By Hal Keller

April 1, 2019

I must admit that I get choked up every fall as I see young kids with their new backpacks and back-to-school clothes walking down the street with a parent to their first day of class. Though my kids are grown, out of college and working, it brings back memories of those milestone transitions. No longer a kindergartner, but a first grader. No longer an elementary student, but a middle schooler, etc. At a recent OCCH staff meeting I asked for a show of hands if a staffer had a child entering kindergarten, first grade, middle school, high school or college for the first time. A lot of hands shot up.

Such transitions are scary and exciting all at the same time. As I began to think about what to write for this communication’s President Message, I thought that I should update you about some of the big staff transitions at OCCH. There are several significant ones.

  • We are very excited to have Merydith Greene join OCCH as Chief of Development. Merydith comes to us from the National Affordable Housing Trust, another mission driven nonprofit syndicator. She spent 17 years in a variety of roles, including in acquisitions and asset management. She will lead our strong Development staff that assists our partners in applying for credits and structuring deals.
  • Joe Pimmel, a 23-year OCCH veteran who previously held that position, has assumed the role of Director of Policies and Programs. Among other things, Joe will be overseeing our growing philanthropic affiliate, Ohio Capital Impact Corporation. Joe will continue to manage our critical Ohio 9% application technical assistance efforts while tracking state housing policies that impact our partners.
  • Nick Balow, who started his career at OCCH as a graduate school intern seven years ago, has been promoted to Development Officer from Development Analyst. Nick has earned this promotion through the growth of his technical knowledge and expertise and the wonderful partner relationships he has developed. He will be joining OCCH veterans Brian Langmeyer, Beth Long and Brad Carman as Development Officers.
  • Given these changes and our growing project pipeline, we are looking to hire a new Development Analyst who will work together with Annie Ross and Jimmy McCune, two experienced analysts. If you can think of a qualified and potentially interested candidate, please direct them to our website.
  • On a down note, Doug Klingensmith, who has been with us for 20 years, has decided to leave OCCH to become an affordable housing consultant. I cannot overstate what Doug has done for OCCH. From the hundreds of projects he has worked on, to the early days with the Mark-to Market Demonstration Program, to our increasing HUD preservation work and focus on public housing redevelopment, to his work with so many partners that love and respect him, Doug has left his mark on affordable housing in Ohio. Doug will be working with Development staff to ensure a smooth transition and even after he leaves, will be available to get projects closed and under construction. Doug has been a very important part of our organizational history and will be missed.
  • With all of these changes, it is a good thing we have hired a Vice President of Human Resources, Nancy Tallman. Nancy comes to us after 31 years at Alliance Data. Nancy joined OCCH this past May and has hit the ground running. With our Chief of Staff Sue Ziegler, Nancy is working with our Leadership Team (Jack Kukura, Joe Pimmel, Tony DiBlasi, Jennifer Mullaney, Jon Welty, Merydith Greene, and Chad Ketler at CPO) and the rest of OCCH staff on our core values, internal processes and ways to strengthen our corporate culture. Good stuff!
  • And you might recall, I myself had announced my intention to retire sometime in 2019. The OCCH Board Search Committee is currently working with a search firm to identify the next leader of OCCH. But I have no plans to go anyplace anytime soon! I am in no hurry to leave and plan on leading OCCH and helping with the transition well into next year.

Well, enough about us! We should be talking about another transition: the transition to a new Governor in the state of Ohio. Whatever your opinion of the last few governors, I think you will agree affordable housing issues did not count among their top priorities. A change in administration provides a great opportunity to press for an elevation of our issues. We need more resources to address increasing need and new leadership from the chief executive of the state to focus on housing issues.

Resources should include increased funding for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, a new state Low Income Housing Tax Credit, a rental housing subsidy and capital resources for special needs populations and support for local efforts to deal with the eviction epidemic.

New leadership should include the appointment of qualified administrators at the Ohio Development Services Agency and ensuring that any appointments to the board of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency do not politicize that effective organization.

I urge you to work with all of the advocacy and trade associations to press our case for these changes.

I look forward to seeing you at the Ohio Housing Conference around Election Day to talk about this particular transition!!!

Hal Keller, President

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