Investing in People, Strengthening Communities

Board Members

CAAB's Board of Directors

Chair:                 Robert Burns
Vice-Chair:         Iyon Johnson
Secretary:          Sheida Elmi
Treasurer:          William (Bill) Spinnell

Robert Burns

Chair of the Board of Directors

Robert Burns has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, community development, and state and local affairs. Robert currently serves as Senior Vice President in the Greater Washington market for Citi Community Relations where he leads Citi’s commitment to achieving financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities. As the Greater Washington Market Manager, Robert oversees community development activities with nonprofit and public agencies across DC, Maryland and Virginia to expand access to financial products and services, create sustainable business solutions and build more inclusive cities to improve opportunity for all – including those in low and moderate income neighborhoods and communities of color. 

Previously, Robert served as Executive Director for City First Enterprises and Homes, a CDFI and affordable housing organization in Washington, DC. Robert also served as Director of Field Operations for NeighborWorks America in its Washington, DC headquarters where he supervised five regional offices across the country and provided resources, training and technical assistance to the NeighborWorks Network.  He also helped create and led the local government solutions division for the national non-profit IBTS.

He serves on the Board of the Grounded Solutions Network, as Vice President for the Alexandria Housing Corporation Board of Directors, Board member of Washington Regional Area Grantmakers and on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Community Development Corporation. For the past four years, Robert has taught community development and housing courses for Virginia Tech University.

Robert received his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Kansas and his Bachelors degree in Political Science from Appalachian State University.   

Lee Davenport

Past Chair of the Board of Directors

Lee Davenport is Director of Community Development at US Ignite. He works across the nonprofit, private and municipal sectors promoting the smart city movement to pursue social and economic opportunity. Lee helps communities manage the network infrastructure and application development challenges of their smart city initiatives, while also connecting communities to funding resources and critical operational expertise. He has expertise in program design, multi-partner program development, communications, implementation, and evaluation strategies. Lee has served as Vice President, Programs at One Economy Corporation, leading a national effort for digital literacy and broadband adoption, and managed the nation’s largest free low-income tax preparation network at the Food Bank of New York City. 

Lee has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Science in Urban Policy/Nonprofit Management from the New School for Public Engagement in New York City.   

Sheida Elmi

Secretary of the Board of Directors

Sheida Elmi is the Research Program Manager at the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program (FSP). Sheida manages FSP’s Consumer Insights Collaborative, an effort across nine nonprofits to collectively understand and amplify data about the financial lives of low- and moderate-income households. She is currently supporting research efforts related to cash infusions and basic income, liquid savings, employer-sponsored and portable benefits, and other projects connecting short- and long-term financial stability and security. Before joining Aspen, Sheida was an Associate Manager with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Financial Security and Mobility project. There, she led quantitative analyses, in-depth interviews, and focus groups to explore how families fare across different measures of financial health and synthesized the findings for a variety of audiences, including the public and policymakers. Before that, she was a research analyst at MEF Associates, where she helped evaluate federal programs aimed at promoting economic security through education, matched-savings accounts, and employment and training programs.

Sheida has a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies from Northwestern University.

Iyon Johnson 

Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors  

Iyon Johnson is a Vocational Development Specialist at the DC Department of Human Services. Over the past 7 years, Iyon has worn many hats while working for DHS such as Case Manager for homeless families, Case Manager for families residing in subsidized housing, and, Assessment Specialist. She currently provides services for families in need of permanent housing.

Iyon has a unique place with DHS and at CAAB as she was once a beneficiary of their services. Through hard work and dedication, she obtained her MA in Counseling in 2013 from Trinity University and with the help of CAAB’s Matched Savings Program, in 2017 Iyon purchased her first home in Southeast, Washington, DC.

Iyon is very committed to helping families and individuals come out of poverty by providing great resources, moral and spiritual support, and most of all her time to hear what is important to them. Iyon is very passionate about serving others and hopes that being a Board Member for CAAB will allow her many more opportunities to help families thrive. 

