#JustEconomy 2019 conference highlights

The 2019 Just Economy Conference took place March 11-13 in Washington, D.C. It's the national event for community, policy, government and business leaders who work for an inclusive economy that’s free of hate and full of opportunity.

Here are some of our favorite moments from the conference.

March 11

Almost half of us are here because we got on a plane and overstayed our visa, so what does that have to do with Mexico, a wall or shutting down our government for 35 days? The United States of America owes Mexico an apology for how much we have racialized this issue.

- Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, author and immigrant dignity activist

After kicking off this year's conference with his compelling keynote address, Vargas signed copies of his book, "Dear America: Notes of an undocumented citizen," posed for photographs and engaged with conference attendees.

Vargas hands signed copy of book to New American Development Center Executive Director Asad Aliweyd.

NCRC Director of Research and Evaluation Jason Richardson discusses his team's most recent findings about gentrification and cultural displacement in most large cities across the United States.

NCRC CRA Manager Kevin Hill leads discussion on CRA basics.
Packed Monday morning breakout sessions
The problem isn’t that people can’t repay, the problem is that we don’t have a system that works. That’s where CDFIs come in.

- Annie Donovan, Senior Fellow, Center for Community Investment, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

NCRC is obviously a trusted partner of HUD. In our efforts to secure greater economic freedom for low- and moderate-income households and minorities, we relied upon you and your expertise for comprehensive services for almost 11 years. And by working together, you've opened the door to success for tens of thousands of families. I want to thank all of you for that effort.

- Brian Montgomery, Acting Deputy Secretary, HUD

It is time to create new milestones. The civil rights movement is not done, it’s just barely begun. In a time when the racial wealth gap is worse. In a time when people can’t afford the rent. In a time when we desperately need a Just Economy. We need a civil rights movement of the 21st century to finish the job.

- Jesse Van Tol, CEO, NCRC

I’m for reparations, if what reparations mean is that we can repair each other and ourselves. We can live out the promise of this great nation.

- Jesse Van Tol, CEO, NCRC

Monday afternoon breakout sessions
The economic success of our nation relies of the fastest growing group in our country: people of color.

- Elizabeth Reynoso, Assistant Director of Public Sector Innovation, Living Cities

Dupont Brass opening the Awards Dinner Monday night
Lois and Hubert Van Tol engaging with their table at the start of the Awards Dinner.
As you know all to well, the current strength of the overall economy masks the struggles that many individuals and families face in lower-income and rural communities.

- Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chairman

Featured in the Washington Post: Powell says strong economy hiding struggles of poor families

Celebrating 2018's CBA highlights

NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol and Board Chair Bob Dickerson honor the work of NCRC members, community leaders and Cadence Bank and Fifth Third Bank representatives that signed new community benefits agreements in 2018.

Beginnings matter. And by that, I don't just mean the beginnings of your life, but the beginnings of your parents, your grandparents and your great-grandparents. Wealth is historical and it's multigenerational. And it carries forward more often than not.

- John Taylor, President and Founder, NCRC

She [Stella Adams] has worked tirelessly to make sure that hard working citizens and communities of color have equal access to housing without having to sacrifice their financial independence in return. For years, Stella has educated the private sector and has raised awareness about the needs of our communities as they relate to fair housing and the access to capital. Her efforts culminated in the North Carolina’s General Assembly’s passage of one of the strongest….anti-predatory lending bills in the country, as well as other housing reforms at the state and federal level.

- Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D - N.C.)

Equity and equality are not evenly distributed. Everyday we fight against injustice, inequality, racism, sexism, all the isms, and we lose sight of what we are fighting for. We are so busy fighting to preserve and protect past gains, and let’s be clear, all our gains are at risk, that we fail to plan for this future where we live out the American dream. That is what we are striving for. I need you to fight for your future. Fight for equity.

- Stella Adams, NCRC's Senator William Proxmire lifetime achievement awardee

From left to right; NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol, NCRC Board Chair Bob Dickerson, civil rights leader Stella Adams and NCRC President and Founder John Taylor, presenting Adams with the Senator William Proxmire lifetime achievement award.

March 12

Day two of the Just Economy Conference kicked off with a video welcome from 2020 presidential candidate and Senator, Cory Booker, followed by a keynote address by Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard.

