Work History

Work History
Oct 2008 - Present

National Director, Family Economic Security Program

Wider Opportunities for Women

Entrepreneurial leader of dedicated professional team committed to creating opportunities for low-income workers, especially women and members of communities of color, to achieve economic security. Diverse programming includes practical application of income adequacy research, coalition-building in more than 35 states and federal/state policy advocacy, training and technical assistance. Program has grown from one discreet project to multiple tracks of programming with comparable increase in staffing and funding. Program leadership requires extensive knowledge of policy and programs spanning community and economic development, work and income supports, federal and state level government decision-making processes. Shared responsibilities include developing the strategic direction of organization, contributing to the advocacy agenda, supporting resource development and reporting to funders, stakeholders, and board directors.

t Leadership: Senior level management position, overseeing WOW’s economic security program including (1) Generating Real Economic Equity Now (GREEN) Initiative, (2) Women and Work Project, (3)  Economic Security for Survivors (of domestic violence), (4) Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Project, (5) the BEST Campaign, and (6) Building Bridges as co-director. Lead team of staff, consultants, advisory board members, stakeholders and interns who operate with clear direction, quantifiable goals and deliverables. Work across organizational program areas to develop intergenerational approaches to WOW's work.

t Communications: Working with Elder Initiative Project Director and Lake Research Partners, developed first-of-its-kind economic security messaging campaign that included coordination of public opinion polling project, stakeholder management and strategic leadership for project intended to advance the causes of vulnerable seniors by building coalitions across areas of interest and using a common messaging framework.Write proposals and reports for grants from major foundations and federal government. Writing and presentation skills span range of subject matter, audiences, media and venues. Develop programmatic uses for Web 2.0 tools. Trainings and presentations include but are in no way limited to:Community Action Partnership, NY State Community Action Association, NASCSP, National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, DE Domestic Violence Coalition, Career and Technical Education Equity Council (OK), Philanthropy NY., Good Jobs Green Jobs Annual Conference, TN Alliance for Progress Green Jobs Conference, and CDFI Coalition.

t Coalition-building: Working with Program Associate, Federal Policy Director and representatives of partner organizations in the states to develop and implement advocacy and outreach strategies; working with certain national coalitions such as the Emerald Cities Collaborative, CAPOW, and the Healthy Families Coaltion; providing technical assistance and support to state level coalitions in 36 states and the District of Columbia around a shared agenda focusing on common economic security objectives utilizing two proprietary measures of income adequacy, policy development and analysis.

tFund Raising: Working with Development Consultant, Senior Scholar and others, review grant opportunities within public and foundation sectors. Represent organization before potential and current funders. Contribute heavily to the writing of major grant proposals including proposals to the Ms. Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, and more.

tPublic Policy and Research: Working with Manager of Research and Innovation and Program Associate to contribute to research on income adequacy measures, related national economic security campaigns, initiatives and messaging with focus on intergenerational aspects of asset development. Work with Federal Policy Director to advance organizational advocacy agenda. Serve as member of Policy Team and lead Green Team.

Oct 2007 - Nov 2008

Senior Analyst

Lake Research Partners

Provided strategic qualitative and quantitative research and analysis services for extensive national client list including non-profit organizations, office holders and office seekers building on previous experience as manager of statewide and federal campaigns. Represented LRP in a variety of speaking engagements before a wide array of audiences ranging from the Montgomery County (Md.) Democratic Women to the CDFI Coalition. Created and delivered sales presentations to prospective clients.

Aug 2006 - Aug 2007

Chief Development Officer

City of New Orleans

One-year commitment as a mayoral appointee to serve in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Integrated city departments including economic development, community development, social service grants, workforce development, housing, public property management, historical districts, and environmental affairs focusing on mission-critical operations, restoring lines of authority and communications, and alleviating external pressures on morale-starved staff of fifteen+ offices, boards and commissions employing over 200 with $70+ million budget including federal and state grant dollars (CSBG, CDBG, HOME, ESG, EDA, Commerce and more).

t Leadership: Refocused energies of departmental employees and senior leadership team. Restored grant-making processes and advanced new accountability measures for grantees. Divested multi-year backlog of grant awards bringing the then-present grant-making cycle up to date and put badly-needed and already-awarded resources into the hands of nonprofits. Worked to inspire and encourage over-worked staff, ensuring that mental health support was available for employees. Instituted business continuation plans.

tCommunications: Prepared reports for Mayor and presentations for City Council including twice revamped budget. Appeared before City Council committees and participated in Mayoral Senior Staff meetings. Participated in local and national media events as spokesperson. Attended Administration meetings and Congressional Black Caucus meetings. Promoted international trade as both recovery tool and sustainability measure for New Orleans businesses. Represented the city on economic development missions including oversees to Shanghai; interviewed by international media. Served as surrogate spokesperson for the mayor before local and national audiences. 

