Among our 2015 confirmed speakers and presenters are:

steve barlowSteve Barlow
Brewer & Barlow, PLC

Since 2007, Barlow has pioneered efforts in Memphis to address slum and blight conditions through civil litigation under the Neighborhood Preservation Act. He frequently serves on task forces including the Memphis Foreclosure Response Initiative and the Shelby County Core City Revitalization Committee. For two years, he served as the Executive Director of the University Neighborhoods Development Corporation, a non-profit, neighborhood-based organization involved in community and economic development in the University of Memphis area. Previously associate director and housing director of the LeMoyne-Owen College Community Development Corporation, Barlow holds a J.D. and M.S. in Anthropology from the University of Memphis.

Basham_PatriciaPatricia Basham
Executive Director
McMinnville Housing Authority

During her 52-year tenure with the McMinnville Housing Authority, Patricia Basham has managed all the different political and funding challenges to continue to help provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing for those in need in Warren County. She is very active in the Tennessee Association of Housing and Development Authorities (TAHRA), serving on the Board of Directors for six years and as president in 2005, and continuing to serve on multiple committees. She is very proud of the “Tennessee’s Best” Award that MHA received in 2013 for Best in Innovation.

BillsBrian Bills
Senior VP, Residential Mortgage Lending 
SunTrust Mortgage, Inc.

In 2011, Governor Bill Haslam named Brian Bills the chairman of the THDA Board of Directors. Bills has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2009, representing the Savings and Loan industry. He has significant experience in residential and commercial lending. Bills, who lives in Knoxville, is senior vice president and regional mortgage line of business manager for SunTrust Mortgage.

Blade MichaelMichael Blade
Director & Asst. Legal Counsel for Multifamily Development
Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Blade has been with THDA since 2009 and serves as director and assistant legal counsel for the Multifamily division. Blade graduated with a law degree and MBA from Vanderbilt University in 1996. Before beginning his tenure at THDA, Blade worked for several law firms from 1996 to 2009, including three of Nashville’s most respected law practices, as well as the Washington-based Wiley Rein & Fielding. Blade earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and is still known to support his Oregon Ducks.

Conchy Bretos
Principal, Founder 
Mia Senior Living Solutions

Prior to founding Mia Senior Living Solutions, Bretos served as Florida Secretary for Aging & Adult Services and AARP State Legislative Representative for Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Bretos was the project director for the World Health Organization Regional Teacher Center for Southeast Asia and CEO of The College of Law in Sydney, Australia. Bretos also served as Chair of the Florida Women’s Commission and Hispanic Affairs Commission, as well as serving on the Florida Commission on Long Term Care, as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, and as a member of the Governor’s Taskforce on Prevention of Elder Abuse. Bretos holds degrees from Oberlin College, University of New South Wales, and Harvard’s JFK School of Government.

hannah cassidyHannah Cassidy
Reno & Cavanaugh

Cassidy is the managing member of Reno & Cavanaugh. Cassidy’s practice focuses on real estate development, with particular emphasis on projects combining private financing with various state and federal funding sources, such as tax credits, bonds, tax increment financing, affordable housing program loans, federally insured loans, and grants. She counsels owners, lenders, and investors through all phases of real estate development, including land acquisition, financing, construction, leasing, and disposition. Cassidy has structured developments to incorporate shared equity principles that foster long-term affordability and preservation of the public investment in affordable housing developments. Her experience spans the full range of commercial, residential and mixed-use projects with retail, office, market rate housing, and affordable housing components.

Cravens_JillJill Cravens
Voluntary Programs Manager
Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Cincinnati

Jill Cravens graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in Business Management and immediately began her banking career. Wanting to change directions after almost 20 years as a mortgage underwriter, she began a new career at FHLB Cincinnati in 2007. Cravens currently manages the FHLB Cincinnati’s Housing and Community Investment’s Voluntary Programs, which include Welcome Home, Disaster Reconstruction, and the Carol M. Peterson Housing Fund. She is also responsible for the Community Investment Cash Advance (CICA) Community Investment, Economic Development and Zero-Interest Fund.

