Meet Our Amazing Team
Cornell Crews Jr.
Mr. Crews is the Fund Development/Community Relations Director for Partners For Self Employment Inc. (PSE). PSE is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, US Small Business Administration Certified Intermediary and a Micro lender providing small business training, technical assistance, coaching and loans. Mr. Crews has been with PSE since 2000 and has served as program director, assistant grant writer and loan underwriter for the organization. He helped develop the extensive peer training model for the organization to serve start-up entrepreneurs and developed the organizations technical assistance/ coaching programs for seasoned businesses. As of 2021 Cornell Crews has been elected to the board of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
Prior to his time at PSE, Mr. Crews served 23 years in the US Army. His assignments included Communications Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, Senior Drill Sergeant and First Sergeant. His service also included several tours overseas and numerous deployments. His military training includes Airborne, Battle Staff College, Jumpmaster, Jungle Operations, Communications Operations, Drill Sergeant School, Recondo, Ranger and Special Operations schools. Mr. Crews is the Chairman of the Board at Catalyst Miami, Chairman of The Florida Coalition of Micro-Business Developers, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Miami Beach Community Development Corporation, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust and founding member. serves on numerous other committees and programs serving small/micro-businesses in South Florida.
Arden Shank brings 30 years of diverse nonprofit housing and community development experience to his role as board chair of CRASF. Mr. Shank, as President/CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, has a deep knowledge of specialized community-based housing issues including corporation start-ups, restructuring, fundraising and capital project implementation. Mr. Shank has capitalized on his skills and expertise to expand NHSSF from a small agency of three staff members to a sophisticated operation with a professional team, an engaged 12-member board, and an expanded territory that includes Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. NHSSF has five lines of business including homebuyer preparation, mortgage lending, housing development, real estate brokerage, and neighborhood revitalization.
As a chartered member of the NeighborWorks network, NHSSF is certified to meet a high standard of fiscal integrity and service performance to assist local residents in developing leadership, improving their neighborhoods, and securing decent, affordable housing. Through his association with NeighborWorks, Mr. Shank graduated from Achieving Excellence, an intensive performance-driven organizational investment program for seasoned senior executives in community development jointly sponsored by NeighborWorks America and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He worked with a diverse base of partners to form a consortium of community based organizations that could pool their talents and expertise to help stabilize neighborhoods reeling from the foreclosure crisis. This resulted in NHSSF and six other partners forming a consortium that was awarded $89,375,000 by HUD through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Round 2. The Consortium, with NHSSF as the lead agency, completed its grant expenditures on time and producing 1500 housing units.
Mr. Shank’s commitment to making communities stronger has resulted in his involvement with numerous organizations including a board member of National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the founder and board chair of Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ Community Advisory Council, and a board of the South Florida Community Development Coalition.
Patricia Tracey has 40 years of experience in mortgage lending, new construction and real estate. Originally from North Carolina, she has lived and worked in Florida since the early 70’s. She held banking and savings and loan vice president positions for leading institutions on Florida’s east coast. During her banking career, she oversaw lending and new home construction for the largest Florida-Miami based savings and loan.
Pat received the South Florida Mortgage Banking Oscar in recognition of her lending expertise. Her knowledge of lending and FHA programs made her aware that individuals of all backgrounds could own their own home and be financially successful with direction and education.
In 2006, Pat and her husband, John “Jack”, funded and founded REACH in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. They believed that the gifts and knowledge they had received should be available to the greater community. With nonprofit status, REACH could apply for grants for their clients. During this 10-year period, REACH has aided over 1500 families with grants and housing. They assisted more than 2000 individuals with home retention though State and local programs. And, most recently, REACH has purchased, rehabilitated and provided more than 200 homes to low and moderate-income families. In 2015, REACH opened a second office in the Miami Kendall area to increase assistance to the tri-county area.
Pat is a graduate of Barry University. She received her real estate license in 1980 and established a mortgage company in 2002. She has placed in the Circle of Honor for the previous two years in real estate sales volume. Pat is a member of The National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Board of Realtors in both Dade and Broward Counties and the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals. Pat holds certifications from Neighborworks covering housing counseling, post purchase counseling, loan modifications, financial coaching and nonprofit leadership. She has lead REACH in the direction of success and growth using her knowledge and skills of lending and sales to make a difference in the South Florida Community she serves.
While currently the Chief Operating Officer of the Children’s Services Council of Broward (CSC), Monti Larsen was originally the second employee hired behind the CEO, serving as Chief Financial Officer. Created by the voters in September 2000 and reauthorized in November 2014, CSC is an independent taxing district that provides leadership, advocacy, and funding for services for, and on behalf of, children and families.
Monti helped lead efforts to establish CSC from the ground-up, building the necessary policies and procedures, as well as various financial and program data systems. Sixteen years later, CSC operates with a $85 million budget, funds about 100 different agencies that provide evidence-based prevention programs for a wide array of services for Broward’s children and their families. CSC employs over 70 employees to manage these 200+ contracts.
