Consulting Services

Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. is made up of a team of dedicated, passionate individuals who desire to see our local communities thrive and the people that live in them succeed.

As we lead, participate in, and facilitate neighborhood improvement projects, we focus on building power at the neighborhood level. Our goal is to work alongside existing leadership and community members to ensure outcomes that are in the best interest of those most closely affected. We don’t stand in the spotlight but “backstage” in support of others.

Systemic change can be slow, and it takes a lot of people. And that’s OK. In fact, no one should try to do this alone. We rely on numerous strategic partners for their expertise, resources, support, programs, data, and more. Collaboration is a vital element in making our work possible.

Steve Barlow

Vice President/General Counsel, The Works, Inc.

Steve Barlow, JD, M.A. (Applied Anthropology), is President and co-founder of Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., a Memphis based policy advocacy nonprofit that clears the path for neighborhood revitalization by addressing the root causes blighted properties. Steve has been involved in community organizing, legislative advocacy and community development efforts in Memphis, Tennessee since 1995, and, as a part-time staff attorney for the City of Memphis, has guided efforts for the past eight years to use civil litigation in the Shelby County Environmental Court to hold negligent property owners accountable to improve housing and property conditions. Over 2,000 cases have been filed using this approach since 2010. He handles much of the public nuisance litigation for the City of Memphis and coordinates the City of Memphis “Blight Elimination Steering Team”. In 2015 Steve co-founded and now co-directs the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law Neighborhood Preservation Clinic, in which third year law students with limited licenses to practice law manage anti-blight cases on behalf of the City of Memphis. Over 10,000 hours of student attorney time has been dedicated to this effort to date. Steve frequently consults with local, statewide and national leaders to develop legislative and practical resolutions to the challenges brought on by vacancy and abandonment of real estate in neighborhoods, advocating for creative, data driven, collaborative and neighborhood-based approaches. Steve is a Robert Wood Johnson Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellow working on community based participatory research connecting improved housing conditions through code enforcement to improved health conditions in Memphis and Shelby County.

Larry Potter

Founder of the Environmental Court

Judge Larry E. Potter has lived in Memphis for over 40 years and is a well-known leader and a judicial innovator. Introduced as a “treasure of our city,” he was appointed to a City Court Judge position in 1982 at the age of 35, becoming one of the youngest judges to ever serve on the bench. He was elected to his first full term in 1983 and then overwhelmingly reelected to 6 additional terms, diligently serving our city and county court systems for 35 years. Judge Potter was born in Nashville and lived in Humphreys County. When he was 8 years old his family moved to Milan, Tennessee where he attended grade school and graduated from high school in 1965. He continued his education at the University of Tennessee-Martin, graduating in 1969 with a Bachelors of Arts in Education/History. At the age of 22 he began his career as a teacher at East Elementary School in Lyles, Tennessee, and was promoted to Principal within a year. He returned to college in 1972 at Austin Peay University receiving his Master’s Degree in Education Administration. In 1975 Judge Potter entered the University of Memphis Law School. He received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1977, and began practicing law. He has served as an Assistant City Public Defender, Chief Public Defender, Assistant City Prosecutor, and Assistant City Attorney. In 1982 he was appointed by Mayor Wyeth Chandler to the City Court Bench Division 2. During this first year Judge Potter worked administratively to create the Memphis Environmental Court. In 1991 Judge Potter helped write a law that created a county-wide Environmental Court with injunctive authority, allowing him to more effectively deal with the increasingly difficult environmental problems encountered in court. This effort was a dramatic success and later that year the Tennessee State Legislature established the Shelby County Environmental Court. During the 40 years he has lived in Memphis, Judge Larry E. Potter has proven to be a leader, judicial innovator, and a man of great wisdom and compassion for the citizens he serves. On March 1, 2018 he retired from office and now serves as a Senior Policy Advisor with Neighborhood Preservation, Inc.

