A firm at the center of New Haven’s policy and planning for 42 years

Holt, Wexler & Farnam, LLP

Holt, Wexler & Farnam, LLP was for four decades a go-to consulting firm in New Haven and Connecticut for a wide range of services in the areas of community and economic development, community planning, human services, strategic planning, program evaluation, and feasibility assessment.

Philetus H. Holt and Harry Wexler founded the firm in 1968 as Cogen, Holt & Associates with partner Joel Cogen. One of their main clients was the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM). When Joel Cogen left to begin his nearly 40 year term heading CCM in the early 1970’s, the firm was renamed Holt, Wexler & Associates.

Over the years, Holt and Wexler added local businessman and community leader John Crawford to the name when he was a partner and then Kathy Merchant when she became a partner in the late 1980’s.

Harry Wexler and Phil Holt, circa 1975

Jim Farnam left his job as Director of Downtown and Harbor Development for the City of New Haven in 1989 to join the firm which briefly became Holt, Wexler, Merchant & Farnam before Kathy Merchant left in 1996 when it settled on the name it used until its end — Holt, Wexler & Farnam, LLP.

Mark Nickel became a partner in the firm in about 1998 and then Managing Partner from about 2003 until the firm split up in October 2010. At that time, Jim Farnam formed Farnam Associates, LLC and partners Mark Nickel and Matt Wexler formed Cross Sector Consulting.

Many people passed through Holt, Wexler over the years — a sampling are listed below.

Holt/Wexler became a “nodal point” in the New Haven community with deep relationships to the nonprofit community, City government, the business community, the philanthropic community, and Yale University. The firm was regularly tapped to facilitate community planning process both large and small. A sampling included:

Phil Holt


Many good people passed through Holt/Wexler over the 42 years of its existence. Here are a few. Please send any additiona names or corrections to jf@farnamllc.com.


Joel Cogen (1968 to the formation of CCM), founder and later long-serving President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

John Crawford, local businessman and community leader, former President of the Regional Water Authority of South Central Connecticut

James Farnam (1989-2010), former Director fo Downtown and Harbor Development for the City of New Haven

Katie Fiedelson, left with Joel Cogen to become a senior executive at CCM

Philetus Holt (1968-2010), founder and lead counsel to the Stamford Redevelopment Agency and the New Haven Office of Downtown Development and Development Administraiton for many years (see above).

Kathy Merchant (, for lead planner for the United Way of Greater New Haven, she went on to lead the Pew Charitable Trust’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative and the lead the Cincinnati Community Foundation for many years.

Mark Nickel (1996-2010), went on to form Cross Sector Consulting and continue the work he had started at HWF.

Hugh Price, subsequently served as President of the National Urban League

Steve Wareck, former President of the New Haven Board of Aldermen and candidate for Congress in 1988.

Harry Wexler (1968-2010), founder. See above.

Matthew Wexler (2008-2012), national expert on New Market Tax Credits, who currently works as the MAnaging Director, Social Infrastructure at Grow America (formerly the National Development Council)


Simon Bertrang

Health Mullins Crislip. Heather went on to serve as the Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant to the Chancellor of the University of Hawaii for 5 years. She then headed Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. in Richmond, VA, from 2012-2021. Since 2021, she has headed the Richmond Forum.

Laura Downs. Laura went on to form the regional consulting firm Morrison Downs which has worked for numerous governmental, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations.

Lisa Goodman

Jennifer Heath. Jennifer went on to work as a Vice President at the United Way of Greater New Haven and has been serving as its President since 2016.

Jennifer Jainer

John Johnson

Emily Lehrman

Eric Levine

Alex Nemeth

Michael Nogelo. Michael continued workign at Cross Sector Consulting until 2023 when he was appointed President of the Eastern Workforce Investment Board (EWIB)

Fleming Norcott

Francis Padilla

Lisa Petra. Liza went on to run the Women and Family Life Center in Guilford, CT. She currently serves as the Executive Director of both the Guilford Foundation and the Branford Community Foundation.

Matthew Storeygard. Matt is currently the Senior Managing Director, Investments and Bio Team Director for Connecticut Innovations, Inc.

Dawn Westbrook. Dawn went on to work as an attorney for the Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities Commission and was appointed a State Court Judge in 2009. Elevated to the Appellate Court by Governor Ned Lamont in 2023.

Selma Gooding, Office Manager