Under Ben’s leadership, Living Cities has established a new data driven, model of social change that brings together local business, government, philanthropic and community leaders to disrupt long-obsolete systems and focus on achieving needle-moving results. The organization’s $40 million loan fund has been selected as one of the world’s top 50 impact investment funds for six consecutive years. Its network of local public sector leaders from more than fifty cities are spreading and adopting a new culture of municipal innovation and re-imagining the relationship between government and citizens. More than 50,000 people follow the organization on Twitter; adding more than 500 new followers weekly.
Prior to joining Living Cities, Ben co-founded One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization focused on connecting low-income people to the economic mainstream through innovative, online content and increased broadband access. As President, from 2000-2007, Ben led the growth of the organization from four employees to a $12 million organization with 50+ staff, online media properties serving more than 150,000 low-income people a month, and programs in 40 states, the Middle East and Africa.
Immediately before One Economy, Ben was Senior Vice President at the Enterprise Foundation. There, he led the organization’s efforts beyond housing – into childcare, workforce development, and economic development. He also oversaw the expansion of the organization’s revolving loan fund from $30 million to $200 million.
Ben received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and his CPA from the State of Maryland. For 10 years, he taught at Georgetown University Law Center and built the premier housing and community development clinical program in the country. In 1997, he was awarded Georgetown’s Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award.
He has written three books, ManagingNonprofits.org (2001) with Rey Ramsey, Developing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations (3rd Edition, 2006) and Managing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Building Stable Communities (1996) with James Stockard, all published by John Wiley & Sons.
Ben is currently Chairman of EveryoneOn, a national initiative founded by the Federal Communications Commission to connect low-income Americans to digital opportunity. He also sits on the National Advisory Board for StriveTogether, Duke University’s Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Advisory Council, and the U.S. Impact Investing Task Force to the G7. He previously served as Finance Committee chair and Treasurer for the Georgetown Day School (GDS) board of trustees. He has been selected as one of the Top 100 City Innovators Worldwide in the area of Urban Policy and as a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Fellow.
Watch Ben’s TEDx Talk
We Can Do This, America! Addressing Inequality in the Land of Opportunity TEDx Fargo, July, 2016.
Representative Articles and Blogs
“Why Entrepreneurs of Color Are Struggling,” CityLab, April 23, 2018
“To Create More Economic Dynamism, Empower Entrepreneurs of Color,” FastCompany, November 16, 2017
“Pay for Success: The Gateway to an Outcomes-Driven Future?,” Urban Institute Blog, April 1, 2016
“How To Avoid Another Crisis Like Flint,” Fast Company, March 10, 2016
“How To Build a New Civic Infrastructure,” The Just City Essays: Visions for Urban Equity, Inclusivity and Opportunity, October 19, 2015
“Why Cities Need More Technology To Improve Low-Income Citizens' Lives,” Fast Company, July 23, 2015
“What We Can – and Should – Learn from Baltimore,” CNN Money Blog, May 21, 2015
“Breaking Through Barriers to Innovation in Local Government ,” Governing, January 12, 2015
“The Ways Big Cities Think About Large-Scale Change,” Harvard Business Review, September 29, 2014
“How to Fix Wealth Inequality,” CNN Money Blog, August 27, 2014,
“4 Ways of Thinking that Should Shape the Next Century of Cities,” Fast CoExist, December 17, 2013
“5 Disruptive Education Trends That Address American Inequality,” FastCoExist, April 6, 2013
“Collaboration is the New Competition.” Harvard Business Review, January 10, 2013
“From Community to Prosperity”, Investing in What Works for America’s Communities: Essays on People, Place, and Purpose (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco), pp. 192-203, December, 2012
“5 Transformational Forces That Should Be Driving The Social Sector (But Aren’t),” FastCoExist, September 25, 2012
“Revitalizing Struggling American Cities,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall, 2011
Other Media Profiles & Events
Interview on Impact Investing and Inequality with Forbes’ Devin Thorpe
Interview from June 5, 2015
Overcoming Obstacles to Enable Progress in Cities
From the New York Times ‘Cities for Tomorrow’ Conference, August 14, 2015
Living Cities: Improving the Infrastructure of Low income Communities
From the 2011 Deutsche Bank Annual Report
2011 Independent Sector Annual Conference, Living Cities CEO Ben Hecht & Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmett Carson on Collaboration (Interview), November 1, 2011