Southern California Headquarters
Charmaine Atherton, Senior Vice President, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Community Development Banking – With a geographic reach from Fresno to the Mexican border, Community Development Banking is dedicated to lending and investing in low and moderate-income communities with a focus on increasing the supply of affordable housing for renters and homeowners, supporting small businesses, and promoting economic development in distressed and underserved communities. Charmaine brings thirty-four years of real estate and finance experience to the task, with the last twenty years focused on affordable housing and economic development. Prior to joining Bank of America in 2002, Charmaine held such divergent roles as portfolio manager for a national syndication firm, asset manager for a regional developer, commercial mortgage banker for a regional business bank, community development lending officer for both a regional and a national bank, director of finance for a national tax credit syndication firm’s development arm, and housing director for a local non-profit development corporation. Charmaine is a past chair of the loan committee of the California Community Reinvestment Corporation, and Past President of the Board of the Los Angeles Conservancy. In addition to serving on the Board of EngAGE, she also serves on the Executive Committee of the Central City Association and the Advisory Council of the Urban Land Institute’s Los Angeles District Council, where she chairs their Women’s Leadership Initiative.
Dr. Gregory M. Berkoff, La Jolla Village Family Medical Group – Dr. Berkoff attended the State University of New York at Albany, graduating in 1984 with degrees in English, History, and Human Biology. He attended the National College of Chiropractic (now National University of Health Sciences), graduating in 1988 with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. He subsequently had advanced training in neurology and clinical nutrition. He began his professional career at the Neurologic Centre for Headache and Pain, in La Jolla, CA, in 1989, then worked at Sharp Memorial Hospital in the pain clinic (1992-1993). He then joined La Jolla Village Family Medical group where he has worked for the last 23 years. He has published academic and clinical research papers in peer-reviewed medical journals, is the co-author of a textbook on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal pain, and is on the Board of the Hubbard Foundation for research on the diagosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis. For the last 10 years, the central focus of his clinical practice has been the integration of nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management into a coherent health strategy.
Bill Cavanaugh, Real Estate Developer and Philanthropist – Bill holds a Bachelor’s degree in Health Systems Management from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration from National University. In 2016, he completed the Cause Selling program at the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. Bill worked for years in Hospital Administration before starting MedCare Advantage, a nationwide hospital network and insurance brokerage for Medicare Select supplemental insurance, with annual sales of over $60 million. He ultimately sold this company to pursue his passion for real estate development. For the past 20+ years he has been involved with the development of single family homes, affordable housing apartments, student housings apartments, land entitlement, and commercial buildings. In 2006, he was one of the founding principals of USModular Inc., a full service design /build general contracting company that utilizes prefabricated construction to build projects. Those projects have ranged in value from $150,000 to $20 million, and include single family homes, multi-family complexes, homeless shelters, and apartments. Bill’s background in Healthcare Administration, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, real estate development and philanthropy gives him a unique perspective on senior issues and housing.
John Fugo, President of Montgomery Carolina, LLC, a real estate development, leasing, and property management company – John is the Broker in Charge of all operations of real estate developments. He develops and builds multi-family projects in various areas of North Carolina and is moving into other areas of the Eastern United States. John has developed buildings for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Syracuse University, and is currently working with Duke University on a senior living apartment project with EngAGE. He has 32 years of experience in the industry, with 27 years as Vice President and Director of Construction for Montgomery Development. In this role, John maintains total responsibility for all construction activities, Project Managers, and Superintendents, as well as having overall profit responsibility for all projects. He directs day-to-day construction operations for retail, office buildings, restaurants, interior fit-ups, and mixed use developments such as Southern Village Town Center in Chapel Hill, NC, Westpoint at 751 in Durham, NC, as well as Briar Chapel Commercial Center in Chatham County, NC, currently under construction.
Sylvia Kaplan, Community/Political Activist and Fundraiser – Sylvia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, a Master’s Degree in American Studies, and a Master of Social Work Degree, all from the University of Minnesota. She has had a varied career, having been a newspaper reporter and columnist; an instructor in American Studies and Composition at the University of Minnesota; and a clinical social worker. She also has been in the restaurant business, first as a partner in and then sole owner of The New French Café in Minneapolis. Currently, she is the owner of the Minneapolis restaurant, Bar Abilene. Along with her husband, Sam Kaplan, founding partner in the law firm of Strangis, Kaplan & Kaplan, Sylvia has nurtured and supported a host of Democratic candidates by hosting well over 100 in-home fundraisers that have drawn celebrities such as Martin Sheen, Larry David, and John Hamm. Sylvia is on the Board of Directors of Growth and Justice (a progressive think tank that focuses on economics), Hennepin Theatre Trust, and the Program Committee of the Minneapolis Club. She is a member of the University of Minnesota Regents Advisory Selection Committee.
