The demographic shift is alive in Canada and the United States. We are an urban nation with 81% of Canadians living in cities. (2011 census). Join Ben Hecht, CEO, Living Cities and Mark Holmgren, Director, Vibrant Communities as they discuss how to build cities that are resilient, engaging and proactively achieving dramatically better results for low income residents. Ben will share examples from across the United States where Living Cities partners have shifted the traditional paradigms to harness impact investing and are re-building civic infrastructure using technology and innovation. Ben will also share his perspectives on how the innovation economy can play a role in disrupting inequality in cities.
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About Ben Hecht
Ben Hecht was appointed President & CEO of Living Cities in July, 2007. Since that time, the organization has adopted a broad, integrative agenda that harnesses the collective knowledge of its 22 member foundations and financial institutions to benefit low income people and the cities where they live. Living Cities deploys a unique blend of more than $140 million in grants, loans and influence to re-engineer obsolete public systems and connect low-income people and underinvested places to opportunity.
Prior to joining Living Cities, Mr. Hecht co-founded One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization focused on connecting low-income people to the economic mainstream through innovative online content and increased broadband access. As President, from 2000-2007, Mr. Hecht led the growth of the organization from 4 employees to a $12 million organization with 50+ staff, online media properties serving more than 150,000 low-income people a month, and programs in 40 states, the Middle East and Africa.
Immediately before One Economy, Mr. Hecht was Senior Vice President at the Enterprise Foundation. There, he led the organization’s efforts beyond housing into childcare, workforce development and economic development and oversaw the expansion of the organization’s revolving loan fund from $30 million to $200 million.
About Mark Holmgren
Mark recently began working with Tamarack Institute as the Director of Vibrant Communities. Mark's focus is to create and support a connected learning community of 100 Canadian cities or regions with multi-sector roundtables addressing poverty reduction in their communities. The goal is to foster aligned poverty reduction strategies in cities, provinces and the federal government resulting in reduced poverty for 1 million Canadians.
A proven visionary and innovator, Mark has extensive experience as a big picture thinker, strategist, and facilitator. He brings to Tamarack a long history of experience with social housing development, the development of services aimed at poverty and homelessness elimination, and the identification and launch of strategies that are mission and values focused. He has taught at McEwan University (strategic planning and executive non-profit leadership) and was also a consult for the university in the area of curriculum review and re-design.