Tennessee Democracy Forum Roundtable Democracy Delivering Results for Urban and Rural Communities



Lisa Mensah, Opportunity Finance Network, President & CEO

Lisa Mensah is the President and CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network, the nation's leading network of Community Development Finance Institutions. Before joining OFN, she was Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development. Mensah began her career in commercial banking at Citibank before joining the Ford Foundation to manage the county's largest philanthropic grant and loan portfolio of investments in rural America. Previously she served as the founding Executive Director of the Initiative on Financial Security at The Aspen Institute.

Bill Pollard, Brightbridge Capital, COO

Bill Pollard joined Brightbridge in 2008. His various roles have included director of special projects, director of new markets tax credits operations. Brightbridge is a non-profit economic development organization that assists in providing affordable debt to businesses, other economic development organizations, and larger development projects. As a certified development company, a certified development enterprise, and a community development financial institution. Brightbridge works with banks and credit unions to bring creative capital and terms to create jobs and bring needed goods and services to economically distressed communities. Since 2005, Bill has served as president of the Appalachian Fund for Growth and River Gorge Capital, two subsidiaries of Brightbridge/Southeast Local Development Corporation that conduct new markets tax credit financing operations. From 2000 until 2008, Bill consulted with Southeast Local Development Corporation, the precursor to Brightbridge, and provided business consulting to others. Prior to 2000, Bill owned and operated several small businesses including specialty manufacturing, transportation, environmental remediation, and wholesale distribution of industrial goods and was a partner in a small marine dealership.

Clint Gwin, Pathway Lending, President

Clint Gwin is Appalachian Community Capital Chair and President of Pathway Lending in Tennessee. He has expertise in “growing” a CDFI. Under his leadership, Pathway loan originations grew from $3.4 million in 2003 to $76.8 million in 2016. He developed a high-volume development services program, wherein pathway staff delivered technical assistance to 1,448 businesses. Mr. Gwin has expert skills in capital development, having raised $60 million in loan capital. Clint is an industry leader in economic development lending. a proven innovator with 20 years of experience helping business grow.

Deb Socia, The Enterprise Center, CEO

Deb Socia is president and CEO of the Enterprise Center, a nonprofit that nurtures innovation in Chattanooga with the goal of connecting people to resources and building an inclusive community. Growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the innovation district, building digital equity, and supporting research and implementation of smart city applications are all a part of the organization’s focus. Prior to her current role, Deb was the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, a nonprofit that supports community leaders as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable internet. Previously, Deb was the Executive Director of the Tech Goes Home program in Boston whose mission is to ensure digital equity. Deb’s early career included 32 years as an educator and administrator. She was the founding principal of the award winning Lilla G. Frederick Middle School, a Boston Public School where she led the One-to-One Laptop Initiative.

Katy Stigers, Fahe, VP of Research

Katy Stigers plays a vital role in the process of how Faghe collects, accesses, and shares qualitative and quantitative data. Stigers fell in love with Appalachia while she pursued her bachelor’s degree at King College (now King University) in Bristol, TN.  She then went on to earn an MA in Urban Affairs at Saint Louis University, with course work including planning, public policy, and evaluation research. Stigers also received additional graduate studies in research methods and political science while attending Emory University as a doctoral student.  Stigers eventually found her way back to Appalachia and has now built a life and career in the region. 

Lamont Price, TN Department of Economic and Community Development, Innovation Director

Lamont is the Innovation Director with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).  TNECD is the arm of state government charged with business retention and recruitment, assisting communities in being prepared for economic development opportunities, managing state and federal programs that provide development resources, and forming strategic partnerships inside and outside state government. His focus is entrepreneurship and innovation.  He has experience with public-private venture capital programs, served on the entrepreneurship subcommittee of Tennessee’s Rural Task Force, and works on place based initiatives to assist small, rural, and distressed communities in economic and community growth.  He is the liaison for LaunchTN, a public-private entity focused on entrepreneurship, SBIR/STTR, and access to capital.  He also is working on Opportunity Zone related projects for the department and the Economic Gardening Pilot Program for small businesses. 

Marshall Crawford, The Housing Fund, President & CEO

Mr. Crawford is an experienced nonprofit executive and shares THF’s commitment to help individuals and communities create and maintain affordable and healthy places to live and work. As the president and CEO, his responsibilities include organization leadership and management, strategic planning, resource development, management of loan portfolio and lending operations and community external relations.


Michael Gilliland, CALEB, Organizing Director

Michael Gilliland is the organizing director for CALEB, a nonprofit coalition including faith groups, labor unions and community organizations. CALEB’s goal is to build the capacity of its members to affect change in issues ranging from criminal justice and economic mobility to education. A lifelong Chattanoogan, Michael brings over a decade of experience in organizing and social justice work including affordable housing advocacy, research regarding local bank lending and equitable development, as well as co-creating "the people's history of chattanooga" project.

Ron Brooks, River City Capital, President

Ron Brooks, Jr. is the President at River City Capital Investment, LLC.  Previously, Ron was a Vice President, Midwest Region at CRA Partners. Ron holds a bachelor's degree in business economics from the University of Memphis. River City Capital (RCC) is a community development financial institution (CDFI), certified by the US Department of the Treasury. It is a nonprofit financial organization driven by its mission to accelerate shared prosperity and revitalization in underserved communities through the provision of capital in Memphis and Shelby County.


Spike Hosch, Betterfi, Executive Director & Founder

Spike Hosch is the founder and executive director of BetterFi, a 501(c)(3) non-profit Appalachian Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) based out of Coalmont, Tennessee. In addition to providing financial programming including financial coaching and free income tax filing, BetterFi primarily offers affordable consumer credit and credit building as a means out of the payday, title, or flex loan debt trap. Spike's background is in microfinance and green energy finance abroad, and, locally, he is involved in civic organizations, trusts, and nonprofits on the South Cumberland Plateau.

Dr. Ternae T. Jordan, Sr., Mt. Canaan, Senior Pastor

Dr. Ternae T. Jordan, Sr., a second-generation minister, grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and received a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Business Education and a minor in Religious Studies from the University of Tennessee.  In addition, he received a diploma from the Harvard School of Divinity, Leadership Institute. Dr. Jordan is currently serving on the following boards: Purpose Point Community Resource Center, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way (Executive Board), Stop the Madness National, Launch CHA, and the Piedmont International University Board of Trustees. He has served on two mayors’ transition teams, as well as on the committee to select a new police chief for the City of Chattanooga.

TS Portrait

Tom Sanders, South Cumberland Community Fund, Executive Director

Tom Sanders has been working in institutional advancement since 1987, when he became a grant writer for the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (now the Booth School of Business). He has served in a variety of capacities — publications manager, advancement writer, public relations officer, webmaster and web developer, developer of strategic programs, and grant writer — for Tusculum College, Holston United Methodist Home for Children, and, most recently, for the University of the South, where he has served for the better part of the last two decades. 



Stacy Richardson, Tennessee Democracy Forum, Board President


Austin Sauerbrei, SOCM, Executive Director