A C Wharton

Attorney and Former Memphis Mayor

A C Wharton is the former Mayor of both Shelby County, Tennessee (2002- 2009) and Memphis, Tennessee (2009– 2015). During his tenure, Wharton focused on child welfare issues, healthcare, and fiscal soundness. Prior to his mayorship, Wharton served as Chief Public Defender for Shelby County, Tennessee for 22 years and Director of Memphis Area Legal Services for seven years. Throughout his legal career, Wharton developed many innovative crime prevention and recidivism reduction programs. During his many years of trial practice, Wharton gained the reputation as being one of the area’s most skilled trial attorneys. Upon exiting the political arena, Wharton established The A C Wharton Group (January 2016). Drawing on Wharton’s vast experience in the areas of municipal government affairs, higher education, early childhood development, municipal finance and budgeting, healthcare and criminal justice, the firm provides a broad array of strategic counseling to businesses, governments, not-for profits, and philanthropic organizations. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, The A C Wharton Group provides a wide array of highly professional, strategic counseling and advice to businesses, nationally. Wharton also serves as Executive Director of Development with American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. His primary task is to assist the organization in sustaining and building stronger relationships with current and prospective supporters. Wharton is also a consultant to the Memphis and Shelby County ACE Awareness Foundation (ACE). He assists the ACE Foundation in developing systems to identify and ensure appropriate treatment of children who have suffered chronic exposure to traumatic incidents and violence. A few of his numerous awards and recognitions include: University of Memphis Humphrey School of Law Pillars of Excellence Awards, Young Lawyers Award, NAACP President’s Award, and most recently the AutoZone 2018 Spirit of 1776 Award and University of Mississippi Law Alumni Hall of Fame Award. Wharton is a native of Lebanon, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Tennessee State University and the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he taught law as an Adjunct Professor for 25 years. He is married to Attorney Ruby R. Wharton and has six sons.

Cecile Carson

CEO, Carson Consulting

Cecile Carson has 30 years of experience in community improvement volunteer and project management. While at Keep America Beautiful, she created the National Youth Advisory Council and directed the literature review on community impacts of blighted properties report “Charting the Multiple Meaning of Blight.” She has nearly 20 years of municipal government experience, including economic development, urban planning, and code enforcement where she assisted in creation of innovative small area plans to address specific needs of residential and commercial neighborhoods experiencing blight. At the state level, Ms. Carson authored the first Texas code enforcement registration exam. She is known for her engaging presentations at state, national and international conferences on a variety of topics ranging from litter prevention to behavior change theory. Cecile established Keep Denton Beautiful, Texas and assisted with formation of over 100 Keep America Beautiful affiliates ranging from urban and rural cities to college campuses to watershed. Cecile earned the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service award for volunteering with a variety of community, neighborhood, environmental and education organizations and currently serves as the North Central Texas Council of Governments – Resource Conservation Commission Vice Chair. Cecile holds Volunteer Management Certification from UNT. Her master’s thesis explores the challenges that arise when zoning ordinances and land use plans are inconsistent. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Learning and Organizational Change at Baylor University.

Daniel Schaffzin

Co-Director, Neighborhood Preservation Clinic

Daniel M. Schaffzin is an Associate Professor of Law and the Director of Experiential Learning at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Professor Schaffzin co-directs and teaches the University of Memphis Neighborhood Preservation Clinic, through which faculty and law student attorneys represent the City of Memphis in litigation seeking to abate the nuisance condition of badly neglected, vacant and abandoned properties. In connection with his Clinic casework, Professor Schaffzin holds an appointment as a Senior Assistant City of Memphis Attorney for Neighborhood Preservation.

Professor Schaffzin’s scholarship has focused on strategies for addressing distressed properties and on clinical pedagogy. In May 2018, Professor Schaffzin received the University of Memphis School of Law’s Farris Bobango Faculty Scholarship Award for his article, (B)light at the End of the Tunnel? How a City’s Need to Fight Vacant and Abandoned Properties Gave Rise to a Law School Clinic Like No Other, 52 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 115 (2016. He also co-authored, Ten Years of Fighting Blighted Properties in Memphis: How Innovative Litigation Inspired Systems Change and a Local Culture of Collaboration to Resolve Vacant and Abandoned Properties, 25 J. Affordable Housing & Commun. Dev. L. 347 (2017) (with S. Barlow and B. Williams).

Professor Schaffzin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree (magna cum laude) from Temple University (magna cum laude) and his law degree (cum laude) from Temple University School of Law. Following law school, Professor Schaffzin worked for five years as an associate at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia, practicing in the firm’s Health Effects Litigation Practice Group. At Pepper, Professor Schaffzin also maintained an active pro bono practice, including work on a successful death penalty appeal under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act. He received the Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award in 2005.

In 2005, Professor Schaffzin joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as Counsel in the pharmaceutical company’s U.S. Legal Operations group. At GSK, Professor Schaffzin served on the Sales, Marketing, and Managed Care Legal Team, providing guidance to the company’s diabetes franchise and pediatric vaccines product teams, as well as to several sales regions, concerning product promotion, fraud and abuse, and general regulatory compliance issues. Prior to joining the Memphis Law faculty, Professor Schaffzin was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota School of Law, instructing the school’s Housing and Employment Litigation Clinic.