Our expert advisors
Our advisors represent some of the best and brightest in housing, innovation, capital markets strategy and policy. Companies selected to participate in the Housing Lab will get access to their 1x1 support, mentorship, and network connections.
Carol Galante, Faculty Director, Terner Center for housing innovation
Carol Galante is a Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Faculty Director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. Carol previously served in the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing Programs. Prior to her appointment at HUD, she served for over ten years as President and CEO of BRIDGE Housing Corporation.
Carol is a leading authority on innovation in the U.S. housing industry and has advised industrialized construction, financial innovation, and technology platform startups. Through the launch of the Housing Lab, she is focused on building a robust ecosystem to accelerate innovations to address the housing crisis.
Aaron Blumenthal, venture partner, 500 startups
Aaron leads 500 Startups’ San Francisco seed program and launches new 500 programs around the world. Previously he co-founded four different companies and has been a member of three founding teams, including one notable exit. He is an expert in startup growth strategy and online presence. At different points in his career, Aaron held the #1 SEO ranking for "car insurance" in Google, Yahoo! and Bing for 18 months, and he held the #1 position for casino games in iTunes App Store for 12 days. As a long-time San Francisco resident, he is eager to use his expertise to help scale companies addressing the housing crisis.
Alex Lofton, co-founder and Head of Growth, Landed
Alex co-founded Landed, a leading housing innovation company. Landed recently raised $7.5 million in Series A funding to scale their home financing product to increase access to homeownership for U.S. teachers. Prior to Landed, Alex worked as a member of Obama's field team in 2007 and 2008, managing hundreds of paid staff who organized thousands of volunteers. Alex then served as a Founding Regional Director of Obama for America until 2010. Alex has since served in leadership positions at numerous social enterprises and technology startups in D.C., London, and San Francisco. Alex got his start in real estate at developer Forest City, and he holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Alicia Glen, Former Deputy Mayor of NYC
Alicia Glen is a nationally-recognized expert in urban development, infrastructure finance, job creation, and housing policy. Additionally, she created and serves as the Chair of women.nyc.
As Deputy Mayor for New York City from 2014 to 2019, Alicia was responsible for growing and diversifying the City’s economy and creating a new generation of affordable housing. Her pro-business, pro-growth outlook included investing in emerging industries even as she continued to support traditional businesses. She championed the expansion of the arts, libraries and parks, and promoted new multi-modal transportation systems to keep New York City the global capital of commerce, culture and innovation. Prior to serving as mayor, Glen led the Urban Innovation Group (UIG) at Goldman Sachs.
Banks Benitez, Co-founder & CEO, Uncharted
Uncharted is a social impact accelerator based in Denver, Colorado. Since 2010, it has helped social entrepreneurs raise $252 million, create impact in 96 countries, and benefit 37 million lives around the world. As CEO, Banks Benitez is responsible for the organization’s strategy and long-term direction. A Denver native who joined Uncharted in the spring of 2012 as an unpaid intern, Banks has served in a variety of roles: leading entrepreneur selection, managing the mentor network, leading the expansion of the Institute around the world, managing the organization’s day-to-day operations and team. Prior to Uncharted, Banks had a few other jobs and graduated from just enough schooling to land the unpaid internship.
Biniam Gebre, Managing Director, Accenture Federal Services
Biniam Gebre leads AFS’s Management Consulting group, which works with Federal Government agencies to improve how they serve their missions. Prior to joining Accenture, Biniam was a Partner at Oliver Wyman (OW) where he lead OW’s work in mortgage and housing finance. His work included research and publishing several papers on the changing competitive dynamics of mortgage markets and the disruptive role of digital technologies.
Biniam was also Acting Assistant Secretary of Housing and Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in the Obama Administration. Prior to joining HUD, Biniam was a Partner with McKinsey & Co., where he was a Leader in the Public Sector and Banking and Securities Practices and designed and co-founded the McKinsey Center for Government.
Brad Blackwell, EVP Wells Fargo, Home ownership strategy and growth
Brad Blackwell has over 35 years of bank industry experience. Before recently retiring, Brad was an EVP at Wells Fargo Home Lending (WFHL), where he was responsible for leading a number of teams focused on advancing homeownership through the development of housing policy and strategies to implement and promote products and programs that fill gaps, at-scale, for customers and communities with specialized mortgage needs across the economic spectrum.
Prior to this, Brad led the Portfolio Lending group for WFHL to build industry leading portfolio capabilities by championing home equity products while also expanding Wells Fargo non-agency (jumbo) lending programs. Previously, he spent more than a decade as EVP of WFHL and jointly led the nation’s #1 retail mortgage production team.
MOlly Turner, Lecturer, Haas School of Business
Molly Turner is a leading expert on urban tech. She is a lecturer at the Berkeley Haas School of Business, where she teaches Tech and the City: How to Get Urban Innovation Right. She is also the co-host and co-producer of the podcast Technopolis from Atlantic Media and CityLab. Molly is deeply engaged in contemporary urban policy and tech issues through her advisory work with city leaders and startups and her service on the boards of SPUR, Tech Equity Collaborative, and urban tech accelerator Tumml.
Before teaching at Haas, Molly was an early employee of Airbnb, where she established the company’s public policy team in 2011. As the Global Head of Civic Partnerships, Molly directed Airbnb’s partnerships with governments around the world.
Ruby Bolaria-SHIFRIN, Manager, Chan ZuckerBerg Initiative
Ruby Bolaria-Shifrin manages the housing affordability program at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Prior to CZI, she worked in real estate development managing multifamily mixed income development projects in San Francisco for Fivepoint (formerly Lennar Urban) and has experience in commercial real estate at JLL. Ruby also worked internationally at the Housing Department in Johannesburg, South Africa where she managed an in-situ upgrading pilot project.
She started her career in environmental, public health, and social justice nonprofits as an organizer. She holds a BA in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from University of California, Los Angeles.