The Oral History of Housing and Communities

In the Community TrailBlazers Podcast, we are featuring Fellows of the American Academy of Housing and Communities who have had a major impact on world affairs, federal policy, and the development of community culture through courageous action to bring about change. We capture their thoughts on the last 50 years of public policy and discuss what the future may hold.

Kent Watkins founded this honorary society, consisting of the top national and international thought leaders and implementers in the field of urbanism. These include heads of federal agencies and their senior staffs, as well as urbanist leaders in social welfare, health, education, culinary arts, art and poetry, transportation, climate and others who have made an impact on the culture of the areas we live in. All are considered peers and have achieved success in some unique way.

Referred to as the Academy Series, Nan McKay spotlights one of these trailblazers each week. Most have lived through many Presidents, many generations, and many changes. We explore what has changed and what has not changed but perhaps should. What will the world, cities, governments and our culture look like in 50 years?


Stanley Newman

Federal History of Segregation, Redlining and Civil Rights Ep. 37 - Stanley Newman is interviewed by Nan McKay on Community TrailBlazers Podcast ( Mr. Newman has had a distinguished career in local and federal government since coming to Washington as legislative assistant to Congressman William Fitts Ryan. He tells Nan ...
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Joe Ventrone

Time for Radical Change Ep. 13 - Meet Joseph M. Ventrone, the Vice President of the National Association of REALTORS® Federal Policy and Industry Relations Team. On his podcast, you will hear how he feels it is time for radical change in the housing industry. Under his leadership, the Federal ...
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Ann Schnare

Freddie Mac, Credit Ratings and Segregation Ep. 11 - Meet Dr. Ann B. Schnare, the President of AB Schnare Associates LLC, a consulting firm specializing in housing and mortgage finance. Her world has been Freddie Mac, credit ratings, and finance. She provides a range of consulting services focusing on the ...
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Kent Watkins and Nan McKay

A Historical Perspective on Housing and Communities Ep. 1 - Kent Watkins and Nan McKay reflect on their decades of work in the affordable housing industry and analyze the many challenges on the horizon. They discuss their reasons for collaborating on this historic podcast on housing and communities. Kent began ...
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Helen Dunlap

Mark-to-Market and REAC at HUD Ep. 36 - Meet Helen Dunlap, involved early-on in the creation of the mark-to-market program in multifamily housing and in establishing the Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) with a consistent standard for inspections at HUD. She is a Housing and Community Economic Consultant specializing in ...
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Joe Schiff

Banish the Blinders Ep. 14 - Meet Joe Schiff, now President of The Schiff Group which specializes in consulting with housing authorities on their problems and opportunities. He deep dives into what is and is not working in public housing. He urges agencies to ‘take off the blinders’ and realize ...
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Conrad Egan

Millennials! Power Up at the Local Level! Ep. 17 - Meet Conrad Egan, he serves on the Boards of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance and the Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery County. He was the Chairman of the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the CEO of the National ...
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Emil Frankel

Transportation Links to Urbanism Ep. 15 - Emil H. Frankel is currently an independent consultant on transportation policy and public management issues, a Senior Fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, and a Senior Advisor of Crosswater Realty Advisors. He explains how transportation links to urbanism and what that portends ...
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William Gilmartin

Bridging A Partisan Divide Ep. 12 - Bill Gilmartin retired in 2016 after 44 years in Washington in a variety of positions in and around the federal government and learned the importance of bridging a partisan divide. He served as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department ...
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Rod Solomon

Creating Laws for Affordable Housing Ep. 35 - Meet Rod Solomon who worked in the affordable housing and community development sectors for the last four decades, creating laws, programs, and regulations for affordable housing. He has been a practicing attorney for Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP for 16 years, a ...
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Robert Embry

Leading Change in Baltimore Ep. 18 - Robert C. Embry Jr. wanted to go into the foreign service but the changed his mind when in Harvard Law and wanted to go back home to Baltimore. Robert Embry has been a leading change agent in Baltimore, playing a pivotal role in ...
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Mayra Collazo

Devoted to Dance Ep. 19 - Mayra Collazo lives in Puerto Rico but travels through many countries like Italy, Spain, and the United States learning the history and culture of dance. Cities are made up of many facets of culture. Mayra has a passion for arts, culture, and society which ...
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Jim Hindman

Building Business Around Helping Others Ep. 34 - Meet W. James Hindman, referred to as Jim, on Community TrailBlazers Podcast. He has exhibited a unique combination of entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, and educational commitment throughout his varied professional career and has been recognized as a  a life-long Heartrepreneur®. This is one ...
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Rick Gentry

One Size Doesn't Fit All Ep. 21 - Richard C. “Rick” Gentry is an academy member featured in the Community TrailBlazers Podcast who has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Housing Commission ( since September 19, 2008. With more than 300 employees and an ...
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Season 1

Season 2