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MEET OUR
2023 SPEAKERS

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Leah Rothstein

Author 

Leah Rothstein is co-authoring, with Richard Rothstein, a sequel to The Color of Law. While in The Color of Law, Mr. Rothstein described how government policy created residential segregation, the sequel will describe how local community groups can redress the wrongs of segregation.  Leah has worked on public policy and community change, from the grassroots to the halls of government. She led the Alameda County and San Francisco probation departments’ research on reforming community corrections policy and practice to be focused on rehabilitation, not punishment. She has been a consultant to nonprofit housing developers, cities and counties, redevelopment agencies, and private firms on community development and affordable housing policy, practice, and finance. Her policy work is informed by her years as a community organizer with PUEBLO and Californians for Justice, working on housing, public safety, environmental justice, and youth leadership, and as a labor organizer with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE).

 

Leah received her Bachelor’s Degree with honors in American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Toni Blake

Author 

Toni Blake is a popular international speaker, consultant, author and comedienne inspiring thousands of multifamily apartment industry professionals every year. With over 30 years of training experience, her “laugh while you learn” approach has made Toni one of the most sought-after experts in her field

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Marian Adam BURAS

Mayor of  Morawica

Over 25 years of experience in local government work has specialized the mayor in managing extremely important matters, because they directly concern social problems, in this case the residents of the Morawica Town and Commune. The work of the mayor is not only work for the local community, it is a broadly understood promotion of the commune and the entire province on a national and international scale.

Today, Morawica is one of the best communes in the country. This was achieved thanks to modern management and strategic planning, cooperation with residents, entrepreneurs and non-governmental organizations. Continuous economic development combined with the building of a civil society meant that such a management system translates into the quality of life of the inhabitants.

Multiple participation in discussion panels in the country and abroad allowed for sharing knowledge with other local governments. As the only representative of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship and the only local government official from Poland, he was invited by the Congress of Polish Education to a discussion panel during which educational systems were discussed. He participated in conferences organized by a number of local government institutions as well as those related to the media.

In 2014, a speaker at a conference in the USA, on the topic of presenting the functioning of democratic local government in Poland on the example of the Morawica commune. The solutions implemented by the mayor in the field of education and municipal services in the Morawica commune have been entered into the national database of good local government practices.

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Darlene Kelly

CEO, D. Kelly Consulting 

Darlene Kelly's years of training, leadership & organizational development experience have inspired her passion & dedication to helping you find the opportunities and embrace the challenges facing your organization. Ms. Kelly is a Certified Galop Global Strengths Coach and certified to provide both Vital Smarts Crucial Conversations and Getting Things Done training.

D. Kelly Consulting is certified as both a Women Business Enterprise and an Emerging Small Business. 

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Sunny Shaw

Executive Director, Twin Valley Housing Authority

I am a passionate and visionary houser who excels at creating change through partnerships. My core goal is to stabilize the lives of individuals, families, and children through housing.

With over 20 years of experience, I am able to assist Housing Authorities to grow their leadership and impact in their communities.

As a Certified Professional Career coach I mentor clients on their career path to success.

Executive Director at Twin Falls & Jerome Housing Authorities, Immediate past National NAHRO President, President at Sunny Shaw & Associates

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Eric Oberdorfer

Director of Policy and Program Development, NAHRO

Eric Oberdorfer is the Director of Policy and Program Development at the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). At NAHRO, Eric helps coordinate all aspects of program and policy development. His policy portfolio includes the federal Public Housing Program, Section 8 programs, and federal community development programs. Along with his team, Eric provides member agencies with one-on-one technical assistance and policy guidance, and tracks and initiates policy action for legislative and regulatory issues. Before becoming Director, Eric was NAHRO’s Policy Advisor.

Prior to NAHRO, Eric was a Research Associate at the Housing Assistance Council where he published a variety of reports on housing affordability in rural America. Research papers included housing for Veteran’s and seniors, housing on tribal lands, and rural homelessness. Eric began his housing career as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Department of Neighborhoods in Anchorage, Alaska. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a master’s in urban planning from the University of British Columbia. Eric also taught English as a foreign language in Thailand.

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Bryan Guiney

Field Office Director, HUD

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Patricia S. Wells, MPA, CME

President, NAHRO

Patricia Wells brings over 26 years of public administration and nonprofit executive management experience to her role as Executive Director of the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA). She joined OHA in 1998, following appointments as the Associate Director for Habitat for Humanity International – West Region and Senior Policy Coordinator as a Mayoral appointee with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in Washington, D.C. During her current tenure with OHA, Patricia has held key roles in several key initiatives including the reorganization of OHA to a property based property management operation, disposition of 1,610 apartment units and single family homes, a multitude of Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration programs and partnerships, as well as several innovative private/public partnership endeavors. Patricia brings to the OHA leadership team excellent communication skills, stellar inter-governmental and community building expertise, a strong acumen for organization operations and administrative leadership, significant experience as an agent of effective organization change as well as a passion for supporting community led solutions.

