Explore the Gala
This celebration was an opportunity for us to kick back and relax while coming together to honor some very special Bay Area housers, who’ve gone above and beyond to advance housing and racial justice in our region this year.
Each year, we recognize those who’ve not only worked to strengthen our affordable housing movement, but have taken the lead with innovation, collaboration, and inclusiveness, as well as empowered their communities. In 2020 we honored:
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Fall Gala Videos
Whether you were able to attend or not, we’d like to share with you five inspiring videos that were featured at the event. These videos highlight our outstanding awardees as well as the tireless work of Affordable Housing frontline workers and BAHIP (Bay Area Housing Internship Program).
Having trouble seeing the videos? Watch the Fall Gala playlist on YouTube.
(Formerly with Alameda County’s Housing and Community Development Department)
Public Sector Award
Linda Gardner worked in Alameda County’s Housing and Community Development Department for over 32 years, serving as its Director for 23 years. Under Linda’s leadership, HCD greatly expanded affordable housing development financing in Alameda County, as well as both funding and programs to serve unhoused people and end homelessness (all while continuing to carry out multiple, long standing community development programs).
One of Linda’s recent accomplishments was the role she played as the lead architect for the $580 Million Alameda County Measure A1 Housing Bond, which involved an intensive community input process and many educational presentations throughout the County. Her efforts, along with those of many other partners, helped Measure A1 pass with over 73% approval in November 2016.
During her three-decade-long tenure at the County, Linda also obtained and oversaw numerous other sources of financing for affordable housing development, supporting the addition of over 4,200 affordable housing units to Alameda County’s housing stock, serving a wide variety of household types with a focus on extremely low and very low-income households (with many more units in process). Linda was also instrumental in the formation of the first Homeless Continuum of Care Council, which brought together public and private entities to successfully apply for millions of dollars in Federal and State homeless funding and supporting county-wide plans and initiatives to end homelessness.
Linda’s work is grounded in the belief that working across silos is critical to solving social problems and that affordable housing is key in both the lives of individuals and in the creation of livable communities. In partnership with other County departments, all fourteen cities in Alameda County and numerous community-based services and housing organizations, she developed numerous new programs and initiatives, for a wide variety of populations, including homeless households, housing programs for people with mental illness, formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, CalWorks recipients, people living with AIDS, first-time homeowners, and many others.
Linda brought to her work a deep understanding of policy, including the many potential funding streams for affordable housing and homeless services, as well as excellent listening skills, the ability to understand people of different backgrounds and life experiences, an understanding of politics and how to get things done, and the ability to effectively communicate complex matters.
Linda is a graduate of Stanford University (History) and UC Berkeley (Urban Planning). She has been recognized with Stanford University’s prestigious Dinkelspiel Award, as well as many HUD “Best Practice” awards for her programs and initiatives. Among her proudest achievements is her wonderful daughter Alva, a person-centered disability ability trainer in Oakland.
Emerging Leaders Peer Network
Building the Future Award
The seeds for what would become the Emerging Leaders Peer Network (ELPN) were planted in 2014. That year, as NPH’s long-time executive director Dianne J. Spaulding was planning her departure from the organization, she thought about what she could catalyze in her final year to leave the organization stronger and positioned for the future. She had always had an interest in supporting the development of a cohort of future leaders and when a few of the future ELPN co-founders came to her with this idea of a networking and professional development working group for newcomers in the field, she quickly gave it her blessing.
In May of 2014, the co-founders had their first kick-off meeting with a representative group of about 12 people from across the field – development, property management, architecture, legal, and advocacy. This initial meeting along with some targeted and open follow-up forums over the next six months created the initial framing of what the group could offer the field and how to structure ELPN to best serve its membership.
In seeking to connect across the field, ELPN tapped into an existing resource – the Housers Happy Hour, which had started as an ad hoc social group among staff of the three nonprofits that shared the office space on the third floor of 369 Pine – Bay Area LISC, California Housing Partnership, and NPH. It quickly expanded to add lots of friends from across the affordable housing community, with a monthly meet-up and lots of lively conversation. ELPN utilized the informal mailing list of this group to start recruitment for the new group.
ELPN’s first big event was a kickoff party that laid out the vision for ELPN to create a network for professional development (including trainings) and networking. While the event was more of a celebration of things to come, the full capacity event affirmed that there was a need for this group to exist and that there was support from the affordable housing sector. In 2015, ELPN rolled out their first year of programming, featuring property tours, brown bags, and a marquee speaker event featuring Carol Galante of the Terner Center.
