Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht is the Principal and Founder of Reclaiming the Dream LLC, a strategic advisory firm.  He founded Reclaiming the Dream LLC in 2021 to work closely with courageous leaders in the public, private and philanthropic sectors for the long term, structural change needed to close racial gaps in income and wealth.  Most recently, he was President and CEO of Living Cities, a long-standing collaborative of 18 of the world’s leading foundations and financial institutions.  From 2007-2021, Ben led the transformation of this consortium into one of the nation’s leading racial economic justice organizations by centering racial equity and marrying the organization’s legacy focus on improving the built environment in neighborhoods with a holistic approach to changing the interlocking systems that shape the life outcomes of the people who live there.  

During his tenure, Living Cities invested in a diverse set of places to understand how to catalyze large-scale change through cross-sector partnerships, with local government playing an active role. It built loan funds, that in addition to being recognized globally as leading impact investment funds, began to demonstrate how capitalism must evolve to support a future economy driven by a majority population comprised of Black, Brown, Indigenous and other people of color. It established a network of local public sector leaders from more than forty cities that helped define and spread a new culture of municipal innovation focused on addressing long standing racial disparities, overcoming outdated bureaucratic structures, better engaging city residents, and deploying scarce public resources for greater impact.   

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. Over 7 years, the organization grew from four employees into a $12 million social enterprise with fifty staff, online media properties serving 150,000 low-income people a month, and programs in forty states, the Middle East and Africa. Immediately before One Economy, Ben was Senior Vice President at the Enterprise Foundation where 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. 
An attorney and CPA, Ben taught at Georgetown University Law Center for ten years and was awarded Georgetown’s Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award. He has written four books, including Reclaiming the American Dream: Proven Solutions for Creating Economic Opportunity for All (Brookings Press, 2018) and Developing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations (John Wiley & Sons, 2007). Ben 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. 

Ben is a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) and Chairman of Duke University’s Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Advisory Council. At the GSD, he founded and co-teaches a seminar where cities have a dedicated team of students working to develop a blueprint for solving their affordable housing challenges in ten years.  CASE, part of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, prepares leaders and organizations with the business skills needed to achieved lasting social change.