May 8 Consulting (May 8) is a woman-owned social impact consulting firm founded in 2002 to help our amazing clients – governments, nonprofits and foundations – identify and implement innovative strategies to solve key challenges that impact their communities.

May 8 began its work in Philadelphia to help the city welcome growth after decades of managing decline by reforming its laws, programs and policies for zoning, development review, sustainability, vacant property and riverfront development. Beginning in 2012, May 8 began working with cities and towns across the country on issues as diverse as preserving affordable housing to improve the climate for small business. May 8’s research and coalition building has supported the creation of many innovative state and local laws and policies and the attraction of major new investment. May 8 frequently offers speeches and presentations at national conferences and forums.

Karen Black

Founder and Principal

Karen L. Black is the CEO of May 8 Consulting and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania in the Urban Studies Department. Black is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Drexel University Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation. In addition, Black is the co-founder of the Healthy Rowhouse Project, an initiative to improve access to private capital for home improvement loans that has leveraged $100 million in public and private capital. Black is the author of award-winning publications discussing strategies to revitalize communities and attract private investment. Black taught a course on public policy responses to gentrification at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2015. Prior to beginning her consulting practice, Black was the founding director of the Metropolitan Philadelphia Policy Center, a region-wide policy center founded to research issues impacting the economy, environment and equity within the Philadelphia metropolitan region. Prior to that, Black spent 12 years as a practicing civil rights attorney. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College and a Doctorate of Law from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Select Client List

We are excited to have the opportunity to work with the following clients:

ArtPlace America
Building Industry Association of Philadelphia
Center for Architecture
Center for Community Progress
City of Bethlehem
City of Detroit
City of Philadelphia
City of Toledo
City of Wilmington
County of Northampton Pennsylvania
Delaware Valley Green Building Council
Drexel University
Fannie Mae
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey
LISC Philadelphia
New Kensington Community Development Corporation
Oak Foundation
Opportunity Finance Network
Penn Future
Pew Charitable Trusts
Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations
PolicyLink
Regional Housing Legal Services
Reinvestment Fund
State of Pennsylvania
School District of Philadelphia
Steel Rivers COG
Sullivan County Land Bank Corporation
Sustainable Business Network
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
University of Pennsylvania
Village of Monticello, NY
William Penn Foundation

Recent Speeches and Presentations

  • Effective Legal Tools for Problem and Distressed Properties, Pace Law Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference, White Plains, NY, (December 5, 2019).
  • Bethlehem Blight Study: Using Data to Drive Community Improvement, Homes within Reach, Harrisburg, PA (November 19, 2019).
  • Blight to Bright, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, Poughkeepsie, NY (November 1, 2019).
  • Understanding Key Legal Tools to Address Problem Properties and Tackling Rural and Small-Town Vacancy: Empowering Communities with Data, Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference (October 3-4, 2019).
  • Effective Legal Tools for Problem and Distressed Properties, American Bar Association Webinar (September 24, 2019).
  • Innovative Models for Financing Health and Safety Repairs, Green and Healthy Homes Executive Leadership Institute, Baltimore, MD (September 16, 2019).
  • Financing Strategies and Opportunities/Planning for Sustainability, 2019 HUD OLHCHH and FPM Mid-Atlantic Lead and Healthy Homes Summit, Baltimore, MD (June 28, 2019).
  • Closing the Credit Gap and Opening the Door to Home Lending, Policy Summit 2019, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, Cincinnati, OH (June 20, 2019).
  • Beyond Clipboards: A Strategic Approach to Code Enforcement, Cornerstone Webinar, Center for Community Progress (May 23, 2019). Watch the presentation on YouTube.
  • The Fundamentals of Property Market Dynamics, Village of Monticello and Sullivan County NY Forum (May 20, 2019).
  • Vacant, Abandoned and Deteriorated Properties Training Academy, Houston Texas, Center for Community Progress (May 15, 2019).