Melissa Lanfre, Chief Operating Officer, Farmers & Merchants Bank of Long Beach – Chair of the EngAGE Board – Melissa Lanfre has more than 30 years of experience in Southern California community banking, overseeing financial, operational, and administrative responsibilities, while also administering de novo activities, and mergers and acquisitions. Currently, Ms. Lanfre serves as Farmers & Merchants Bank of Long Beach’s (“F&M”) Chief Operating Officer where she oversees the daily operations that support the Bank’s 23 community banking offices in Los Angeles and Orange County. Melissa plays an instrumental role in F&M’s longstanding commitment to providing the highest levels of service and integrity, while cultivating longstanding relationships with customers, built on trust. Ms. Lanfre has a BS in Business Administration and an MS in Accounting from California State University Northridge.
Anthony E. Polk, Journalist/Entrepreneur – Mr. Polk most recently served in the Seattle area as President of Electronic Evidence Discovery, which he built and sold to a private equity firm in 2005. He worked as a reporter for newspapers in Clearwater, Flint, and Denver, and for the Associated Press in Atlanta. He was a speechwriter for the president of Navajo Community College while living on the Navajo reservation and for Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) during his 1984 presidential campaign. Mr. Polk authored the book Gunning for Justice (Doubleday, 1984) with Wyoming lawyer Gerry Spence, and has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other publications. He founded a marketing and public relations business in Los Angeles, running the public relations operation of Joseph Alioto’s campaign for US Senate in California, campaigns for several charter schools, and a campaign on behalf of a class of service station owners litigating against their parent oil company.
Philip Starr, Partner, Ervin, Cohen & Jessup – Mr. Starr is a partner at the Beverly Hills law firm of Ervin, Cohen & Jessup LLP, where he is a member of the firm’s Real Estate and Taxation Departments. He received his JD from UCLA, where he was Judicial Extern to the Honorable Stephen R. Reinhardt, Circuit Court Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. Mr. Starr is a frequent author and lecturer on real estate acquisitions, leasing and financing transactions, low-income housing tax credits, and general business law. He has been a panelist for California Continuing Education for the State Bar of California and is a member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, a board member of the Westside YMCA, and founding member of the California Affordable Housing Forum (CAHF).
Robert Wang, MD, PhD, Geriatric Physician – Dr. Wang has more than 20 years of experience as a specialist in geriatric medicine. He is board certified in Internal Medicine with a certificate in Geriatrics. He received his medical degree from the University of Miami and did residencies at UCLA and the Veterans Administration. Dr. Wang has a private medical practice in Los Angeles specializing in consultative and primary care, with a concentration in treating geriatric patients. He is an Assistant Professor and Clinical Geriatrics Training Director at UCLA’s School of Medicine and is a member in good standing with the American Medical Association, the American Geriatrics Society, and the American College of Physicians.
Keren Brown Wilson, President, Jessie F. Richardson Foundation – Dr. Wilson has over 30 years experience in long-term care and supportive housing. She was the principal architect of the Oregon model of assisted living and worked with policymakers in other states looking to replicate it. She founded three assisted living companies, providing development and management services to over 200 projects in numerous states with a focus on the poor and very poor. She has a broad range of academic and professional expertise, including regulatory analysis, day-to-day operations, and policy development. She has knowledge of both for profit and nonprofit assisted living and has worked with numerous funding sources that include Medicaid, tax credit, state revenue bonds, HUD, and community re-development programs. Keren is a recognized expert on risk and liability management. Her doctorate degree in Urban Studies is from Portland State University. Keren holds an Adjunct Professor position with Portland State University’s Institute on Aging. She has served as an advisor to numerous states, the Pan American Health Organization, Canada, and China on housing, assisted living, and long term-care. Currently, Keren is President of the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation, a charitable organization working on housing and service issues for very low income and hard-to-serve elders in both the United States and Central America. She also serves on several local and national boards.