2024 Annual Membership Meeting

 March 14, 2024

10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

U of A Cooperative Extension Service State Office
2301 S University Ave, Little Rock, AR 72204

Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to hear one of the leaders in the CDFI industry and learn how it can help improve the housing situation in your region!

There is no charge for this meeting.

Note: only current members of ACHANGE may vote at the meeting. Annual dues are $25 and may be paid one of three ways:

Keynote Speaker Mark Pinsky

Mark A. Pinsky led the $150 billion community development financial institution (CDFI) industry from 1995 to 2016. With a track record of aligning capital with social, economic, environmental, and political justice, he was the strategic leader for the industry’s growth from $2 billion to $140 billion. He is the author and editor of several books, the co-author (with Keith Mestrich) of Organized Money: How Progressives Can Leverage the Financial System to Work for Them, Not Against Them (The New Press), and speaks regularly on finance and society. He lives in Philadelphia, where he runs Five/Four Advisors, a strategic advisory firm.


Advancing Housing Policy in Arkansas: A Strategic Conversation

June 20, 2023

Join ACHANGE as we continue our conversation regarding the state of affordable housing in Arkansas. During this brief two-hour event, we will explore ideas and solutions for addressing ways to improve affordable housing options across our state. Your input is crucial to determine our next steps!
To prepare for our meeting we are asking those who register to list their three top concerns about affordable housing in Arkansas. You can list them when you register.
You may attend the event either in person at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce or online in a Zoom meeting. The meeting is free, but you must register no later than Tuesday, June 20 to attend.


2023 State of Housing in Arkansas

You are invited to attend this in person or online convening to discuss the current condition of affordable housing in Arkansas. The meeting includes lunch, several informative speakers, an interactive session, and a special award presentation. You won’t want to miss it! The fee for the event is $25 for nonmembers. You will be invoiced when you register.

Featured Speakers

Candace Valenzuela, HUD Regional Administrator, Southwest Region

In April 2022, Candace Valenzuela was appointed by the Biden-Harris Administration to serve as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Regional Administrator in the Southwest Region.  As regional administrator, Candace Valenzuela is based in Fort Worth and oversees HUD operations, eight field offices and federal housing assistance throughout the five-state region, which covers Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.  She is a mother, an educator, and a former school board trustee. After becoming the first in her family to graduate college, Valenzuela has since devoted her life to fighting for opportunities for others. She first ran for her local school board to improve Texas schools, becoming the first Latina and first Black woman to serve on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. 

Doug Ryan, Vice President, Policy & Applied Research, Prosperity Now

Doug has spent his career in the affordable housing, community development, and human services fields, with more than twenty years’ experience working in federal and local programs. Prior to joining Prosperity Now, Doug served as Assistant Director of Federal Programs at the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County, Maryland, a multifaceted housing provider, developer, and lender. Doug has extensive experience connecting research, data, and program evaluation to policy development.

Gabby Ross, Housing Advocacy Organizer, NLIHC

Gabby Ross is a housing advocacy organizer. Prior to joining NLIHC, Gabby was a housing stability specialist for a property management company in Washington DC, where she helped DC residents apply for emergency rental assistance. Previously, Gabby worked as a housing specialist at N Street Village for the Patricia Handy Place for Women shelter in Washington DC. 

Shamus Roller, Executive Director, National Housing Law Project

Shamus Roller has been the Executive Director of NHLP since November of 2016.  Before joining NHLP Shamus served as the Executive Director of Housing California, a statewide advocacy organization working on issues of housing and homelessness.  During his time at Housing California the organization’s advocacy led to over five billion dollars in new funding for affordable development and a host of new programs and policies. 

Special guest, Arkansas Senator Joyce Elliot, Founder of Get Loud Arkansas!


Housing Conversations: Economics, Equity, and Access for Affordable Housing

Thursday, July 22, 2021 – 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

ACHANGE and the Arkansas Bankers Association invite you to attend a special webinar focusing on affordable housing in Arkansas today.

About the Webinar

The Arkansas Coalition of Housing and Neighborhood Growth for Empowerment (ACHANGE) is hosting a virtual session about the current Arkansas economic realities affecting affordable housing on Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 10 a.m. Discussion will center on economic opportunities and challenges in developing affordable housing in the current environment.

