Who We Are

Steve Barlow

President – Neighborhood Preservation, Inc.

Steve Barlow is a President of Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. and a staff attorney for the City of Memphis. He has been involved in community organizing, legislative advocacy and community development efforts in Memphis, Tennessee since 1995, and has led efforts for the past eight years to use civil litigation in the Shelby County Environmental Court to enforce blight reduction and hold negligent property owners accountable. He handles much of the public nuisance litigation for the City of Memphis and for the Downtown Memphis Commission, and is facilitator of the City of Memphis “Opportunity Property Team”, an interdivisional effort to combat blight headed up by the CAO of the City of Memphis. Recently, Steve co-founded and now teaches the University of Memphis School of Law’s Neighborhood Preservation Clinic, in which third year law students help handle anti-blight cases on behalf of the City of Memphis.

Daniel Schaffzin

Director of Experiential Learning and Associate Professor of Law – University of Memphis Law

Daniel M. Schaffzin is an Associate Professor of Law and the Director of Experiential Learning at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.  Professor Schaffzin co-directs and teaches the University of Memphis Neighborhood Preservation Clinic, through which faculty and law student attorneys represent the City of Memphis in litigation seeking to abate the nuisance condition of badly neglected, vacant and abandoned properties.  In connection with his Clinic casework, Professor Schaffzin holds an appointment as a Senior Assistant City of Memphis Attorney for Neighborhood Preservation.

Brigid Welsh

Staff Attorney – Neighborhood Preservation Clinic, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, University of Memphis

Brigid Welsh is the current staff attorney in the University of Memphis Neighborhood Preservation Clinic which represents the City of Memphis in litigation seeking to abate the nuisance condition of badly neglected, vacant and abandoned properties.  In her role as the Neighborhood Preservation Clinic’s staff attorney, Ms. Welsh helps coordinate a team of faculty, staff, students, code enforcement investigators, and city prosecutors handling hundreds of Neighborhood Preservation Act cases filed on behalf of the City of Memphis.

Kermit J. Lind

Clinical Professor Emeritus – Cleveland-Marshall School of Law

Professor Lind taught history at Cleveland State, led nonprofit advocacy organization for 13 years and practiced law in Cleveland for eight years before joining the clinical faculty at C-M Law. During his 16 years as a clinician, he supervised the Urban Development Law Clinic that provided legal services to nonprofit community development corporations in Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Professor Lind authored several law review articles prior to retirement and now writes, consults and lectures on community development law and public policy.

Joseph Schilling

Senior Research Associate – Urban Institute

 Joe Schilling is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute. He is also a fellow with the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, led by the University of Minnesota with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Schilling is the founder of the Vacant Properties Research Network (VPR Network)—a dynamic hub for policy and research translation which connects researchers and practitioners on critical neighborhood revitalization issues such as code enforcement, urban greening and public health. He holds an LLM in environmental law from the George Washington University and a JD from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

Current and Past Faculty

Nisha Baliga

Co-Executive Director – Hester Street

Nisha Baliga, Co-Executive Director, has worked extensively with public agencies, community organizations, cities, and private institutions on master plans, programming studies, and urban design frameworks. Before Hester Street, Nisha worked as a Senior Associate in the Urban Design and Planning Studio at Beyer Blinder Belle for more than 10 years. Nisha’s experience includes project for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Department of City Planning, New York State, Princeton University and Aga Khan University. In her role as Senior Planner on a large campus master plan for the Aga Khan University, Nisha was posted for almost two years in Arusha, Tanzania.

At Hester Street, Nisha has lead multiple large scale projects involving infrastructure, resiliency, arts and culture, health and wellness, open space and urban planning for public and private entities. She oversees Hester Street’s planning and capacity building portfolio and has lead large scale projects such as CreateNYC, Cities RISE and Take Care New York 2020. She was named Co-Executive Director of Hester Street in 2019.

