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CRA at a Crossroads: Understanding the Impact and Ensuring the Future of the CRA

by: Donovan Hotz ’19

On October 29th 2018, Fordham IPED along with the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, Enterprise Community Partners, and University Neighborhood Housing Program sponsored the CRA at a Crossroads Forum: Understanding the Impact and Ensuring the Future of the Community Reinvestment Act. The event, held at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus included an array of speakers including two IPED alumni: Elizabeth Strojan, VP for Government Affairs for the NYC Housing Development Corporation and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (IPED ‘13) and Will Spisak, Director of Programs at Chhaya CDC (IPED ‘14).

Following IPED Director and University Neighborhood Housing Program Vice President, Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg’s opening remarks, Martin J. Greunberg (Member of the Board of Directors, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) gave a speech entitled The Community Reinvestment Act: Its Origins, Evolution, and Future. In it he discussed the changes to the Community Reinvestment Act since its enactment in 1977 and its goal of fighting against the effects of redlining and disinvestment by obligating banks to meet local needs. Panelists included the aforementioned IPED alumni along with Jaime Weisberg, (Senior Campaign Analyst at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development) and Jim Buckley (Executive Director of University Neighborhood Housing Program).

Martin J. Gruenberg. Member of the Board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), giving the keynote address

Weisberg discussed ANHD’s work on preserving and improving the CRA. ANHD conducts research on the “State of Bank Reinvestment in NYC”, regularly comments on CRA exams, and advocates for banks to have “forward-looking CRA plans”. ANHD works towards addressing the “predatory equity” crisis and advocating for banks to engage in responsible multifamily lending to ensure that their loans do not lead to more displacement in the city.

Buckley discussed how organizers and Bronx tenants in the 1970s were able to use the CRA to improve housing conditions and in have continued to use it as a means of aligning banks with their community development efforts. Currently, UNHP promotes further improvements in financial services for Bronx residents and for targeted private investment in the area. Some of their recent work can be found and the following links: CRA’s Bronx Impact, The Bronx Banking Guide, Bronx Financial Services Survey, improved financial access for immigrants, and the impact of alternative financial services.

Conference Panelists (L-R) Elizabeth Strojan (IPED ’13), Jim Buckley, Will Spisak (IPED ’14), and Jaime Weisberg discussing the impact and future of CRA

Strojan discussed the role of the CRA in affordable housing preservation in NYC and how it leverages bank loan investments for affordable housing and allows the City’s investments to have a more meaningful impact.

Spisak discussed the benefits of the CRA for immigrant communities, especially the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities that Chhya represents in Queens. Additionally, he touched on the importance of working towards providing more banking and loan services for small businesses.


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2018 Summer Internship Series: Brian Harper at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas

by: Brian Harper ’19

I spent the summer of 2018 working with Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA), a remarkable opportunity to research and write about some of the most fascinating contemporary topics in Latin America.

Established in the 1960s, the two organizations that make up AS/COA are designed to foster learning and debate surrounding major political, economic, and social issues and trends throughout the Americas. This mission was especially relevant in 2018, with nine Latin American countries holding elections or otherwise experiencing a transition of power (in one case unexpectedly). AS/COA members include experts in relevant fields, while top governmental ministers and even sitting and former presidents routinely speak at AS/COA events.

Brian at the AS/COA

As part of AS/COA’s Web Team, my role was to support my colleagues in research, maintaining and updating AS/COA’s website with new content, and overseeing the organizations’ social media presence (primarily via Facebook and Twitter). When AS/COA held one of its Latin American Cities Conferences—as it did in Quito, Ecuador on my first day—it was my job to assist in live Tweeting the event. This task put my Spanish skills to the test.

Brian with the team from AS/COA

My coworkers have been exceedingly generous in giving me opportunities to cover topics that are of interest to me and AS/COA members. A story I pitched on a Migration Policy Institute report led to my putting together an article with interactive graphs documenting immigration policy under U.S. President Donald Trump. I also conducted an interview with a renowned Colombian journalist, wrote detailed explainers on Brazil’s presidential candidates and Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and assessed Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra’s first 100 days in office. Furthermore, I joined Young Professionals of the Americas’ (YPA) internal committee to help build a community of the next generation of leaders dedicated to AS/COA’s mission.

