- Number of Years as Executive Director
2 + years
What does your organization do?
Our organization’s vision is that safe and affordable housing is available to all people, regardless of income, in all parts of town. We advance our mission to preserve and increase the supply of affordable housing through research, educational initiatives, and advocacy in Austin, Texas and the surrounding region, with a commitment to ensuring those most in need have access to safe and affordable housing.
How did you become interested in this work?
My childhood was spent in a safe and secure home, affordable to my parents at the time, so I realized how important housing was to a child’s overall stability in life. Most of my adult life has been spent in fundraising, so when I was asked to be the fundraising consultant to the successful 2013 “Keep Austin Affordable” Housing Bond campaign, I jumped at the chance. During that campaign, I met almost all of the affordable housing advocates while raising the funds. Mandy De Mayo, the ED of HousingWorks at the time contacted me after the campaign and asked if I would come be the Development Consultant to HousingWorks. I started my work with HousingWorks in February of 2014.
What drives your passion?
With a background in social work, and a history of volunteering in the nonprofit sector with my family, I have always been interested in working towards making life better for individuals, in whatever capacity I can. I learned early on through HousingWorks how important a “home” is for the stability of an individual. If you have a home, you are likely to be able to keep a job, stay healthy and be happy in your community.
Did you have a mentor or a role model?
I have many. It seems that every job I had, I found someone that inspired me to do better. That is why I believe in the pay-it-forward concept. However, my ultimate role models are my parents. They taught me early on how to care about others, and to take the time to work to improve your community.
What's the biggest challenge in your work?
There are so many factors that have to be considered in advocating for housing affordability. The challenge is to hear all sides of the issue, and make the decision that best fits your deliverable: in this case putting more affordable housing on the ground!
What's the best advice that you have ever received?
My friend, Governor Ann Richards, once told me, after I was having a hard time with a particular situation – “You can’t change your life story, you can only add paragraphs to it. Make sure the paragraphs you add make you happy and proud”.
What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?
1. Stay focused on your organization’s mission. In today’s world, there always seems to be another priority that pops up, but if you stay focused, you will be successful.
2. Listen to others. Very hard to do sometimes, but you will be surprised what you learn.
3. Everyday is a new challenge, which means everyday you can learn something new!