Community Building Institute

After many years of dedicated leadership in the Community Building Institute (CBI), Liz Blume and Emma Shirey-McNamara have left Xavier to form a new venture.  

The CBI was created as a partnership between Xavier University and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati in 1995 with the support of several fellows of the Asset Based Community Development Institute. Since its founding, hundreds of people have been trained on the principals of asset-based community building. CBI has worked with almost all 52 of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods, many of the 49 jurisdictions in Hamilton County, and dozens of other communities in the region. CBI’s recent work reflects collective insights gained from communities over two decades on the issues of poverty, affordable housing, transportation, and education. Liz has been a part of this work since 2003 and Emma joined the team in 2014. For many of our community neighbors, Liz and Emma have been the friendly face of Xavier.

While sorry for the loss of the extensive expertise Liz and Emma bring to community building, Xavier University continues to be deeply committed to engagement with its neighbors surrounding the University and throughout the region. As described in our University Strategic Plan, Xavier prioritizes enhancing partnerships across our local communities, advancing the greater good in support of the shared goals of our partners. We will enter a planning phase in January 2023 to transition from the Community Building Institute to a new structure enabling connection and partnerships.

Until our transition is complete and staffing in place, Gary Lewandowski (, Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Sean Rhiney (, Government Relations Director are happy to work with community members.