(UPDATED 05/09/2017)


Our Mission Statement (Updated 05/09/2017)

SMART ALEC is a nonprofit organization founded to promote progressive public policy solutions at the local and state levels. Our focus is on affordable housing and the environment, with a special emphasis on improving the lives of working families. We do this through developing equitable policy solutions for local replication, and by empowering marginalized communities to make a meaningful difference in the democratic process.


More about us:

SMART ALEC is a non-profit organization, founded to promote progressive public policy solutions at the local and state levels.

SMART ALEC stands for State and Municipal Action for Results Today / Agenda for Legislative Empowerment and Collaboration.

SMART ALEC’s first model ordinance is Affordable Housing Impact Statements. This model ordinance was drafted by one of SMART ALEC’s founding members, Matthew Charles Cardinale, in 2014 as a law student at Gonzaga University.

The model ordinance for Affordable Housing Impact Statements offers a unique method for cities to keep track of the impact of lawmakers’ public policy decisions on their respective cities’ housing stocks.

The ordinance provides a scorecard to track estimated changes in terms of numbers of units added and/or subtracted across various income brackets, and comes with a model administrative implementation memo.

The model ordinance was adopted by the City of Atlanta in November 2015, and is currently under consideration in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Albany, New York.

With this model ordinance spreading to so many cities, SMART ALEC was formed to promote the development of this and other progressive public policies, especially in the areas of affordable housing and the environment.


SMART ALEC Board of Directors

SMART ALEC’s Board of Directors includes Matthew Charles Cardinale and Dr. Dwanda Lee Farmer.  Please stay tuned for information about upcoming recruitment for additional Board Members!


Matthew Charles Cardinale, Board President

Matthew Charles Cardinale has some twenty years of advocacy experience, with a specialty in affordable housing policy.

He is the founder and CEO of Atlanta Progressive News, an online, independent news service, founded in 2005.

He has an MPA from the University of New Orleans, an MA in Sociology from U.C. Irvine, and is currently in his third year of law school at Gonzaga University.

In 2012, he won a pro se lawsuit that had come before the Supreme Court of Georgia, Cardinale v. City of Atlanta, in which the Court struck down a secret vote taken by the City Council of Atlanta.

He has written several ordinances and resolutions that are currently law in the City of Atlanta, including Affordable Housing Impact Statements.  He is currently working with several jurisdictions in adopting Affordable Housing Impact Statements, including New Orleans, Louisiana.

Cardinale enjoys helping jurisdictions to craft policy solutions that are appropriate for their needs and political climate.


Dr. Dwanda Lee Farmer, Board Secretary

Dwanda Farmer is a community economic development expert, nonprofit thought leader, coach and consultant specializing in affordable housing policy, finance and development. Having used every public financing tool available to support community economic development, Dr. Farmer has raised over $100 million dollars to support the development of 2500 units of housing (1800 affordable) and over 500,000 square feet of commercial/retail space in various cities across America. She has served the U.S. Treasury for 15 years distributing over $26 billion to economically distressed communities across the country to create quality jobs, community and commercial goods and services, healthy food finance initiatives, medical facilities, and environmentally sustainable developments serving low income people.

smart alec dwanda farmer
Dwanda Farmer.

Dr. Farmer was a founding member of Fulton County Workforce Development Board and served 13 years on the Executive Committee (1999-2012). She chaired the Individual Training Account Committee (1999-2007) and provided training and job placement services for thousands of Fulton County residents. Dr. Farmer also served as Chair of the Quality Assurance Committee (2007-2012) and was responsible for certifying 150 training institutions and ensuring program compliance. Fulton County was the highest performing workforce investment board in the state. In 2010, Governor Sonny Purdue (R) awarded Dr. Farmer the Governor’s Community Service Award for her work on the Governor’s Work Ready program.

Dwanda studied at Howard University and the University of Maryland and is a graduate of the University of Baltimore (Political Science). She earned two Master of Science degrees from National Louis University (Human Resources/Organizational Development). Dr. Farmer is one of ten Americans to earn a PhD in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a native of Baltimore Maryland where she currently resides and serves as Principal Consultant at The CED Doctor, LLC.