Technical Assistance


Rebecca Busansky

Debunking Risk in Food System Finance
Tuesday October 12 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Senior Program Manager
Franklin County Community Development Corporation

Rebecca Busansky is the Program Manager for the PVGrows Investment Fund (PVGIF). PVGIF provides financing and technical assistance to farm and food entrepreneurs located primarily in western Massachusetts through community investments. She has worked for PVGrows since 2013, and joined the FCCDC team in 2015 to launch the PVGrows Investment Fund, with a focus on developing and maintaining relationships with local food system borrowers and community investors. She has an undergraduate degree from Brown University and has worked in community economic development for more than 25 years.

Jason Chamlee

Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
Tuesday April 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

VP of Mixed Use
The Model Group

Jason Chamlee joined The Model Group in 2015 and leads the company’s market rate development projects in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. While at the Model Group, he has developed over $260M of urban, mixed-use projects in communities such as Pendleton, Walnut Hills and the Findlay Market area of Over-the-Rhine. Jason specializes in complex financing structures that utilize programs such as New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits and Tax Increment Financing. Jason lives with his family in the neighborhood of Pleasant Ridge, where he is the President of the Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation. Jason holds a BA in History from Miami University and a Masters of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati.

Topiltzin Gomez

Financing Food Systems Through FinTech
Tuesday July 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Chief of Staff
Honeycomb Credit

Topiltzin is Honeycomb Credit's Philly City Manager and Head of Community Partnerships. In these roles, Topiltzin connects local businesses to community-sourced investment while at the same time creating partnerships with banks, community development organizations, municipal governments, and small business incubators to better align the work of Honeycomb to local needs. 

Growing up the small rustbelt city of Waukegan, Illinois, Topiltzin saw firsthand how successful approaches to economic development require community building and broad-based participation. Topiltzin is a recent graduate of Yale University, where he got a BA in Ethics, Politics, and Economics.

Joe Hansbauer

Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
Tuesday April 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

President and Chief Executive Officer
Findlay Market

Joe graduated from the University of Cincinnati with an Electrical Engineering degree and worked for 9 years as a Strategy Consultant at Accenture. During this time he helped to create and grow Give Back Cincinnati. A serial social entrepreneur, Joe has helped grow or launch several initiates, such as Fall Feast, Paint the Town, Fuel, Lily Pad, ToolBank Cincinnati, UGIVE.ORG and Give Back Beyond. Now the President and CEO for Findlay Market, Ohio's oldest continuously operating public market. Joe Lives in Newport, KY with his wife Melanie and three children.

Joe Huber

Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
Tuesday April 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Cincinnati Development Fund

As President, Mr. Huber is responsible for implementing CDF’s strategic plan, ensuring organizational capacity and alignment, maintaining and strengthening external relationships, and overseeing all internal operations. He has led CDF’s lending team since 2006. In that capacity, he has originated, underwritten and closed more than $200 million of construction and permanent loans for the acquisition and rehabilitation or new construction of mixed-use and multi-family rental housing projects in low-income communities. He has also underwritten and closed more than $328 million in New Markets Tax Credit loans for development in low-income communities. He came to CDF from Fifth Third Bank, where he was responsible for a $61 million loan portfolio.

Brad McConnell

Financing Food Systems Through FinTech
Tuesday July 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Allies for Community Business

Brad McConnell is Chief Executive Officer of Allies for Community Business, a nonprofit that provides the capital, coaching, and connections entrepreneurs need to grow great businesses in their communities. In 2020 and 2021, Allies provided nearly $600,000,000 in emergency funding to over 40,000 community businesses, and also provided one-on-one and group coaching to approximately 25,000 community business owners struggling to survive the pandemic. A4CB is based on Chicago’s West Side at The Hatchery, which is the largest nonprofit food and beverage incubator in the country and which it co-owns.

McConnell brings more than two decades of financial and economic development experience to his role. For five years he was Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer at the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development. Prior, he served as Economic Policy Advisor to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in Washington during the onset of the Great Recession. Previous assignments included supporting small business bankers as Vice President at LaSalle Bank (now Bank of America), and leading strategy, process, and technology projects in the US and Europe at Accenture.

McConnell holds a Bachelors in Business Administration / Finance from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Ariel Miller

Financing Food Systems Through FinTech
Tuesday July 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Debunking Risk in Food System Finance
Tuesday October 12 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director, Research & Technical Assistance
Council of Development Finance Agencies

Ariel Miller is a Director of Research & Technical Assistance with the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA). Her research topics include revolving loan funds, access to capital for underserved borrowers, infrastructure finance, and public-private partnerships. She has also contributed to CDFA's food finance research, data collection, and publications demonstrating how development finance agencies can become more engaged in restoring local and regional food systems. Ms. Miller received her Master of City and Regional Planning degree from The Ohio State University, where she also earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology.

Dan Miller

Financing Food Systems Through FinTech
Tuesday July 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Founder & CEO

Dan Miller is the Founder and CEO of Steward, the world’s first crowdfarming platform™.  Steward enables people to invest directly in sustainable farms. Unlike traditional funding methods, Steward’s crowdfarming model creates a healthy yield for both farmers and investors: farmers purchase land and equipment, and investors earn projected returns while making a positive impact. Dan grew up in Washington, D.C. and graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in 2009, and an M.B.A in 2010.  From 2010 to 2015, he was Co-Founder, President and Director of Fundrise, the first and largest US real estate crowdfunding platform, which has raised more than $1 billion to date. Dan remains involved with Western Development Corporation, his family’s real estate organization, which has developed more than 20 million square feet in its 50-year history. Dan's passion for agriculture stems from his maternal family, which has been farming on the Eastern Shore of Maryland since the 1880s.

