Community Allies works with community economic development organizations in neighborhoods and towns across North America to build the infrastructure needed for local economies where prosperity and opportunity are accessible for all. Community Allies' work is focused on building community health and resilience through local business ownership, deep community engagement, and a joyful sense of place. Community Allies works alongside non-profits, social enterprises, and community leaders to support and amplify their efforts. 

Along with our economic development consulting, Community Allies provides organizational development and leadership coaching to non-profits and social enterprises in order to deepen their impact. We're also fiercely committed to inclusion, teaching our clients our signature "Radical Inclusion" model to cultivate passionate and productive community engagement.


We bring together some of the best community development consultants in the field. Let us build a team to address your unique needs.

Vicki Pozzebon, Prospera Partners. As the founder of Delicious New Mexico and the award-winning Santa Fe Alliance, Vicki is a master at building local economy food systems and the infrastructure needed to support them, for greater prosperity for all. She is also a skilled facilitator, supporting the next generation of activists through her Emerging Social Sector Leaders program. Vicki's background includes arts administration, non-profit development, marketing, and public relations. Her book "For the Love of Local: Confessions from the Heart of Community" will be published in late 2016 by Storm Leaf Press. 

James Johnson-Piett, Urbane Development. James is an evangelist for a new kind of community development that emphasizes community anchor businesses and institutions as agents of change - solving local problems and elevating the quality of life for underserved communities. An expert in neighborhood scale development and the revitalization of urban and retail assets, James has designed and launched programs that take small business of all kinds to the next level.

Anthony Flaccavento, SCALE. Anthony is an organic farmer in the Appalachian region of Virginia who has been working on community environmental and economic development for over thirty years. His firm SCALE, Inc. works with community leaders, entrepreneurs and small farmers, foundations, economic developers around the world to catalyze and support ecologically healthy regional economies and food systems. His book "Building A Healthy Economy From The Bottom Up" was released in May, 2016.

Jessica Haynie, Three Stones Consulting and the creator of Mindful Fundraising™. Jessica's strong commitment to the social sector is reflected in a decade of experience working for organizations in a variety of fields, ranging from higher education to the performing arts to grassroots environmental conservation. She leads the Three Stones team of consultants in strategizing and implementing holistic organizational and resource development practices. 

Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona. Kimber is an entrepreneur and economic specialist who works to cultivate strong, vibrant communities and inspire a higher quality of life throughout Arizona. As the founder of Local First Arizona and owner of acclaimed independent record store Stinkweeds, Kimber works extensively with city and state policymakers to create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs of all sizes, and works to inform, educate, and motivate consumers to support local enterprises. She brings her powerful presence to her frequent public speaking engagements.

Recent Clients

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Ellen Shepard, CEO

Ellen is a seasoned strategist leveraging equitable economic development practices, community engagement, and strong community support organizations to build thriving neighborhoods and towns. Ellen is also a skilled facilitator, trained in Transformational Leadership and Art of Hosting techniques to convene critical group conversations and turn the results into actionable plans. She is the creator of the "Radical Inclusion" model of community engagement and the author of National Main Street's "Community Engagement for Main Street Transformation" guidebook.

For sixteen years, Ellen was the executive director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and Andersonville Development Corporation in Chicago. During her tenure, the Andersonville neighborhood revived and gained national acclaim for its thriving business district and its use of economic localization, place-making, and environmental sustainability as economic revitalization strategies. In 2015, Redfin named Andersonville the #7 hottest neighborhood in the country.

Under her leadership, the organizations expanded from one staff to six, more than tripled paid membership, and increased programmatic budgets by over 700%.  Ellen founded and managed the Andersonville Special Service Area (business improvement district) and the 501(c)3 Andersonville Development Corporation. 

Ellen occupies a unique niche of working on the ground in economic development as well as collaborating with regional and national thought leaders on economic policy issues.  For ten years, Ellen served on the board of directors of the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), and she was a member of the first cohort of BALLE Local Economy Fellows. She served on the City of Chicago’s Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Task Force and Retail Advisory Committee.

Ellen is on faculty at Roosevelt University's Masters of Arts in Community Development and Action program, teaching courses in community development, economic development, and the history and theory of urban planning.

Ellen is a regular speaker on the subjects of economic localization, community engagement, business association innovative practices, and environmental sustainability. Prior to Andersonville, Ellen was a PR and marketing consultant for organizations including the Chicago Department of Housing and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Her experience with small businesses began at the League of Chicago Theatres, where she provided technical assistance to arts organizations.