Marilyn Melkonian is the President and Founder of the Telesis Corporation, which plans, finances, and builds urban communities.
She is also the founder and chair of two Washington, DC nonprofits, the National Housing Trust and Neighborhood Associates Corporation. Additionally, Ms. Melkonian is a board member of Common Cause and the Brookings Institute’s Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. She served the Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris.
Ronald Grzywinski is a community development banker and one of four founders of ShoreBank.
He retired as chair of ShoreBank Corporation in 2010 and became advisor to its Board of Directors. Mr. Grzywinski assisted with the establishment the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and the Southern Development Bank Corporation in rural Arkansas. In 2007, he helped launch ShoreBank Pacific, the nation’s first bank formed to support environmentally sustainable development.
Robert Hackett has served as the President of the Bonner Foundation since 2010.
Prior to joining the Bonner Foundation, he worked at Telesis Corporation and was also a Managing Director of the Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL) during its first three years of operation. In addition, for the past twenty years, Bobby has been associated in various capacities with the Youth Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based non-partisan organization that researches and reports on policies and programs relating to young people.
Gloria Cousar, former NAC Executive Director, has an extensive career in the field of housing, community-building, and neighborhood revitalization.
Her executive experience is rooted in the public sector as a former administrator of multiple housing programs for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and in the private sector as a consultant, entrepreneur, and CEO. In the nation’s capital, Ms. Cousar organized and directed a tri-state mutual housing association of affordable cooperatives and condominiums. Currently, Ms. Cousar serves on the corporate board of the National Alliance for Resident Services in Affordable and Assisted Housing (NAR-SAAH). She holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs and Urban Planning from Princeton University.
Virginia Harrison is a native of Camden, South Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland. She is the author of Confusion to The Enemy and Changing Habits, and has been a contributing writer for the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, and the newsletter of the Citizens of Georgetown Association. She has worked on Capitol Hill and at the White House, and was a member of Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign and office staffs.
Leadership and Staff
Dr. Bobby Austin, President of Neighborhood Associates, is an award-winning author, an editor, an educator, and a former foundation president.
He was founding editor of the Urban League Review and served as host of the national internet radio program "American Voices." As the director of the National Task Force on African American Men and Boys funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, he co-authored and edited the pivotal 1996 report Repairing the Breach. Dr. Austin held the General Hal G. Moore Chair on Contemplative Leadership at the Merton Institute and is recognized for his work in American Culture and Public Kinship. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Social and Political Science and is listed in History Makers. Dr. Austin received his education at McMaster University (Canada), Fisk University, and Western Kentucky University. He earned a diploma in Education Management from Harvard University.
Dr. Alex Bain is Communications Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the President.
He brings to NAC almost 20 years of experience in the higher education and public humanities sectors as a professor, researcher, writer, and advocate for the centrality of culture and the arts to civic engagement and to the building of a resilient public sphere in American life. Prior to joining NAC, Dr. Bain served as a strategic planning consultant and program manager for Humanities DC, the National Endowment for the Humanities affiliate for the nation’s capital. Before that, he was a professor of 20th-century literature and culture at major state universities in Oklahoma, California, and New Jersey. He holds a PhD in English from Rutgers University.
Afnan Rashid, Vice President, leads program development for Neighborhood Associates.
He comes to us from a joint AmeriCorps VISTA Program between the Bonner Foundation and NJ Campus Compact where he served as a VISTA and then as a Program Manager. The program supported city-wide coalitions with varied anti-poverty missions including access to care, college access, and youth development. Prior to his time with Bonner, he worked for a Detroit Congressman, Kaplan Test Prep, and interned at the Grameen Bank. He holds a BA in Economics from Rutgers University.
Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a leading visionary on community economics.
He is Director of Local Economy Programs, and currently an adjunct instructor at Bard Business School in New York City and at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He’s also a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital and at the Post-Carbon Institute, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He is credited with being one of the architects of the 2012 JOBS Act and dozens of state laws overhauling securities regulation of crowdfunding. He has authored, coauthored, or edited nine books. His most recent book is The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity. His book The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (Berrett-Koehler), received a bronze prize from the Independent Publishers Association for best business book of 2006. A prolific speaker, Shuman has given an average of more than one invited talk per week, mostly to local governments and universities, for the past 30 years in nearly every U.S. state and more than a dozen countries.
Nick Drozdiak, a Health and Green Living consultant, and passionate about urban gardening and farming.
He is also a certified personal trainer, a financial risk analyst, and an entrepreneur. He holds an MBA from Vlerick Business School and a Master's of Finance degree from the Luxembourg School of Finance. He enjoys hiking mountains, trail running with his dog, and good food with his friends.