PHADA President Mark Gillett.
I am honored to serve as PHADA’s President for the next two years. I appreciate the trust and confidence members have placed in me and want to thank my predecessor, David Northern (Houston, TX), for his leadership. I am glad that he remains on our executive committee as Immediate Past President along with the rest of the very capable team listed on the page 2 masthead of this edition. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Oklahoma City Housing Authority Board of Commissioners for allowing me to pursue this opportunity and thank the Oklahoma City Housing Authority staff for their support.
I began my career at the Oklahoma City Housing Authority in 1991, serving as a grant writer and Resident Services Coordinator. Eventually, I worked my way up to Assistant Executive Director and was appointed Executive Director in 2012. Our agency administers over 3,100 public housing units and 4,000 vouchers. We also administer homeless assistance programs and established an affordable assisted living facility. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Phillips University in Enid, OK, and a master’s degree from Wichita State University. I am also a graduate of the PHADA-Rutgers University Executive Director Education Program (EDEP).
The Oklahoma City HA has a longstanding appreciation of – and commitment to – PHADA. I am proud that our housing authority occupies a unique place in the organization’s history. One of my predecessors as Executive Director, the late Jack Womack, was PHADA’s Vice President for Legislation in the early 1990s. Our central office building is named for Jack. In addition, I served as Assistant Director under the tutelage of John Johnson, who was President in 2007–09. The aforementioned senior living facility was named in John’s memory as a tribute to all he did for our housing authority and the community.
PHADA’s Recent Convention
My election as President occurred in conjunction with our Annual Convention & Exhibition in Denver. The meeting was a remarkable success with over 600 registrants, exhibitors, and sponsors. We are grateful to the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) led by PHADA Trustee David Nisivoccia. As our host, DHA provided volunteers and invited important guests such as Mayor Michael Hancock, and they organized and sponsored a wonderful bus tour of some of their impressive properties – complete with a view of the Rocky Mountains, Denver Bronco Stadium, and a DHA grocery store just down the street. Thank you, David and the DHA staff! A photo essay of the tour can be found here.
In Denver, we conducted informative sessions on some timely topics including NSPIRE, the new Fair Housing Rule, HOTMA and the debt ceiling issue (click here for more information on that important new law). We also acknowledged some key leaders who have made valuable contributions over the years. These include Anne Smith (Menard County, IL), who ably led our Membership Committee for the last four years. Fortunately, even though she will no longer chair the committee, Anne will remain a member of PHADA’s Board.
PHADA President, Mark Gillett (center) with past PHADA Presidents (L-R): Rick Parker, Jon Gutzmann, Cindy Naber, Nancy Walker, John Clarke, John Hodge, and Immediate Past President David A. Northern, Sr.
We also recognized Earl Rickman (Mt. Clemens, MI) and former PHADA President Rick Parker (Athens, GA), who are both retiring later this summer.
PHADA leaders also discussed our positions on some key policy and budgetary issues. As always, our number one legislative priority will be to ensure adequate appropriations of our core programs (operating, capital funding and Section 8 project and tenant-based assistance). We will also continue to press HUD on the need to streamline onerous regulations and provide well run HAs more flexibility. Local discretion will be even more essential considering some of the budget constraints flowing from the new budget agreement.
You Can Help Make a Difference
I became involved in PHADA because of the encouragement of mentors such as John Johnson, and because it provided a way for me to help effectuate change in the way we operate and serve residents. I am hoping many of you, especially those who may be new to our industry, will do the same.
PHADA wants – and needs – your input and participation. We are now in the process of reconstituting our committees prior to our September meeting in Washington. Please see the information here to learn how you can become more involved. Thank you.