President and CEO, Living Cities
Thursday, April 29, 2021
John C. Williams
President & CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Chair, The Economic Club of New York
Ben Hecht is the President and CEO of Living Cities, a collaborative of 18 of the world's leading foundations and financial institutions who work together to boldly fight poverty in America's cities.
Under Ben's leadership, Living Cities has established a new data driven model of social justice that brings together local business, government, philanthropic and community leaders to disrupt long-obsolete systems and close the racial gaps in income and wealth that have been growing for more than forty years. The organization's $40 million loan fund has been selected as one of the world's top 50 impact investment funds for six consecutive years. Its network of local public sector leaders from more than forty cities are spreading and adopting a new culture of municipal innovation and re-imagining the relationship between government and citizens. More than 66,000 people follow the organization on Twitter; adding more than hundreds of new followers weekly.
Prior to joining Living Cities, Ben co-founded One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization focused on connecting low-income people to the economic mainstream through innovative, online content and increased broadband access. As President, from 2000-2007, Ben led the growth of the organization from four employees to a $12 million organization with 50+ staff, online media properties serving more than 150,000 low-income people a month, and programs in 40 states, the Middle East and Africa.
Immediately before One Economy, Ben was Senior Vice President at the Enterprise Foundation. There, he led the organization's efforts beyond housing – into childcare, workforce development, and economic development. He also oversaw the expansion of the organization's revolving loan fund from $30 million to $200 million.
Ben received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and his CPA from the State of Maryland. For 10 years, he taught at Georgetown University Law Center and built the premier housing and community development clinical program in the country. In 1997, he was awarded Georgetown's Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award.
He has written four books, Reclaiming the American Dream: Proven Solutions for Creating Economic Opportunity for All (Brookings Press, 2018), ManagingNonprofits.org (2001) with Rey Ramsey, Developing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations (3rd Edition, 2006) and Managing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Building Stable Communities (1996) with James Stockard, all published by John Wiley & Sons.
Ben is currently is Chairman of Duke University's Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Advisory Council, and has served on the U.S. Impact Investing Task Force to the G7, on the StriveTogether Advisory Council, and as Finance Committee chair and Treasurer for the Georgetown Day School (GDS) board of trustees. He has been selected as one of the Top 100 City Innovators Worldwide in the area of Urban Policy and as a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Fellow.