COVID-19 Update from Dr. Akilah Watkins

As we begin to face the long-term impacts of COVID-19, I want to encourage us that this time things can be different. We can be proactive in making our communities even better.

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Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places

The mission of Center for Community Progress is to foster strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Founded in 2010, Community Progress is the leading national, nonprofit resource for urban, suburban, and rural communities seeking to address the full cycle of property revitalization. The organization fulfills its mission by nurturing strong leadership and supporting systemic reforms. Community Progress works to ensure that public, private, and community leaders have the knowledge and capacity to create and sustain change. It also works to ensure that all communities have the policies, tools, and resources they need to support the effective, equitable reuse of vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties. 

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The Center for Community Progress Appoints New Director of Communications


Jovan Hackley, former University CMO and Real Estate Executive
joins senior leadership of national Community Development Non-Profit


News Release (PDF)

WASHINGTON, DC – December 3, 2019 – Today the Center for Community Progress, America’s leading resource on issues of vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated (VAD) properties, announced Jovan Hackley, former marketing leader for and the Virginia Realtors®, will serve as its new Director of Communications.


“At this pivotal point in history, we recognize that for years vacancy has been a silent killer. From sustainability to health, making the connection between how we leverage land and our future is critical to addressing growing community challenges including housing access, emissions, and racial equity,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins-Butler, President and CEO.


“We are excited to add Mr. Hackley’s proven expertise in changing the narrative around student loans, real estate, and other important social issues to create this next generation of progress.”


Hackley joins the senior team of Community Progress, who led the creation of America’s land banking industry and 180 institutions across the U.S. That work includes spearheading legislative progress in 15 states and creating one of America’s largest land-use educational events ­ -- the Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference.


About Jovan Hackley

Jovan Hackley is an award-winning strategist, public speaker, and communications consultant for national brands and non-profits in the public, private, and real estate sectors. For more than 18 years, he’s helped high-growth organizations including the Zillow Group,, the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (, and universities connect storytelling with driving history-making business impact. 


Hackley’s most-recent work includes leading communications, strategy, and operations for one of America’s leading HBCU’s, Grambling State University – who recently celebrated performances with Beyoncé, a 100 percent fiscal health score increase, and more than $30 million in new funding for campus projects from the state of Louisiana and major donors including Magic Johnson’s SodexoMagic.


Today, Hackley leads the communications, marketing, and strategic outreach for the Center for Community Progress, America’s leading authority on turning “vacant spaces into vibrant places.”


For media interviews and more information about the Center for Community Progress email or call (877) 542-4842 ext. 153.



About the Center for Community Progress

Since 2010, the Center for Community Progress has helped more than 300 communities transform vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated (VAD) properties into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Through offices in Michigan and Washington, DC, the Center works to create a future where all people live in strong, healthy, just communities where widespread properties no longer exist. For more information, visit


Learn About Our Work 

Community Progress exists to help meet the growing need in America’s cities and towns for effective, sustainable solutions to turn vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties into vibrant places.

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Alan Mallach Shares in Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst: Addressing the Aftermath of COVID-19

Download this short guide to jumpstart local and community conversations on how to address the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in America’s highest-need neighborhoods.

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