tCoalition-building: Entered first-of-its-kind agreement to place ‘borrowed’ staff members into city government from external organizations. Worked with home-owners and business-owners stalled in the permitting or adjudication processes of the city. Oversaw the completion of 17,000 unique property inspections in the course of one year with a limited staff (less than 20 inspectors on the ground). Mandated improvements to code enforcement and permitting processes. Supported efforts of Clinton Climate Initiative to promote a green rebuilding of the city through partnering and provision of office space; supported work of Global Green in the 9th Ward. Developed new coalitions and repaired relationships with sectors of the business community, neighboring jurisdictions. Allies and partners included area Workforce Investment Boards, local community development organizations, social service organizations, La. Department of Labor, La. Economic Development, U.S. Department of Commerce SBA & EDA, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, Army Corps of Engineers, La. Recovery Authority, Office of the Governor, La. Office of Community Development, national foundations and policy advocacy organizations, CBOs, faith-based organizations and labor unions.

tPublic Policy: Worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to forgive millions of dollars in findings against the City of New Orleans which lacked sufficient resources to offset the findings made against the previous administration. Developed continuity of operations plans for portions of city government for the first time in the history of the city. Worked with Emergency Operations to develop re-entry plan for businesses. Oversaw implementation of environmental justice programming. Successfully moved expanded business incentive package through state legislature.

tFund Raising: Acquired new grant funding totaling over $40 million in post-hurricane setting and oversaw passage of new business incentive package by state legislature (Broadway South). Funding was for minority business development and environmental reclamation of Lake Bourne as well as technology to link various housing and redevelopment entities within city government. Sought funding (unsuccessfully at the time) for out-of-the-box projects designed to support under-served communities including creation of ‘seed’ accounts for New Orleans’ children with CFED as a lead partner and the hard-wiring of multi-family and public housing for returning low-income families to bridge the digital divide with One Economy as the lead partner.

Jan 2005 - May 2006

President & Chief Executive Officer


Provided transitional leadership for flagging economic development foundation and 100-year old regional chamber. Hired to be change agent and to increase visibility of and make the chamber more responsive to the needs of small businesses and the region as a whole.

tLeadership: Led business-sector hurricane recovery effort in five-parish area for business community on the ground, at the state capitol and on the Hill. Opened first business recovery center in the state of Louisiana. Retooled Chamber and Foundation following thorough evaluation and goal-setting to achieve new heights in membership, member services, and community economic development by focusing on need for transparency and accountability. Developed organization’s first continuity of operations plan. Began difficult work of promoting increased recognition of and sensitivity to multi-cultural community. Directed staff of 9 full-time, 1 part-time and 4 interns; expanded staff to meet needs of community following hurricane events. Accountable to two boards of directors. Conducted strategic planning (short and long-term) activities with board of directors and staff teams.

tCommunications: Moved beyond serving as organizational spokesperson to speaking on many occasions on behalf of the five-parish community at large. Hosted Department of Homeland Security briefing on business recovery and future business continuity planning. Hosted Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding at region-wide event. Participated as moderator and panelist in training events.Elevated profile and restored credibility of organization as policy voice for business in Southwest Louisiana by establishing policy division and pursuing legislative agenda. Heightened regional awareness of the Chamber/Foundation as a resource for information and retooled existing communications and marketing strategies.

tCoalition-building: Worked with FEMA, SBA, local tourism agency, Mayor’s Minority Business Office, Department of Labor, and Economic Development Partnership. Provided space to all in co-located assistance center by handling the initial reclamation of chamber building prior to ‘official’ opening of Calcasieu Parish with aid of family member, board chair and one staff member. Solicited and received assistance from International Economic Development Council which provided business coaches to aid small businesses in surviving or retooling for survival in post-disaster environment. Built alliance with like-minded organizations in Southeast Texas to advocate for inclusion in federal tax and other relief for individuals and businesses impacted by Hurricane Rita, not just Hurricane Katrina. Built strategic alliances with partner organizations including African-American Chamber of Commerce. Rebuilt and expanded relationships with area business and economic development organizations. Created affiliates program to support growing chambers within the region, board development program, and mentoring programs for new members.

tPublic Policy: Advocated before state and federal governments. Persuaded Small Business Administration to include small businesses in Southwest Louisiana in their efforts to connect such with major contractors and procurement opportunities. Advocated for funding from USDA Rural Development and Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency for region.

tFund Raising: Streamlined budget and improved financial oversight. Implemented innovative programming for development of non-dues revenues streams and for leveraging resources for non-profit foundation affiliate. Implemented successful effort to create confederation of like-minded organizations for the more efficient use of limited human and financial resources to better serve the needs of the businesses, especially small businesses, and residents in Southwest Louisiana.