Sheila-CrowleySheila Crowley
President & CEO
National Low Income Housing Coalition

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is a leading research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring decent, affordable housing for everyone. Under Dr. Crowley’s leadership, NLIHC has grown from a staff of five to seventeen. Frequently called to testify before Congress on the full range of federal policy issues, she is a member of numerous boards and an adjunct faculty member at VCU and for George Mason University.

martin edwardsMartin Edwards
President & Owner
Edwards Investments, REALTORS®

Martin Edwards, Jr., is the only Tennessean to serve as president of the National Association of REALTORS®. As NAR president, Edwards championed housing opportunities for all Americans and led the fight against big banks in real estate. He also established the REALTOR Relief Fund and advised incoming Pres. George W. Bush on housing policies. In 2014, he was named to the Real Estate Industry Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.


Stacey Epperson
President & CEO
Next Step®

Starting her career as an intern at HUD, Stacey Epperson is now an experienced nonprofit CEO who leads both the not-for-profit and for-profit arms of Next Step®, the first national network of nonprofit homebuilders using factory-built homes. Today, the Next Step Network consists of 25 members and has constructed 150 high quality ENERGY STAR® factory-built homes.

Jeremy FaisonJeremy Faison
Owner, Rocky Top Pest & Wildlife Control
State Representative, District 11

Jeremy Faison was elected as a Tennessee State Representative in 2010, representing all of Cocke County and parts of Greene and Jefferson counties. He owns Rocky Top Pest & Wildlife Control in Newport and is proud that he has created jobs as a small business owner. As a representative, he voted to cut red tape to save and create jobs. For his hard work, he has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business association. Faison and wife Miriam have five children: Beka, Gage, Regan, Asher, and Tucker.

Jim HarbisonJim Harbison
Executive Director
Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency

Immediately prior to becoming MDHA’s executive director, Jim Harbison served as HUD’s director of multifamily programs in Nashville. In this position he managed 411 apartment complexes with more than 32,000 units and administered the Section 8 program for almost 21,000 residents. Previously, he held leadership positions in facility development with health care and commercial real estate companies. Harbison, a Nashville native, retired as a United States Marine Corps colonel after a 31-year military career. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Montgomery Bell Academy. He holds an M.A. in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. in International Relations and Economics from George Washington University.

Hayes_HankHank Hayes
Business Editor
Kingsport Times-News

Hank Hayes covers business and Tennessee politics for the Kingsport Times-News. He has worked for daily and weekly newspapers and special publications over a career of more than 35 years. He holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee.

Hernandez_MaryMary L. Hernandez
Affordable Housing Program (AHP) Manager
Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Cincinnati

FHLB Cincinnati serves financial institutions and their community partners throughout Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. In her capacity as AHP Manager, Hernandez oversees assessment and recommendation of funding awards for housing development projects, disbursement of funding, and monitoring of the program’s multi-million dollar portfolio. Hernandez has over 20 years of experience in housing and community and economic development. She holds a B.S. in Education from Texas Woman’s University and an M.S. in Executive Leadership and Organizational Change from Northern Kentucky University, as well as certifications in Housing and Economic Development Finance and Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Multi-family Property Compliance.

Johnson_PaulPaul Johnson
President & CEO
The Housing Fund

THF is a nonprofit, CARS-rated community development financial institution that uses bank, private foundation, and government investments to fund residential construction and community facility lending in Middle Tennessee, along with homebuyer assistance programs for low to moderate income households. Johnson has provided community development and affordable housing consulting services to Nashville, Clarksville, Franklin and Hendersonville, as well as Bowling Green, Ky. In addition, he was a lead on creating We Are Home, Davidson County’s long-term disaster housing recovery program following the May 2010 floods, and in setting up a new shared equity housing program in Nashville. Prior to THF, he was assistant director of community development for the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. Johnson received a B.A. from Millikin University and an M.S. of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

KeelDr. Martha Keel
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Martha Keel is the joint appointment public health professor and housing and environmental health specialist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She specializes in housing, environmental health, homeland security, and interior design. Keel received her Ph.D. in Community Health and Master’s in Interior Design from the University of Tennessee, as well as a Bachelor’s in Interior Design from the University of Alabama.