Michael Braverman

Former Commissioner of Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development (2017-2020)

Michael Braverman served as the Housing Commissioner for the City of Baltimore from 2017-2020. With 30+ years of experience with Baltimore City, beginning as a prosecutor, Michael has played a key role in crafting many of Baltimore’s neighborhood revitalization strategies. As a Deputy Commissioner, he reengineered the Housing Department’s code enforcement operations, greatly reducing response times while increasing outputs. He was an architect of Baltimore’s Vacants to Value program, directing its innovative receivership and strategic demolition components, and an essential collaborator on Project CORE, which provides unprecedented State funding for blight elimination in Baltimore. In his role as Commissioner of Housing, he led the effort to create both a comprehensive framework for community development and an effective, integrated community development agency with new resources to implement it. Over the last decade Michael has also dedicated time to work with practitioners, researchers and students both nationally and abroad.

Eric Booker

Deputy Commissioner, Housing Code Enforcement & Emergency Operations, Department of Housing and Community Development – City of Baltimore

Eric Booker, Deputy Commissioner for Permits & Code Enforcement, began working for the Department of Housing & Community Development as its Division Chief in 2004.  During his tenure, Booker served in the capacity of Assistant Commissioner before being promoted to his current role as Deputy Commissioner.   The Baltimore native has extensive professional experience working for Fortune 500 companies, including Exxon Mobil and Verizon.  Mr. Booker is a strategic planning, leadership development, and operations specialist who has extensive experience in civic engagement, community organizing, and redevelopment.   As Deputy Commissioner, he is responsible for property maintenance inspections and emergency operations for the Agency.  Mr. Booker, a former military officer, was discharged with honors from the United States Army.  He earned a master’s degree in management and finance from Notre Dame of Maryland University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Howard University.

John Cameron

Shelby County Environmental Court Referee 

John Cameron is the lead Referee for the Shelby County Environmental Court. Judge Larry Potter appointed him to this position in 2007 with the approval of the Shelby County Commission. As Referee, Mr. Cameron presides over environmental and traffic cases in Division XIV of the General Sessions Criminal Court. Off the bench, he conducts law enforcement and community education programs.

Judge Patrick Dandridge

Shelby County Environmental Court Judge

Judge Patrick M. Dandridge’s career as a Georgetown Law graduate and young lawyer in Washington D.C. had just begun when Memphis elected Willie Herenton as its first black mayor.  Sensing opportunity in Memphis, the Central High School Class of 1983 graduate returned home in 1994 and opened a law office.  Working as a part-time assistant city attorney in the Herenton administration for many years, Dandridge found a specialty — enforcing the building codes that specify minimum requirements for houses and other structures.  After the 2008 financial crash saddled Memphis with foreclosures and property blight, Dandridge led the 60-employee code enforcement unit in the city’s Neighborhood Improvement division.  Key matters before the Shelby County Environmental Court court center enforce building code violations when owners refuse or neglect to comply. If a tenant, for example, sues a landlord for a leaky roof, the case often lands in Circuit Court. However, If the tenant instead files a leaky roof complaint with the code enforcement department, then the City can sue the landlord in the Environmental Court.   In 2018 Dandridge succeeded long-time Judge, Larry Potter, as the Judge of the Shelby County Environmental Court where he had previously brought cases as the City’s chief code enforcement official.

Austin Harrison, M.P.A

 Austin Harrison is a Ph.D Candidate in the Urban Studies Institute at Georgia State Univeristy. His research interests include housing policy, neighborhood change, shrinking cities, community and economic development, and the application of open data. In addition to his Ph.D research, Mr. Harrison is an active practitioner in the housing and neighborhood arena. Through his own consulting firm, he has worked with nonprofits, local governments, and private developers across the country to implement programs and policies aimed at inclusively revitalizing neighborhoods, developing quality affordable housing, and stabilizing systemically disinvested communities. He also is a Research Fellow for Innovate Memphis, a local open data intermediary in Memphis, Tennessee focused on applied data analysis and policy research to drive advocacy for neighborhood and housing concerns such as evictions, abandoned property, and local market dynamics.

