The re-emergence of public banking as a tool for municipal financial management is a relatively recent development, one being shaped by 21st Century banking practices, regulations, technology and economic and political realities. Public Banking Associates makes available some of the most experienced experts who have worked in this “new” field over recent years, and who possess the unique knowledge needed to successfully engage these new realities and opportunities.  Below is an initial list of affiliated consultants working as part of the PBA Faculty. 


John Paul Comerford is the President and CEO of The United States Retirement Corporation, and President and CEO at J.P. Comerford & Co.  A recent candidate for State Treasurer of WA State, Comerford has served as Treasurer and Trustee at The World Affairs Council. The United States Retirement Corporation has a focus over the past nine years as a consulting practice in the area of pensions and employee benefits, both domestic and international. He pioneered the provision of pensions to employees of US businesses operating abroad as well as pension and financial education to employees and plan participants globally.  He has a PhD from Swiss Management University in Behavioral Economics, MA in Philosophy from Cambridge and numerous other degrees, including The American College – Management, MLA and Harvard - International Business and Public Policy

Scott Baker is a financial analyst, author, Managing Editor & Economics Editor at Op-ed News and blogs for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection. His book America is Not Broke! discusses the ways in which financial reporting has obscured the fiscal realities of America’s states and cities and what can be done to reclaim access to hidden public wealth.  Scott has analyzed dozens of government CAFRs (Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports) to assist cities and states that are considering creation of public banks, and uses these figures as a matrix for projecting city public bank prospects. He served as IT Manager for a major NY University and is the New York State Coordinator for the Public Banking Institute. He received his B.A. with honors in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University  and is a former President of Common Ground-NYC


Mark Anielski is an ecological economist, entrepreneur, professor, author and president of Anielski Management Inc. He is an adjunct professor of corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship at the University of Alberta (Canada) and a founding faculty member teaching sustainability economics at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute near Seattle, WA, the first MBA program dedicated to sustainable business practices and ethics. As an economic consultant to governments and businesses globally, Mark developed a financing adaptation for affordable housing aimed at mitigating the systemic conditions that perpetuate poverty and community decline. He won the Common Good Award for his “world leadership in challenging the dominant model of economics and rethinking its proper role for a new civilization.” His book The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth has won numerous awards.

Dr. Deborah M. Figart is Distinguished Professor of Economics at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey.     

Dr. Figart is the author or editor of 21 books/monographs and over 100 other publications. Her scholarship has focused on worker and economic well-being—issues such as discrimination, irregular work schedules and the gig economy, casino employment, emotional labor at work, minimum and living wage campaigns, the underbanked and financial literacy, student loans, and public banking initiatives. Her newest book is Stories of Progressive Institutional Change: Challenges to the Neoliberal Economy (Palgrave, 2017). She is active as an economic analyst in the campaigns for the proposed State Bank of New Jersey and a public bank in Philadelphia. In 2018, she authored a report titled “Exploring a Public Bank for New Jersey: Economic Impact and Implementation Issues” for the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. In service to the economics profession, Dr. Figart was President of the Association for Social Economics in 2006 and President of the Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE) in 2016. 

Gwendolyn Hallsmith is founder and Executive Director of Global Community Initiatives (GCI), and has over 25 years experience working with municipal, regional, and state government in the US and globally. She has served as a City Manager, Regional Planning Director, Senior Planner for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy Resources, the Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and as an international specialist on sustainable community development, including work with the UN’s Environmental Program, the UN Development Program, the Institute for Sustainable Communities, the International City/County Management Association, the Academy for Educational Development, and Earth Charter International. Gwen received her M.A. in Public Policy from Brown University and served as Executive Director of the Public Banking Institute. She has been at the forefront of the movement for a publicly-owned Vermont State Bank, founded Vermonters for a New Economy, and co-authored Vermont Dollars, Vermont Sense with economist Michael Shuman.

Walt McRee is President of Public Banking Associates and Chair/CEO Emeritus of the Public Banking Institute. As a key pioneering protagonist for public banking nationally, Walt has travelled the country consulting and delivering public and media presentations about public banking to public officials, civic groups, industry and legislative leaders. He produces and hosts the radio program “It’s Our Money” and “The Public Bank Solution” TV programs. He founded and co-directs Banking On New Jersey, a statewide organization leading efforts to create a NJ State Bank, and was an Director of the PA Project. As a media strategist, journalist and on-air talent, Walt founded and was CEO of the Alliance for Public Broadcasting, and helped create the first national media committee for the International Hunger Project, along with leadership positions in other public interest issues including environmental protection and support of the arts.

Paul Pryde is a public policy and finance consultant specializing in solutions to the capital and credit problems of underserved businesses and communities.  He organized one of the first securitized sales of small business loans using federal funds and has advised states and localities on the valuation and/or sale of over $100 million in economic and community development loans.  More recently, he authored a feasibility report for the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund on securitization of community development loans and served as chief policy consultant for the U.S. Treasury Department’s $1.5 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative.  Mr. Pryde has consulted numerous national policy development organizations and has authored several publications on markets, economic development and entrepreneurship, including Black Entrepreneurship in America, an examination of enterprise formation and economic progress in the African-American community. Mr. Pryde is a graduate of Howard University and done post-graduate work at George Washington University.


