LISC announces new community investment program in Memphis
NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2020
Kathy Moore Cowan will lead effort to close the racial wealth gap, spur recovery from COVID-19 and fuel economic growth
NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A $22 billion social enterprise is bringing its community investment model to Memphis in order to expand affordable housing, businesses and jobs across the city—especially in places scarred by long histories of discrimination and disinvestment.
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's largest community development organization, announced this week that it would open its 36th program office in Memphis, with long-time local leader Kathy Moore Cowan named as executive director of the new LISC Memphis program to spearhead the effort.
Cowan has spent more than two decades driving high-impact community investment activity. She most recently was vice president/community development manager for Region's Bank, overseeing mission-driven partnerships and investments in Memphis. Earlier, she was a senior community development specialist at the Memphis branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. She also served as president/CEO of The Works, a nonprofit community development corporation serving the South Memphis community, and was a planner with the Jefferson County (KY) Department of Planning and Environmental Management, in Louisville.
"I love this city," she said. "I love its rich history and culture. I love its talent and energy. I love its people. And I believe we can leverage all of that, along with significant local and national funding, to drive a new level of economic opportunity--one that reaches all our citizens, no matter their race, class, age or zip code."
LISC Memphis will align its work with the City's Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive Plan, which lays out an ambitious vision for economic development and income growth. In particular, it takes on a rising local poverty rate, which was approaching 28 percent even before the pandemic caused a health crisis and recession that has disproportionately impacted low-wage workers and people of color.
LISC is launching its Memphis program with support from The Kresge Foundation. Cowan and local staff will collaborate with local nonprofits, developers, business leaders, policymakers and residents to drive progress.
"It's our job to bring together the right people, programs and capital to catalyze opportunities for all Memphis residents, so people can build a strong future for their families and their communities," said Maurice A. Jones, president and CEO of New York-based LISC.
"That is especially important now, when so many people have been affected by COVID-19 and at the same time moved to action by the racial reckoning facing the entire country. Whether LISC is investing in job training and small business growth or working with developers to expand affordable housing, our goals are clear: to close the racial health and wealth gaps, build a broadly shared prosperity, and drive growth that supports a good quality of life throughout the city and region."
Jones noted that Cowan is particularly well-positioned to successfully lead this work. "She has deep roots in Memphis, which gives her a unique perspective on the untapped talent and local assets that can support sustainable growth. We are thrilled that she is bringing her experience to LISC and to our work here in Memphis."
Cowan has a bachelor's degree in political science and anthropology/sociology from Rhodes College in Memphis and a master's in planning from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
In addition to her extensive professional experience, she also volunteers her time on a number of boards, including the Blight Authority of Memphis, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Memphis Housing Authority, and Mustard Seed, Inc.
Cowan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $22 billion to build or rehab more than 419,000 affordable homes and apartments and develop 70.3 million square feet of retail, community and educational space.
Colleen Mulcahy, for LISC
SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)