FACULTY OF ADVISORS

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 a partial list of affiliated consultants working as part of the PBA Faculty. 

MUNICIPAL and STATE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS ANALYSTS 

Dr. John Paul Comerford is the President and CEO of The United States Retirement Corporation, and President and CEO at J.P. Comerford & Co.  A former candidate for WA State Treasurer, 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. He has been centrally involved with efforts to establish a WA State bank.

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

Gary Flomenhoft pioneered the use of input-output analysis in Public Bank studies.  His report on creation of a Vermont state bank formed the basis for 2014 legislation which allocated $35 million of state funds for local investment in the 10% for Vermont bill. It was the first appropriation in the continental US of daily government funds for a credit facility since the Bank of North Dakota in 1919.  Gary was a Research Associate and Fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, at the University of Vermont from 2002-2013, where 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.  Gary received his PhD in political-economy from the University of Queensland, Australia as a Research Scholar at the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI). He also holds a Master’s in Public Policy and Ecological Economics from the University of Maryland.   

Dan Hoffman Policy innovation and legislative formulation have been hallmarks of Dan’s career in affordable housing and community development. Whether aiding senior officials at all levels of government, as a university-based researcher or as a consultant for nonprofit and business organizations, Dan’s work has focused on seemingly intractable problems requiring coordination of multiple, often seemingly disparate, “policy silos.” His problem-solving work has led to new money, new institutions and new relationships between and among public, private and nonprofit sectors.  At Rutgers University, Dan was Research Director at the American Affordable Housing Institute and member of the graduate school faculty where he co-authored books and articles that led the effort to establish modern employer-assisted housing programs  resulting in new state and federal laws and new public and private sector housing finance strategies.  As a consultant to the NJ Assembly’s Housing and Urban Policy Committee he helped draft legislation that became part of the Fair Housing Act, the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Act, the Urban Development Corporation Act, and the Prevention of Homelessness Act. As a member of the graduate faculty at the Univ. of Illinois, Dan led the university’s technical assistance program in E. St. Louis, one of the nation’s most distressed cities.

ECONOMISTS and PUBLIC POLICY EXPERTS

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 former president and Chair of the Public Banking Institute where he continues his leadership role as Senior Advisor. A pioneering national protagonist for public banking, 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.  He’s held numerous leadership positions with 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.

BANKERS and GOVERNMENT FINANCE OFFICERS

Gerry J. Smith is a seasoned financial services executive who has helped open over twenty de novo banks including America’s newest public bank, the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS). He has a long history of interacting with national and state banking regulators, has served as President/CEO of several banks as well as serving on multiple for-profit and non-profit boards.  Gerry has also helped recruit and train numerous board members and executive management positions and mentored five individuals who went on to serve in President capacities. Involved in the origination and execution of multiple business plans, Gerry has a strong corporate governance background and recently completed his certification from the Director and Chief Risk Officer Institute (DCRO). He also served as a Managing Director for a national consulting firm, allowing him to observe and gather “best practices” for the industry.

Dr. Curtis J. Gregory 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.  As former Executive Director of the $27 Million Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (CDFI), he served a highly diverse market sector.  Wayne helped form a community bank for which he served as Senor Vice president for 20 years.  His service to the niche market of immigrant communities, businesses and real estate investors has provided Wayne valuable understanding of the credit needs, financial products and programs best suited for the these communities. He also has hands-on experience in bank start-ups and implementation of bank corporate policies and procedures, and has been recently active in consulting Native American tribes with formulation of their own banking institutions.  Wayne has a B.A. in Economics from Occidental College and an MBA from University of Chicago, and is a frequent speaker on community economic development and 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.

LEGAL COUNSEL

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.

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