Egypt Cecilia Brown – Founder

Egypt BrownCornell University, BA Anthropology (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum Laude in Anthropology, with Distinction in All Subjects) 1993
Princeton University, MPA Development 2006

Egypt grew up in and around Seattle. She was raised in a family of artists, activists, and musicians torn apart by America’s race war. The experience of this struggle informs both the practical and spiritual approaches of her life-work. CEC was inspired by: Egypt’s understanding of the deep inner work required to sustain social change, the desire to revitalize social justice work and to honor those who inspire with their courage, recognition of the heightened importance of healing and spiritual self-care for those driving social change, extensive experience creating and participating in successful cooperative living and work environments, belief in community-controlled development, and deep respect for local wisdom. Egypt’s creative outlets are poetry and prose, loving relationships, and continual self-discovery.

Eduardo Gomez

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BS Materials Science and Engineering (with Distinction) 1987
Eduardo was born in Harlem and grew up in Venezuela. He currently works as Web Manager of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), contributing in a small way to the empowerment of women worldwide. He is keenly interested in promoting community development and empowerment by providing tools that community members can use. Eduardo is the creator of Washington Heights & Inwood Online, a website whose mission is to encourage communication, empower local citizens, and build community; and, a directory of local artists in his community. He is also the webmaster and a long-time member of the Board of Directors of NaBors Apartments, the cooperative where he lives. Eduardo plans to complete a masters with a focus in community development in the near future.

Seema Thomas

University of Pennsylvania, Systems Science and Engineering, BS (Magna cum Laude) 1999
Harvard University, Urban Planning, MUP (with Distinction) 2005
Princeton University, MPA Development 2008

Seema was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in its surrounding suburbs. Prior to her development studies training, she immersed herself in housing issues on a professional and volunteer basis. In general, many East Coast cities had a tremendous influence on her interests, spending significant time in DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. At the Urban Institute, she studied residential transitions among the elderly, and later at Freddie Mac, her focus shifted to affordable housing. In India, Seema has worked on urban planning initiatives and key issues regarding migration. In Panama, she worked with college students interested in urban planning. Seema’s professional approach as an urban planner is distinguished by her conviction that the best planners for local development are the residents themselves.

Deborah Becher

University of Virginia, BA, Mathematics 1991
Princeton University, MA, Sociology (with Distinction) 2005
Princeton University, PhD Candidate, Sociology (expected June 2008)

Debbie Becher is currently completing her dissertation, “Valuing Property: Competing Interests in Eminent Domain for Urban Redevelopment in Philadelphia.” Before entering graduate school, Debbie worked for over a decade in Tucson, Arizona in community development with government, nonprofit, and for-profit entities. Most importantly for her involvement with CEC, Debbie has both assisted grass-roots community groups work toward future visions, and facilitated planning processes for non-profit boards. Debbie has dedicated her leisure time to activist work, playing with her young relatives, and hiking and communing with her neighbors.

Collectively, our Founding Group is fluent in spoken and written: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, and Malayalam.