Taking Control of Our Economic Environment

Here is a copy of the presentation I did for the Chicago West Side Branch NAACP Community Concerns Panel. This was a part of their housing resource forum held on June 29, 2014. The presentation shares lessons learned from TIF advocacy in North Lawndale and covered the following: What tifs are, how they work, and their impact; Common TIF programs; Case study-Ogden Pulaski TIF in North Lawndale; Lessons learned.

Taking Control of Our Economic Environment by valeriefleonard


Small Business Center on the Road

I thank Otis Monroe for inviting me to facilitate the Small Business Bootcamp, a series of workshops for emerging business owners on behalf of the Monroe Foundation to be held this fall at Kennedy-King College. I will be one of the representatives present at the African American Small Business Expo to share more information about the workshops.  Find out more about the Small Business Expos below, and  here. Find out more about the Monroe Foundation Small Business Bootcamp here.

Small Business Centeron the Road. The expos, sponsored by Western Union, are free and open to the public and will offer business education, resources on financing, licensing process, tax laws and provide an opportunity to network with important stakeholders in the community.

African American Small Business Expo

The City of Chicago has partnered with local chambers of commerce to invite small business owners and entrepreneurs to its first free African-American Small Business Expo on Saturday, July 19, 2014, at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, Chicago, with special keynote speaker Desiree Rogers.

The expo will have more than 40 exhibitors offering information and resources on:

  •     How to finance a small business
  •     How to start the licensing process
  •     How to understand and comply with tax laws and other legal requirements
  •     Where to connect with chambers of commerce
  •     Networking opportunities
  •     And much, much more!

The expo will include a workshop, a panel discussion and a free on-site tax clinic.

Panel Discussion: Microlending – A Great Tool for Business Growth and Development
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS:  Start with entrepreneur, add microlending and technology, sprinkle marketing, leverage your W/MBE/DBE etc. certification and let Simmer.

Panelists: Jamie Rhee, Chief Procurement Officer City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services, Melinda Kelly of Chatham Business Association, Teyonda Wertz of South Shore Chamber, Inc., Gus Issacson of Central Lakeview Merchants, and Adrian Soto of Eighteenth Street Development Corp. The discussion will be moderated by Abraham David Lacy of Far South CDC.

Workshop: Making Lemonade Out of the Lemons of Life
Presented by Norma J. Williams, Founder, and Chief Alignment Officer, of NJW Consulting

Free On-Site Tax Clinic
Presented by the Center for Economic Progress. Space is limited to 21 appointments. Call 312.744.5504 to schedule a time.

Confirmed Exhibitors:
Western Union – Corporate Sponsor
City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP)
51st Street Business Association
Center for Economic Progress
Chatham Business Association, Small Business Development Inc.
Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR)
Chicago Department of Public Health
Chicago Department of Procurement Services
Chicago Urban League
CMS/Business Enterprise Program
Far South Community Development Corporation
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative
Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation
Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce
Healthy Chicago Small Business Initiative
Illinois Attorney General
Illinois Secretary of State – Business Service Division
Illinois State Treasurer’s Office
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
IRS (Internal Revenue Service)
The Monroe Foundation
Olive-Harvey College
Quad Communities Development Corporation
SCORE Chicago
SomerCor 504/ City of Chicago Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF)
Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce
South Shore Chamber, Inc.
U.S. Department of Labor – EBSA
U.S. Small Business Administration
Women’s Business Development Center

More to be announced soon!


When Mission Meets Mortar: Building Sustainable Communities Through Responsible Development

The stress and uncertainty caused by the recent economic crisis is heightened for nonprofit corporations whose programs and services rely strictly on grants. Join Terrance Harrington, CEO of Nonprofit Matters, and me as we discuss using real estate development as a social enterprise for your community and faith-based organization.  You will get an overview of the real estate development process, including site selection, pre-development, marketing and financial feasibility, construction management and operations.

