CURE Spotlights 2021


Chris Mfume bio

Chris Mfume is the managing partner of Charles L. Dunn Partners, a real estate development and asset management firm with a focus on developing, renovating, and investing in commercial asset in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Chris joined the UMB CURE Scholars Advisory Board in 2019 and has taken a leadership role in supporting CURE’s Eddie & Sylvia Brown Challenge.

“At CLD Partners we develop all levels of housing — everything from market-rate, affordable, and what I would call ‘essential housing,’ which is workforce housing targeted at people making between 60 and 120 percent AMI [area median income]. That is the bulk of our work. We currently operate in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.”

Q: How did you first get involved with the UMB CURE Scholars Program?

A: I was invited to a UMB event by a friend and mentor of mine, Brian Gibbons, and I met John Palinski of UMB’s Office of Philanthropy at the event. John introduced me to the CURE program and encouraged me to come to one of the events. I came to an event about a week or two later, and I was immediately interested in participating in the program after hearing from some of the scholars.

Q: Why do you support the UMB CURE Scholars philanthropically?

A: I am very focused on household wealth, especially in underserved communities, and the changing world of work. I look at how industries have changed and how a lot of jobs that are here today will not be here tomorrow. I’m interested in getting the next generation prepared for the opportunities that will be here long term. STEM is one of those career paths that is only projected to get more popular and be more in demand. I’m focused on connecting people who would normally not get exposure to those types of jobs and helping in any way I can. So when I was approached about CURE, it was right in line with the mission that I had already been thinking about, which was, “Hey, what do the next three, four, five decades look like? Where are people going to be working? How can I connect people, who are traditionally shut out of these industries, to opportunities like that?”

Q: Are there people in your life who have modeled philanthropy or particularly encouraged you to give back?

A: Both of my parents have been in public service my entire life, so it really started at home. They instilled that in me — giving back, going to church on Sunday, tithing, all those types of things. Just that if you are fortunate, you really have the obligation to give back, and I’ve certainly been fortunate. I try my best to make giving a part of my daily life — even with the business, building affordable housing, it’s really woven into my day-to-day life. I’ve had several mentors since I’ve gotten the business started, really teaching me about philanthropy, and I see how much they give back — that includes nonprofits like UMB CURE Scholars and Baltimore Tree Trust. I try to keep my nonprofit participation up, and I try to give back in any way I can.

Q: What do you think is the most effective way to introduce new people to the UMB CURE Scholars Program?

A: The best way is introducing people to the scholars. The videos are awesome, and if you have the background and have already met them, it certainly resonates. I just went to UMB’s new Community Engagement Center, and it has a robotics lab. They had scholars dissecting animals while we were there, and you couldn’t think of anything more powerful because you also know the likelihood of these students getting this exposure without CURE is pretty low. There’s nothing more powerful than walking through and seeing how their lives are being changed. By far the icing on the cake is hearing one of the scholars speak. We can tell you about the program all you want, but once you hear a scholar tell their story about how they started and where they are today, it becomes very apparent how much this program needs to be supported.

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