Emma Chappell, a trailblazer in African American commerce and banking, became Pennsylvania’s first key executive of a major bank as Vice President of Continental Bank in charge of Community Business Loan and Development for loans to minority-owned and women-owned small businesses. She organized the Model Cities Business and Commercial Project, now Philadelphia Commercial Development Project, for revitalizing commerce in the inner city. Throughout her career maintaining an interest in socio-political movements and served as Chairperson of the Operation PUSH Board and is founding Vice President of the National Rainbow Coalition.  Emma has served as National Treasurer for Reverend Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign, and later founded and became CEO of the United Bank of Philadelphia and was appointed by PA Governor Tom Wolf’s transitional banking committee.

Curtis J. Gregory, PhD, is a 20-year banking veteran and served as Senior VP with four of the top 25 domestic banks overseeing management for multiple branches in distinctly different markets focused on small businesses, retail banking, institutional trusts and commercial banking. As Senior Director of a major American city’s Commerce Department, Curtis addresses capital funding challenges for regional business development with a deep understanding of municipal needs, resources and realities. He is a noted lecturer across the country on the structural impairments in access to capital for marginalized communities, and is an adjunct professor at Temple University. Named one of “Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest” and among the top 50 Black MBAs in the country, Dr. Gregory has served on the Board Directors at Leadership Philadelphia, The American Diabetes Association, and The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advisory Board.

Charles T. Grigsby has held numerous public executive roles in finance and banking, most recently as President of the Massachusetts Growth Capital Fund and as Chairman and Managing Director at Trillium Asset Management Corp.  He served as SVP of the Mass. Capital Resource Company, on the Federal Reserve Bank Small Business Advisory Committee, the MA State Board of Education, and Director of the Audit Committee of MA Housing Investment Corp., President of the Massachusetts Community Development Finance Corp. and a long-standing member of the board of Boston Private Bank and Chair of its Loan Committee. As Director of Boston's Neighborhood Development Dept. Chuck provided financing for affordable housing, economic development, and all capital construction. He was Director of Capital Planning for the City of Boston and President of the Mass Venture Capital Corp. Chuck helps lead a statewide legislative initiative to create a State-level public bank dedicated to providing infrastructure finance assistance for municipalities and the State.

Wayne Lau is an experienced community banker and lender to under-served communities.  Currently he is the Executive Director of the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, a $27 Million CDFI which serves a highly diverse sector in Seattle.  Prior to assuming leadership of the Fund, he was involved in the formation of a community bank in Seattle and was Senior Vice President of that bank for 20 years.  The bank had a niche in serving immigrant businesses and real estate investors.  In addition to his lending acumen and knowledge of credit products, Wayne has hands-on experience in the bank's start-up and implementation of policy and procedures.  Wayne has a B.A. in Economics from Occidental College and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.  He is a frequent speaker on community economic development and serving the needs of immigrant business communities.

Dean E. Malone has 33 years-experience in On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) for banking, brokerage and large retail enterprises and was lead architect for construction of several widely- used transaction processing systems. His numerous technical achievements (visit www.caleb-ltd.com) and industry experience enables him to design and construct world-class banking IT infrastructures that establish robust, scalable, fault tolerant systems and networks that deliver 24/7 service availability, including disaster recovery.  Dean is now working to apply block-chain technologies to the banking sector to help democratize debit and credit account transactions by enhancing community banking and mitigating big-card “middle men” domination in the card payment world. 

Bill Sinclair has over 30 years experience in executive banking roles and was formerly Chairman/CEO of First Washington Bancorp, an 18-billion dollar bank holding company. Prior, he was President of American Federal Bank, Perpetual American Bank, and Nuwest Bankshares.  Sinclair was also a faculty member of the Federal Reserve System, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the AT&T School of Banking, and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, serving as an expert on Mortgage and Investment Banking.  He’s been a guest lecturer on Economic and Political Issues at Northwestern University's Graduate School of Management, a member of the Board of Directors of Firemans Insurance Co., The Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, Republic Mortgage Insurance Co., and the Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va. And has testified at Congressional Hearings on Banking Legislation and Deregulation.


Earl Staelin is a Denver attorney who has researched CO state law and banking regulations to determine the legality of public banks both within the state and under Federal law. This work also addressed whether legislative accommodations might be required to secure that legality and to maximize the effectiveness and performance of a public bank. Earl has co-sponsored Statewide public banking ballot initiatives and co-wrote preliminary public bank financial feasibility studies for cities and the state of CO.  Originally counsel for several large corporations practicing antitrust and corporate law, Earl later became Executive Director of the Toledo Legal Aid and Public Defender Association as well as president of the Toledo Council on World Affairs. He served as an Assistant City Attorney for the city of Austin, TX and has focused on environmental and civil litigation. He holds degrees in history from Yale and law from the University of Michigan.

Gary Flomenhoft is an International Post-Graduate Scholar and PhD Candidate whose research focuses on the economic value of common wealth and governance of Sovereign Wealth Funds.  As a faculty member at the U of Vermont in Community and International Development and Lecturer in Applied Economics, Renewable Energy, International Development, and Public Policy, Gary has conducted international development projects with students and local partners. When a Research Associate and Fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, his primary research was in public finance for the state of Vermont including green/environmental taxes, common wealth and common assets, subsidy reform, and public banking. His 2013 report on creation of a Vermont state public bank formed the basis for legislation which allocated $35 million of state funds for local investment. He holds a Master’s in Public Policy and Ecological Economics from the University of Maryland.


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