Prior to her service at CSC, Monti was Director of Accounting for the Palm Beach County Schools. Before that, Monti held various progressive positions spanning eight years with the Broward County School District.
Ms. Larsen graduated Cum Laude with Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Nova University and is a Certified Public Accountant passing the exam the first time in 1991.
Adrian was born in New Orleans, LA in 1988 to a Nicaraguan mother and a Venezuelan father. His family moved to Miami, FL in 1989 and Miami has been his home ever since. After attending the University of Michigan, Adrian felt a strong call to serve his community as a priest in the Episcopal Church, but the spirit seemed to be moving in a different direction. He has worked on various political campaigns and for a variety of non-profits in many roles ranging from administrative to hands-on community organizing.
As an organizer at the Miami Workers Center, he was introduced to the systemic challenges the people of Miami face in the vortex of the Affordable Housing Crisis. The severe level of slum, gentrification and poverty have all shocked his conscience in a life-altering way. He has committed himself to empowering his fellow Miamians through this struggle. He has found particular interest in the concept of Community Land Trusts, first introduced to him by Community Leader Trenise Bryant. He took the initiative and with a group of dedicated individuals that have been similarly touched by Miami’s housing issues and started the Smash the Slumlords campaign to bring criminal landlords to justice and write a future for Miami full of promise, innovation and equality.
Courtnee M. Biscardi, serves as Sr. Vice President of Strategy & Operations for the Urban League of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As Vice President, she oversees all program operations and is responsible for nearly $7 million of direct program revenue from the Urban League’s $11 million budget. While much of her time is spent leading the Programs and Human Resources Departments, a significant part of her role is creating new community partnerships and increasing awareness and knowledge about the Urban League’s programmatic impact of the 19 primary programs and services implemented in Broward County which focus on Education, Jobs, Housing and Health.
Mrs. Biscardi, holding a Masters of Public Administration, has dedicated her entire 18 year professional career to the non-profit human service field. For most of her career, she focused on fair housing, housing affordability and asset building strategies that move low income families out of poverty to prosperity. Over the last 9.5 years, she has served at the Urban League is various positions within the agency and has been a significant part of growing the Urban League’s programmatic profile in the area of Housing and Health.
Mrs. Biscardi has also served in other leadership roles including technical assistance consultant for the National Urban League’s Financial Empowerment Center pilot project, Chair of the Children’s Services Council Strategic Plan Prosperity Committee, Board President of Broward Alliance for Neighborhood Development (BAND) and as a panelist on several local, regional and national community forums around housing, health and prosperity issues.
Mrs. Biscardi’s passion for people and dedication to the human service field is in direct alignment with the Urban League‘s mission to assist community members secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights. Ms. Biscardi recognizes her role in bringing critical issues to the forefront of the community while increasing the Urban League’s capacity to meet the needs.
Keon E. Williams
Keon E. Williams is a native of Miami, Florida, born in the heart of one of Florida’s oldest Black communities named Overtown. Mr. Williams is a 2008 graduate of Bethune- Cookman University. Mr. Williams currently serves as the Assistant Director for Urban Philanthropies, a non-profit dedicated to transforming distressed urban communities in South Florida through economic and community development activities.
Mr. Williams latest initiatives including navigating Urban Philanthropies through the successful startup of a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), to provide financial and technical assistance to small and emerging nonprofits in South Florida’s urban communities; The Overtown Business Boot Camp, providing residents with startup capital and education to assist with the creating a new business; and Urban Philanthropies A+/ Cyber Security Certification program, aimed at reducing poverty by equipping At-Risk Teens and Residents with a criminal history with a nationally recognized technical certification to gain employment in the IT field in less than 4 months.
Mr. Williams has over 10 years of relevant experience in nonprofit management, issues-based advocacy, grassroots organizing & campaign management and civic engagement. From organizing in Central Florida to elect the First Black President of the United States of America, to leading a statewide effort Ohio to advocate and increase awareness on gun control and gun violence. When Mr. Williams is not working, he serves as the President of the Overtown Optimist Club Inc., a non-profit located in Overtown, tasked with overseeing the participation of 600+ youth and 50+ volunteer members in transforming the next generation through educational and sport activities. Mr. Williams has been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., since 2007. Mr. Williams credits the motto “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” as the bedrock of his dedication and commitment to advocating for disenfranchised communities.
Don D. Patterson is an accomplished real estate development professional excelling in a variety of areas to include pre-development, conceptual planning, preliminary engineering, financing, construction administration, lease up, and construction close out. He currently serves as the President of REVA Development Corp, a 501c3 nonprofit organization and Managing Partner with MFK|REVA Development, LLC.
In support of artists, families, and small business, REVA incorporates a comprehensive approach to housing and economic development within neighborhood revitalization programs.
