Our expert advisors bring real world experience to guide public bank projects to completion.

Public Banking Associates advisors provide guidance informed by decades of professional roles in banking and government finance operations.

The bankers, municipal finance experts, government executives, and political advisers on our team are among the very few individuals in the nation with actual experience addressing the specific issues presented by these new public banking initiatives.

Our collegium of experts have worked directly in the field and are able to identify key steps, assessments, and needs.


Dr. John Paul Comerford

Dr. John Paul Comerford

Managing Director, RetireCorp, SPC;
Former President and CEO, National Consumer Cooperative Bank

Dr. Comerford was a 2016 candidate for Washington State Treasurer, running on a platform of creating a state bank. John currently serves on the Washington Economic Finance Authority and Washington Public Employee Benefit Boards and has served as Treasurer and Trustee at The World Affairs Council, and as a member of the legislatively appointed task force to study a public bank for Washington State.

His business, RetireCorp, a Social Purpose Corporation, focuses its practice in the area of pensions and employee benefits. John pioneered the provision of U.S style pensions to employees of US businesses operating abroad as well as financial education for corporate employees, U.S. military members, and plan participants around the world.

John holds a doctorate from Virginia University, a historically black college and university (HSBC), researching the financial risk of public pensions and employee health benefit plans. Earlier, he received an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, an MSc from the University of London, and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Harvard University focused on international business and public policy.

Scott Baker’s book “America is Not Broke!” discusses the ways in which financial reporting has obscured the fiscal realities of America’s states and cities and what can be done to reclaim access to hidden public wealth. Scott has analyzed dozens of government CAFRs (Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports) to assist cities and states that are considering creation of public banks, and uses these figures as a matrix for projecting city public bank prospects.

He served as IT Manager for a major NY University and is a New York State coordinator for the Public Banking Institute. He received his B.A. with honors in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and is a former President of Common Ground-NYC.

Scott Baker

Scott Baker

Financial Analyst, Author, Managing Editor & Economics Editor, “Op-Ed News”;
Blogger for “Huffington Post,” “Daily Kos,” and “Global Economic Intersection”
Dr. Gary Flomenhoft

Dr. Gary Flomenhoft

Pioneered use of input-output analysis in public bank studies; Former Research Associate and Fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics

Dr. Flomenhoft’s report on the creation of a Vermont state bank formed the basis for 2014 legislation which allocated $35 million of state funds for local investment in the 10% for Vermont bill. It was the first appropriation in the continental US of government funds for a credit facility since the Bank of North Dakota in 1919.

Gary was a Research Associate and Fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont from 2002-2013, where his primary research was in public finance for the state of Vermont including green / environmental taxes, common wealth and common assets, subsidy reform, and public banking. Gary received his PhD in political-economy from the University of Queensland, Australia as a Research Scholar at the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI). He also holds a Master’s in Public Policy and Ecological Economics from the University of Maryland.

Policy innovation and legislative formulation have been hallmarks of Dan’s career in affordable housing and community development. Whether aiding senior officials at all levels of government, as a university-based researcher or as a consultant for nonprofit and business organizations, Dan’s work has focused on seemingly intractable problems requiring coordination of multiple, often seemingly disparate, “policy silos.” His problem-solving work has led to new money, new institutions and new relationships between and among public, private and nonprofit sectors.

At Rutgers University, Dan was Research Director at the American Affordable Housing Institute and member of the graduate school faculty where he co-authored books and articles that led the effort to establish modern employer- assisted housing programs resulting in new state and federal laws and new public and private sector housing finance strategies. As a consultant to the NJ Assembly’s Housing and Urban Policy Committee he helped draft legislation that became part of the Fair Housing Act, the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Act, the Urban Development Corporation Act, and the Prevention of Homelessness Act. As a member of the graduate faculty at the Univ. of Illinois, Dan led the university’s technical assistance program in E. St. Louis, one of the nation’s most distressed cities.