Contact Valerie F. Leonard at 773-521-3137, or Terrance Harrington at 773.426.7728

Register today http://www.eventbrite.com/e/introduction-to-real-estate-development-for-nonprofit-organizations-tickets-12107254123



Assess Your Organizational Capacity in 6 Areas

Nonprofits should have a well-documented track record in developing programs that have a meaningful impact upon the community and the clients served; the ability to exercise good stewardship over financial and human resources; the ability to manage relationships among various community constituencies; and the ability to respond to change. Those organizations that make the investment in building organizational capacity are more likely to be in a position to sustain themselves over the long term.

How would you assess your organization’s capacity?

What are your organization’s strengths?

What areas do you need to shore up?

How will you increase capacity?

What resources will you need?

What are your overall goals and objectives?

When will you get started?

Organizational Capacity Assessment


“A Roof Over Our Head” COMMUNITY Housing Resource Forum

I will be a panelist for the upcoming “A Roof Over Our Head” Community Housing Resource Forum hosted by the Chicago WestSide Branch NAACP. The forum will focus on a number of issues and resources for Tenants, 1st Time Buyers, Current Homeowners and Community Concerns. I will share information on community strategies to take control of abandoned properties. The forum will take place at

Christ The King High School
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Location: 5088 W. Jackson Doors open at 8:30AM
LIMITED SEATS: Call to reserve your seat TODAY; (773)261-5890

NAACP Flyer 28th June NF


Should Chicago Public Schools Have an Elected School Board?

The State Legislature recently passed a bill to create a Chicago Public School Governance Task Force to study the pros and cons of an elected school board in Chicago. They will start their work in June, 2015. In the meantime, here is a link to Representative Ford’s town hall meeting held in 2012. The discussion is still very relevant today.


There’s Still Time to Register for Nonprofit Operations!

I will be teaching another section of Operations Management: Topics in Organizational Effectiveness, for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Online Certificate in Nonprofit Management beginning July 3, 2014, going through August 6, 2014. Outlined below is a description of the course and links to more information. I would be honored to have you, or someone you recommend, to join us this summer.

Operations Management: Topics in Organizational Effectiveness

This course provides an overview of nonprofit operations and explores four significant facets of operations management that are not currently addressed elsewhere in the certificate curriculum: human resource management, information technology, performance management and IRS compliance and transparency. These topics are subject to change as new courses are developed.

Sample Syllabus - subject to change at the instructor’s discretion.

This intensive five-week course explores the following topics:

• Introduction to Nonprofit Operations and Current Trends
• Human Resource Management
• Information Technology
• Performance Management
• IRS Compliance and transparency

Special features of this course:

• A weekly Resource Center provides carefully tailored readings and other learning resources
• “Studio” activities provide opportunities for new and experienced practitioners to cultivate practical skills
• Original case studies and problem-based learning activities
• In-depth weekly discussions on the real-life challenges and opportunities of operations management
• Small class size with a maximum of 25 participants

Learning Objectives
What you and your organization will gain from this course:

• Understand the scope of activities commonly referred to as “operations,” the role of an operations manager and current trends in nonprofit operations management
• Recognize fundamental principles and best practices of effective human resource management
• Identify trends and key issues related to managing information technology in a nonprofit organization
• Explain what the growing emphasis on performance management is all about and identify methods used to track performance
• Understand how IRS compliance requirements have changed and what nonprofits need to do to maintain compliance and function with transparency

This is an instructor-led course delivered entirely online. It is highly interactive and requires active participation on discussions boards and completion of assigned projects. We estimate spending an average of 8 – 10 hours per week on each Certificate in Nonprofit Management course. For this reason, we highly recommend students participate in no more than two CNM courses at a time.

NOTE: This is a tech-enhanced course that requires access to Blackboard, a course management system used by UIC. In order to complete registration, you must submit proof of identity to secure your unique NetID (username). More information on this process can be found on the Know More about Registering and Paying section of our Web site.

Cancellation/Refund Policy

Section 1 (0714)
July 03 – August 06, 2014
Course Fee: $550
Registration Deadline: Monday, June 30, 2014
Location: University of Illinois at Chicago

Click here to register if the “Register Now” button doesn’t work. http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/gci/programs/profed/online/registration.html