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President’s Forum: After Four Decades, Bollinger Memorial Programs Still Advancing Educational Opportunities for Youth

PHADA President Mark Gillett.

One of PHADA’s founding members was Steve Bollinger, who was the Executive Director of the Columbus, Ohio Metropolitan Housing Authority. He served on PHADA’s inaugural Board of Trustees and was the association’s Vice President. It is likely that he would have eventually been PHADA President had Ronald Reagan not chosen him to be HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development in the early 1980s. 

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of Steve Bollinger’s death. At the time, he was serving at HUD. Although he was just 36 years old, he accomplished much in a brief time as evidenced by President Reagan’s tribute to him (reprinted below). Indeed, he is still remembered for his key role in PHADA’s history and for his contributions in the broader arena of housing and community/economic development. 


PHADA’s Bollinger Scholarship

In early June, PHADA will recognize the winner of this year’s Bollinger Scholarship. The association initiated the program in 1985 following Steve’s death. The scholarship luncheon is always a highlight of our annual meeting, sometimes bringing tears to the eyes of attendees. Over the last 39 years, PHADA has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bollinger Scholarship winners—dozens of deserving public housing residents, who later went on to prestigious universities and careers. 

When PHADA celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2004, Steve’s widow, Lin Bollinger, addressed and inspired meeting participants, expressing how much the program meant to her family. In the two decades since, PHADA has expanded its scholarship program to include two additional funds that we award to deserving youth. They include our Civil Rights and Social Justice Scholarship and the Nan McKay Pathway to Achievement Scholarship.

The 2024 scholarship will be presented at the Annual Convention & Exhibition, June 2–5 in New Orleans. The winner will be announced soon and will receive a trip for him/herself and a parent/guardian to attend the convention. I know the members of our scholarship committee and the PHADA board and staff look forward to meeting that individual. 


The Bollinger Foundation

There is another related education program housing professionals should know. The Bollinger Foundation raises funds for the education and support of children who have lost one or both parents. Priority is given toward families in which either the deceased parent worked—or the surviving parent continues to work—in the field of public or affordable housing, or community and economic development.

Steve Bollinger.

Before his death, Steve Bollinger had created an annual golf tournament. For three years, HUD staff, business associates, friends, and families would gather for a day of golf, sunshine, and companionship. The Bollinger Open continued after Steve died with an additional goal: to raise funds for the Bollinger children’s education and eventually others in that same unfortunate situation. To date, the Bollinger Foundation has awarded over $1.2 million in education grants. 

The Foundation recently announced its nomination process for this year’s grants (see notice below). If you know someone in our field whose child might qualify, please nominate them. One recent grant recipient, for example, is the child of former PHADA President Curt Hiebert, who passed away several years ago. 

PHADA’s Executive Director Tim Kaiser has served on the Foundation’s Board for more than two decades with other association leaders including Steve’s good friend, Jeff Finkle (former CEO of the International Economic Development Council), and the National Leased Housing Association’s Director, Denise Muha, among others. Two of Bollinger’s children, Heather and Steve, now lead the Foundation, carrying on its important work. 

PHADA is a longtime sponsor of the annual fundraiser tournament. Many other organizations and private companies have also lent their financial support and personal time. Tim told me that his modest golf game has not improved much, but he and others are proud to honor Steve Bollinger’s memory while having fun and helping scores of young people get an education. 



In addition to PHADA’s award, attendees will be able to offer personal donations to our scholarship winner in New Orleans. If you are not attending the June meeting but would like to support the scholarship program, please contact Samara Dinkins at: sdinkins @phada.org. If you would like to participate in the Bollinger golf tournament to help raise funds for needy children, see: www.bollingerfoundation.org or contact Tim Kaiser at: tkaiser@phada.org.   

PHADA owes a big debt of gratitude to one of its founders, Steve Bollinger. His legacy remains strong 40 years after his death, and we are delighted and proud that so many children have benefited from these two education programs. 

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