Reading academic and policy-oriented papers in IPED classes like Econometrics and Politics of Global Economic Relations made me more comfortable in the research I did with AS/COA. Moreover, I was able to synthesize what I learned in my work into papers I wrote on Colombia and Argentina for Political Risk Analysis and Emerging Markets respectively. Finally, this internship both complemented and built upon work I am doing with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Latin America Studies program.

I would encourage anyone interested in Latin America to consider applying to work with AS/COA or attending a YPA event. In addition to the Web Team, other departments offer internships, such as Communications and Strategic Engagement. You can learn more by visiting or following on these  organizations on social media (@ASCOA and @ascoaYPA).

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2018 Summer Internship Series: Greg Fischer, Elly Reserva, and Amr Ali’s French Language Immersion

IPED Arrupe Fellow Greg Fischer and Language Immersion Study Award Recipients Elly Reserva and Amr Ali all spent their Summer 2018 in different parts of France for an intensive study of the French language and culture. The three IPED students studied through Alliance Française, an international organization that aims to promote French language and culture around the world. The institution offers daily three-hour intensive language courses, complemented with various cultural activities and immersive experiences.

Greg Fischer in Grenoble

Greg’s class in Grenoble consisted of 7 to 10 students from all over the world (US, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Venezuela). The instructor brought years of experience from teaching French in East Asia through Alliance Française. Greg arranged a long-term stay through AirBnB which allowed him to use his host to practice his French and continue his immersive experience away from the classroom.

Greg with his classmates


Greg said “A long term immersive experience such as studying French requires you to recreate your daily routine in a different language. That’s invaluable. Having to rely on the language you’re learning enables a greater internalization of the material being used in class.” The diversity of France was on full display in the neighborhood where he stayed; he lived in a neighborhood with a high population of West Africa immigrants and passed through the Tunisia and Algerian stores in order to get to class every day.

Greg and Amr in France

The timing of studying French was also ideal for Greg who was able to watch much of the 2018 World Cup outside of the classroom. It was always easy to find a large public place with a large crowd to watch a French National team game en route to their World Cup victory (unfortunately Greg left France before the final). As an avid fan, coach, and player, the World Cup served as an easy way to bond with other French fans.

Learning French with IPED was a worthwhile experience for Greg. The summer immersion experience with Alliance Française offers a wealth of learning experiences for all beginners, intermediate, and advanced students. The courses are intensive and the opportunities for immersion are boundless. While learning a new language is not a simple or easy process, Greg feels that he got the strong foundation he needed to build upon his language skills.

Elly Reserva in Lyon

Elly’s choice to study French in Lyon was influenced in part by its identity of being France’s gastronomy capital and its reputation of being a student-friendly city. The size of the city itself was perfect for her too, saying that “it was not too huge that it overwhelmed someone like me who’s a first-timer in France, and not too small that I always had something to do after class to continue the French immersion—most of which involved exploring the different Bouchon Lyonnais (restaurants that serve the traditional Lyon cuisine).”

At a bouchon lyonnais, about to feast on Andouillettes de Lyon

Like Greg, Elly’s class was small, composed of students from different parts of the world with different backgrounds and motivations for studying French. The fact that the classes are small allowed them to have enough time to actively participate in class. Alliance Française conducts a placement test before courses start to match and group students at the right level. However, the school organizes various activities so that students from various levels get to interact with one another.

On their last day, the French professor brought cheese to class, while each student brought little somethings from their country for a mini feast!

Elly stayed with a host family throughout her stay in Lyon. Her host family complemented her learning in school by including her in the day-to-day family activities, giving her a closer look to the French traditions and customs. “I couldn’t have asked for a better host family. They made my study of French successful, and my stay in Lyon truly memorable. I still exchange e-mails with them regularly, and I hope I can keep it up.”

Elly’s farewell dinner prepared by her host family. Au revoir!

After the summer language immersion, Elly intends to continue learning French to prepare her for a career in International Development.

At the Ancient Roman Theatres with an overlooking view of Lyon

Amr Ali in Toulouse

Amr’s decision for applying to LISA was influenced by his passion to learn new languages, in addition to the importance of speaking French in pursuing a career in International Development. Located at the south of France, Toulouse, was a perfect choice for Amr. The city is one of France’s most historic cities counts two of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s a very small and walkable city with elegant buildings and unique architecture. Most of the buildings are made of pinkish bricks, which earned it the name “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City). Amr said, “Toulouse offered a very friendly atmosphere to learn a new language. Although it was a small city, I was able to do different activities which helped me to practice French. Also, the location was great and enabled me to explore different parts of France.”