Jason Hessler

Deputy Commissioner, Permits & Litigation, Department of Housing & Community Development – City of Baltimore

 Jason Hessler, Deputy Commissioner, Permits & Litigation, began working for the Department of Housing & Community Development as assistant counsel, Northwest District, Code Enforcement Legal Division, in 2001. On the road to becoming acting deputy commissioner, Mr. Hessler has served as the Code Enforcement Legal Division’s managing attorney, deputy director, and acting director, before eventually being named assistant commissioner of litigation. The Baltimore native’s area of expertise is in code enforcement litigation. As Acting Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Hessler oversees all aspects of zoning, permitting, plans examining, licensing, trade inspections, registration, special investigations, and litigation. Mr. Hessler earned his JD from the University of Baltimore and bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Andrew Kieve

CEO, Tolemi

Andrew Kieve is the co-founder and CEO of Tolemi, a civic technology company that builds data integration and spatial analytics software for local governments. Tolemi’s mission is to unlock the power of municipal data and enable cities to be more strategic, efficient, and evidence-based. Their flagship BuildingBlocks application brings together data on property and neighborhood conditions from across siloed departments into a single, map-based intelligence tool. Prior to Tolemi, Andrew was a management consultant with Innosight, where he helped Fortune 50 executives in healthcare & finance manage disruptive innovation in rapidly evolving industries. Andrew has a BA in International Relations from Stanford University and a bi-lingual MBA from IESE Universidad de Barcelona and the Yale University School of Management.

Matt Kreis

General Counsel, Center for Community Progress

Matt Kreis is based in Chicago and serves as General Counsel at the Center for Community Progress. Prior to joining Community Progress in 2015, Matt spent nearly a decade as an attorney at the City of Chicago’s Department of Law where he advised various city departments on a wide range of matters related to code enforcement, municipal law, complex property ownership, and other issues related to abandoned or deteriorated properties. At Community Progress, Matt provides legal and technical support to each of Community Progress’ program areas and serves as in-house counsel. Much of Matt’s time is dedicated to supporting the National Technical Assistance Team, which works to help communities across the country assess, reform, and develop systems and policies to more effectively and efficiently address the challenges imposed by vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties, with a focus on equity, inclusion, and resilience. Matt holds a B.A in Biology from Augustana College and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Larry Evans Potter

Retired Judge General Sessions Court, Division XIV Shelby County Environmental Court

Judge Larry E. Potter has lived in Memphis for over 40 years and is a well-known leader and a judicial innovator.  Recently introduced as a “treasure of our city,” he was appointed to a City Court Judge position in 1982 at the age of 35, becoming one of the youngest judges to ever serve on the bench.  He was elected to his first full term in 1983 and then overwhelmingly reelected to 6 additional terms, diligently serving our city and county court systems for 35 years.  During the 40 years he has lived in Memphis, Judge Larry E. Potter has proven to be a leader, judicial innovator, and a man of great wisdom and compassion for the citizens he serves. On March 1, 2018 he retired from office and now serves as a Senior Policy Advisor with Neighborhood Preservation, Inc.

Jimena Veloz

Program Manager – Hester Street

Jimena is interested in planning as an interdisciplinary field that explores the interaction of people and place: how we build the spaces we live in and how we organize to do so. At Hester Street, she has managed projects that involve research and analysis of topics as varied as code enforcement, zoning and mental health, as well as capacity building for community-based organizations and local governments. She is currently working on Cities RISE, a project to embed equity considerations and community engagement in code enforcement processes in 10 cities in New York State.

Prior to Hester Street, Jimena worked on advocacy for transportation projects with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, focusing especially on transit-oriented development and reducing car use. She holds a Master in Urban Planning from Harvard University, where she focused on learning about equitable development, design and real estate.