Don has been involved in revitalizing neighborhoods in Broward and Miami-Dade since 2004 and is responsible for nearly 1,000 affordable rental units. Don describes himself as a Community Developer and Civic Entrepreneur involved in reviving under invested neighborhoods; providing quality resources in real estate development to facilitate the creation of unique, vibrant and sustainable housing and commercial real estate development.
Mr. Patterson began real estate development career as Pre-Development Manager for Fairfield Residential, LLC. Don was in charge of performing due diligence on prospective site, conceptual planning, and preliminary engineering of more than 2,000 units of new multifamily construction ($223 million). He also performed as Florida Regional Land Development Manager for Toll Brothers, Inc., responsible for infrastructure and site development of 475 single-family homes, and Project Manager for development of Extended Stay America Hotels. Mr. Patterson has an extensive background in civil engineering, performing as Engineering Project Manager, Construction Project Manager, and ultimately assigned as Miami Regional Area Manager for a nationally recognized full service civil engineering firm.
Mr. Patterson has a B.S. degree in Business Administration from National University San Diego with relevant continued education to include Florida Real Estate Sales Associate License course work, Urban Land Institute (ULI), Financing Housing Coalition, and a variety of other certificate programs related to community and real estate development.
Organization and Associations
- Urban Philanthropies, Board Member
- Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida (CRASF), Board Member
- South Florida Community Development Coalition, Former Board Member
- Broward Alliance for Neighborhood Development (B.A.N.D), Founding Board Member
- Florida Alliance of Community Development Corporations, Former Board Member
- Miami Historic Overtown Folk Life District Improvement Association, Former Board Secretary
- Broward County Diversity Advisory Council, Former Vice Chairman
- City of Coconut Creek Planning and Zoning Board, Former Board Member
Terri Murray serves as Executive Director of Neighborhood Renaissance, Inc., which is a community driven development corporation serving Palm Beach County. She is an accomplished community development professional with over 30 years of experience in affordable housing development. She has designed, implemented and administered various home ownership assistance, housing rehabilitation, new construction, small business assistance, workforce development, and property management programs.
She has worked effectively in the for-profit, non-profit and local government arenas. Ms. Murray holds a Masters in Urban Affairs in Housing and Community Development from Boston University. Ms. Murray was recipient of the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations’ 2015 Diane Sterner Award for Community Development Association Leadership. She serves on the board of the Florida Alliance of Community Development Associations and was its founding board chair. She also served on the board of the Florida Community Loan Fund for 8 years.
Teresa Johnson joined Northwest Community Consortium in November 2014 as the Executive Director. Ms. Johnson is charged with engaging the members of the consortium with community revitalization, creating partnerships with residents, non-profits, law enforcement, and governmental agencies. Ms. Johnson is responsible for the overall operations of the organization.
Teresa has over 18 years working in the non-profit industry previously at PACE Center for Girls Treasure Coast as their Executive Director and prior to that at the Urban League of Palm Beach County where she served as Vice President of Programs. Ms. Johnson has provided Organizational Development services for organizations such as Palm Beach County Women Chamber of Commerce, National Coalition of 100 Black Women West Palm Beach Chapter, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and NOAH Development. Ms. Johnson is active in the community as a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and Sunday School Superintendent at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
Ms. Johnson is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Public Policy and Administration with a specialization in Non-Profit Leadership and Management from Walden University. She is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University having earned her Master’s in Organization Leadership and her Bachelors of Business Administration in Management graduating Cum Laude from Northwood University. Ms. Johnson is the author of Strategies to Grow Non-Profits — a must read for those who manage people and lead organizations.
Since joining Partners for Self Employment (PSE) in September 2001, Maria Coto has held a variety of key positions, beginning as the program’s loan underwriter, before advancing to program director and ultimately executive director.
During the course of her career she has also been closely involved in the organization’s finance office, as well as in program design and training. She played a particularly active role in designing PSE’s Individual Development Account program, and in developing client training related to the program.
When Ms. Coto joined PSE she was seeking to apply her training in psychology in an environment that offered more opportunities to provide hands-on help than the local and state-administered programs she had worked in during her training. Although she originally intended to familiarize herself with not-for-profit work in general before moving on to broaden her career in other agencies, she soon found herself engrossed by the opportunities PSE offered to help small-business owners overcome dependency and instead become financially self-sufficient.
During her years with PSE the organization has seen steady growth, and today operates satellite offices in Homestead and North Miami, along with in addition to its Miami headquarters. Along with its micro-lending services, PSE also offers training, financial counseling, savings programs for future homeowners, and peer support programs for small businesses.
Camilo E. Mejía
Camilo Mejía’s background as a peace and immigrant rights activist is what originally led him to Catalyst Miami, where his current work revolves around building collective capacity networks with social justice organizations, creating access and inclusion for people with disabilities and addressing economic injustice through policy and advocacy efforts. Camilo lives in Coconut Grove, Florida with his daughter.