In addition to her national leadership role as a member of the National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), she is an Soroptimist International of the East Bay Fellow and an active member of the East Bay Regional Parks Foundation, Monterey Bay Aquarium, SF Opera and volunteer of Glide Memorial Homeless Services. Patricia holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, a B.A in English/Journalism, and several professional certifications.

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Samuel Crawford

President, Dothan Housing

Dothan Housing's (DH’s) President & CEO, Samuel P. Crawford, obtained his Executive Director Education Program (EDEP) certification from Rutgers University and Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA) partnership program. He plans to take DH to even greater heights with enthusiasm and professionalism. After 30-plus years in fire services, including being the Fire Chief of the City of Dothan, the EDEP certification is his crowning achievement during his career in public service.

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Mark Thiele, CS-PHM, CME, CMVO, NCC

CEO, NAHRO

Mark Thiele is a houser who stands in awe of his colleagues.  “Safe, stable, affordable housing is the foundation on which we build healthy, happy and productive lives,” he says. “Despite significant headwinds, housers nationwide continue to provide the most vulnerable Americans with shelter and supportive services in sustainable communities. We need them to succeed. We need to invest in their success.” 

Before joining NAHRO, Thiele was the Interim President and CEO of the Houston Housing Authority (HHA). During his tenure, HHA focused on safety, increasing affordable housing, and innovation. The agency hosted numerous COVID-19 testing and vaccination events with local partners. It also added thousands of units of affordable housing through acquisition and development and earning the coveted Moving to Work (MTW) designation. 

Prior to that Thiele served as HHA’s Senior Vice President (SVP), overseeing Program Operations, Real Estate, Investment and Development, Policy as well as all of the agency’s support functions, including Finance, Legal, Procurement, Human Resources and Information Technology.  During his time as SVP, Thiele worked with the agency’s more than 200 staff members to be the premier provider of quality, affordable housing in Houston.    

For the previous eight years of his lengthy year career in affordable housing, Thiele served as the Vice President of the award-winning Housing Choice Voucher Program at HHA, which provides more than $155 million in housing subsidies each year, and is one of the largest voucher programs in the country.   In that role he supervised more than 120 staff dedicated to providing quality, affordable housing options for more than 18,000 Houston households via the regular Housing Choice Voucher, VASH, Mainstream, NED and Mod Rehab programs, as well as a plethora of initiatives funded by the City, County and other entities. The HCVP department played a significant role in Houston’s award-winning efforts to end homelessness. Thiele also worked in the affordable housing sector as a consultant at Quadel Consulting Corporation. 

Thiele has been a devoted NAHRO member for years, taking on a variety of leadership roles at the state, regional and national levels.  At national NAHRO, he served on the Board of Governors, as the Chair of the Board of Ethics and Credentialling Trustees, and as the Vice President of the Community Revitalization and Development Committee. Thiele also served as the Senior Vice President of the NAHRO Southwest Regional Council, and as the President of Texas NAHRO. He is a proud member of the Board of the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM). 

Thiele holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago. 

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George Guy

Sr. Vice President, NAHRO

George Guy is a proven housing leader. As CEO and Executive Director of the Fort Wayne (IN) Housing Authority, George knows the difference housing and community development programs make to low-income families. He knows it because he’s lived it — growing up in public housing. He has a proven track record within the affordable housing industry having spent the past 25 years developing solutions to improve the quality of life for families in underserved communities.

George’s commitment to servant leadership has helped Fort Wayne Housing Authority, positioning the organization as one of the top performing housing authorities in the nation. Under his leadership, the organization oversees a portfolio of over 4000 public housing, vouchers, and affordable housing units.  This includes a small housing agency, Decatur Housing Authority. George has remained steadfast in his commitment to build programs that will lift all families from poverty.

He has been able to expand the conversation about housing equity while serving as the president of the Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials  (NAHRO) and regional president of the North Central Regional Council of NAHRO  (NCRC).  He also elevated the ethical standards within the housing industry serving as a trustee member of the Board of Ethics by leading the effort in developing  the NAHRO Code of Conduct.  He also is the co-founder of the Housing and Education Task Force and serves as a Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA) trustee. Additionally, George is Vice Chair of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis (FHLBI) Affordable Housing Advisory Council.

Understanding the link between civil rights, human rights, and combating systemic inequities, George has adopted this philosophy to guide his work within the affordable housing industry and has assisted in the development of numerous affordable housing projects within the states of Indiana and Illinois, totaling over $200 million dollars. These developments include mixed-finance and permanent supportive housing developments that provide critical support for families dealing with unique needs such as AIDS, aging out of foster care, homelessness and victims of domestic violence. Additionally, he has created innovative partnerships with local and national agencies with the goal of expanding affordable housing choices and wrap-around services for homeless veterans, youth, and other vulnerable members of the community. 

