Marilyn Melkonian is the president and founded Telesis Corporation in 1985. She has over 30 years of experience in housing policy, neighborhood regeneration, planning, development, and finance. She serves on several boards, including the Eisenhower Foundation, the Brookings Institute’s Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, and Common Cause. She founded the National Housing Trust in 1987 and currently serves as its chair. Former positions include Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Carter; General Counsel for Lucasfilm Ltd; and counsel to the architecture firm of John Carl Warnecke & Associates. She practiced law for 15 years in New York and Washington, D.C. and is a graduate of Stanford University Law School.
Prior to joining Telesis in 1998, Georgia worked in the legislative and executive branches of government. She has national and international public affairs experience, including implementation of legislative and managerial programs, conducting media relations, and coordinating conference and travel projects. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Pittsburgh.
DEVELOPMENT/ EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
Laura joined Telesis from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she served as intern to the Urban and Regional Policy team. Prior to GMFUS, Laura worked as the administrative assistant for the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, under IG John Sopko. She holds a Masters in International Planning and Sustainable Development from the University of Westminster, London and a B.A in sociology from the University of Mary Washington.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Laura recently returned to Telesis after serving as Executive Director of Lantern Community Services, a supportive housing nonprofit, and Chief Program Officer at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a New York-based settlement house serving 20,000 people annually. Laura has a longstanding commitment to high-impact projects that bring change to low-income and distressed communities. While at Telesis previously, Laura led the redevelopment East Hills in Pittsburgh and laid the foundation for the Barclay regeneration in Baltimore. In 2007, she served as Deputy Commissioner of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Laura serves as Vice Chair of Women in Housing and Finance in New York. Laura earned her A.B. from Princeton and her J.D. from Georgetown.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Bertrand has extensive experience in commercial and residential real estate development and finance, including affordable housing. His developments include single family and multifamily housing, rental and homeownership; office, retail and mixed use complexes; new construction and substantial rehabilitation; and land development. He has arranged debt and equity financing utilizing private and public sources, FHA insurance, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac credit enhancements, private offerings, and a variety of public subsidies and tax credits. Many of his projects have involved working with residents and their representatives. Bert’s work as an attorney has included both private practice, as a partner in a large law firm, and public service, as executive assistant to the Federal Housing Commissioner and general counsel of the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
ASSISTANT PROJECT MANAGER
Emily returned to Telesis in 2018; her career in affordable housing began at Telesis, where she was a project assistant from 2010-2011. Emily returns with eight years of experience in affordable housing and community development finance. Her work includes managing an NSP-2 funded project to develop affordable, single-family family homes on blighted lots in post-Katrina New Orleans. She also spent three years as a Project Manager and Senior Project Manager at Housing Up, one of the District’s leading non-profit developers, where she managed the development process from initial underwriting to stabilized operations for a portfolio of five projects with TDCs of over $100M. Most recently, Emily spent two years underwriting NMTC and LIHTC transactions for one of New England’s leading CDEs and LIHTC syndicators. Emily holds a B.A in Geography from Colgate University and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Housing and Community Development Finance from the University of New Orleans.
Quinn is a project manager for the Baltimore office, working on developments with various financing structures including Low Income Housing Tax Credits and New Markets Tax Credits. She manages the development process, financing, and design from initial underwriting through stabilization. Before joining Telesis, Quinn worked as a Development Manager and Financial Analyst at Dantes Partners on a portfolio of 7 projects, $200 million in total development costs, and more than 575 units of affordable housing. Prior to that, she was Program Officer at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, providing technical assistance, grants management, and no interest loans to more than 30 nonprofits working in Washington, DC. Quinn is a graduate of American University, with both a Masters of Public Policy and Bachelors of Arts, and she is certified by the National Development Council as a Housing Development Finance Professional (HDFP).
Timur joined Telesis as a project manager in 2018. Prior to Telesis, Timur worked at Victory Housing, Inc where he was responsible for preserving quality senior affordable housing portfolio of 2,200 units, including risk mitigation, compliance, procurement and management of third-party consultants. Timur also oversaw design, negotiation, construction, and financing efforts on new development, rehabilitation and sustainability projects. Prior to Victory Housing, as acquisition manager at an international grocery retailer- Lidl, Timur negotiated and entitled over $50M of real estate for new store development in South Carolina and Georgia regions. Timur is an alum of the University of Maryland holding BS in Architecture and MS in Real Estate Development degrees. Timur currently serves on the Board of Directors of Sarah’s Circle, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC that creates communities that enable elderly persons of limited means to live with dignity.
DIRECTOR OF LOCAL ECONOMIES PROGRAMS
Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a leading visionary on community economics. He’s directly of Local Economy Programs for Telesis Corporation, a nonprofit affordable housing company, and currently an adjunct instructor at Bard Business School in New York City and at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He’s also a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital and at the Post-Carbon Institute, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He is credited with being one of the architects of the 2012 JOBS Act and dozens of state laws overhauling securities regulation of crowdfunding. He has authored, coauthored, or edited nine books. His most recent book is The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity. One of his previous books, The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (Berrett-Koehler, 2006), received as bronze prize from the Independent Publishers Association for best business book of 2006. A prolific speaker, Shuman has given an average of more than one invited talk per week, mostly to local governments and universities, for the past 30 years in nearly every U.S. state and more than a dozen countries.
