Monthly Q&A with Candidates for NAHRO President and Senior Vice President
The NAHRO leadership changes hands biennially with the election of a President and Senior Vice President by the NAHRO membership. Campaigning for biennial elections begins at national conferences in even-numbered years and concludes with the election in the fall in odd-numbered years. NAHRO Associate and Allied Individual members are eligible to seek these offices. For more information, visit www.nahro.org/election23 or email Sylvia Bowen at email@example.com.
To assist members in getting to know the candidates, the NAHRO Nominating and Election Committee poses a monthly question from May – August. This month’s question is about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). As DEI is one of the goals of the NAHRO Strategic Plan, how have worked to improve DEI in your agency and/or your community and how you would strengthen and support the DEI initiative at NAHRO?
For President: George Guy; CEO/Executive Director, Fort Wayne Housing Authority
Equity and inclusion have been guiding principles throughout my career. In 2016, I partnered with a DEI professional to provide annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training and coaching for our team. In 2020, we took it a step further by collaborating to create a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) statement that establishes clear standards for how we value and prioritize DEIB.
We continue to provide quarterly training through our Cultural Competency Learning Sessions on topics such as unconscious bias, cultural competence, and inclusive leadership. This helps us develop the skills needed to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. These efforts also inform our recruitment strategies and policies.
In 2020, I collaborated with other industry leaders to organize a Housing Equity Task Force (HETF), which identified opportunities to improve advocacy, funding, mobility, and resource opportunities. HEFT partnered and/or advanced shared goals of equitable housing policies with industry associations such as NAHRO and other stakeholders.
It is imperative that we continue to develop partnerships and resources to help agencies initiate internal DEI initiatives and create community partnerships that provide equitable programs for the residents and communities they serve. We will continue to foster a culture of inclusion within NAHRO by promoting open communication, respect for diversity, and equal opportunities through regular training, workshops, and other initiatives.
By taking these steps, we will strengthen and support the DEI initiative at NAHRO and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable organization that assists its member agencies in advancing their work.
For Senior Vice President: Sean Gilbert; Executive Director Morristown Housing Authority
DEI is vital to ensuring that NAHRO and local agencies serve as ambassadors of our communities. When Mathew Desmond writes that African American College graduates make less than their Caucasian peers it remains obvious there is a cultural problem in America. At our agency, we have analyzed local demographics to establish a brand that is reflective of our community. We recently began to embark on a vision to attract and employ a more diverse and equitable array of talent, in an effort to ensure that we have a robust and culturally diverse representation of associates who will serve our constituents.
The agency recently hosted a “Housing Retreat” to rebrand the goals and services within our portfolio. This retreat consisted of dynamic talent from a myriad of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. We were able to utilize this retreat to invigorate and embolden this business line to meet the cultural and socio-economic needs of not only our customers but our staff members as well.
During executive meetings, we have a foundation that focuses on the Three C’s (Culture, Community & Customers). We strive to deliver our services in a manner that adds value to our customers cultural and community values. The agency has created effective avenues for leaders to obtain valuable guidance from front line staff on what they are seeing and how we can better support delivering our services in a manner that respects and promotes advancement of DEI initiatives in both our organization and in our communities.