Michael Kenner
MiKeN Development, LLC

Michael Kenner, a Nashville native, grew up watching his mother found one of the first neighborhood associations in the urban core and become the second women to run for city council. After finishing his military career, Kenner got into real estate and then into development by finding land for other developers. After moving back to Nashville, he started MiKeN Development in 2012. He is active in the nonprofit community by spearheading Nashville’s first Tactical Urbanism program and working with the Nashville Civic Design Center and the Neighborhood Resource Center. Kenner works to advocate politically on a local and national level through his work with the city’s Nashville Next initiative and the Urban Land Institute. Kenner and his daughter live in Nashville.

Terry MaloneTerry Malone
Construction Control Manager
Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Terry Malone has been with THDA since 2001 and has recently taken a position within the Multifamily Division as construction control manager. Since earning an M.S. in Management in 2006 from Austin Peay State University, she had dedicated her career to THDA, working in the Program Compliance Division and Fiscal Administration.

McGowan_DavidDavid McGowan
President & Owner
Regent Homes

David McGowan has been building new homes and developing communities since 1967. McGowan, whose father was a builder, received a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Economics from the University of South Alabama. He is passionate about serving the community and serves on the boards of the Nashville Adventure Science Center, the Construction Management Program at Middle Tennessee State University, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, and he is past president of the Home Builders Association of Middle Tennessee.

Susan Minor
Director of Community Development
Franklin Housing Authority

Susan Minor is the director of community development for the Franklin Housing Authority, a position she has held since May 2012. In this role, she directs the public relations programs, works with its RAD properties, and is involved with the FHA 501c3, the Franklin Housing Collaborative. Since joining the FHA, she has led the effort to more effectively tell the FHA story. Previously, she was the director of marketing and communications for Battle Ground Academy for eight years. She also has more than 10 years of experience in commercial real estate, having managed and leased retail and office properties throughout Middle Tennessee. Susan holds a B.S. in Finance with a minor in Marketing. She and her husband, Gary, have a son, Matthew, a senior at Battle Ground Academy.

Murphy_SarahSarah Murphy
State Chapter Leader
American Tiny House Association

Sarah and her husband joined the tiny house movement in February 2014 and have been advocates for tiny houses and “living simple” since. They are the Tennessee State Chapter Leaders for the American Tiny House Association and see their role in the movement as being resources for others who are hoping join. Sarah and John are dedicated to helping make Nashville a tiny house-friendly city.

Ralph Perrey

Ralph M. Perrey
Executive Director
Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Ralph M. Perrey is executive director of THDA. He served on THDA’s Board for nine years before his appointment, chairing the Tax Credit and ad hoc Strategic Planning committees. Perrey formerly worked for Fannie Mae, directing the Tennessee Community Business Center, coordinating the company’s Central Appalachia Initiative, and serving as national co-lead for the Public Entities Loan Team. His housing experience also includes service on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, notably the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises. Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Perrey served former Tennessee Governor and Congressman Don Sundquist in a variety of roles. Perrey is currently serving on the board of the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

Ed PintoEd Pinto
Co-director of the International Center on Housing Risk
American Enterprise Institute

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident fellow Edward J. Pinto is the co-director of AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk. He is currently researching policy options for rebuilding the U.S. housing finance sector and specializes in the effect of government housing policies on mortgages, foreclosures, and the availability of affordable housing for working-class families.

Saul%20Ramirez_001smallSaul Ramirez
Executive Director
National Assoc. of Housing and Redevelopment Officials

As Deputy Secretary of HUD under Pres. Clinton and now as head of the nation’s leading organization of housing and community development professionals, Saul Ramirez has fought tirelessly for Washington to provide local agencies with the consistent support, resources, and training they need to be effective in their communities. All told, more than 7.9 million people in the U.S. depend on safe, affordable housing made possible by NAHRO’s 3,200 member groups.