Tiffany has more than 10 years of experience in Finance and Development. She recently joined Telesis after being the Director of Capital Projects for a charter school in New York City where she managed various aspects of the organization’s educational facility development needs. Prior to that, Tiffany worked as a real estate project manager for a non-profit supportive services provider, Westhab, Inc., in NY; overseeing the development of affordable and supportive housing projects. Her other experience includes working as a Credit Officer for Local Initiatives Support Corporation and as a finance associate at a commercial bank. At LISC she helped provide technical assistance to its local offices across the country on underwriting criteria for loans funding affordable housing and other community-focused projects. Tiffany holds a Master’s of City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and a Bachelor’s of Science from Florida A&M University.
VP / DIRECTOR OF TELESIS BALTIMORE
Catherine has 15 years of real estate development and community development experience, including public and private sector experience. At Telesis, she is responsible for the management of a large scale, multi-phase neighborhood redevelopment project and oversees both homeownership and multifamily rental development. Catherine has responsibility for projects throughout the development life-cycle, from conception through lease-up or sale. She has extensive experience working with community partners and meeting with community groups and leads multi-disciplinary teams of design, finance and construction professionals on both single-family homeownership projects and mixed-income and mixed-finance redevelopment projects. Catherine came to Telesis from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) where she served as the Program Manager of HPD’s HUD Multifamily Preservation Loan Program. In this capacity, she was responsible for the direction of a new loan program targeted to finance the rehabilitation of large distressed multifamily buildings. Prior to that, she was a Project Manager in HPD’s Division of Special Needs Housing. From 2003 to 2005, she was a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). Catherine is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received her Master of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
MIRIAM JULIANNA SUTTON
Miriam Julianna joined Telesis in 2015 as Executive Assistant to Marilyn Melkonian, a role she spent two years in. Recently she has transitioned to a role as a Community Coordinator working with the staff of our various community centers. She is trained in organizing by the Gamelan Institute’s Ntosake program, which translates to “She who walks with lions, she who caries her own things.” She earned her Bachelors in International Relations as a member of American University’s Global Scholars cohort where she focused on sustainability in urban areas. She received distinction for her senior research on the use of jump-outs by MPD in Washington D.C.
ASSISTANT PROJECT MANAGER
Ashley joined Telesis in 2018 after working for the Development Finance Initiative (DFI) as a Development Associate. DFI is an affiliate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Government and collaborates with North Carolina communities to provide finance & real estate expertise. Prior to DFI, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with the Rocky Mount-Edgecombe Community Development Association. Ashley holds Master of City & Regional Planning and Master of Public Administration degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Psychology from Winston-Salem State University.
George Weidenfeller is General Counsel at Telesis Corporation. In that capacity, he is responsible for legal representation of Telesis relating to the nationwide finance, development, and management of affordable and mixed-used housing projects. Activities include new construction and/or substantial rehabilitation, as well as a variety of funding sources, including FHA, GSEs and the newly enacted Opportunity Zones. George comes to Telesis with considerable experience in both the public and private sectors.
Immediately prior to joining Telesis, George was in house Counsel at the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT). In that capacity, his focus was on the finance, development, construction and/or rehabilitation of multifamily and single family housing. He was particularly involved in transactions involving HUD and FHA, as well as projects involving the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs and the GSEs.
Prior to joining HIT, George was a Partner in the law firm of Reno & Cavanaugh, PLLC. He represented owners, developers, managers, lenders, and public housing authorities on residential development; FHA transactions; asset management; program, regulatory and fair housing enforcement; Federal procurement, ethics, and personnel law. George was previously a member of the Goulston and Storrs Real Estate group, with a particular focus on Affordable Housing and Economic Development.
George served for over 16 years as Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel, in the HUD Office of General Counsel in Washington D.C., under six HUD Secretaries. During that period, he provided substantive legal advice on all HUD programs, supervised a staff of over 700 professionals and managed a budget over $75,000,000. Before becoming Deputy General Counsel, he was Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Housing, Assistant General Counsel for Assisted Housing and a staff attorney for HUD in Boston and Boston Redevelopment Authority.
George is Chair of the American Bar Association Affordable Housing and Community Development Forum Governing Committee; is a member of the ULI Workforce Housing Council, is on the National Housing Conference Board of Trustees and is on the Board of Directors of both the National Housing and Rehabilitation Association and the National Leased Housing Association.
He holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts, JD from Suffolk Law, MPA from the University of Southern California, and an MLT (Tax) from Georgetown Law.
SENIOR DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
With over 20 years’ experience in real estate development and finance, Lisa Wiersma leads Telesis’ commercial development initiatives. Prior to joining Telesis, Lisa worked for several renowned development firms, including Vornado/Charles E. Smith, J Street Companies, Lowe Enterprises, and Concord Partners. Notably, she managed the development of CityVista, an award-winning, $240 million, 1 million SF mixed-use project, and the $75 million Shakespeare Theatre, both in Washington, DC. Lisa is an adjunct professor, teaching Real Estate Finance, at the University of Maryland. Lisa holds a Master in Business-Real Estate and Urban Land Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in architecture from the University of Michigan. She is a LEED Accredited Professional and is a member of Commercial Real Estate Women DC, and the Urban Land Institute.
Cassie joined Telesis in 2018 after working for several organizations dedicated to furthering community engagement, education, and development. Notably, she worked as an Editor-in-Chief for the Center of Development and Strategy, a think-tank devoted to the research and discussion of sustainability and development, and under several programs for the Center of Urban Studies. While at the center, she worked as a program leader and instructor for a summer camp dedicated to engaging Buffalo City School’s students in the design process as they generated their own revitalization plan for underdeveloped streets. Additionally, she worked on the GRUM project, helping to organize a community health needs assessment and outlining a strategy to address the unmet healthcare needs of several neighborhoods and communities in Buffalo, NY. She holds a B.A. in both Communication and Environmental Design from the University of Buffalo.