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Sharon Conard-Wells

Executive Director, West Elmwood Housing Development Corp

Topic: How Post-Industrial Cities Bounce Back



Sharon Conard-Wells has been in community development work for most of her life, professionally and personally. After working as a computer systems analyst and serving as Clerk to the RI Senate Corporations Committee, she returned to her roots and became involved with West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (WEHDC) where she has been the Executive Director since 1991.

Under Sharon’s leadership, West Elmwood Housing works to keep pace with the industry by positioning the agency to be a successful 21st century community development corporation. The tax exempt corporation is a member of NeighborWorks
America and holds several national certifications including Home Ownership Center, Full Cycle Lender, Green Organization and is a HUD approved counseling agency. Over $115,000,000 has been raised for real estate and community development. She has completed the arduous adaptive reuse redevelopment of two Brownfield historic mills and three low income tax credit rental projects. Over 200 new homebuyers have been created and 4,000+ clients have received home buyer education, foreclosure and credit counseling. 2011 marked the completion of two record setting concurrent lead hazard reduction contracts, one city wide and one state wide, to produce 1300+ lead safe units. The two lead remediation contracts yielded 35 jobs in addition to awarding sub-contracts to several local contractors during a very weak economy. Sankofa Apartments, a $13,000,000 new construction low income rental project connecting housing and urban agriculture was completed in August 2016.

Some current projects for the CDC include the creation of Business Skills for theConstruction Trades funded by the Governor Gina Raimondo’s Real Jobs RI, participation in two RI Department of Health’s Health Equity Zones (HEZ), and rehab of foreclosed properties for sale to first time buyers through participation in the City of Providence Receivership program. WEHDC serves as the backbone agency for two strategic collaborations –Sankofa Initiative and Dunamis Synergy.

Ms. Conard-Wells holds a Master of Education degree from Cambridge College and a fellowship from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. Sharon is certified in apartment management, crime prevention, and as a trainer of trainers.

Sharon serves on the Board of Directors for Care New England, the Brain Injury Association of RI, Grow Smart RI and The Housing Network of RI, the Integra ACO Council, Santander Bank Community Advisory Board and the Rockland Trust New Market Tax Credit Advisory Board.