Journal of Housing & Community Development

Three NAHRO Leaders Named Outstanding Professionals of the Year

December 22, 2023

On October 8, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) awarded three affordable housing leaders with the association’s highest honor, the Outstanding Professional of the Year award: Yvonda Bean, Lisa A. Baker and Peter LiFari. The awards were presented during the 2023 NAHRO National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Yvonda Bean

CEO, Columbia Housing

Yvonda Bean is the Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Housing, which serves more than 6,500 families in the city of Columbia and Richland County. She is leading a 10-year, $500 million initiative to reposition, renovate and redevelop the agency’s affordable housing portfolio. In 2022, the agency broke ground on three new developments valued at more than $100 million. Scheduled to be completed in early 2024, the developments will provide Columbia Housing with more than 400 new townhomes and more than 75 stand-alone homes.

“Yvonda is a dedicated houser,” said NAHRO CEO Mark Thiele. “Under her leadership, Columbia Housing is building housing, empowering minority- and women-owned business, and investing in education, employment and mentorship opportunities for the community’s youth. It is a pleasure and an honor to present her with this well-deserved award.”

Prior to her work at Columbia Housing, Yvonda served as the Executive Director/CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Lafayette (Louisiana), and as the Executive Director/CEO of Preferred Properties, Inc. She serves on NAHRO’s Board of Governors and Legislative Network.

Lisa A. Baker

CEO, Lisa A Baker Consulting

Lisa Baker is an affordable housing consultant and educator. Throughout her career she has spearheaded successful initiatives such as the Kingston Avenue Pride Strategy, which addressed neighborhood improvement and countered gang influences, the Rosemead Senior Housing Development, which combined senior housing, a community center and an intergenerational preschool, and the Yolo Housing Migrant Center Pandemic Response, which implemented comprehensive plans for public space usage to support vulnerable populations. As an educator, she has lectured at UC Davis for 15 years, written numerous articles for the Journal of Housing and Community Development. She is also currently a NAHRO Faculty member, and has taught courses on implicit bias and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and community readiness.

“Lisa’s wide-ranging expertise in affordable housing development and management is matched only by her ability to share her knowledge with others,” said NAHRO CEO Mark Thiele. “She’s a practitioner, an advocate, a teacher, and so much more. I’m thrilled to be able to present her with this well-deserved honor.”

Lisa Baker has also served as the CEO of Yolo County Housing and as the president of Baker Street Associates, which provided housing and community development grants, policy and interim staffing services to local governments. She serves on the NAHRO International Research and Global Exchange Committee and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee.

Peter LiFari

CEO, Maiker Housing Partners

Peter LiFari is the Chief Executive Officer of Maiker Housing Partners, where he leads a passionate team committed to ending the cycle of generational poverty by providing people with access to affordable housing and support programs, and by engaging in community development. He served as chairperson on the Housing Stability and Recovery Team for the Adams County Government’s COVID-19 Task Force. LiFari and his Maiker team also played a critical leadership role in the distribution of Adams County’s COVID-19 Rental and Mortgage Assistance Relief Fund, which distributed more than $15 million dollars to support more than 4,300 people who were most vulnerable to eviction and foreclosure.

“Peter is not just an effective houser and inspirational leader – he’s also a tireless advocate who understands the power of team building and collaboration,” said NAHRO CEO Mark Thiele. “His empathy shines through in everything he does, and I’m thrilled to present him with this well-deserved honor.”

LiFari also serves as the co-chair of the steering committee of the Rocky Mountain Partnership, and was appointed by the Governor of Colorado to serve on the inaugural Colorado Statewide Middle Income Housing Authority Board. He is also the 2023 Housing Fellow at the Common Sense Institute.

About the Outstanding Professional of the Year Award

The Outstanding Professional of the Year Award is NAHRO’s highest and most prestigious award given to honor an exceptionally qualified person who has made outstanding contributions to the quality of life through service in the field of housing or community development. The award is made on the basis of extraordinary accomplishments and contributions.

The award was established in 1975 in the name of M. Justin Herman. It was renamed and revamped in 2019 to better reflect the purpose of the award and to encourage nominees from all agency sizes to apply.

Learn more:

More Articles in this Issue

key Member Content
Volume 80, Issue 2

Fall/Winter 2023

NAHRO is pleased to announce the 2023 NAHRO-LDG Scholarship cohort! Presented at the 2023 National Conference &…