upton westside cdc
UPC Westside CDC is a community development corporation, dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents along the Pennsylvania Avenue commercial corridor and in the West Baltimore Upton community.
Formed by the Upton Planning Committee in 2018, UPC Westside CDC is the implementation arm of the Historic Upton Community’s 2026 Master Plan.
UPC Westside CDC’s niche is to:
Support the historic preservation, growth and revitalization of Upton and the Pennsylvania Avenue Commercial Corridor through implementing community development projects increasing homeownership, providing affordable housing to meet the needs of seniors, youth, and low-income households, and fostering commercial development that supports black business cultivation efforts.
UPC Westside CDC recognizes that there are few communities with the rich African- American history of Upton and the Historic Pennsylvania Avenue. UPC Westside CDC is committed to creating opportunities to share the community’s rich history with greater Baltimore City and the State of Maryland.
Historically, successful neighborhoods have a range of incomes, services, and housing types. New development should strive to attract new market-rate housing, while continuing to provide quality affordable housing. The goal of the UPC Westside CDC is to identify housing redevelopment strategies appropriate for each community’s context. UPC Westside CDC understands the urgency of developing building projects that will provide affordable housing and position community residents for optimal success.
Leadership – Board of Directors
Wanda G. Best
Wanda Gibson Best is a connector of resources. Wanda is the Executive Director of the Upton Planning Committee. This position allows her to use many of skills learned throughout her career. Her grassroots community organizing began at an early age in the South Carolina 4-H Extension Programs while re presenting the State of South Carolina across the Country in leadership roles. Wanda graduated from South Carolina State University with a BS degree in Foods and Nutrition and with a triple minor in Biology, Chemistry, and Business. She furthered her education with a master’s degree in Public Administration. Wanda worked as a Dietician in a comprehensive health center in Charleston, SC and the remote islands. There she managed and delivered direct services to the Women Infant and Children Program, Home Health Program, and Migrant Camp Nutrition Program. Wanda was the manager of the food production department of a medical university hospital which included two satellite hospitals. There she supervised 65 employees that produced 8000 meals per day. Wanda worked for USDA for more than twenty years as the program analyst for a five-million-dollar federal food safety and quality program of the US land grant system. She has had a career centered around public health and economics. Wanda has maintained her dietician license for thirty years and continues to practice as a Nutritionist and Dietician.
Dr. Al G. Gourrier
Al Gourrier was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Educated at Xavier University of Louisiana and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Al holds a BA in Finance, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), is a graduate from ABA’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Georgetown University, and holds a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Greenspun College of Urban Affairs. Al started a banking career in 1993. In November of 2005, Al organized a new State-Chartered FDIC Institution (De novo), 1st Commerce Bank, which he opened in October 2006. Dr. Gourrier considers the development, organization and his regulatory approval of 1st Commerce Bank one of his greatest professional achievements in his young professional career. Al was the first African American Bank President in the State of Nevada and was one of the youngest bank presidents in the country at the time. After a successful 19-year career, Al Gourrier left banking in January of 2012 to peruse a career in academia.
Dr. Gourrier’s scholarship in academia focuses on banking, social equity, and community development through financial and economic representation by exploring decisions and structures impacting the economic health, development, entrepreneurship, and well-being of urban communities. Locally he services as a member of the University of Maryland Medical Center Community Advisory Council, Upton Community Development Corporation and is a member of Kappa Alpha Phi Fraternity Incorporated (’98). Al is also a member of the Urban Affairs Association and the American Society for Public Administration. Al and his wife Marla Gourrier have been married for twenty-four years, have four children together.
Click Here to Visit: www.algourrier.com
Joy W. Giordano
Joy W. Giordano serves as a liaison between the Comptroller and Baltimore City residents, and business and community leaders. As a passionate advocate I work with the business and non-profit communities in Baltimore City, to promote business development and retention, building consensus and ensuring job growth. As an advisor and creative resource for clients, I am always providing new ideas and creative solutions to ensure objectives are met, utilizing a whatever it takes methodology. I have worked with and mentored many small businesses via one-on-one directions, and counseling.
Joy has run a 50 year old legacy festival in Baltimore City, which funded two non-profits, and guided it through a transition period in order to see that it was run in an efficient manner and more profitable to the non-profits it funded. In addition, she ran three other long running signature events in Fell’s Point. Joy has outstanding needs assessment skills, is a successful fundraiser, and is skilled at creating and introducing new solutions.
Harry Preston V
Harry Preston V is a STEM and CTE Educator in Baltimore City Public Schools and the Current Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Green Street Academy’s sate of the art Innovation Center. While his background is in Physics, his work has been in Math and Engineering Education. He is the Founder of Synergy Academy a program that specializes in getting students in underserved areas involved in intensive STEM and CTE programs starting in 6th Grade to enter STEM based careers and College Programs. Mr. Preston serves as the Vice President of Career Technology and Education for the Baltimore City Teachers Union as well as an Advisory Board Member for the University of Maryland C.U.R.E. Scholars Program.
Thomas J. Stosur
Tom established his planning career in Baltimore in 1987 at the Baltimore City Planning Department, where he initially worked for nearly 18 years in a variety of roles including community planner, strategic planner, comprehensive planner and manager of the City’s capital improvement program. In 2005, Tom was hired as Senior Facilities Planner for Baltimore City Public Schools, where he led the Facility Solutions planning process involving 180 school buildings across the city. In March of 2007, Tom joined the Mayor’s staff as Assistant Deputy Mayor for Neighborhood and Economic Development. As part of the Mayor’s management team, he oversaw the Department of Public Works, the Department of Recreation and Parks, and the Parking Authority. Tom also played a key role in shaping the City’s Green Agenda, including the creation of the Office of Sustainability and the appointment of the City’s new Commission on Sustainability. From February 2009 until October 2018, Tom served as the Baltimore City Planning Director, where he worked with a staff of 50 professionals dedicated to making this City a thriving and sustainable place to live, learn, play and earn. Tom holds a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University and Bachelor of Arts from Boston College. He resides in the City’s Keswick neighborhood with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Rachel.
Jules Dunham Howie
Jules Dunham Howie has worked on organizational development issues for over 20 years. Through her consultancy firm, Jul Enterprise, she has provided facilitation, training, and capacity building supports including fund development, strategic planning and board development to for-profits and non-profits all across the United States. Over 2000 people have been trained by Jules on organizational capacity building, and grantsmanship issues. She is a strong community activist and serves as on the board of the Historic Marble Hill Community Association and as Director of the UPC Westside CDC. Jules received her BS in Communications and Theatre from James Madison University, and she received her Master of Divinity degree from Payne Theological Seminary. She is an Itinerate Elder in the AME Church and is married to Rev. Myron D. Howie. Together they have two children Ollie and Grace Marie and reside in Baltimore, Maryland.