Marshall Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of The Housing Fund, is the scheduled keynote speaker. Respondent panels will be led by Faith Weekly, Community Development Advisor for Neighborhoods and Housing with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Gloria Reynolds, Community Affairs Specialist for Arkansas & Tennessee with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Department of Depositor and Consumer Protection, Dallas Region.

ACHANGE launched its topical convenings Housing Conversations in 2018 to address emerging issues related to affordable housing. During 2021 the theme is Housing Conversations: Economics, Equity, and Access, focusing on the current economic environment for developing, renovating, and acquiring affordable housing. The July 22, 2021 session addresses the impact the pandemic is having on affordable housing; its funding and current cost environment, including historic low interest rates; the current seller’s market, availability of affordable purchase options, and housing production cost increases. How do these factors affect the industry and the market for affordable single family and multifamily homes?

The event is made possible through a partnership with the Arkansas Bankers Association.



Marshall E. Crawford, Jr., MPA

President & Chief Executive Officer, The Housing Fund

In 2017, Marshall joined The Housing Fund, a CDFI private nonprofit revolving loan fund located in Nashville, TN. As President & CEO, he carries the full range of responsibilities typically associated with such a position. Reporting to the board of directors, his responsibilities are grouped in five major areas: organization leadership and management, strategic planning, resource development, management of loan portfolio and lending operations and community external relations. Marshall’s leadership also ensures support for community building and housing development to residents to ensure the revitalization of communities.

Since returning to Nashville, Marshall has accumulated several accolades. In consecutive years, Marshall has been recognized as one of Nashville’s Most Admired CEOs by his peers and the Nashville Business Journal. In 2019, he was installed into the Tennessee Affordable Housing Coalition Hall of Fame for his efforts in affordable housing over the last 20 years. In 2018, he was featured on the cover of the Nashville Post BOOM! Magazine for establishing Nashville’s first community land trust model as a solution to addressing a growing affordable housing issue in the city. Also, he is a participant of Leadership Tennessee 2021.

Marshall Crawford

Previously, he served as President of Housing and Multifamily Development for Community Ventures in Lexington, KY. Also, he spent 13 years at NeighborWorks America in various roles in the Southern Region located in Atlanta, GA.

Before joining NeighborWorks, Marshall was a safety and soundness bank examiner for the Office of Thrift Supervision. His banking career started in a management training program for Third National Bank (eventually, SunTrust Bank) in Nashville, Tennessee. He later relocated to Atlanta, GA and worked as a mortgage loan officer with several banks. In 1992, he was honorable discharged from the United States Army after serving five years while being stationed in Germany and at Fort Knox, KY.

After completing his military service at Fort Knox, he attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where he received a degree in finance. He completed a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In 2016, Marshall completed an Executive Leadership Certification at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

Panel Discussion 1

Discussion panel 1. From left: Faith Weekly, Mark Loya, Tiffany Hudson, Wanda Merritt.

Faith Weekly, Facilitator

Community Development Advisor – Neighborhoods and Housing

Institute for Economic Equity

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis – Louisville Branch

Faith Weekly is a Community Development Advisor – Neighborhoods and Housing and a member of the Community Based Policy & Analysis team in the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  In this role Ms. Weekly works to advance comprehensive development efforts to revitalize distressed neighborhoods, stabilize low-and moderate- income communities and foster partnerships and connections that help neighborhoods thrive.  While she is based in Louisville, her service area includes the entire 8th District – Arkansas and parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi.  She serves on the board of directors of the following organizations: L-HOME, Metropolitan Housing Coalition, New Directions Housing Corp. and R.E.B.O.U.N.D. Prior to joining the Federal Reserve, Ms. Weekly was a CRA mortgage loan officer at Fifth Third Bank in Evansville, IN.  She received her B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.

