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Closing the wealth gap: A Q&A with Denise Scott, President, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

August 22, 2022

Headshot_Denise Scott_LISCDenise Scott has served as president of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) since December 2021. She joined LISC in 2001 as the executive director of the organization’s New York office and served as LISC’s executive vice president for programs from 2014 through 2021. Prior to joining LISC, Scott served as a White House appointee to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and as the managing director and coordinator responsible for launching the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation.

Philanthropy News Digest asked Scott about settling into her new position as president of LISC, one of the nation’s largest community development financial institutions, how the organization uses its investments to work with local community and government leaders at a time of historic crisis in the housing market and major economic uncertainty, the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Justice agenda and how it shapes the work, and how and when LISC evaluates its job as “finished” in a community.

Philanthropy News Digest: Since joining LISC in 2001, you’ve seen the organization evolve over multiple presidents’ tenures. How has the organization’s approach to housing policy advocacy changed over that time?

Denise Scott: Our approach has changed in response to market shifts. We started many years back with a focus mainly on multi-family tax credit projects, and then we evolved to a broader housing strategy that included preserving single-family housing, both occupied and vacant, with a real push to focus on home ownership—not across the entire LISC footprint, but in certain strategic markets. I’ll call out New York because that’s where I started in LISC. Over time, we came to focus on both multi-family and some single-family homes, and then we started turning our attention to issues around community resiliency.

That, of course, has tied into disasters like hurricanes. LISC’s focus on rebuilding after disasters has grown to include attention around climate and resiliency to be more proactive.

Read the full Q&A with Denise Scott, president of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

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