers his work an extension of his greater life-calling as an activist, writer, minister, husband and father. He earned a bachelor of science in mass communication from Illinois State University in 2003 and a master’s degree in teaching from Rockford University in 2009. He received his Add-On Certificate from Wingate University in 2014 and holds a North Carolina Principal’s License. Ford is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at UNC-Charlotte in Urban Education.
Ford has been recognized as Charlotte Magazine’s 2014 Charlottean of the Year, the 2014 National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Teacher of the Year and is a Carnegie Fellow. He is a self-professed “equity warrior” who believes education is a human right. He writes and speaks extensively on the topics of race, class, and education equity and advocates for the most disadvantaged student populations and his work has appeared in numerous publications including EdWeek, Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte Agenda, EducationNC and EBONY magazine.
Greg Jarrell is co-founder and Chief Door Answerer at QC Family Tree, a community of rooted discipleship in the west Charlotte neighborhood of Enderly Park. He shares life there with a host of neighbors who have become family, as well as his wife Helms and sons John Tyson and Zeb. Jarrell is the author of A Riff of Love: Notes on Community and Belonging, from Cascade Books (2018). His work with neighbors in Enderly Park focuses on building from their gifts, creating economic opportunity, and combating serial displacement and land loss in a rapidly changing neighborhood. Jarrell can also be found around Charlotte playing saxophone. He regularly performs in concert and club venues across North and South Carolina in jazz, classical, and commercial settings. His 2016 release "How Bright the Path," in collaboration with Richmond-based pianist Jim Bennett, features spirituals, blues, and popular standards. Jarrell also co-chairs the Westside Community Land Trust, a neighborhood advocacy group.
For more than 26 years, Taiwo “Tai” Jaiyeoba has worked in the public and private sectors as a city planner and transit planner, both in the United States and internationally. As a city planner, Jaiyeoba worked with several cities in preparing general plans, zoning amendments, Transit Oriented Development (TOD) district ordinance, design reviews and processing various land use planning entitlements. As a senior transit planner, Jaiyeoba managed multi-million dollar federally-funded light rail, bus rapid transit and streetcar projects across the United States, including the first operating Bus Rapid Transit project in the State of Michigan. In addition, he was an adjunct professor of transportation planning with the Grand Valley State University, Michigan. Jaiyeoba is a board member of University City Partners (UCP), a member of the American Planning Association (APA), Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and the American Public Transportation Association. Prior to joining the City of Charlotte as Director of Planning, Design & Development, he worked as a private consultant and was an executive for HNTB, a Charlotte infrastructure consulting firm.
As President and CEO of Laurel Street Residential, Dionne Nelson, establishes and manages the overall strategic direction, operations and growth of Laurel Street and has over 20 years’ experience in real estate development, finance and operations. Previously, Nelson was Senior Vice President at Crosland with responsibility for the company’s affordable housing development and operations. Prior to joining Crosland, she managed investments at NewSchools Venture Fund in Boston and Earnest Partners in Atlanta. Nelson began her experience in financial services as an investment banking analyst at Salomon Brothers in New York. She also worked as a strategy, organization and operations consultant with McKinsey & Company in the Chicago and Atlanta offices. Nationally, Nelson works extensively with the Urban Land Institute (ULI). She is a Trustee and serves on ULI’s Affordable and Workforce Housing Council, the National Advisory Board for the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing and as an evaluator for several national housing competitions and advisory panels. Locally, she is a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission and a board member of Renaissance West Community Initiative, Levine Museum of the New South, and YMCA of Greater Charlotte. Nelson previously served as a board member for the North Carolina Housing Coalition, and she is a member of Leadership Charlotte Class 29. She holds an MBA from Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Economics from Spelman College.
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