Ken Pearson

Debunking Risk in Food System Finance
Tuesday October 12 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Loan Fund Manager
Northwest Regional Planning Commission

Ken Pearson is the Loan Fund Manager at Northwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in Spooner, WI. Pearson has been involved with small business and economic development since 2013. His ability to help business owners and entrepreneurs map out a road to success though mission focused business planning, marketing strategy and strategic visioning has assisted hundreds of businesses to start up, expand or grow. During his first five years as a loan fund manager, he has closed over 100 loans within 15 different loan programs and helped turn program losses into annual net income’s for each fund. Specifical to EDA, he’s closed over two-dozen EDA loans; helped lead the decommissioning of two legacy EDA RLF programs; capitalized the new CARES ACT EDA RLF; and closed sixteen CARES ACT EDA RLF loans, exceeding the original $1,000,000 in EDA grant awarded funding.

Pearson earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Superior and a Master of Public Administration degree from Texas A&M University. He brings a vast working knowledge of strategy and development for private and nonprofit organizations. Pearson has held a variety of positions including a volunteer and corporate recruiter, human resources representative, nonprofit board member, and a media advertising and sales representative. Pearson has a strong passion to see small business owners achieve success through strategic goal setting, appropriate fund management, and connecting the right resources to help strengthen the small business economy. He developed this passion at a young age where he learned a lot about small business ownership trials and tribulations from his father who was a self-employed logger in the great Wisconsin Northwood’s.

Erik Pechuekonis

Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
Tuesday April 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Community Planning and Development Specialist
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Erik Pechuekonis is a Community Planning and Development Specialist who works with HUD’s Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program. He has been with HUD for 5-years and most of that time has been spent working on the Section 108 program. Prior to joining HUD, Erik served in Albania as a Peace Corps Volunteer where he worked with local municipalities on urban planning related issues. Before the Peace Corps, he worked as an urban planner at a local government in South Carolina. He has a master’s in City and Regional Planning from Clemson University and a Bachelors in Geography from University of Colorado Denver.

Nicole Reitzell

Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
Tuesday April 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Vice President, Community Engagement
Erie Downtown Development Corporation

Nicole has spent her career in the nonprofit sector, working to make the Erie community a safer, healthier, and more vibrant place.

Nicole first worked in public safety as a paramedic working with, and caring for, people from every walk of life and becoming intimately familiar with every part of the city. She found her passion in making a difference through fundraising at EmergyCare, and then joined Hamot Health Foundation where she was heavily involved in development of a School-Based Health Center in Erie’s lower east side. Nicole went on to lead the fundraising efforts at two of Erie’s favorite lead assets: the Erie Philharmonic and the Erie Zoo. In 2017, she earned her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation, a certification held by only about 16% of professional fundraisers.

In her role as VP of Community Engagement & Social Impact at the EDDC, Nicole works to build a diverse and inclusive downtown with the help of many community members & organizations. While the EDDC's mission is to revitalize downtown Erie through property development, the organization's board and staff work hard to ensure that this work has both an economic and social impact on the community.

She currently serves on the Nonprofit Partnership and the Erie Catholic School System boards. She's also a member of the Hamot Health Foundation board of corporators.

Nicole grew up in Clymer, NY and has lived her adult life in Erie, PA and considers Erie home, with her husband and two young boys.

Allison Rowland

Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
Tuesday April 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Project Manager
One Columbus

As Director of Research and Technical Assistance for the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA), Allison oversees all of CDFA’s food systems finance work, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded initiative to “define the food system asset class” to advance opportunities and leverage existing financing streams to scale local and regional food systems by increasing access to healthy foods and creating new living wage jobs in communities across the country. Throughout this work, Allison has collaborated with hundreds of stakeholders and co-authored the CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series. Allison also is working alongside five food system pilot projects across the country, leads the Food Systems Finance Advisory Council, and is initiating a variety of technical assistance projects to help position communities, their resources, and their financial products to support equitable, local food economies.

Allison also researches financing tools for the energy sector and economic development tools for Native American communities. She also produces several monthly newsletters and manages various webinar series.

Allison is a graduate of The Ohio State University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in City and Regional Planning with a focus on sustainable community and economic development.

Blair Schoenborn

Debunking Risk in Food System Finance
Tuesday October 12 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director of Strategic Initiatives
Bridgeway Capital, Inc.

Blair brings 15 years of project management, stakeholder engagement, and strategic communications experience in both the public and private sectors to Bridgeway Capital. As Director of Strategic Initiatives, she works across the organization to identify, create, organize, and build new impact opportunities for Bridgeway. Prior to joining Bridgeway Capital, Blair worked in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at BNY Mellon on a small team responsible for evolving, managing, and reporting on the bank’s global CSR strategy. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Business Practices from Duquesne University and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Allegheny College.

Seema Thomas

Financing Food-Centered Redevelopment
Tuesday April 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Deputy Director
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Seema Thomas is the new Deputy Director for HUD’s Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program in the Financial Management Division in the Office of Block Grant Assistance. To date, she has been working on community development challenges for the past two decades. Her career has focused on developing and expanding innovative and inclusive initiatives to support communities from the neighborhood to the metropolitan scale, both domestically and internationally. Before joining HUD, she was an adjunct professor of urban sustainability at the University of the District of Columbia. In the past, she has consulted and worked for numerous organizations, such as the World Bank, DHS’s Science & Technology Directorate, Freddie Mac, the Urban Institute, and Oliver Wyman & Co. She holds a BSE from the University of Pennsylvania, a MUP from Harvard University, and an MPA from Princeton University.

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