In recent months, we've seen a very high level of engagement from banks and community organizations....The one message that comes through most clearly is that the CRA is highly valued by bankers and community groups, alike. A second message is that the CRA could be even more effective in mobilizing community and economic development.

- Lael Brainard, Federal Reserve Governor

Brainard and Taylor sharing a moment at Tuesday's breakfast.
Mobile session: Equity in Art; a trip to Silver Spring, Maryland, for an interactive panel presentation, discussion, studio visit and tour of the neighborhood with Arts on the Block.
From left to right; Andreanecia Morris, Executive Director, HousingNOLA; Krista Shonk, VP, Regulatory Compliance Policy, American Bankers Association; and Barbara VanKerkhove, Researcher/Policy Analyst, Empire Justice Center; participating in Tuesday morning's "What's next in CRA reform" session.
What’s next in Community Reinvestment Act reform? It’s important to focus on improving data collecting techniques in less populated, underserved areas so that we can accurately serve these communities.

- Josh Silver, Senior CRA Advisor, NCRC

A collection of photos from the photo booth.
Trauma manifests at the community level. It is not just the aggregate of individuals in a neighborhood who have experienced trauma. Maps that highlight areas in poverty and then highlight areas that experience mental illness are almost identical and it is no coincidence.

- Sara Chehimi, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Prevention Institute

The conversation about capital needs to include accountability. Accountability over how we bring that capital in and what we do with it.

- Ed Sivak, Executive Vice President of Policy and Communications, Hope Enterprise

I think we have some very powerful people to be a part of this conversation and what I most appreciate about them is that they have very holistic analysis of what needs to change. Not so much as to focus on one or two practices, but a recognition of the structures of banking and how those need to be refocused in order to better deal with the issues of inequality that we all care so much about.

- Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Chief of Equity and Inclusion, NCRC

In order for capitalism to survive, you need competition. It is impossible to compete with Google, Facebook, Amazon - there is like four or five of them that have no competition. This is not capitalism. This is monopoly power. And it is the same with the banks. Look at the five banks that own 80 percent of the assets. Those are monopolies.

- Mehrsa Baradaran, Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives, University of Georgia

We were well informed by Martin Luther King in one of the last speeches he made exhorting us to take control of our economic power so that the legal and political rights so hard fought and won would have meaning. And it turns out, that's where we are stuck. We are stuck on a shortage of economic power.

- Kat Taylor, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Beneficial State Bank.

Tuesday afternoon breakout session
Who holds the narrative, holds the power..people who are the most effected are not at the table.

- Nelima Sitati Munene, Executive Director, African Career Education and Resource, Inc

March 13

On March 13, sporting our new NCRC scarves, we marched on Capitol Hill and called on Congress to protect and modernize CRA and increase fairness in housing, business and banking. Rep. Lacy Clay and Rep. Gregory Meeks joined our coalition to reflect on this important aspect of our just economy movement.

On the bus to Capitol Hill for NCRC's Hill Day
Membership (with NCRC) doesn't cost, it pays.

- Jeff McDaniels, Deputy Administrator at the City of Birmingham, Alabama delegation

Michigan delegation charging through the halls of Congress on Hill Day.
Tennessee delegation on the steps of the Capitol building during Hill Day
Ohio delegation meeting with their Senator and 2020 Presidential candidate, Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
While the Michigan delegation was meeting with their newly-elected Rep. Rashid Tlaib (D-MI), they were treated with a surprise appearance by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
We are on a journey to restore consumer protection, fair housing and the American dream for millions of Americans...In my subcommittee, we are going to take on the insidious and racist practice of redlining. It did not happen by accident.

- Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)

Your involvement in Washington is key. It is good to see you on the Hill. And it is good to hear you on the Hill....I'm always glad to engage with you and your members. You understand the need to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders....your work and partnerships have led to more than $84 billion in leading to low- and moderate-income communities.

- Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO)

Sue Parsons, Development Coordinator, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, giving the Massachusetts delegation's report out during Hill Day.

NCRC Board Member Bethany Sanchez, Director of Fair Lending at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, giving the Wisconsin Delegation's report-out at Hill Day.




Created by Xi Rotmil and Alyssa Wiltse-Ahmad

Photos: Maria Bryk

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