Cultivating the M/WBE Ecosystem
Kimberly Hardy, Esq- Moderator
Sr. Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Compliance
Kim Hardy is Vice President and oversees McKissack’s Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance Services group. She is an accomplished attorney with over 20 years of experience in regulatory compliance, external affairs and construction. Kim’s career has been characterized by senior positions in New York City and State government and associations with two international firms specializing in developing, managing and reviewing diversity and inclusion related compliance programs for public and private entities. She is experienced in leading investigations and conducting screenings to assist clients in ensuring compliance on projects. She has extensive experience working with governmental entities at federal, State and local levels, developers, contractors, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders during all phases of the development of a construction project. Kim earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from North Carolina Central University and earned her JD from Yale Law School.
Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn
Assembly Woman, District 42
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn encompassing Ditmas Park, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Midwood. She is currently the New York State Assembly Majority Whip, Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and serves on the following committees: Housing, Government Operations, Education, Governmental Operations, Health, Higher Education, Housing, and Ways and Means.She also sits on Governor Hochul's Domestic Violence Advisory Council and Mayor Adams’ MWBE Task Force. Born and raised in Flatbush Brooklyn as a daughter of Haitian immigrants, heir to Haiti’s Slave abolitionist Jean Jacques Desssaline, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn is the first Haitian American woman elected in New York City; the first Engineer elected to the New York State Legislature; and the first woman to chair the Democratic County Party in Brooklyn. Since Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn became a legislator in 2015, she has introduced over 200 pieces of Legislation, 34 of which became law, and has co-sponsored over 250 others. As an Assemblymember and District Leader, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn has been an outspoken and ardent advocate on issues concerning her Assembly District and all New Yorkers, including (but not limited to) immigration, education, economic development, unemployment, education reform, healthcare access, senior citizen centers, affordable housing, school safety, women’s and LGBTQ rights, as well as other issues affecting the quality of life in the community. And as the New York State Assembly Majority Whip, Bichotte Hermelyn also works to ensure that her fellow legislators are united on passing bills that aid their constituents and uplift all New Yorkers. As the Chair of the MWBE Subcommittee, Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn has been instrumental in the passage of laws she sponsored to help MWBEs thrive and succeed. Just some of the Assemblymember's sponsored MWBE-related bills signed into law in 2022 include legislation to: prevent fraud and abuse within the MWBE Program (A9259); allow businesses to use MWBE Development and Lending Program funds to refinance existing debts (A6420); and doubling the discretionary spend threshold on state contracts to $1M without a need for competitive bidding (A10459).
James H. Bason is an experienced financial executive with a history of providing comprehensive lending management and community development expertise. Currently President and CEO of TruFund Financial Services a 501(c)(3) National Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to help historically disadvantaged individuals and communities create thriving and resilient small businesses and entrepreneurial ecosystems in order to close racial and economic disparities and ensure an inclusive and equitable society. TruFund is headquartered in New York City, and has offices in Atlanta Georgia, Birmingham Alabama, New Orleans & Baton Rouge Louisiana and Houston & Dallas Texas. As Chief Executive he oversees the operations and staff of more than 60 professionals nationally and is responsible for all strategic and day-to-day operational oversight of TruFund’s credit administration, new markets tax credits & equity investments, fiscal management, resource development and business advisory services. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, a Banking Diploma in Finance from the American Institute of Banking and a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Leadership and Management from Fordham University. He completed his Formal Bank Credit Training Program at the Bank of New York. He has also completed an Industry Sponsored Leadership Development Program for Community Development Financial Executives at Wharton University.
Sr. Executive Director
As Executive Director of LISC NY, Valerie is responsible for advancing a platform of racial and economic equity by building on $3.1 billion in LISC NYC investments to spur affordable housing, economic development, health equity, and workforce development in underserved neighborhoods. In this role, Valerie leads the team in developing a vision, and advancing strategic policies and programs that foster equity and inclusion in disinvested communities. Before joining LISC NYC in April 2020, Valerie was executive vice president at Empire State Development (ESD), as well as executive director of the New York State Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development. Previously, she was vice president at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. Valerie also spent 17 years at Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P); leading the public finance structured and affordable housing business as managing director. In addition to her extensive professional experience, she also serves on the advisory board for the Fordham Urban Law Center, and is a director on the Fordham Law Alumni Association. Valerie holds both a bachelor’s degree in communications and a law degree from Fordham University, as well as a master’s degree and certificate in organization development from The New School.
First Deputy Commissioner
Ahmed Tigani is HPD's First Deputy Commissioner and oversees HPD's Office of Neighborhood Strategies and Division of Tenant Resources, in addition to the Office of Financial Management, and the Economic Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance, Engineering Audit, Human Resources, and General Services Divisions. Ahmed will continue efforts to foster and strengthen synergies between these critically important areas and all the work of the agency. An experienced urban planner and policy manager, Ahmed first joined HPD as the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Neighborhood Strategies. Prior to joining HPD, Ahmed most recently served as Chief of Staff to the Commissioner for the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). Before joining DOB, Ahmed was Senior Advisor for Housing, Economic Development, and Labor in the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Ahmed came to the Administration from the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, first as Community Development Officer and then as Assistant Director of Land Use, Planning and Development, organizing and helping communities develop planning processes, managing various working groups focused on specific policy issues and helping to shape the Office’s positions on a range of discretionary land use projects. He also served as Director of Housing Policy and Advocacy and then Legislative Director for the Office of NYC Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Ahmed started his career in City government as Director of Donations for Materials for the Arts at the Department of Cultural Affairs. Ahmed holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Urban Planning from Hunter College.