All Land is not Creating Equal: Unleashing Family and Community Wealth through Land Ownership

The YouTube link above is a playlist – it has nine videos that cover all the different sessions of this event. You can access the other videos by clicking on the box at the very top right-hand side of the current video. Enjoy!



Download the Presentation: ALL LAND OVERVIEW PPT FINAL


When it comes to the roots of wealth inequality in the United States, what is the “worst problem you never heard of”?  For many, that answer is a confounding phenomenon called “heirs’ property” or “fractionated land.” 

 Heirs’ property is land that has been passed down through generations without a will – creating shared ownership among many descendants. Over time, unless title to the land is cleared and land rights secured, the opportunity for those owners to use their land for economic benefit is limited. As a result, underserved vulnerable landowners throughout the country – especially, women, indigenous people, Black Americans and the poor – have involuntarily lost their family property through contested claims, unaffordable high transaction costs, forced sales to speculators, and outright fraud. Black families alone, researchers estimate, have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in such land value over the last century. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers Heirs’ Property the “leading cause of Black involuntary land loss.” 

 Fifteen years ago, most considered this complex problem intractable. In contrast, the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation saw opportunity. The Center’s process has since helped families clear more than 200 titles, and its partnerships have fostered a landowner movement that is unleashing cultural and natural resources to build family and community wealth and ecological restoration in marginalized communities. Efforts alongside the Center – work in Native nations, among investors and researchers, and in state legislatures – are now likewise growing to secure family land ownership rights, stimulate economic growth and increase regional resilience. 

 In celebration of the Center’s 15th anniversary – and the 35th anniversary of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, which helped spark the Center’s start-up – we invite you to learn about the role of land in wealth inequality, about heirs’ property and fractionated land, and about strategies and policies that can address this issue to build rural regions and urban communities that are more inclusive and resilient. Join us for any or all of these insightful-and-action-provoking sessions!


Plenary 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET
Learn the context of heirs’ property and the Center’s work through plenary conversations and video presentations.

Our Master of Ceremonies

Melvin Oliver, President of Pitzer College

Plenary Speakers (In Order of Appearance)

Janet Topolsky, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group

Jennie Stephens, CEO, Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation

Thomas Mitchell, Professor, Texas A&M Law School

Lizzie Presser, Journalist at ProPublica

Faith River James, Professor at The Citadel

Cassandra Johnson Gaither, Research Social Scientist and Project Leader, US Forest Service Southern Research Station

Darrin Goss, Sr., President & CEO of Coastal Community Foundation

Ann English, State Conservationist, SC Natural Resources Conservation

Kelli Terry, Senior Program Officer, Surdna Foundation

Jim Porter, President, Business Development and Latin America, WestRock

Kristopher Pickler, Board Member, Land Trust Alliance

Dan Porterfield, President and CEO, Aspen Institute

Breakout Discussions: 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. ET
Two back-to-back breakout sessions to explore topics that interest you.

Breakout Speakers (In Alphabetical Order)

Ebonie Alexander, Executive Director, Black Family Land Trust

Melanie Allen, Co-Director, Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice

Henry English, Head of the Small Farm Program, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Mavis Gragg, Facilitator/Speaker, Director of Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program, American Forest Foundation

Octavia Howell, Associate Manager, The Pew Charitable Trusts

John Littles, Executive Director, McIntosh S.E.E.D.

Tom Martin, President and CEO, American Forest Foundation

Bernie Mazyck, President and CEO, SCACED, Center Board Member, SC Landowner, Woodlands Community Advocate

Karama Neal, President, Southern Bancorp Community Partners & Founder, Heirs of Arkansas

Alton Perry, Director, Roanoke Electric Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention, SFLR

Network Co-Chair

Toni Stanger-McLaughlin, Senior Program Director, Native American Agriculture Fund

Betsey Taylor, Executive Director, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network

Dale Threatt-Taylor, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy, SC Chapter

Josh Walden, Chief Operating Officer & Lawyer, Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation

Special Event 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Screening of America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones, featuring the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation.

Special Guests

Chuck Leavell, Tree farm conservationist, Musician, and host of American Forests with Chuck Leavell

Yvonne Knight-Carter, SC Landowner and Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation Board Chair

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