Meet the Advisory Board!

Open Communities Alliance is pleased to announce its Advisory Board!

The OCA Advisory Board is comprised of highly respected national and state experts in the areas of poverty prevention, civil rights, housing, and education. Several members have deep roots in faith communities, communities of color, and networks of progressive thought and action in Connecticut.  These ties are critical to OCA as it moves forward with its mission of empowering an urban-suburban interracial coalition advocating for access to opportunity for all people in Connecticut. 

As OCA works to support our partners focused on generating opportunity in areas that are under-resourced, the Advisory Board will support our particular focus of ensuring that affordable housing opportunities, disproportionately needed by families of color, are simultaneously created in higher opportunity communities.

Please join us in welcoming our Advisory Board!


John Brittain: John C. Brittain joined the faculty of the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, in 2009, as a tenured professor of law. He had previously served as Dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of law at Texas Southern University in Houston, as a tenured law professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law for twenty-two years, and as Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C., a public interest law organization founded by President John F. Kennedy to enlist private lawyers in taking pro bono cases in civil rights. Professor Brittain writes and litigates on issues in civil and human rights, especially in education law. In 2013, he was named to the Charles Hamilton Houston Chair at North Carolina Central University School of Law, established to bring prominent civil rights law professors and litigators to the law school to teach constitutional and civil rights law for a year. Professor Brittain was one of the original counsel team in Sheff v. O’Neill, the landmark school desegregation case decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 1996.


William J. Cibes, Jr.: Cibes is Chancellor Emeritus of the Connecticut State University System. He was formerly Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management in the administration of Governor Lowell P. Weicker. While professor of government at Connecticut College (1969-1991), Cibes was also a member of the CT General Assembly (1979-1991), serving in different terms as Deputy Speaker and House Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding. He is currently Chair of the steering committee of HOMEConnecticut, a project of the Partnership for Strong Communities, Co-President of the Connecticut News Project (publisher of The Connecticut Mirror), and Co-Chair of the property tax working group (supporting property tax relief and reform) of 1000 Friends of Connecticut.


Jack Dougherty: Jack Dougherty is an Associate Professor of Educational Studies at Trinity College. Jack Dougherty and his students explore the history and policy of cities, suburbs, and schools, using digital tools to create data visualizations and to share their writing on the public web. He received his B.A. in philosophy from Swarthmore College, taught high school social studies in Newark, New Jersey, then earned his Ph.D. in educational policy studies, with a minor in U.S. history, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Peter Edelman: Peter Edelman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law and poverty law and is faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. On the faculty since 1982, he has also served in all three branches of government.  During President Clinton's first term he was Counselor to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and then Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Professor Edelman has been Associate Dean of the Law Center, Director of the New York State Division for Youth, and Vice President of the University of Massachusetts. He was a Legislative Assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and was Issues Director for Senator Edward Kennedy's Presidential campaign in 1980. Earlier, he was a Law Clerk to Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg and before that to Judge Henry J. Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Justice as Special Assistant to Assistant Attorney General John Douglas.


James Forman: James Forman Jr. is a Clinical Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney at Yale Law School. He is a graduate of Atlanta’s Roosevelt High School, Brown University, and Yale Law School, and was a law clerk for Judge William Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the United States Supreme Court. Professor Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. His particular interests are schools, prisons, and police, and those institutions’ race and class dimensions. With the support of the Open Society Foundations, Professor Forman is currently writing a book about African-American attitudes towards crime and punishment in the age of mass incarceration.


Shelley Geballe: Ms. Geballe is a Clinical Lecturer at Yale Law School where she co-teaches the Legislative Advocacy Clinic and a Clinical Professor of Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health where she teaches Public Health Law, Health Disparities, and directs the Health Policy Practicum. She is also the co-founder and Co-President of the Connecticut News Project (publisher of The Connecticut Mirror). In 1995, she co-founded CT Voices for Children and then served as its President until October 2008. Her early career was at the ACLU of Connecticut, where she served from 1981-1992 as a Staff Attorney and the Associate Legal Director. Attorney Geballe received her law degree from Yale Law School (1976) and her public health degree from Yale Medical School (1995).


Subira Gordon: Subira Gordon is the legislative analyst for the African American Affairs Commission.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bates College in History and a master’s degree from New England College in Public Policy. As the legislative analyst Subira has lead the commission’s policy initiatives and successfully introduced and passed bills that are beneficial to the African American community in the state. Her focus has been on education, housing criminal justice and economic development. Prior to moving to the commission, Subira worked as a policy analyst for the House Democratic Caucus of the Connecticut General Assembly. There she monitored legislation related to seniors, housing, labor and economic development. She prepared news releases and memoranda, talking points and resource materials for legislators. Ms. Gordon also served as committee clerk for the Human Service Committee. Subira managed political campaigns, and recruited and trained volunteers how to effectively interact with voters. She also worked on developing childcare, home care and health care policy.


