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CDFA Lifetime Achievement Awards

The CDFA Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the development finance industry throughout their professional career. Winners have made innovative and lasting contributions that have had a great impact on the way development finance programs are operated, managed, and administered. This award honors those individuals and the significant legislative contributions to the advancement of new development finance tools, strategies, and approaches.

Award Recipients


Laura Canter Laura Canter
Laura Canter is Executive Vice President and director of the Finance Programs Division of MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ development and finance authority. Reporting to Ms. Canter are the Commercial Lending, Community Development, New Markets Tax Credit, and Investment Banking practices, with offices throughout the state. The division serves governmental entities, private businesses, and nonprofit organizations with tax-exempt bond... (More)
Price Finley Price Finley
Price Finley has been practicing law at Bricker Graydon LLP for over 30 years, all of those focused on public finance. Price has experience in all areas of public finance, including local government, economic development finance, port authority financings, and other structured and project financings. He has substantial experience in the use of various economic development tools, including frequent use of tax increment finance (TIF). Price has also created... (More)
Steve Johnson Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson leads the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s (CHFA) Community Development team which includes Multifamily Lending, Housing Tax Credit Allocation, and Small Business Finance. CHFA’s mission is to strengthen Colorado by investing in affordable housing and community development. Steve began working for CHFA in 1996 as a commercial loan officer and became a Director in 2010. Steve says what drew him to CHFA, and continues to be the most... (More)


Robert Heard Robert Heard
Robert Heard is a managing director of Cimarron Capital Partners, LLC, an investment firm specializing in regional private equity. The firm and its affiliates manage $270 million for the states of Arkansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. Each account is designed to help build a private seed and venture capital industry in the client state.

In 1994, Mr. Heard formed Edge Development Capital, Inc. (Edge). The firm has served as the incubator for Cimarron and an... (More)
Brenda Guess Brenda Guess
Brenda Guess serves as the Assistant Secretary at Louisiana Economic Development (LED). She is a 35-year veteran of Louisiana Economic Development, with extensive leadership experience in state and municipal government and private sector business.
Brenda previously served as the director of LED’s Business Incentive Services office. She administered the tax incentive and small business financing programs, including venture capital, for the State of... (More)
Carlton Schwab Carlton Schwab
Carlton Schwab has been President/CEO of the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC) since February 1st, 1999. During that time, the 850-member TEDC has developed into a recognized leader in the professional development of its members and a powerful voice for economic development policy in the state of Texas.
In his role as President/CEO of the TEDC, Mr. Schwab has served on numerous boards and commissions. In 2012, he was named by Governor Perry to the... (More)


Frances Walton Frances Walton
Frances Walton is the Executive Director and Partner at Plum Alley Investments. Before joining Plum Alley, Frances was the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of Empire State Development, the state of New York’s development finance agency, where she served for more than 20 years. During her tenure, she directed commercial banking, investing, and reporting of the financial impact of Empire State Development. She managed the housing and commercial... (More)
Joseph Branca Joseph Branca
Joe has been with Merrill Lynch and the Bank of America for more than 20 years. He has served in senior leadership positions in the Public Finance department, providing investment banking services to major public authorities and governments throughout the Northeast. Before transitioning to the private sector, Joe was the CFO of Empire State Development.
Joe served on the Board of the Council of Development Agencies (CDFA) and has been a longtime supporter... (More)
Juan Salgado Juan Salgado
With more than 30 years’ experience in community development, public finance, and affordable housing, Juan serves as the CEO of the Phoenix IDA and the Phoenix Community Development & Investment Corporation where he has been instrumental in developing creative financing structures for job creation, increased housing opportunities, and significant community development in traditionally undeserved markets and poor communities.
Prior to joining the Phoenix... (More)
David Markovchick David Markovchick
Dave has had a long and impactful career in development finance, especially within the Northeast. For almost 20 years, Dave served as Vice President of Business Development at the Finance Authority of Maine, known as FAME. He also worked in public finance for GE Government Finance, and became one of the first two CDFA National Sponsors.
He held many roles serving in economic development at other public sector organizations and continues to support FAME... (More)


Michael O'Donnell Michael O'Donnell
Mike began his career in 1990 as the executive director of the University of Kansas Small Business Development Center. After the University of Kansas, Mike took the helm of a certified development company in Lawrence, Kansas in 1997. In 2000, he joined the nonprofit, mission-based lender, Colorado Lending Source and began expanding outreach and capital access to new and existing small business owners across the length and breadth of Colorado.
Mike holds... (More)
James Carras James Carras
James Carras is the Principal of Carras Community Investment, Inc., a development finance consulting firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. James is also a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
He previously served as the Founding Executive Director of the National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders, the Founding President of the Broward Housing Partnership, and the South Florida Community Land Trust. Before establishing his... (More)


Steven Chilton Steven Chilton
Steve joined MassDevelopment in 2004 as a Senior Vice President of Investment Banking and manager of the department responsible for all of the Agency’s issuance of tax-exempt and taxable conduit bonds. Steve has 40 years of experience in the municipal bond industry, including as an issuer, investment banker, and municipal credit analyst.
He has supported economic development through his focus on private activity bonds and working with CDFA for the past... (More)