Dan Hoffman

Dan Hoffman

Former Research Director at the
American Affordable Housing Institute, Rutgers University;
Consultant, NJ Assembly Housing and Urban Policy Committee
David Jette

David Jette

COO/CFO, Innovent Capital Group;
Co-Founder, Public Bank LA, California Public Banking Alliance

David Jette is a business and technology executive and social finance advocate from Los Angeles. He helped to co-found Public Bank LA and the California Public Banking Alliance and is a speaker and volunteer organizer for economic justice and innovation efforts across the U.S. Separate from his advocacy, David has spent 12 years with Innovent Capital Group as COO/CFO and entrepreneur-in- residence, where he oversees, consults for and operates portfolio companies including pioneers in commercial and consumer lending, financial technology, and retail and consumer products.


Mark is an ecological economist, entrepreneur, professor, author and president of Anielski Management Inc. He is an adjunct professor of corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship at the University of Alberta (Canada) and a founding faculty member teaching sustainability economics at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute near Seattle, WA, the first MBA program dedicated to sustainable business practices and ethics. As an economic consultant to governments and businesses globally, Mark developed a financing adaptation for affordable housing aimed at mitigating the systemic conditions that perpetuate poverty and community decline. He won the Common Good Award for his “world leadership in challenging the dominant model of economics and rethinking its proper role for a new civilization.” His book The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth has won numerous awards.

Mark Anielski

Mark Anielski

Author, The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth;
Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta;
President, Anielski Management, Inc.
Dr. Deborah Figart

Dr. Deborah M. Figart

Distinguished Professor of Economics, Stockton University

Dr. Figart is the author or editor of 21 books/monographs and over 100 other publications. Her scholarship has focused on worker and economic well-being—issues such as discrimination, irregular work schedules and the gig economy, casino employment, emotional labor at work, minimum and living wage campaigns, the underbanked and financial literacy, student loans, and public banking initiatives. Her newest book is Stories of Progressive Institutional Change: Challenges to the Neoliberal Economy (Palgrave, 2017). She is active as an economic analyst in the campaigns for the proposed State Bank of New Jersey and a public bank in Philadelphia. In 2018, she authored a report titled “Exploring a Public Bank for New Jersey: Economic Impact and Implementation Issues” for the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. In service to the economics profession, Dr. Figart was President of the Association for Social Economics in 2006 and President of the Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE) in 2016.

Gwen has over 25 years experience working with municipal, regional, and state government in the US and globally. She has served as a City Manager, Regional Planning Director, Senior Planner for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy Resources, the Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and as an international specialist on sustainable community development, including work with the UN’s Environmental Program, the UN Development Program, the Institute for Sustainable Communities, the International City/County Management Association, the Academy for Educational Development, and Earth Charter International. Gwen received her M.A. in Public Policy from Brown University and served as Executive Director of the Public Banking Institute. She has been at the forefront of the movement for a publicly-owned Vermont State Bank, founded Vermonters for a New Economy, and co-authored Vermont Dollars, Vermont Sense with economist Michael Shuman.

Gwen Hallsmith

Gwendolyn Hallsmith

Founder and Executive Director, Global Community Initiatives (GCI)
Thomas Marois

Dr. Thomas Marois

Senior Research Fellow in Patient Finance and Public Banking, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose;
Research Associate, Municipal Services Project

Dr. Marois is a political economist, academic and policy advisor working globally on finance and development. He has generated landmark research on public financial institutions with a particular focus on sustainable development, just transitions, and essential public services. The author of several books on public financial institutions and multiple works in academic, policy, and popular forums, Thomas’ latest is titled Public Banks: Decarbonization, Financialization, and Democratization published by Cambridge University Press (2021). He is a Senior Research Fellow in Patient Finance and Public Banking at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose in London and a Research Associate at the Municipal Services Project in Canada. Thomas has advised on public financial institution options, policies, and structures worldwide, most recently with the Finnish Climate Fund, the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, Public Bank LA, and London’s Camden Council. He engages with several UN bodies and collaborates with civil society institutes including the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, the Democracy Collaborative, Washington, and Eurodad, Brussels. He is pleased to sit on the Advisory Board of the Public Banking Institute.

