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Shaping Policy for Stronger Neighborhoods

12.17.2019

On September 23, 2019, I was honored and humbled to assume the role of Executive Director of the LISC Greater Kansas City office.  Over these nearly three months, my initial enthusiasm has been reinforced as I have had the opportunity to visit with our dedicated staff and learn more about the incredible work of our many partner organizations.  I have also been fortunate to witness the great work in other LISC cities, encouraging me to think strategically about how our office can best serve the Kansas City region.  This ongoing practice of reflection, coordination, and input from my colleagues in other LISC offices brings value to our respective communities.

As a thought leader in building inclusive and resilient communities of opportunity, LISC works alongside our elected officials to share the stories of our community partners and residents, and to help shape policies that will cultivate more thriving neighborhoods. In my first month, I was fortunate to have been able to lead a policy tour for Congresswoman Sharice Davids, who serves Kansas’ Third District, along with a number of our community partners, highlighting recent progress in Downtown Kansas City, KS. 

In addition to viewing the construction site of the new grocery store that LISC helped finance, we showed the Congresswoman the Modular Business Incubator space coordinated through Downtown Shareholders.  We visited our affordable housing investments being made in partnership with Community Housing of Wyandotte County in the Douglass-Sumner Neighborhood.  She also visited with the leadership of Crosslines Towers, a HUD Section 202 property that provides affordable housing and supportive services for the elderly in our region. 

After highlighting these local efforts that LISC has supported, we spoke with the Congresswoman about the importance of Transit Oriented Development, as she sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and shared some specific policy proposals that would benefit future community development efforts.  We were grateful for the opportunity to visit with her and appreciated her questions, feedback, and genuine interest in helping her constituents.

Katherine Carttar, Director of Economic Development of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Kansas, speaks about the new grocery store with Congresswoman Sharice Davids during a bus tour with partners in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.
Katherine Carttar, Director of Economic Development of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Kansas, speaks about the new grocery store with Congresswoman Sharice Davids during a bus tour with partners in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

In addition to updating elected leaders in our region, I was asked earlier this month to travel to Washington, DC, to participate in a Midwest Banking Summit.  The summit was convened by the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and led by three of their Committee Chairs: Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (Missouri, Fifth District), Congressman Lacy Clay (Missouri, First District), and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (Ohio, Third District).  I joined more than a dozen stakeholders from the Midwest representing the Financial Services industry, to discuss a wide-range of topics, with particular focus on proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act, the critical need for affordable housing, ongoing challenges to accessing capital, and steps needed to address racial wealth inequalities in our country. 

As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), LISC is very interested in helping to shape policies that impact our ability to generate, leverage, and invest resources in underserved communities.  The cross-sector participation allowed for very thoughtful dialogue that will certainly continue in the weeks and months ahead.  Having a public policy background, I appreciated the invitation to participate and the investment by the members of Congress to solicit input from representatives from the Midwest.

As we move into 2020, our LISC Greater Kansas City team will continue to look for opportunities to work alongside our local, state, and federal elected officials to help create more thriving communities.

Congresswoman Sharice Davids (far right) stopped by the Midwest Banking Summit to visit with (from left to right) Geoff Jolley, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Gwen Grant, President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.
Congresswoman Sharice Davids (far right) stopped by the Midwest Banking Summit to visit with (from left to right) Geoff Jolley, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Gwen Grant, President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.