Community Building Institute


Liz Blume

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 today 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.


Emma Shirey-McNamara

Community Building Associate | 513.745.3935

Emma joined the CBI team in 2014, and over the past six 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.