Bonita Grubbs: Reverend Bonita Grubbs has served as Executive Director of Christian Community Action, Inc. since December 1988. Ms. Grubbs received her Masters of Arts in Religion from Yale University Divinity School in 1984 and her Masters of Public Health from Yale University’s School of Medicine in 1985. Her present board and voluntary involvements include: Columnist, New Haven Register; board member of CT Voices for Children; Community Economic Development Fund and Project Access- New Haven. In 2015, she was appointed Deputy Chaplain of the CT State Senate. In 2001, Rev. Grubbs received an Honorary Degree from Albertus Magnus College in Humane Letters. In 2013, she and Richard Levin, former president of Yale University of the New Haven Register’s Person of the Year person of the year award. 


Peter Kelly: Peter G. Kelly is a founder and senior principal of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy P.C. Over the years, Mr. Kelly has served on over three dozen civic boards, local, national and international.  Currently, he is a member of the Board of Directors of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center and St. Francis Care, Inc. He is Director and Past Chairman of MetroHartford Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chairman of St. Francis Hospital Foundation, Immediate Past Chairman of the World Affairs Council of Connecticut, a Founder and Chairman of Malta House of Care Foundation, Inc. (funding free primary health care to the uninsured of Central Connecticut), Trustee of CNA (formerly known as The Center for Naval Analyses) and Director of the Phillips Screw Company. Mr. Kelly received his J.D. from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, his B.S., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In 2003, Mr. Kelly received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Central Connecticut State University.


Makaela Kingsley: Makaela Kingsley is the Director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneuership at Wesleyan University. Makaela (Steinberg) Kingsley graduated from Wesleyan in 1998 with a degree in Neuroscience & Behavior. After a brief stint doing public relations for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, she returned to Wesleyan, in 2000, to join the Alumni & Parent Relations team, before becoming the Director of the Patricelli Center in 2013. She has served on boards for Middletown’s North End Action Team, the Neighborhood Preschool, and the Wesleyan Alumni Association, and she has been a judge for the Echoing Green Fellowship and a mentor for Startup Weekend. Currently residing in Hamden, she still considers Middletown and New Haven two of her home cities.


Estela López: Estela R. López is the interim provost and senior vice president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. Prior to her current appointment, she served as senior associate at Excelencia in Education, a non-profit organization committed to accelerating Latino student success. She is the former vice chancellor of academic affairs for the Connecticut State University System. She served in that capacity from 2002 to 2007. From 1997 to 2002, Ms. López was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). Prior to joining NEIU, Ms. López served as a senior associate at the American Association for Higher Education and as a senior fellow at the American Council on Education while on a year-long sabbatical. Ms. López is a board member of the Connecticut State Board of Education, and a past president of the board of the Fund for Greater Hartford Foundation. In addition, she serves on the board of United Way of Connecticut, Bay Path University, and the Latino Endowment Fund of the Hartford Foundation. 

 Myron_Orfield.jpg   Myron Orfield: Professor Myron Orfield is the Director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School. He has written three books and dozens of articles and book chapters on local government law, spatial inequality, fair housing, school desegregation, charter schools, state and local taxation and finance, and land use law. The syndicated columnist Neal Peirce called him "the most influential demographer in America's burgeoning regional movement." Orfield's research has led to legislative and judicial reforms at the federal level and state level reform in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and Maryland. Recently, Professor Orfield served on the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, as an academic advisor to the Congressional Black Caucus, an advisor to President Obama's transition team for urban policy, to the White House Office of Urban Affairs, and as special consultant to the HUD's Office for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.


Orlando J. Rodriguez: Orlando is an Associate Commission Analyst with the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs (LPRAC) Commission of the State of Connecticut where he researches and promotes the adoption of laws that benefit Hispanics in Connecticut. He has been analyzing Connecticut’s socioeconomics since 2002 starting at UConn's Center for Population Research and then as a Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children. He has researched housing, income and poverty, demographics, and K-12 education finance in Connecticut. In 2008, he conducted a study on the demographics of the jury pool for the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. Orlando testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding racial profiling in Connecticut and was LPRAC’s representative on the Advisory Board of Connecticut’s Racial Profiling Prohibition Project. He was also a co‑chair of the legislature’s task force to study impediments to fair housing choice. He is the author of Vote Thieves: Illegal Immigration, Redistricting, and Presidential Elections. Orlando received a B.S. in Geology from Louisiana State University and an M.A. in Geography from Ohio State University. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador many years ago. 


  • Open Communities Alliance
  • 75 Charter Oak Avenue
  • Suite 1-200
  • Hartford, CT 06106
  • Phone: 860-610-6040