Walt is former Chair of the Public Banking Institute where he continues his leadership role as Senior Advisor. A pioneering national protagonist for public banking, Walt has travelled the country consulting and delivering public and media presentations about public banking to public officials, civic groups, industry and legislative leaders. He produces and hosts the radio program “It’s Our Money” and “The Public Bank Solution” TV programs. He founded and co-directs Banking On New Jersey, a statewide organization leading efforts to create a NJ State Bank, and was an Director of the PA Project. As a media strategist, journalist and on-air talent, Walt founded and was CEO of the Alliance for Public Broadcasting and helped create the first national media committee for the International Hunger Project. He’s held numerous leadership positions with other public interest issues including environmental protection and support of the arts.

Walt McRee

President, Public Banking Associates;
Co-Founder, Banking on New Jersey
Paul Pryde

Paul Pryde

Public Policy and Finance Consultant

Paul is a public policy and finance consultant specializing in solutions to the capital and credit problems of underserved businesses and communities. He organized one of the first securitized sales of small business loans using federal funds and has advised states and localities on the valuation and/or sale of over $100 million in economic and community development loans. More recently, he authored a feasibility report for the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund on securitization of community development loans and served as chief policy consultant for the U.S. Treasury Department’s $1.5 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative. Mr. Pryde has consulted numerous national policy development organizations and has authored several publications on markets, economic development and entrepreneurship, including Black Entrepreneurship in America, an examination of enterprise formation and economic progress in the African-American community. Mr. Pryde is a graduate of Howard University and has done post-graduate work at George Washington University.


Gerry is a seasoned financial services executive who has helped open over twenty de novo banks including America’s newest public bank, the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS). He has a long history of interacting with national and state banking regulators, has served as President/CEO of several banks as well as serving on multiple for-profit and non-profit boards. Gerry has also helped recruit and train numerous board members and executive management positions and mentored five individuals who went on to serve in President capacities. Involved in the origination and execution of multiple business plans, Gerry has a strong corporate governance background and recently completed his certification from the Director and Chief Risk Officer Institute (DCRO). He also served as a Managing Director for a national consulting firm, allowing him to observe and gather “best practices” for the industry.

Gerry Smith

Gerry J. Smith

Financial Services Executive;
Advisor, Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS)

Laura Bell McKinley

President, Newcastle Lending Group / Primrose Peak, Inc.;
Executive Management for 3 de novo banks

With over 30 years of community banking experience in providing financing for small, minority and disadvantaged businesses, Laura McKinley knows the unique challenges and opportunities that creating and operating a public interest bank provides. Laura was a member of Executive Management for three (3) de novo banks in Georgia, served as Controller of a $1 billion Regional Publicly Traded Holding Company and as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer for several banks. She also served as President and CEO of a Minority Credit Union where she helped them gain CDFI certification. This rich history of banking industry community service helped create her keen interest in public banking initiatives over the past 10 years. Laura is currently president of Newcastle Lending Group / Primrose Peak, Inc. a certified Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Disadvantaged Business Entity (DBE).

Curtis is a 20-year banking veteran and served as Senior VP with four of the top 25 domestic banks overseeing management for multiple branches in distinctly different markets focused on small businesses, retail banking, institutional trusts and commercial banking. As Senior Director of a major American city’s Commerce Department, Curtis addresses capital funding challenges for regional business development with a deep understanding of municipal needs, resources and realities. He is a noted lecturer across the country on the structural impairments in access to capital for marginalized communities, and is an adjunct professor at Temple University. Named one of “Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest” and among the top 50 Black MBAs in the country, Dr. Gregory has served on the Board Directors at Leadership Philadelphia, The American Diabetes Association, and The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advisory Board.