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Pam Parr

Executive Director, Spokane Housing Authority 

Pam Parr has more than 30 years of experience in leading rural and metropolitan affordable housing agencies. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Spokane Housing Authority, where she leads an agency providing affordable housing in Spokane County and operating one of the largest rental assistance programs in the country, spanning six counties in Eastern Washington, and two programs statewide. Pam’s previous leadership positions were at Peninsula Housing Authority, Bremerton Housing Authority, and Alaska State Housing Finance Corporation.
Pam also serves as the Chair of Spokane County Continuum of Care for the Homeless, and as a member on the boards of the Spokane Low-Income Housing Consortium, Better Health Together, Priority Spokane, Invest Health Spokane, and the Zone Project. She has served previous terms for many boards, agencies, and task forces, including as President for the Association of Washington Housing Authorities, and Washington State Housing Finance Commission. Pam holds certifications as an Affordable Housing Development Finance Professional, Public Housing Manager, and Housing Quality Standards Inspector.

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Anice Schervish Chenault

Program Manager, HUD 

I am passionate about social justice, creating community and authentic connections. This far, these values have been borne out via almost 20 years with the federal government - 14 of which have been spent managing a $105m federal grant program, Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS), which provides Public Housing Authorities with service coordinators who assess the whole-family needs of residents and connects them with locally-based public, private and non-profit partners to provide services and supports. I have skills in facilitating and training on program design for case management as well as community collaborations. In this work, I have written Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) (aka RFPs), formal and informal guidance, re-designed programs within statutory parameters, written new regulations, collaborated across federal agencies, served as a subject matter expert, provided training and technical assistance for individuals to groups of 100+, collaborated on developing and supporting a community of practice and a performance management tool, advised senior staff, and managed work flow and deliverables across multiple agency departments. I am widely considered an expert in my field and held in high regard by colleagues and grantees alike. My work is informed by community organizing, trauma-informed approaches and anti-racism practice.

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C. Sean Gilbert, PHM, SPHM

Executive Director, Morristown Housing Authority

Gilbert began his housing career as a community revitalization coordinator almost three decades ago helping distressed communities revitalize their neighborhoods and create the first “mini” City Hall to encourage civic participation. He’s since held several leadership positions in various housing agencies and continued his commitment to providing safe, decent, affordable housing for residents. Additionally, he has held many leadership roles within NAHRO at the national, regional and chapter levels. He is also a key advocacy representative for the Tennessee Chapter, and he serves on the Tennessee Housing Authority Risk Management Trust board. 

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Carol Gore

President / CEO, Cook Inlet Housing Authority

Before joining Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA), Carol was vice president of income producing real estate for Cook Inlet Region, Inc., where she managed a national and Alaska-based portfolio valued at more than $200 million.

As president and chief executive officer of CIHA, Ms. Gore's leadership has mapped a new strategic direction for the Authority to aggressively develop quality affordable housing and affordable housing programs throughout Alaska's Southcentral region. Ms. Gore's leadership style, and not surprisingly CIHA's strategic plan, embody the values of partnering, shared services and leveraging every available affordable-housing dollar to ensure the long-term fiscal health of the organization and continue – for the long-term – to benefit those most in need.
 

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Tess Hembree

Director of Legislative Affairs, NAHRO

For over a decade, I have worked as a government relations professional, grassroots advocacy expert, and effective lobbyist to help communities across the country access federal funding and legislative solutions.

Through my role with national organizations that focus on housing, planning, and sustainability, I help advance the conversation in Washington, DC on the important role the federal government plays in creating and preserving affordable housing. I have achieved significant legislative success, increasing funding for housing and community development programs by 10 percent during an era of austerity, removing unnecessary regulatory barriers, and preserving critical programs at risk of elimination. I have also led my organization through the COVID-19 crisis, securing an additional $12 billion in emergency funding for programs administered by our members.

My grassroots expertise has grown national organizations’ nascent grassroots advocacy efforts into elite programs rivaling competitors with significantly more resources. In just over one year, I increased individual participation in advocacy campaigns by 70 percent and increased advocacy letters sent from 3,000 to over 60,000 per year. I have trained thousands of housing and planning professionals on how to effective advocate for their communities.

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Duane Leonard

Executive Director, Snohomish County. Housing Authority

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Ian Davie

Chief Operating Officer, Home Forward 

Ian Davie began at Home Forward in September, 2016. After a rural Oregon upbringing and some college years in Los Angeles, Ian spent nearly twelve years in New York City. 

Among other things, he biked through as many neighborhoods as possible, figured out where to get a good late-night slice, and tried his best to remain productive while commuting two hours a day on the subway. A lawyer by training, Ian became Deputy Director of Housing at the Bronx office of Legal Services NYC, where he focused on eviction prevention, legal services, civil rights litigation, fair housing advocacy, and anti-poverty policy. At Home Forward, Ian oversees various departments including Rent Assistance, Homelessness Initiatives, Facilities and Safety, and Property Management.

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