2001 - 2004

Vice President

Hope Enterprise Corporation

Community development finance professional responsible for attraction, oversight and reporting of multi-million dollar philanthropic and government grants including HOME and CDBG as well as expansion of policy research & advocacy, communications and outreach programming for this community development financial institution.

tLeadership: Crafted and executed strategic plan for introducing non-profit community-focused financial and economic development organization into un-served community in need of a mainstream financial institution. Worked on project which eventually led to the introduction of Internet Service Providers into the Mississippi Delta. Expanded policy and communications capacity of organization.

tCommunications: Crafted and oversaw wide-ranging communications and marketing agenda including procurement and announcement of $20 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

tCoalition-building: Served as community outreach officer for Greater New Orleans Region dealing directly with communities served, business community, education and non-profit sectors, and government leaders.

tFund Raising: Responsible for creating and implementing team strategy to attract socially responsible investments and deposits from across the region, state and nation to meet $11,000,000 calendar year goal. Responsible for contributing to grant reports.

Jan 2000 - May 2001

Deputy Chief of Staff

Office of the Governor

Gubernatorial appointee. Directed historical 7-day transition process for incoming governor; constructed strategies for unique transition circumstances. Originally appointed Senior Advisor and quickly moved into Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant positions. Also served simultaneously as first Director of the Governor’s Washington Office.

tLeadership: Recruited and interviewed potential candidates for positions in Governor’s office, administration, and boards & commissions including first African-Americans to serve as Director of Administration, Director-Division of Medicaid, and the first African-American woman to serve on the Parole Board. Provided day-to-day oversight of governor’s 25+ member staff; recruited, hired and trained senior and support level staff; developed organizational structure; restructured internship and page programs. Organized strategic project, communications and legislative planning teams; created boards & commissions’ appointments team; streamlined scheduling process and instituted scheduling team. Jettisoned holistic economic & community development efforts for state through construction of expanded incentive program and strategic development including retooling of federal grant programs and execution of a plan which resulted in location of Nissan North America facility. Insured inclusion of disinvested communities, minority and women-owned businesses in project. Coordinated economic development incentive restructuring with Mississippi Development Authority (MDA). Opened Governor’s Washington office.

tCommunications: Conducted intergovernmental relations operations at state and federal levels. Served as Governor’s surrogate to National Assessments Governing Board and National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Worked with national and regional organizations including National Governors’ Association, Southern Governors’ Association, Democratic Governors’ Association, Southern Growth Policies Board, Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission. Appointed Governor’s representative to Mississippi Military Communities Council. Wrote State of the State Speech, Nissan Announcement, and Inaugural Address. Expedited emergency response coordination with Emergency Management Agency. Crafted strategies for crisis response situations in conjunction with Department of Public Safety. Provided policy analysis and bill review reports for Governor and ‘Cabinet’.

tPublic Policy: Advised leadership of Department of Human Services and Division of Medicaid; acted as liaison to Department of Banking & Consumer Finance. Served as liaison to numerous national organizations, advised National Guard on recruitment and retention issues and took lead on creation of innovative programming in education, housing and in response to natural disasters.

tFund Raising: Structured Governor’s housing agenda including revitalization of single-family residential construction loan fund, refocusing of HOME funds, and creation of low-cost elderly housing program. Worked with governor to develop public-private partnership to finance the presence of internet-accessible computers in every Mississippi public school classroom making Mississippi the first state in the nation to take this bold step to bridge the digital divide.


2004 - 2005

Additional Coursework

University of New Orleans
1994 - 1996

Master of Science

Troy State University
1989 - 1991

Masters of Arts

Mississippi State University
1984 - 1988

Bachelor of Arts

Mississippi University for Women


Celinda Lake

Lake Research Partners

Washington, District of Columbia

(202) 776-9066

Robert "Bob" Graham

Edward Jones

ChamberSLWA Board of Directors, Former Chair

Santa Fe, New Mexico

(505) 820-0076

William "Bill" Bynum


Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Community Credit Union

Jackson, Mississippi

(601) 944-1100

Honors and Awards

  • Champions of the Crescent City, National Black MBA Association, 2007.
  • Committee for a Better Louisiana, Leadership Class, 2006.
  • CBNO-MAC Leadership Program Graduate.
  • New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute Graduate.
  • Leadership Jackson Graduate.
  • Distinguished Alumnae Award, Mississippi University for Women.
  • Top 40 under 40, Mississippi Business Journal, 2000.
  • Top 50 Businesswomen in Mississippi, Mississippi Business Journal, 1999.

Community Involvement

  • Junior League of Annapolis (sustainer)
  • Leadership Anne Arundel (graduate)
  • Cheasapeake Regional Accessible Boating (volunteer)
  • Rotary Club of Capitol Hill (Paul Harris Fellow)
  • Family & Youth Initiative (volunteer mentor)
  • American Mensa (member)