Curtis Gregory

Dr. Curtis J. Gregory

Adjunct Professor, Temple University;
Former Senior VP, domestic banks
Wayne Lau

Wayne Lau

Former Executive Director, Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (CDFI);
Co-Founder, Senior VP, community bank

Wayne is an experienced community banker and lender to under-served communities. As former Executive Director of the $27 Million Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (CDFI), he served a highly diverse market sector. Wayne helped form a community bank for which he served as Senior Vice president for 20 years. His service to the niche market of immigrant communities, businesses and real estate investors has provided Wayne valuable understanding of the credit needs, financial products and programs best suited for the these communities. He also has hands-on experience in bank start-ups and implementation of bank corporate policies and procedures, and has been recently active in consulting Native American tribes with formulation of their own banking institutions. Wayne has a B.A. in Economics from Occidental College and an MBA from University of Chicago, and is a frequent speaker on community economic development and the needs of immigrant business communities.

Dean has 33 years experience in On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) for banking, brokerage and large retail enterprises and was lead architect for construction of several widely-used transaction processing systems. His numerous technical achievements (visit caleb-ltd.com) and industry experience enables him to design and construct world-class banking IT infrastructures that establish robust, scalable, fault tolerant systems and networks that deliver 24/7 service availability, including disaster recovery. Dean is now working to apply block-chain technologies to the banking sector to help democratize debit and credit account transactions by enhancing community banking and mitigating big-card “middle men” domination in the card payment world. 

Dean Malone

Dean E. Malone

Financial IT Designer;
Blockchain Technical Advisor

Melissa Marquez

CEO, Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union

Melissa Marquez is Chief Executive Officer of Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union in Rochester, NY, a community development credit union & CDFI with $35 million in assets and 4200 members. She has worked as a CEO for 27 years and is Board President of City Roots Community Land Trust. Melissa is dedicated to community development interests and is on the Steering Committee of the NYS Community Equity Agenda Coalition. Her leadership brought Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union in as a founding member of the Rochester Public Banking Coalition, on which Melissa serves as a member of its steering committee. She has an Master of Science degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Santa Clara University. She has served on the Boards of Directors of Inclusiv, the Institute for Community Economics, Abundance Cooperative Market and OWN Rochester and has deep hands-on experience working in the field of grassroots cooperative economics for her entire career.

Vanessa is an economic justice professional and advocate with more than 25 years experience. Dedicated to opening access to capital for under-banked populations and underserved communities. Experienced national and international public speaker and trainer, financial education trainer, credit union development expert. Career highlights include 20 years in federal financial service including U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund, supporting community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and the National Credit Union Administration, providing consulting, training, and advocacy for small and low-income designated credit unions. Vanessa was profiled in Black Enterprise Magazine for developing family college savings account using mutual funds.

Vanessa developed Frankford $aves, Individual Development Account (IDA) training and matched savings program offered in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia, which included 8 weeks of financial education and guest speakers from IRS, Federal Reserve, local credit union, etc. She also developed the “Work-Saves,” interactive tool for Philadelphia TANF offices demonstrating change in real income for welfare recipients as they transition into the workforce. Vanessa hosts the Philadelphia Public Banking Coalition’s monthly public banking campaign forums.

Vanessa Lowe

Vanessa Lowe

Former U.S. Treasury CDFI Fund;
Former National Credit Union Association
Earl Staelin

Earl Staelin

Former Assistant City Attorney, Austin. TX

Earl is a Denver attorney who has researched CO state law and banking regulations to determine the legality of public banks both within the state and under Federal law. This work also addressed whether legislative accommodations might be required to secure that legality and to maximize the effectiveness and performance of a public bank. Earl has co-sponsored statewide public banking ballot initiatives and co-wrote preliminary public bank financial feasibility studies for cities and the state of CO. Originally counsel for several large corporations practicing antitrust and corporate law, Earl later became Executive Director of the Toledo Legal Aid and Public Defender Association as well as president of the Toledo Council on World Affairs. He served as an Assistant City Attorney for the city of Austin, TX and has focused on environmental and civil litigation. He holds degrees in history from Yale and law from the University of Michigan.

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