Amr with his classmates

Like Greg and Elly, the class size was small (10-12 students) which ensured the interaction and participation in class. In addition, Alliance Francaise offered lots of activities such as cooking, singing, and visiting Toulouse’s landmarks such as the headquarter of Airbus. These activities ensured the continuance of the immersion nature and acquiring varied range of vocabularies in different aspects of life. Unlike Greg, Amr was lucky to celebrate France’s World Cup victory and to witness the country’s celebrations.

At the Airbus headquarter during Alliance Francaise trip

Alliance Francaise helped Amr to stay with a host family which helped him to practice French and continue the immersion nature. The LISA experience was remarkable for Amr; “I couldn’t ask for a better summer and learning experience,” he said.

At the Calanque de Marseille while exploring France with Greg

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Stephanie Swinehart attends the 2018 Borlaug Food Security Summer Institute

Written by Guestblogger:  Stephanie Swinehart, IPED 2019

2018 Borlaug Food Security Summer Institute participants. Stephanie is on the 2nd row (standing row), 8th from the left.

I recently represented Fordham at the 2018 Borlaug Food Security Summer Institute at Purdue University from June 3-16 in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Institute, now in its seventh year, is an annual two-week program for graduate students interested in developing a holistic understanding of the conceptual challenges around global food security. Discussion topics ranged from genetics & plant breeding, ecology, and funding agricultural research to climate change, pastoralism, and the global challenge of meeting future energy demands. The two-week summit featured presentations from a team of experts in the academic and private sectors including Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, 2009 World Food Prize winner; Shenggen Fan, Secretary General of the International Food Policy Research Institute; and Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Norman Borlaug, the Institute’s namesake and recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.

Stephanie with Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, 2009 World Food Prize winner

Stephanie presenting on her research at Fordham and on her work with UNDP


While there, I presented research that I have been conducting with a team at Fordham on pastoralism in East Africa and on my work as a program assistant at the United Nations Development Program in New York City. This opportunity not only allowed students to increase knowledge in new areas, but facilitated unexpected opportunities for collaboration between the social and agricultural sciences. While the challenges to global food security are great and often feel discouraging, the goal of the institute was to empower students with the multidisciplinary tools to be the next generation of changemakers in the field of food security and climate change.

Stephanie with other Institute participants

Millet variety test fields at Purdue University’s research farm


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9th Cohort of Emerging Markets South African Exchange Program Welcomed in New York

Written by guest blogger Carlos Baeta

For the 9th summer in a row, the IPED commons had witnessed a cacophony of activity that directly corresponded with the arrival of 22 African students to our picturesque Rose Hill campus. The students above, have been selected to attend IPED’s flagship advanced certificate in Emerging Markets and Country Risk Analysis program.  This year’s cohort consisted of twenty South African students that included eight top-performing economics students from the University of Pretoria as well as twelve middle management employees from the National Treasury, The South African Reserve Bank, Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), amongst others. What separates this years program, however, is that it has been extended to include two students who are Economics and Finance lecturers at the Catholic University of Ghana in West Africa.


Throughout their six weeks in New York, the 22 students  took two rigorous courses in Strategic Financial Management and Political Risk Analysis. These courses were completed alongside local IPED and Economics graduate students and taught by Professor Rengifo and Entelis respectively. Beyond interacting with Fordham faculty members, the students had the opportunity to engage and network with real business leaders and policymakers through several organized site visits in New York and Washington D.C respectively. These included meetings with large international institutions at the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations and at multinational corporations such as IBM, Bank of America, Merill Lynch and Credit Suisse.

After returning to South Africa,  the students will by joined  by Fordham IPED and Economics graduate students at the beginning of August to complete the third and final Emerging Markets course at the University of Pretoria in South Africa’s capital city.

2018 represents the 9th year in which students from South Africa participated in this dynamic academic and cultural exchange program. The impact of the program is seen from the successes of its alumni. Many have gone on to represent leadership positions in both the public and private sector across Africa and the world soon after receiving their qualification from IPED. They continue to reference their experience in New York as an important experience in  their career development and education.

Carlos Baeta was among the participants of the Emerging Markets South African Exchange Program in 2015.  He later returned to Fordham to complete the  MA IPED (2017) and MA Economics (2018) programs. 

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