I’ll be honest. When I hung up after getting the call from our Board Co-Chair Jeff Hayward telling me that the Board of the National Alliance to End Homelessness had voted in favor of me being the new CEO, I burst into tears. The immediate process for me to get here was incredibly thorough, as it should be when selecting a successor for someone like Nan Roman who has been steadfastly leading our field through successes and challenges for nearly 30 years. And the steps along the way in this work for me – which included 10 years of federal service and deep work in communities across the country – were also sometimes incredibly challenging. The reality of leading the Alliance at this point in my career felt a little overwhelming.
But the underlying reason for the surge of emotion I felt that day wasn’t about me – it was about the opportunity and responsibility in front of me to use this platform to make progress towards ending homelessness. It was about people – people who are experiencing homelessness, housing instability, and discrimination every day. It was about people who partner with us in this work, people who are forced to make difficult decisions in a system that does not have enough resources to meet the need. Relief, anticipation, responsibility, anxiety and opportunity hit me all at once. And I think that is a good thing.
It is good because it tells you that I understand and appreciate the Alliance’s legacy of positive impact through leadership, collaboration, and innovation. And it’s also good because it tells you that I understand the urgency of this moment. The landscape is shifting before our eyes, and new threats seem to emerge every week. This challenges all of us to work differently, to find new energy, to seek out new thought partners, and to identify new opportunities for collaborative efforts that push towards justice. It means that I understand that we need practical and operational guidance that makes our systems work better, that we must learn from and with each other, and that we must listen to and partner with people who have lived experience of the systems we seek to change.
What you can expect from the Alliance under my leadership is an organization that continues and amplifies the best of what we have done so well in the past and looks for new ways to approach our shared work to end homelessness.
We will lean in on evidence-based approaches and real thought partnership with people with lived expertise to make sure that we – as a nation – are housing as many people as possible. We will continue to fight hard for good policy and critical resources – like universal housing choice vouchers, affordable housing supply, supportive services, and homelessness funding. We will provide assistance and guidance so our partners in communities can do the same. We will problem-solve alongside communities facing tough challenges. And most importantly, we will approach our work with a strong racial justice and equity focus that will address disparities and discrimination and help to create a system that deliberately supports historically marginalized people – especially BIPOC, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities.
In the coming weeks you will hear more from us about our priorities and approach for the next year. Of course, you will also hear from the whole Alliance team at and around our upcoming conference in July. We are excited to see many of you in person for the first time since February 2020 and to welcome many people who will join us for the first time.
In conclusion, I want to underscore that the Alliance’s work has always been and will always be informed by what is happening in the field. Your insights – backed up by the invaluable data that proves what does and doesn’t work to end a person’s homelessness – are the backbone of evidence-based best practices as we know them. I am committed to extending this dialogue. I want to hear what is working, who is innovating, where you are hitting obstacles, and most importantly, what we can do to help.