Model Cities names Kizzy Downie as new CEO

Kizzy Downie
Kizzy Downie Photo courtesy of Model Cities

Model Cities has announced that its Board of Directors has named seasoned Model Cities’ veteran Kizzy Downie as the organization’s next chief executive officer, effective August 6, 2018. She succeeds Beverley Oliver Hawkins, who will be retiring as Model Cities’ CEO effective July 20, 2018.

Downie, 40, takes the helm with more than 12 years of experience at Model Cities. She has held four positions at Model Cities: Youth Enrichment Services program coordinator, manager of housing services, director of operations management and director of community services.

As the new CEO, Downie’s top priorities will be sustaining the organization’s performance and advancing its cache of support services.

Downie most recently served as Model Cities’ director of community services where she oversaw Family Support Services, Youth Services Programs, Homeownership Services, and Financial Literacy, the largest of Model Cities’ three divisions. Before joining Model Cities in 2006, Downie served as program coordinator of Girls Incorporated of Central Alabama.

“The CEO Search Committee unanimously recommended Kizzy Downie to the board to be our next CEO and the board unanimously approved the recommendation,” said Brenda Bailey chair of the Model Cities board.

“I am proud to say we found a great match for what Model Cities’ needs. Kizzy will be an excellent leader in the Model Cities movement. She is smart, brave, unpretentious and has the skills the organization requires,” Bailey continued.

“I am honored and humbled to be appointed Model Cities’ CEO. I am committed to continuing the work that has been started and sustaining the support our stakeholders have for Model Cities,” said Downie. “As we create the Model Cities of tomorrow, I will focus on facilitating opportunities that enrich the lives of our community, while also creating future sustainability and growth within our agency.”

Downie earned a Bachelor’s Degree and gained a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She currently serves on the boards of Heading Home Ramsey Continuum of Care and Cycles for Change. She is also a member of the Housing Opportunities Made Equitable (HOMECo) and African American Financial Capabilities Community of Practice (AAFC-COP) collaborative groups.

Bailey praised the work of Model Cities’ current CEO, saying “Model Cities is deeply appreciative of Dr. Hawkins who has been the Chief Executive Officer of Model Cities for the past 34 years. Her leadership, Bailey said, has built this organization with integrity and a clear sense of purpose. We will be forever grateful for her leadership and vision.”

St. Paul-based Model Cities, a private nonprofit organization, serves families and youth from the seven-county metro area at six locations. Since its founding in 1967, Model Cities has served several thousand residents in housing and human services and helped advance the community’s revitalization goals. Model Cities also provides homeownership education and counseling services. The nonprofit is developer, owner and manager of residential and commercial properties, including single family, multifamily and mixed-use properties.

For more info, visit Model Cities’ website at or Facebook/Model Cities.  


—Information provided by Model Cities