From the beginning, the group structured itself with sub-committees that focused on the areas that ELPN members identified as areas that they could assist their peers and the field with. This has allowed ELPN the autonomy and leadership opportunities to best serve its membership. The most notable and active subcommittee has been the Professional Development Committee, but the Recruitment, Policy & Advocacy and Communications committees have played important, if less visible, roles in shaping some of today’s young leaders. In 2016, ELPN convened a workshop focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the affordable housing sector at the NPH conference, which catalyzed the conversation and subsequent work for the broader NPH membership.
Over the course of the last five years, ELPN’s menu of events and opportunities has grown and diversified, including things like hot topic forums, an affordable housing book club, industry event meetups, and countless trainings on a range of topics. Each subsequent year-end party has become more and more of a destination event, with DJs, photo booths, and really good times.
The work that goes into ELPN is a lot more than meets the eye – each event requires conceptualizing, lots of planning, and execution. Although NPH provides ELPN with staffing and financial support, the engagement of ELPN members has revitalized the work of NPH and the affordable housing sector. Today, ELPN continues to grow and strengthen the industry by offering space for new leaders in the field to sharpen their tools and skills and to connect with others.
Learn more about ELPN here.
ELPN Steering Committee (Current and Former)
- Abby Murray, Low Income Investment Fund
- Ali Gaylord, MidPen
- Andrew Buhrmann, Devine & Gong
- Bob Tengen, Bank of America
- Breann Gala, Resources for Community Development (RCD)
- Caroline McCormick, SF Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development
- Caroline Souza, David Baker Architects
- Catherine Etzel, The John Stewart Company
- Charlotte Rosen
- Claire Parisa, California Housing Partnership (CHPC)
- Danielle Mazzella, California Housing Partnership (CHPC)
- Gail McGuire, Mission Housing
- James Vossoughi, Chase Bank
- Joanna Ladd, Chinatown Community Development Center
- Karim Sultan, Covia
- Lisa Howlett, MidPen Housing
- Louis Liss, Eden Housing
- Mitchell Crispell
- Orissa Stewart-Rose
- Thu Nguyen, Related California
(Formerly with Christian Church Homes)
Catherine A. Bauer Lifetime Achievement Award
Don recently retired after 42 years of working at the only company where he was ever employed – Christian Church Homes (CCH) in Oakland. Working for this faith-based organization, which has 60 years of dedication to seniors of limited income, was fulfilling in countless ways and managed to keep Don’s full attention for many decades.
An unusual course of events created Don’s lifelong personal interest in seniors and affordable housing. Don’s father was the first president of CCH and managed buildings in Oakland. Thus, Don spent his childhood living in senior housing. He learned how to deliver papers, paint vacant apartments, play pool and bridge, how to swear, and witnessed his first death while growing up among 200 extra grandparents. This unique life experience created an exceptional insight into the life of a senior and the wisdom that can be garnered from this special life experience.
Don left home to go off to college where he earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree and was able to convince his wife, Leanne, to marry him. After receiving his Master’s, he returned to CCH to work in various capacities. Over four decades Don served as Community Manager, Regional Manager, Chief Operating Officer, and eventually President/CEO for the last 12 years of his career.
Four decades of affordable housing and intense daily work with seniors allows one to be deeply involved in the industry in many regards. Don served as the board chair for the Association of Housing Management Agents and was active in the Institute of Real Estate Management where he holds the Certified Property Manager and Accredited Management Organization accreditation, Leading Age California and National, and finally, a little nonprofit in San Francisco called NPH. He secured funding and managed operational programs in nearly every agency which was in this industry including HUD, CalHFA, many Public Housing Authorities, LIHTC funding in multiple states, and Community Development Block Grant and local funding in multiple cities across California and the country.
What stands out as special in such a career? Many things, but one of the finest achievements was early recognition (as early as 1984) of the notion of “Aging In Place” for seniors in affordable housing. Over a three-decade period our industry has continued to improve how we manage and relate to our older and frail seniors. Aging in place programs are established in every state and effectively tackle this challenging component of affordable housing. CCH as a company, and Don as president of that company, have played a leadership role on this issue from the 1980s to present.
PS – A lifetime of hanging out in senior housing has generated a million stories – some funny, some tragic, some enlightening. If we meet in a coffee shop, and you have 4 hours to spare, we can swap stories.
BAHIP & Frontline Workers
We honored the critical work of affordable housing frontline workers, who continue to ensure residents remain safe and housed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as BAHIP (Bay Area Housing Internship Program), which has prioritized the important work of racial equity and inclusion in our industry, which is especially important during this time of urgent racial justice uprisings.
Learn more about BAHIP here.
With hearts full of sadness but also appreciation, NPH is proud that our Fall Gala took time to honor the life and work of John Stewart, chairman and founder of The John Stewart Company, JSCo, who passed away on September 5 after a long battle with cancer.
John made significant contributions to the affordable housing community and will be sincerely missed. Read more about John.