Robert Kirkland II

Robert Kirkland II is currently a a Sr. Home Lending Advisor for JPMorgan Chase & Co., where he is supporting the firm’s local expansion into the DC Metropolitan Region. He has over 14 years of experience in residential mortgage lending. Since joining the firm, he has been tasked to help expand its low to moderate lending activities and community outreach. As part of the initial expansion, he will be supporting the Retail Bank Branches located in Wards 7 and 8 in the District of Columbia.  

Robert received his Bachelors of Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Towson University. Since graduating from Towson University, he has spent his entire professional career servicing clients through mortgage lending. Robert is passionate about financial wellness, particularly for young adults, and he strives to educate and encourage them to wealth through home ownership. Over the years, Robert has helped hundreds of new home buyers realize their dreams of owning a home and takes pride in guiding individuals at all stages through the home buying process with honesty and integrity. 

Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz

CAAB's CEO & Executive Director  

Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz is the CEO & Executive Director of Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB). He is an Asset Building, Financial Capability and Financial Services professional with over 20 years of experience in a broad spectrum of executive management, strategic planning, program & project management, team management, business development and investment strategy & portfolio management in 1) the Asset Building field working with Non-Profit Organizations, Small Business Entrepreneurs and Low- and Moderate-Income Families, and 2) the Wealth Management and Investment Management fields servicing Wealth Management Firms, High-Net-Worth Individuals & Families, Endowments, Foundations and Retirement Plans. Joseph was previously CAAB's Acting Executive Director, Deputy Director and Director of External Relations.

At CAAB, Joseph oversees CAAB’s management, strategic planning implementation, and relationships with key funding supporters, private sector employers, media organizations, elected officials in Washington, DC and the Washington metropolitan region.   

Prior to joining CAAB, for over 2 ½ years Joseph was Managing Director of Investment Operations & Portfolio Management at McLean Asset Management, a wealth management firm in McLean, Virginia. Before that position, for over 8 ½ years Joseph was Vice President of Client Services & Managed Accounts at Advisor Partners, LLC, an institutional money management firm in San Francisco, California. His first job was with the San Francisco, California-based global investment management firm Dresdner RCM Global Investors where he worked with corporate retirement and pension plans throughout the US. 

Joseph is a guest speaker and analyst on personal financial planning, tax planning, tax credits for low- and moderate-income families, asset building and other socio-economic matters. Recently he has been interviewed by or quoted in English and Spanish in The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, NPR Marketplace, Bloomberg, PBS's American Graduate Day, NPR News' All Things Considered, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, Comcast's Newsmakers, WAMU 88.5 FM, The Right Side with Armstrong Williams, SiriusXM Urban View, NewsChannel 8's Hispanic Agenda, La Opinion, El Diario La Prensa, CBS Radio-WZLZ, Telemundo's Agenda,, Pacifica Radio Network-WPFW, El Tiempo Latino, El Pregonero, H.U.R. Voices on SiriusXM, WHUT's Vocal Point, DC Radio-96.3FM, WERA Radio Arlington, Street Sense, AFRO, The Washington Informer, East of the River Magazine, Washington Hispanic, Telemundo-Washington, Radio America-WACA, La Nueva-WDCN, Guadalupe Radio Network-WMET and Howard University Radio-WHUR. 

Joseph holds a BA in International Relations from San Francisco State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at American University. Joseph is also a proud graduate of the Leadership Greater Washington's Rising Leaders Program (2015), Center for Nonprofit Advancement's Executive Preparation Institute (2017), Georgetown University's Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program, and Boston College's Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership (2019).

Joseph is also involved with supporting non-profit organizations in the Washington metropolitan region: providing pro bono financial planning classes with Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF) and Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) and having served from 2014-2017 in the Board of Directors of Dream Project, Inc. Previously, Joseph has been a Member of the Investment Committee of The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, Strategy Advisor to the Executive Director of the Hispanic Committee of Virginia and intern for the United National High Commissioner for Refugees in Ankara, Turkey and Flughafen Frankfurt/Main AG in Frankfurt, Germany. 

