Robert Weissbourd, President

Robert Weissbourd manages RW Ventures, LLC, an economic development firm specializing in technical analysis of urban assets and markets, and in creating the products and enterprises necessary to successfully grow urban and regional economies. He was a lead developer of the Southland Development Authority, for which he served as interim CEO, the New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN), the Greater Chatham Initiative, TREND, Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network, the Center for Financial Services Innovation, MetroEdge and the Metropolitan Business Planning Initiative, which he co-managed with the Brookings Institution. He previously served for ten years in executive positions at Shorebank Corporation, designing, delivering and managing comprehensive development finance initiatives to invest in distressed communities. He brings over thirty years of experience leading economic development work in dozens of cities and scores of neighborhoods.

Bob served as Chair of the Obama Campaign Urban Policy Committee, on the Obama Transition HUD Agency Review Team, as a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Center and as adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He also serves or served as President or Vice-President of the Boards of City Colleges of Chicago, Crossroads Fund, Elevate Energy, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, BPI and PROCAN, as well as on the Executive Committee of mHub, the Board of Equal Measure, the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School, and the Advisory Committees for the The Bass Initiative at Brookings, the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, the Mayor’s Technology Advisory Committee, Brookings Metropolitan Economy Project and the Urban Markets Initiative.

Bob is a frequent public speaker and author on a broad range of urban and regional economic growth issues, including business, finance, housing, clean energy, human capital and innovation dynamics. He has also testified on these issues before federal, state and local legislatures. Before joining Shorebank, Bob was a partner at Hartunian, Futterman & Howard, leading complex civil rights and other constitutional litigation, and representing governments, non-profit organizations and community leaders. He clerked for federal Judge George Leighton, after receiving a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and a B.A. from Yale University.

Ashley Bakelmun, Managing Director

Ashley brings expertise in strategic urban planning, with special interests in social and environmental sustainability. She conducts research and data analysis to inform inclusive growth strategies, and plays a lead role in scaling up NGIN, a membership network dedicated to inventing tools, products, and enterprises to drive a more inclusive, prosperous economy. Prior to joining RW Ventures, she conducted academic research on complex “urban questions” with a goal of working towards just cities – specifically focusing on intersections between urban design/planning with inequality and segregation. Her focus on equitable development first began with an environmental lens; during her 5 years in Washington DC she worked for GreenShape, LLC and Gensler as a sustainability consultant. There, she led design and construction teams to deliver sustainable master plans on education/corporate campuses and achieve LEED certification in new construction projects. Ashley has a BSA in Mathematics and Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Urban Development and Design from UNSW Sydney. @ashleybakelmun

Monita Blunt-Daniel, Administrative Manager

Monita serves as the Administrative Manager for RW Ventures, LLC as well as Chicago TREND – managing a wide range of activities related to administration, office management, finance and other special projects for the two firms. Monita has extensive experience working with non-profit organizations, community development corporations, private developers and government officials – predominantly in Chicago but also nationally. She gained a deep familiarity with the economic development field during her 29 years at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), first as Administrative Assistant, then Program Officer. There, she managed grants, planned large-scale events, budgeted, and executed on a myriad of other projects and roles. Prior to LISC, Monita was a Security Police Specialist for the United States Air Force.