Ronald-Roberts-photoRonald Roberts
President and Chief Executive Officer
DVL Seigenthaler

Roberts holds principal responsibility for overall agency strategy and financial performance. He is certified in crisis communications management via the Institute for Crisis Management, participating in extensive crisis management and quick response situations for clients. He is on the Board of Directors for Citizens Bank & Trust, the Nashville Sports Council, Second Harvest Food Bank, Downtown Nashville Rotary Club, Downtown Partnership, and 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee. He also serves as vice chairman of the Board of Professional Advisors for Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communications and on the Public Relations Advisory Board for Belmont University. He holds a B.S. in Mass Communications and an M.Ed. from MTSU.

Schaftlein_AmyAmy Schaftlein
Director, Development and Communications
United Housing, Inc.

Since graduating from the University of Memphis’s Urban Anthropology graduate program in May 2010, Schaftlein has been working at United Housing, Inc., a nonprofit that supports the revitalization of Memphis neighborhoods by providing quality housing opportunities. While in graduate school, she was a Housing and Community Development fellow and worked with the University Neighborhood Development Corporation (UNDC) on complete streets urban design, economic development and community organizing. In her current position, she has designed, received and managed over $8 million in grant proposals. She also manages a public relations team that coordinates social media and communications planning for the agency.

milt sharpMilt Sharp, Jr.
eHome Network

Milt Sharp, Jr., serves as president of Community Ventures Corporation’s eHome Network, including eHome America, a national online homebuyer pre-purchase education program. eHome America today includes 380 member organizations counseling more than 100,000 families in all 50 states. THDA just launched its online homebuyer education program through eHome America on Aug. 1, 2015.

Mark ShelborneMark Shelburne
Senior Manager
Novogradac & Company LLP

Mark Shelburne is based in Raleigh, N.C., but works nationally. Previously, Shelburne was in-house counsel for the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, where he coordinated the Qualified Allocation Plan, initiated award-winning programs, testified before Congress, worked with many housing finance agencies, and wrote a book on LIHTCs. His expertise includes supportive housing, allocation policy, IRS compliance, program innovation, and fair housing. He consults with state agencies, local governments, equity providers, lenders, attorneys, and developers on these and other topics. Shelburne has degrees in law and city & regional planning from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Tidwell_GregGreg Tidwell
Smith Gee Studio

Greg Tidwell has over 20 years of experience in the practice of architecture and planning. His contributions to a multitude of complex projects have transformed neighborhoods, communities and cities. He has also played key roles in public sector master planning and design guideline projects, including the East Nashville and Hillsboro Village Design Guidelines, the Pensacola Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan and the Nashville South of Broadway Strategic Plan. Tidwell has overseen varying types of architectural design projects including multi-family, townhomes, mixed-use, single-family, cottages, retail, financial and religious institutions. Tidwell earned his Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Karen M. Vail

Dr. Karen M. Vail
Professor and Interim Department Head
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Dr. Karen Vail serves as a professor of Entomology and Plant Pathology and extension urban entomology specialist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Vail received her Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Florida, M.S. in Entomology at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Bachelor’s in Plant Science from Cook College at Rutgers University. The University of Tennessee’s urban pest management programs are directed at the pest management professional, county extension agents, master gardeners, and the public and can potentially impact every one of the 6.5 million residents of Tennessee. Vail specializes in household and structural pests, fire ants and child-serving facility integrated pest management (IPM).

Weaver_JeremyJeremy Weaver
Wind River Tiny Homes

Jeremy Weaver and his wife, Lindsay, are tiny home owners themselves. They live in a 276 sq. ft. gooseneck tiny home called the “Nomadic Nest” that was built by Wind River on an episode of Tiny House Nation, and they love it. As a 6’6” and 225 lbs. man, he attests to how big a well designed tiny house feels. As one of the people behind Wind River, Weaver believes that tiny house production is the perfect combination of his passions and skills. He has been working with his hands and building since he was old enough to hold a hammer and gets excited about creating businesses that make people’s lives better.

Check back often for additional updates to our speaker and topic lists.