Jo Bradley Jo Bradley
Jo Bradley is celebrating her 20th year as Chief Executive Officer of the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA). Her previous professional experience includes the positions of Deputy Secretary at the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Commercial Loan Officer at VEDA, and Vice President at Solomon Brothers, Inc. in Boston. Under Bradley’s leadership, total assets at VEDA have grown from $65 million to over $288 million. In... (More)
Jeff Freese Jeff Freese
Mr. Freese has 30 years of experience in Public Finance and has been with KeyCorp for over 35 years. As Managing Director of KeyBanc Capital Markets’ Public Finance Group, Mr. Freese provides leadership and oversight to the Public Finance investment banking staff. Indicative of his experiences as an investment banking professional, he has assisted over 500 clients to raise more than $25 billion to finance economic development and governmental projects... (More)


Arthur Cohen Arthur Cohen
Arthur is a partner in the public finance department of Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP. In his more than 30 years of practice, he has specialized in all areas of economic development, with a particular focus in revenue bond financing for economic development and project finance.
He has worked with many of the economic development agencies around the country, especially in New York State. The projects in which he has a direct role range from small... (More)


James Parks James Parks
Jim Parks joined the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority (LPFA) in 1995 and has been serving as the chief executive officer. Mr. Parks’ position as President and CEO includes direct supervision of all aspects of the Louisiana Education Loan Authority (Lela), the education loan division of the LPFA. During Mr. Parks’ tenure, the LPFA has allocated over $13.2 billion of bonds for a wide variety of projects.
Before coming to the LPFA, Mr. Parks... (More)
Gene Eagle Gene Eagle
Gene Eagle served as the Vice President for the Arkansas Development Finance Authority from 1985-2014 and the President from 2014-April 2015. As Vice President of the Development Finance Authority, Mr. Eagle was responsible for the staffing, operation, and management of the development finance programs. He was responsible for implementing and administering two equity investment programs, the Arkansas Institution Fund, the Arkansas Risk Capital Matching... (More)


Richard Palank Richard Palank
As the Senior Vice President of Business Finance, Rick Palank is an original employee of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, working for the organization for more than 30 years. Throughout his tenure, Palank has provided financial services to a multitude of small businesses and spoke at various professional and trade organizations about financing solutions for small business owners.
In addition to his position at the Economic Development... (More)


Caren Franzini Caren Franzini
Caren Franzini was the President of Franzini Consulting, LLC. She served as Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) where Caren oversaw an organization with over $500 million in assets, a $28 million operating budget, and over 150 employees. Before joining the Authority, Caren was an Assistant State Treasurer with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.
Caren served as Chair of the state’s Urban Enterprise Zone... (More)


Gary Smith Gary Smith
Gary Smith currently serves as the President and CEO of the Chester County Economic Development Council. He first joined the Council in 1976 and pioneered award-winning programs of below-market-rate financing.
During his tenure, the Council has secured over $275M in external funding for more than 420 projects ranging from regional economic revitalization to workforce development. The Council’s programs and services have helped to create over 175,000 new... (More)


Bob Lind Bob Lind
Bob Lind was the Senior Manager of Special Projects for the Minneapolis Community Planning & Economic Development department, providing services to the Mayor's Office and City Council. CPED, as the development arm of the City of Minneapolis, offers many services to assist businesses in Minneapolis, including a variety of low-interest, long-term loans for small businesses to expand, relocate, improve and renovate their facilities. He has been with CPED... (More)
Mark Huston Mark Huston
Mark Huston is the Enterprise Manager for Development Capital Networks (DCN) development funds and is a member of the investment committee for Cimarron Capital Partners. He co-designed and managed DCN programs funded under the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, the Wyoming Smart Capital Network, and North Dakota’s Red River Corridor Fund, co-managed with Praxis Strategy Group.
Before that, Mark served as Portfolio Manager on behalf of... (More)


Stan Provus Stan Provus
Stanley O. Provus, 63, lost his battle with cancer on May 7, 2009. After graduating from George Washington University, he joined the Peace Corps and served in Ethiopia from 1968-1973. Stan worked in Ethiopia building manufacturing facilities that employed locals in making leather goods and the “tie-dye” t-shirts of the 60s.
After the Peace Corps, he served as various roles, including, but not limited to, the Director for Maine State Housing Authority CEO... (More)
Paul Gravel Paul Gravel
Paul Gravel earned both his bachelor of arts and Juris doctorate degrees from Louisiana State University. Following graduation, his professional career began by serving on then-Senator J. Bennett Johnston's staff in Washington, D.C. After working as a legislative aide, he moved back to Louisiana and served as legal counsel for a New Orleans investment firm and on the staff of the Louisiana Senate until he went into private practice in 1977.
Paul is best... (More)
Elliot E. Franks Elliot E. Franks
Elliott Franks claimed Columbia, SC as a home for forty years. He received his bachelor's degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and completed the Management Institute at the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business. He later became general manager for WOIC Radio Station, the first Black-owned radio station in South Carolina.
He began his public service career at the request of Gov. Richard W. Riley, serving as the special... (More)

CDFA National Sponsors

  • Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker Graydon LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • Frost Brown Todd LLP
  • Grow America | Formerly NDC
  • Hawes Hill and Associates LLP
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • Raza Development Fund
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • The Bond Buyer
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
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