Mark Loya

Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

Mark is currently a Senior Affordable Housing Analyst for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (Bank) responsible for a portfolio of projects located throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas.  Mark assists with the development and implementation of the Bank’s Affordable Housing Program (AHP). He is responsible for providing AHP technical assistance to member institutions, non-profit organizations and community/government leaders. He assists with the funding of the department’s grant programs and maintaining the day-to-day operations and database system as it impacts the program. He also participates in evaluating applications for funding once a year analyzing the proposed projects, in part, for feasibility and a demonstration of need. Previously, Mark was the Development Manager for a non-profit in Dallas, Texas, where he was responsible primarily for the organization’s single-family and multi-family projects and with the City of Dallas Housing Department as a Contract Compliance Administrator.  He holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Tiffany Hudson

Executive Director

Partner for Better Housing:

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Tiffany relocated to NW Arkansas in late 2019. Tiffany holds a BA in English from Georgia Southern University and a Masters in Policy from American University. Tiffany has twenty years of residential real estate experience as a new construction builder and land developer.  Prior to moving to Arkansas, Tiffany worked for the Atlanta Housing Authority on several large-scale innovative, mixed-income properties. In 2006, Tiffany built a nationally recognized, 40-bed homeless shelter in her hometown of Athens, Georgia and served on the board of the shelter for more than ten years. Tiffany was named by The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal as one of ten honorees for their 2021 Women in Business honorees program.

Wanda Merritt

Field Office Director

Little Rock Field Office, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development

Wanda C. Merritt has been the Field Office Director in the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Little Rock Office since January 2014. Previously, she served in the same capacity in the HUD Office in Lubbock, Texas. As the Field Office Director, she serves as the principal management official and HUD’s liaison to elected representatives, state and local officials, Congressional representatives, and stakeholders. She is responsible for overseeing the delivery of HUD programs and services throughout the 75-county Arkansas jurisdiction.

With more than 30 years of experience in community & economic development and housing, Merritt joined HUD’s Lubbock Field Office as a Community Builder in September 1998. Previously, she was the Community Development Administrator for the City of Abilene, Texas managing HUD’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnerships Program.  Merritt is a Federal Internal Coach and coaches federal and non-federal employees to meet their professional and personal goals. She completed the Executive Programs in Public Management, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and earned an MBA and Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Business Management from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

Panel Discussion 2

Discussion panel 2. From Left, Gloria Reynolds, Darryl Swinton, Michael Carroll, Wendy Von Kanel.

Gloria Reynolds, Facilitator

Community Affairs Specialist for Arkansas & Tennessee

FDIC Department of Depositor & Consumer Protection – Dallas Region

As Community Affairs Specialist for the FDIC’s Dallas Region, Gloria Reynolds works with banks and communities to strengthen partnerships that benefit low- and moderate-income consumers and small businesses.  Effective January 2019, she is assigned to Arkansas and Tennessee. For the previous six years, Ms. Reynolds was assigned to Oklahoma where she founded and coordinated the Alliance for Economic Inclusion for Northeastern Oklahoma. Working in the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, she interacts with community-based organizations, businesses, bankers and the public to bring greater understanding of and compliance with the CRA and the fair lending laws, and to promote financial literacy.

Ms. Reynolds banking career spanned twenty-eight years during which she directed securities and consumer compliance and coordinated the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act program at the local, state and national level. In her final role as a banker, Ms. Reynolds was Director of Strategic National Alliances and Programs with responsibility for creating and strengthening relationships with large regional and national nonprofit partners. Ms. Reynolds earned a B.A. with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the Texas State Bar having earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University School of Law.

Darryl Swinton

Executive Director, Housing, Weatherization, and Economic Development

Better Community Development, Inc.

Darryl D. Swinton, Sr. serves as the Executive Director of Housing, Weatherization & Economic Development for Better Community Development Inc. In this capacity, Mr. Swinton is responsible of all aspects of affordable housing, weatherization and economic development for the Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDO) certification status and neighborhood reinvestment initiatives.

He also serves as President/Owner of Diamond Legacy Group, LLC. a licensed General Contractor and Realtor. Mr. Swinton also provides bid inspection on residential and commercial properties as well as new construction and rehabilitation. In this capacity, Swinton has researched, purchased, constructed and developed over 200 units of income-producing properties both Single Family and Multi-Family Housing units in hard to serve communities.

Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of Southern Bancorp Bank. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. He also served as Chairperson of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Advisory Council, Vice-Chair of Housing Arkansas, former Chairperson of Community Housing Advisory Board for the City of Little Rock and a host of other Boards and Commission.

Mr. Swinton holds a MBA in finance from Webster University and a BBA in business finance from the University of Central Arkansas. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. and resides in Little Rock with his wife Karen and two kids Darryl Jr. and Taylor.

