Home > Housing + Economic Opportunity Summit – Agenda

Housing + Economic Opportunity Summit – Agenda

Host organizations HousingWorks Austin and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas assembled diverse audiences – including the real estate and business industry, housing and community development practitioners, and financial institutions – to better understand challenges and opportunities around creating equitable economic opportunities for all. Scroll down to view videos of the presentations and panels from Reimagining the American Dream: Housing + Economic Opportunity.

Summit Agenda

Friday, February 9, 2018 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Austin, TX

7:30 – 8:15 AM                 Registration 

7:30 – 8:15 AM                 Breakfast

8:15 – 8:25 AM                Welcome

  • Michael Gerber, President-elect | HousingWorks Austin Board of Directors
  • Roy Lopez, Community Development Officer | Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

8:25 – 8:30 AM               Introduction of Keynote Conversation: Yvette Ruiz, Vice President, Office of Nonprofit EngagementPresenting Sponsor JP Morgan Chase & Co.

8:30– 9:15 AM                Keynote Conversation 

  • Mayor Steve Adler | City of Austin
  • Judge Sarah Eckhardt | Travis County
  • Evan Smith, Editor-in-Chief and CEO | Texas Tribune and Host of “Overheard with Evan Smith” | PBS

9:15 – 9:20 AM               Introduction of Keynote Address: Emily Ryder Perlmeter, Analyst | Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

9:20 – 10:00 AM            Keynote Speaker: Rolf Pendall, Co-Director | Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.

10:00 – 10:15 AM           Networking Break

10:15 – 11:25 AM            General Session: Credit, Debt, and Intergenerational Wealth – Moderator: Mechele Dickerson, Arthur L. Moller Chair in Bankruptcy Law and Practice, University Distinguished Teaching Professor | University of Texas at Austin School of Law
Access to housing and credit is integral to building the American dream. Without access to credit and the ability to secure a mortgage, homeownership and building wealth through home equity remain a distant dream for many Americans. Racial disparities in credit scoring and credit reporting particularly lead to an economic racial divide that reflects past discrimination. This session will explore the basis of existing inequalities in accessing credit and explore opportunities for addressing this challenge.


  • Ann Baddour, State Director, Fair Financial Services Project | Texas Appleseed
  • Garrett Groves, Economic Opportunity Program Director | Center for Public Policy Priorities,  Austin
  • Joyce McDonald, Executive Director | Frameworks Community Development Corporation, Austin

 11:50 – 1:00 PM              Lunch

General Session: Reimagining Cities Panel: Housing + Social & Economic Mobility – Moderator: Sherri R. Greenberg, Fellow of the Max Sherman Chair in State and Local Government, Clinical Professor | University of Texas at Austin, LBJ School of Public Affairs

Affordable and stable housing can play a key role in facilitating social and economic mobility by providing improved connections to education, health and transportation. As Austin grows at a rapid pace it is necessary to understand how these connections to housing can be strengthened to create opportunities for all. This session will explore how K-12 education, healthcare access and healthy environments, and transportation relate to economic opportunity and social mobility in Austin.


  • Paul Cruz, Superintendent | Austin Independent School District
  • Christina Dunigan, graduate student, researcher | UT Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs
  • Mike Geeslin, President and CEO | Central Health
  • Rob Spillar, P.E., Director | Austin Transportation Department

 1:00 PM- 1:15 PM                    Transition Break

 1:15 PM – 2:45 PM                  Breakout Sessions

Track #1:  Digital Inclusion:  Access and Economic Opportunity – Moderator: Jordana Barton, Senior Community Development Advisor | San Antonio Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

The boom in global broadband over the past two decades has changed the way we access financial services, job opportunities, education, healthcare and social networks. Yet this digital growth has not been even across communities. In Austin, access to the Internet lags behind for African-Americans, Hispanics, older residents, and those with lower incomes and education. This session will explore why closing this digital divide is essential for economic, social and political equity, as well as what tools and resources can be used to invest in broadband infrastructure and digital literacy in underserved communities.


  • Catherine Crago, Strategic Initiatives and Resource Development | Housing Authority of the City of Austin
  • Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Head of Community Impact Strategy | Google Fiber, Alphabet, Inc.

Track #2: Workforce Development and Economic Opportunity – Moderator: Roy Lopez, Community Development Officer | Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Meaningful employment and access to education is key to addressing affordability issues in Austin. On average, college educated individuals have higher earnings and greater contributions to the local economy over their lifetimes. Affordable educational and workforce development programs focused on local needs can help connect employees to stable jobs and provide greater economic opportunities. Working with major employers is essential for creating successful and integrated programs. This session will focus on efforts aimed at connecting potential employees with varying educational attainment to meaningful employment opportunities in the region.


  • Andres Alcantar, Chairman, Commissioner Representing the Public | Texas Workforce Commission
  • Will Coombes, Executive Committee and Board Member | Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
  • Richard Rhodes, President and Chief Executive Officer | Austin Community College

Track #3:  Workforce Housing: Platform for Economic Growth – Moderator: Geronimo Rodriguez, Chief Advocacy Officer | Seton Healthcare Family and Trustee | Austin Independent School District

Federal guidelines contend that a household should pay no more than 30% of its income toward housing expenses.  Even though incomes have remained relatively flat in the past decade, housing costs have increased dramatically over the same period.  With strong employment growth in low- and moderate-wage job sectors, it is crucial to develop effective strategies to adequately house the workers who make our community function. In this session, we will assess the concept of “workforce” housing and explore creative strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing to this sector. Special topics will include Austin’s “strike fund” for the preservation of workforce housing, as well as local efforts to develop employer-assisted housing.


    • Emily Chenevert, Interim CEO, | Austin Board of Realtors
    • C. Kent Conine, Director | Federal Home Loan Bank, Dallas
    • Erik Solvan, Executive Director | Mayor’s Office of H.O.P.E. Denver, CO
    • David Steinwedell, President and Chief Executive Officer | Affordable Central Texas

3:00 PM                        Closing Reception