Community Building Institute


Executive Director | 513.745.3332

Liz Blume is the Director of the Community Building Institute (CBI) at Xavier University. CBI is a partnership between Xavier University and the United Way. Liz has built her career blending community organizing principles with community planning processes. She is a planning professional with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Liz had led multiple city, county, and neighborhood planning processes, always with the voice of the community at the heart, and with an asset based lens. Liz has led research efforts on important issues facing many metropolitan areas todayincluding affordable housing, urban education, land use, community and economic development, equity and community engagement. Liz has collaborated with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, LISC Greater Cincinnati, and other partners in seven Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky neighborhoods on Place Matters, Cincinnati's version of a comprehensive community investment strategy. CBI has created quality of life plans, supported community organizing, coached community organizations, and been the lead evaluator for the Place Matters initiative for more than ten years. This important work has changed the way the Cincinnati region does community development.

Liz is the Co-Director of a Master's program in Urban Sustainability and Resilience at Xavier University. This interdisciplinary program combines principles from public policy, planning, and business to help students prepare for careers in environmental sustainability and resilience. Liz's work in this program is a natural outgrowth of her years of experience in urban settings in southwest Ohio. She has also served as the Planning Director in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and worked as a planning consultant throughout the Midwest.

Over her career, she has come to understand the systems at play in urban environments that produce just and sustainable outcomes for people and the communities they live in, and she also understands the systems that create poor outcomes that destroy community. Through her own work at CBI and her teaching at Xavier University, Liz is working to create more productive, sustainable, thriving urban communities that support the people who live in them. Liz is a frequent speaker on topics including, housing, community development, urban education, community organizing and engagement, and planning and public policy.

Associate Director | 513.745.3316

Valerie has worked throughout Ohio to improve neighborhoods and communities by blending professional planning skills and community engagement with an asset-based focus for more than 13 years. She has worked in non-profit, public, and private planning in the Cincinnati and Cleveland regions. Valerie has led neighborhood plans, strategic planning and visioning, data intensive community assessments to address poverty, a youth gap analysis based on survey and interview analysis, evaluation of comprehensive community development and creative placemaking efforts, and capacity building for residents and non-profit organizations. In partnership with residents and stakeholders, Valerie has facilitated and led large and small planning efforts throughout the region from Clermont County's Agenda for the Future, to Dearborn County's Big Ideas implementation strategy, to the West End Speaks quality-of-life plan.

Valerie works with communities to shape a project's scope and approach. There is no one-fits-all solution to her planning work. In each project, she works with residents and stakeholders to shape the resulting planning process and outcomes to ensure that work is locally relevant, meaningful, and ultimately, sustainable.

Before joining CBI, Valerie worked as a City Planner with the City of Cincinnati Department of City Planning and Buildings from 2008 - 2010. From 2004 - 2007 she worked at a small private consulting firm in Northeast Ohio and Southwest Ohio. Valerie has a Master of Regional Planning and Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University. Valerie lives in East Walnut Hills and serves on the community council's board.

Senior Consultant | 513.745.1016

Chris has spent over a decade as an urban planner with the Community Building Institute (CBI). His professional experience covers a wide range of areas including program management, neighborhood planning and consulting, creative place-making, planning design, community organizing and neighborhood asset-mapping. Currently Chris is the program manager for King Studios whose goal is to energize and expose the one-of-a-kind legacy of King Records in Cincinnati.

Schadler has decades of experience in the Cincinnati music scene as a songwriter and musician, observer and fanatic, promoter, hustler and rock 'n roll industrialist. He spent 13 years (between 1995-2008) building the Southgate House from a small neighborhood bar in Newport, KY to an internationally recognized and acclaimed music venue that hosted over 250 events in 2007. In that same year City Beat listed him among the Top 20 most influential people in Cincinnati's arts and music community. In 2008 Schadler conspired with some friends to start MOTR PUB, a live music venue in Over-The-Rhine that was voted Best Rock Club by Cincinnati Magazine in 2012. This same crew opened the Woodward Theater in OTR in 2014. He is also the creator of the annual Northside Rock 'N Roll Carnival, an event going on its 13th year in 2018.

Chris has a Master of Community Planning from the School of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning at the University of Cincinnati; a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Northern Kentucky University; and a bronze star for survival from Newport High's School of Hard Knocks.

Community Building Associate | 513.745.3935

Emma joined the CBI team in 2014, and over the past three years has worked in a community organizing capacity to support neighborhood-led initiatives, resident leadership development, and neighborhood plan implementation. In her role, Emma supports CBI's community engagement efforts, training implementation, project-based research and evaluation. She supported CBI on the research design and implementation of Phases II and III of the Cincinnati Youth Gap Analysis completed for the Youth Commission of Cincinnati. Emma is an AmeriCorps alum from the Public Allies Cincinnati Class of 2015. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology-Anthropology from Denison University.