Mark Edwards Wants to Make a Difference in Philadelphia.

When people say that real estate is a local business, they could be talking about LISC. Officially known as the Local Initiatives Support Corp., the nationally thinking, locally acting nonprofit provides help and money to community development organizations across the country.

That's where Mark Edwards comes in. As program director for the Philadelphia LISC, he leads one of LISC's largest groups, overseeing affordable housing, commercial development, recreational opportunities, and more. Edwards, who started his new job in May, holds a bachelor's in political science from Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Q: What appealed to you about this job?

A: The ability to empower residents to effect changes in their own communities. Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role? A: We seek to increase Philadelphia LISC's role in advocacy and policy development in support of housing preservation, community revitalization, and support of community development corporations. We will [also] increase the participation and visibility of Philadelphia LISC.

Q: After the economy, what do you see as a significant challenge for the multifamily industry in the coming year?

A: Rising real-estate values across the country are attracting more and more private developers, and affordable housing is increasingly at risk.

Q: What are the big opportunities for multifamily firms?

Mark Edwards
Mark Edwards

A: Education, child-care industries, and partnerships with [nonprofits].

Q: What was your first job in the multifamily industry?

A: When I was the chief operating officer of Germantown Settlement [an agency that provides a variety of community services in northwest Philadelphia], one of our subsidiaries was responsible for building several senior citizen facilities. I supported the community development corporation in its work, and I felt a sense of gratification about making homes available for the elderly.

Q: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you about your career?

A: Be a lifelong learner.