Influential Leaders

Liz Ward

Founder, Give Impact Advisory Services
Recognition Year(s): 2023
Area of Impact: Real Estate
School: The Belk College of Business, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Location: United States

Liz Ward is the founder of Give Impact, an advisory services firm focused on affordable housing and upward mobility solutions. Combining her expertise in banking and commercial real estate with her professional experience in affordable housing, Ward has made clear strides in equity, equality, and promise for a better future. She was recently honored with the 2022 Entrepreneurial Spirit Impact Award by Commercial Real Estate Women Charlotte Chapter and recognized as an honoree at the Change Maker Awards by She Built This City.

Housing instability is experienced by residents in many major cities. A 2022 report from the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute showed that 3,137 Charlotteans were experiencing homelessness due to increased housing costs in June 2021, a 55 percent increase from 2,025 residents in June 2020. Seeing a need, Ward created Give Impact Advisory Services, which specializes in affordable housing and upward mobility solutions in the Carolinas.

Give Impact focuses on providing custom solutions for clients who need a partner to guide them through impact identification, critical connections in the commercial real estate and affordable housing industry, and the unique considerations that surround investing in affordable housing projects. Clients have included minority-owned businesses, affordable housing developers, market-rate developers who want to incorporate affordable housing, and foundations and companies looking to deploy capital for the benefit of affordable housing. Impactful projects have included:

  • West Boulevard Corridor: Led the Paces Foundation through rezoning and financing for 120 affordable housing units for seniors.
  • West Side Community Land Trust and West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition: Collaborated to ensure long-term stability.
  • Downtown Davidson: Aided Davidson Housing Coalition in the design of a rental subsidy program for an eight-unit affordable townhome project.
  • Covenant Presbyterian: Assisted the church in deploying 1.7 million USD in grants to three local affordable housing developers: Roof Above, Habitat for Humanity, and DreamKey Partners.
  • Equitable Land Bank: Helped the Merancas Foundation launch a program to buy land across Mecklenburg County in high-opportunity areas and deploy for affordable housing development.
  • The Presbytery: Give Impact provided strategic impact sessions and guidance to Plaza and Matthews Presbyterian Churches to help them discern their paths for community impact using their vacant buildings.

Ward leveraged the exposure she gained to industry professionals and thought leaders while completing her Master of science in real estate (MSRE) program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Belk College of Business, building a direct connection to the local real estate market. She often says she first read about affordable housing in a textbook while enrolled in the MSRE program.

In 2012, Ward was making loans for market-rate multifamily projects as a lender at Wells Fargo. The revelation that high-quality housing was being built with protected rents for those who could not afford market rents caught her attention. She left banking in 2015 to become the vice president of multifamily development for The Housing Partnership, a local nonprofit that develops and preserves affordable housing. Ward went on to found Give Impact in 2020. With 15 years of combined experience in banking, commercial real estate financing, and affordable housing development, coupled with her MSRE degree, Ward recognized the need for independent expert advice on solutions in housing and upward mobility. Give Impact aims to make a difference in equity outcomes through strategic investments in real estate.

Ward regularly shares her passion and expertise with business students as an alumni speaker and serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Chair on the alumni association board. In an alumni feature, Ward shared, “I firmly believe each of us have unique gifts and talents, and that it is a privilege and responsibility to use those to help those around us. The Belk College helped me make a meaningful change in my career and provided me with new skills to make a difference in our community in affordable housing. … It has been a pleasure to be able to serve and help continue that growth as an alumna."

A frequent speaker for the Urban Land Institute, Commercial Real Estate Women-Charlotte, North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, City of Charlotte, and Share Charlotte, Ward is passionate about giving back and the changes her company has led over a short period of time. Give Impact has helped elevate firms owned by underrepresented community members in Charlotte, generating new business for them. Further, neighboring Concepts Architects, Harmon Construction Company, and Verde Homes are minority-owned firms that are beneficiaries of Give Impact's strategic partnerships over the last two years. Ward serves on the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate alumni association board and accesses her vast real estate industry network to secure speakers for the MSRE seminar series for Belk College students and alumni.

In 2017, Ward received the Charlotte Chamber Young Professional Non-Profit Leader Award. Also in 2017, she was recognized with the KPMG Athena Young Professional Leadership Award, which honored the time and energy she contributed to improving the quality of life for others in the community as well as her work as a role model for young women. In 2018, she represented the Belk College as an alumni panelist at the #NextGenCLT speaker series for young professionals and was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award.