Michael Carroll

Lending Director

Rural LISC

Michael Carroll joined Rural LISC in September 2018. He leads national lending programs for LISC’s 145 rural local partners and other community development organizations across 49 states.  LISC offers a full suite of lending products for affordable housing, community facilities and economic development.  He has over 40 years of experience in the lending and community development.  He has held senior positions at Bank of America, Fannie Mae, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, California Department of Housing and Community Development and the California Housing Finance Agency. He is on the board of directors of NeighborWorks Capital, California Coalition for Rural Housing and the National Rural Housing Coalition.  He is a founding member of the California Coalition for Community Investment, a network of Community Development Financial Institutions.

Wendy Von Kanel

President, Central Region

Southern Bancorp

As Southern Bancorp’s Central Region President based in Helena-West Helena, Ark., Wendy Von Kanel oversees the community development bank’s operations across 12 markets and 17 branches in Arkansas and Mississippi. A Phillips County native, Von Kanel joined Southern Bancorp in 1998 as a mortgage loan processor, rising to Market President in 2018 and Regional President in 2019.


2020 marked a year of departure from the typical ACHANGE meeting format, as the organization faced a year dominated by the COVID pandemic. In spite of this, found a way to provide a training opportunity for members via webinar.

July 9 — ACHANGE partnered with the Arkansas Bankers Association to provide Housing Conversations: 2020 Vision for Affordable Housing. This webinar featured nationally known author and speaker Dr. Andre Perry of the Brookings Institution! Dr. Perry is also a scholar-in-residence at American University, and a columnist for the Hechinger Report. His research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. Perry’s recent scholarship at Brookings has analyzed Black-majority cities and institutions in America, focusing on valuable assets worthy of increased investment. He is the author of Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.  

Announcement from Housing Conversations: 2020 Vision for Affordable Housing.

Dr. Perry’s remarks were followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Faith Weekly, Community Development Advisor for Neighborhoods and Housing with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Eighth District. The current landscape in the state was discussed by three panelists who work with Arkansans on housing-related issues: Kendell Lewellen, Gerald Turner, and Leon Jones. Kendell Lewellen is Managing Attorney with the Center for Arkansas Legal Services, managing the Center’s Fort Smith and Russellville offices as well as performing housing advocacy across forty-four Arkansas counties. Her work currently focuses on helping Arkansans maintain stable housing during COVID-19. Gerald Turner is the CEO of the HEAL Collective and has extensive experience in the areas of community, economic and real estate development, having managed and developed over 2,000 units of housing totaling $650 million in value for various public, private and non-profit corporations.  He has focused extensively on real estate development initiatives to spur the creation and retention of jobs and reconnecting neighborhoods to educational, commercial, workplace and health services. Leon Jones, the Executive Director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission, serves on several boards and commissions including the Arkansas Housing Trust Fund. He is a past Commissioner of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission and the Fayetteville Housing Authority.


March 29 — ACHANGE held its annual lunch meeting which included elections of Officers and Board members. The program included Stephanie Nichols of the Housing Assistance Center, Sara Oliver of Housing Arkansas, and Roby Brock on the Arkansas Legislature.

July 30 — ACHANGE provided two webinars for participants interested in learning about the housing development process, each produced by Incremental Development Associates. One webinar was directed at individuals and nonprofits who wish to create housing developments; the other was for members of the affordable housing ecosystem: banks, mortgage companies, local government staff and elected officials, who want to encourage the creation of housing developments on a small (incremental) scale in their communities.


February 23 — ACHANGE held its first convening of the year. The Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) introduced new programs and changes to existing programs.

June 22 — In honor of National Homeownership Month, ACHANGE presented Housing in Arkansas: Markets, Affordability, and Policy. Speakers included Victoria Bourret, Housing Advocacy Organizer with NLIHC, Dr. Michael Pakko, State Economic Forecaster of AEDI, Doug Ryan, Director of Affordable Home Ownership at Prosperity Now, and a panel of legislators.

September 14 — ACHANGE partnered with the Arkansas Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to bring representatives of HUD’s Denver Homeownership Center to Arkansas to address becoming a HUD certified housing counseling agency and how to maintain certification.

ACHANGE became a member of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and participates in their conversations concerning affordable rental housing.