Joseph lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and their two children.

William (Bill) Spinnell  

Treasurer of the Board of Directors 

Bill Spinnell is a Treasury Solutions Officer in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Specialized Industries group.  He is responsible for the delivery of treasury management and revenue cycle solutions focusing on clients in the healthcare, higher education and not-for-profit industries in the Washington, DC and Central Virginia markets. Bill has a proven track record in customizing solutions to meet the client’s needs.  Bill has been with Bank of America since 2004. Prior to joining the bank, Bill started his professional career with Nestlé, USA as a National Account Manager. 

Bill is a graduate of the University of Washington and earned his degree in Economics.  He attained his MBA with a focus on International Marketing from the University of Maryland, University College.  He is a Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) and active and longtime member of the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) and Healthcare Finance Management Association (HFMA).

Rob Tashima

Rob Tashima is Chief Growth Officer at Village Capital. Rob oversees the organization’s growth initiatives across its innovations, revenue, and marketing teams, experimenting with Village Capital’s toolkit and methodology to explore new ways of supporting entrepreneurs and investors, in new markets and with new partners. 

He loves nerding out about catalytic financing tools and is particularly passionate about the role of creative investment strategies in mitigating bias.

Rob joined Village Capital after a decade at an emerging markets consultancy, where as the managing editor and head of research for Africa he led field studies on investment issues in a dozen frontier markets across the continent. Previously, he lived in the Middle East analyzing investment attractiveness in Kuwait, Jordan and Tunisia, and before that, worked on business and regulatory policy for the State of California and at a think tank in San Francisco. He also serves as an advisor to Asoko Insight, an Africa-focused corporate data venture, and IssueVoter, an innovative civic engagement platform.

Outside of work, Rob loves capsizing sailboats and supporting losing sports teams. A Truman Security Fellow, he holds an MSc from the London School of Economics and a CEP from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Bordeaux, France. He received his BA from UC Berkeley.    

Joseph Vaughan

Joseph Vaughan is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the US House of Representatives' Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion. He was previously the Executive Director of the Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Forum (CDIF) and Managing Director, Government Relations for The Williams Group.

Mr. Vaughan has more than 20 years of experience in directing federal, state and local intergovernmental affairs advocacy campaigns and related economic development projects. The Williams Group advances the public policy goals of clients with a key focus on issues related to financial market regulation, public-private partnerships, trade and private sector diversity & inclusion performance.

The CDIF leads efforts that promote and enhance diversity and inclusion performance in the financial services sector. Those efforts include the development and implementation of best practices and engagement strategies with federal and state policymakers as well as third-party stakeholder organizations.

Prior to joining The Williams Group, Joseph served as the Managing Director, Federal Government Relations for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, (SIFMA.) While serving in this capacity, Mr. Vaughan developed strategic relationships with key Congressional leaders and caucus groups including the New Democrats, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus and directed municipal bond market advocacy efforts.

During his tenure with SIFMA, Mr. Vaughan also served as Staff Advisor to SIFMA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee (D&I) and the Municipal Government Representatives Committee, among others. The SIFMA D&I Committee is comprised of more than 50 Chief Diversity Officers and Human Resource leaders from a cross-section of SIFMA’s membership. Through Mr. Vaughan’s leadership, the D&I Committee developed and championed strategic best practices and key partnerships with other
diversity stakeholders including, but not limited to, the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP), National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), and the Urban Financial Professionals Coalition (UFSC.)

Mr. Vaughan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and completed the Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania.

How to give

Now, more than ever, non-profits like Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB) need your help. Please support CAAB as we continue to help DC residents manage and/or improve their financial situation during these difficult times. If you can't afford to give a monetary gift, please visit our Amazon Wish List where you can choose from a variety of items that CAAB needs in order to better serve our community.

or send a check or money order to
Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB)
c/o Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz, CEO & Executive Director
1100 H Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005