WHF 2021-2022 Year in Review

Despite the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was a great year of programming for Women in Housing and Finance.  Commencing with our 40th Anniversary Virtual Celebration on July 14, 2021, we reflected and celebrated our past and present, recognizing the immeasurable contributions of our founders, presidents, board members, advisors and members who have all worked to create a welcoming community and supportive environment within the housing and community development industry in New York.  We also launched our inaugural mentoring program, thoughtfully pairing experienced mentors with mentees with the goal of fostering continued professional growth and development of our participants.      

In November we kicked off our lunch and learn series with Susan Wright, VP of Design and Construction at Selfhelp Realty Group, who provided an in-depth overview of the basics of reading and understanding floor plans.  In December, WHF President and Partner at Goldstein Hall Niki Tsismenakis presented with Sharmi Sobhan, Executive Director of Community Development Banking at JP Morgan Chase.  They led a lively and engaging discussion on the many guaranties required in affordable housing development.

Our 2022 Keynote Speaker was Denise Scott, President of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  In February, she gave us an insightful look into her 40-year career in community development.  Empowering and uplifting the voices of communities served, cultivating the next generation of leadership, and comprehensive approaches to community development that deepen investments in people - with purpose and intention - are some of the important points Denise touched upon in her keynote address.  We were left inspired by her professional journey and continued commitment to the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives of people of color.

Our third lunch and learn was held in March and featured Cherita Perry, Vice President of Insurance Risk Management at the National Equity Fund.  She gave an incredibly informative and enthusiastic presentation on insurance and the many items to consider from both a contractual and operational perspective.  We are thankful for Ms. Perry sharing her 20 years of experience with our members.   

Also held in March was our panel on Supporting Emerging MWBE Developers.  Moderated by Raquel Vazquez, CEO of The Empowered Block, our panel featured developers and capital providers who spoke to their experiences on the topic.  Vogue Jackson, Director of Development at JP Design and Melissa Bindra, Principal of Vaya Development shared the motivations for founding their firms and the many challenges faced.  How do we level the playing field?  Wilhelmena Norman-Hernandez, Manager of Community Impact – ACCESS with the Community Preservation Corporation and Sara Myerson, Managing Director of MSquared, spoke to the initiatives of their respective organizations and how they are addressing these inequities.  The Community Preservation Corporation has created and funded a $20 million initiative, ACCESS, which aims to empower BIPOC developers by providing access to capital and other resources that enable continued capacity building, such as their CPC ACCESS Developer Incubator, which provides free training to emerging BIPOC developers.  CPC has also launched a $6 million fund with TruFund Financial Services, Inc. which provides equity capital and technical assistance to emerging BIPOC developers in New York State.  MSquared, a WBE development and impact investment firm has raised capital focused on funding MWBE sponsored development projects through its Equitable Housing Solutions Fund and MSquared Impact Partners Fund. 

March was also host to our annual Women’s Executive Roundtable, featuring Satpal Kaur, Founder & Design + Building Science Principal at Satpal, Elaine Braithwaite, Senior Director, L+M Development Partners, Page Travelstead, Managing Director, Wells Fargo, Ruth Moreira, Executive Vice President of Development, New York City Housing Development Corporation, Christine Coletta, Partner, Hirschen Singer & Epstein LLP, and Nicole Clare, Chief Real Estate Development Officer, Bowery Residents' Committee.  Our roundtable attendees conversed in virtual small group settings with our esteemed group of women executives who shared their personal experiences and reflections on their careers.

May featured our last lunch and learn with Mark Deceglie of William Vitacco Associates who provided a comprehensive overview of the plan approval and permitting process through the new DOB NOW Portal.

This month, we hosted our annual member’s dinner, which was our first in-person event in two years!  It was an inspiring and uplifting evening, with dozens of members gathered on a beautiful Spring day to enjoy dinner and drinks on a Manhattan rooftop and re-connect with each other.  Our members elected a new slate of board members and officers, received updates on the past year’s activities, and heard our plans for the future.

As we near the end of this year’s programming, it’s wonderful to reflect upon all the time and effort that went into making this year a success.  I’d like to recognize all the board members for their hard work and dedication to the organization and all the participants who so graciously gave of their time.  Thank you to everyone who joined us this year.  We very much look forward to seeing you in the future.