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Recipe for a Successful Conference: Local Partners

Love Park
Love Park
A national conference takes a tremendous amount of work -- it takes many more hands on deck than Community Progress has on staff. But we have been able to deliver a high-quality Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference time and again thanks to the dedication and hard work of the local planning committees in our host cities. In the lead-up to each conference, a range of stakeholders contribute many volunteer hours to ensure that participants -- visitors to their city and neighbors alike ­– leave with more knowledge, ideas and collaborators than when they arrived. The local planning committee has organized local tours that showcase the work being done on the ground, submitted and reviewed breakout sessions and training seminar proposals that highlight local speakers and projects, marketed the event to their statewide and national partners and secured sponsorships to match our own so that we can keep registration fees affordable for as many people as possible.
We thank all the members of the planning committees from the first Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference through this fifth conference in Philadelphia.
Members of the 2013 Reclaiming Vacant Properties planning committee have exemplified the ability to use vacant property creatively to improve the quality of life for residents and enhance the economic vitality of Philadelphia through reclamation efforts. Some of their projects have included the Big Green Block which strives to transform vacant unproductive property into rain gardens, stormwater infiltration basins and pedestrian walkways. They have also made strides in building a citywide open data system that makes information more transparent and accessible for community stakeholders. The achievements of planning committee members, however, stretch beyond city limits. Members should also be recognized for their successful efforts in passing the Pennsylvania Land Bank Act last October, which allows for the creation of land banks across the state and opens up new opportunities to address vacant and problem properties.
It is an honor to have such influential and inspiring practitioners, policymakers and researchers on this year's planning committee. They have, in so many ways, helped to improve their community and pave the way for change in their state. We appreciate all that they do to make this conference a success.
This year's planning committee is co-chaired by John Carpenter of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and Rick Sauer of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations. Their time and effort thus far has played an integral role in the planning and development of the 2013 Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference. If you see the committee members during the conference, please be sure to thank them as well:
Arthur Acoca, University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Research           
Anna Adams, Philadelphia Finance Office           
Pamela Bridgeforth, Philadelphia Association of CDCs           
John Carpenter, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority
Steve Culbertson, Impact Services Corporation           
Ann Fadullon, Building Industry Association           
Andy Frishkoff, LISC, Philadelphia           
Terry Gillen, City of Philadelphia Mayor's Office           
Nancy Goldenberg, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society           
Ira Goldstein, The Reinvestment Fund           
Bob Grossmann, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society           
Liz Hersh, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania           
Jennifer Kates, Office of Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez           
Maura Kennedy, City of Philadelphia Dept. of Licenses and Inspections           
Nora Lichtash, Women's Community Revitalization Project           
Diana Lind, Next American City           
Deenah Loeb, City Parks Association           
Lynn Martin Haskin, Philadelphia Association of CDCs           
Deborah McColloch, Philadelphia Office of Housing and Community Development           
Tania Nikolic, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority           
Jeremy Newberg, Capital Access, Inc.           
Liza Nolan, Camden Community Development Association           
Sandy Salzman, New Kensington CDC           
Rick Sauer, Philadelphia Association of CDCs
Joyce Smith, Viola Street Residents Association           
Guy Thigpen, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority           
Dick Voith, Econsult           
Susan Wachter, University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Research           

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