Executive Staff

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Martin Eakes, Chief Executive Officer

Since 2000, Martin has taken a leadership role in fighting abusive financial practices targeted at poor families, including predatory home loans, payday lending, and abusive checking and credit card fees. Martin and Self-Help have received awards, among others, from the MacArthur Foundation, Credit Union National Association, NCLC, Annie Casey Foundation, National Association of Realtors, and the Raleigh News and Observer.

Michael Calhoun, President

Mike provides overall direction for the organization and directs the federal policy team. He is a seasoned civil rights and consumer protection litigator. Mike was the principal drafter of the North Carolina acts regulating predatory mortgage loans, mortgage brokers and lenders. He has authored numerous papers and testified before Congress and numerous state legislatures.

Deborah Goldstein, Chief Operating Officer

Debbie provides day-to-day leadership  for all CRL branches, assists the CEO and President in strategic decision-making, coordinates the annual operations plan and budget, and oversees CRL fundraising and Board relations. In 2002, Debbie assisted local organizations and lawmakers in drafting and advocating for legislative remedies to address exorbitant fees on subprime mortgages in New Jersey and played a critical role in negotiating the New Jersey Home Ownership Security Act. She also advised the sponsors of the Massachusetts Predatory Home Loan Practices Act of 2004, and worked with lead organizations in the state of Massachusetts to support enactment of the legislation.

Nikitra Bailey, Executive Vice President

Nikitra directs outreach and educational efforts to national and locally based organizations, and provides technical assistance to policymakers on state and federal anti-predatory lending initiatives. Nikitra originally joined the CRL as a policy associate after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School Of Law. While in law school, Ms. Bailey interned at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. Ms. Bailey is also a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. Ms. Bailey has published several articles on the impact of abusive lending practices on communities of color.

Keith Corbett, Executive Vice President

Keith’s work focuses on eliminating abusive lending practices at the state and national level. Prior to joining Self-Help, he worked for 21 years in banking and insurance serving as Vice President and Treasurer of North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company. In 1998, Dollars & Sense Magazine voted him Best and Brightest in Finance.

Gary Kalman, Director of Federal Policy

Gary Kalman oversees the federal legislative affairs of CRL. Prior to joining CRL, Mr. Kalman directed the federal legislative office for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. In 2009, Mr. Kalman was a founder and Executive Committee member of Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 250 national, state and local organizations that, in the wake of the economic crisis, led the effort to reform our nation’s financial services sector. He has testified before Congress and he and his work have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Fox News, MSNBC and elsewhere. Mr. Kalman has also served as a political campaign and organizational consultant and as an instructor at LaSalle University where he lectured on nonprofit advocacy and development.

Chris Kukla, Senior Counsel for Government Affairs

Chris has been with CRL since 2002, and is primarily responsible for directing CRL’s North Carolina policy work. Chris also works with lawmakers and advocates in other states on consumer lending legislation. He received his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, and received his B.A. with honors from Alma College in Alma, Michigan. Prior to joining the Center, Chris worked for five years on Capitol Hill, most recently as Appropriations Associate and Counsel to U.S. Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York.

Paul Leonard, Director of the California Office

Paul opened the California office in spring 2006 and directs state policy and outreach efforts. Prior to joining CRL, Paul was a public policy consultant focused on housing and community development, welfare reform, and other anti-poverty issues. Prior to 1999, Paul was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, serving as Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development from 1994 to 1998.

M William (Bill) Sermons, Director of Research

Bill  is responsible for advancing a policy research agenda into the abusive lending practices. In addition to his work at CRL, he teaches cost-benefit analysis to public policy students in Carnegie Mellon University’s DC MPP program. Bill is the former Director of the Homelessness Research Institute, where he directed both the research and communications functions of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. He is a graduate of Duke University and holds both a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University and a MSW from Catholic University. Prior to applying his analytical skills to the social advancement of vulnerable populations, Bill worked in the areas of transportation and land-use planning and helped to found the Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland.