May 19 Discussion on Equity in Wealth & Asset Development

Next week, May 18-20, the Maine Philanthropy Center is hosting its biennial conference, with the theme being “Centering Equity: Shifting Power, Building Community.” From the keynote speakers to the breakout sessions, it promises to be three days of rich and important discussion on opportunities to advance equity in Maine.

The John T. Gorman Foundation is honored to be able to participate in one of the workshops. At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19, Foundation Program Associate Alexis Mann will facilitate a discussion with three other Maine panelists – Susan Hammond, Janice de Lima, and Claude Rwaganje – on “Empowering Vulnerable Families through Asset and Wealth Building Strategies: Maine Examples and Ideas for the Future.”

Wealth and asset building are critical for a family’s ability to escape poverty, but wealth is not distributed equally. The wealth gap between White and Black Americans reflects ongoing inequity both nationally and in Maine. In this discussion, the panelists will draw on their diverse experiences to explore questions of how asset building can become more equitable and what public/private partnerships can do to advance this work. (More information about the session and bios for the panelists are below.)

To register for the conference, go to: https://www.mainephilanthropy.org/events/2021-philanthropy-partners-conference. We hope to see you there for this important and timely discussion.

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Empowering Vulnerable Families through Asset and Wealth Building Strategies: Maine Examples and Ideas for the Future
Wednesday, May 19
1 p.m.

An important element of philanthropic/nonprofit work is advancing ideas focusing on prevention – ideas that go “upstream” and get at root causes facing Mainers. An illustration of “upstream” work is asset building. Wealth and asset building are critical for a family’s ability to escape poverty. Wealth is not distributed equally and the wealth gap between White and Black Americans reflects ongoing inequity both nationally and in Maine. Can asset building be reimagined to be more equitable? And what is the role of public/private partnerships in advancing this work?

Panelists 

Susan Hammond (she/her)
Executive Director and a founder of Four Directions Development Corporation

Susan Hammond is the Executive Director and a founder of Four Directions Development Corporation in Orono, a Native-governed community development financial institution that serves the four tribes in Maine. Prior to Four Directions, she worked for the Penobscot Nation as the Vocation Education Coordinator for the Economic Development Department, the Financial Manager for the Health Department, and as Director of the Tribal Housing Authority. She served on the Penobscot Nation Tribal Council from 1996 to 2004 and is a board member of Maine Community Foundation and Maine Venture Fund.

Janice de Lima (she/her)
Vice President and Community Reinvestment Act Officer at Norway Savings Bank

Janice de Lima is the Vice President and Community Reinvestment Act Officer at Norway Savings Bank, where she develops relationships with non-profit organizations and public sector agencies, generates community reinvestment opportunities, including investments and loans, promotes employee volunteerism and develops and manages a commercial loan portfolio with focus on affordable housing projects. She currently serves on the Advisory Council of New Ventures Maine, the Loan Committee for the Greater Portland Council of Governments, the boards of Avesta Housing and the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition and is a Town Councilor in Falmouth.

Claude Rwaganje (he/him)
Executive Director, ProsperityME

Claude Rwaganje is the founder and Executive Director of ProsperityME, whose mission, born out of his own experience as an immigrant, is to empowers, through education and counseling, members of refugee and immigrant communities to invest in themselves to build financial stability, careers, businesses, and wealth. Claude serves on different boards including the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, The United Way of Greater Portland and Intercultural Community Center and served a three-year term to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Development Advisory Council. He is currently a member of the Westbrook City Council and a former member of Portland’s Community Development Block Grant Committee. He is the recipient of numerous awards for this service to the community.

Alexis Mann (She/her)
Program Associate, John T. Gorman Foundation

Alexis Mann is a Program Associate at the John T. Gorman Foundation where she oversees the Foundation’s investments in asset and wealth building, workforce development and economic development. Prior to joining the Foundation, Alexis served as a Senior Research Associate at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy where she managed a portfolio of grants focused on improving economic outcomes for vulnerable families and served as part of a team examining trends in the racial wealth gap. Alexis received her PhD in Social Policy and Sociology from Brandeis University.