Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations for Game Changer Awards this year. We received many great nominations. The planning committee faced a tough decision but ultimately selected 4 individuals that they felt truly exemplified the characteristics of a “Game Changer” in the housing field this year. Congratulations to this year’s award winners, who will be recognized at the 30th Annual Awards Luncheon on June 15th at the Greater Richmond Convention Center!

Shelley Fortier headshotShelley Fortier is the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley, which covers a broad geographic area with diverse housing needs. Under her leadership, the organization has succeeded in developing diversity in programs, expanding collaboration with other housing organizations, continuing assessment of regional housing needs and modifying approaches to address the needs, and improving its revenue stream. She has also taken initiative to serve as an advocate for Blacksburg families who were required to move their mobile homes from rental property that was being vacated for development of apartments.

Roy PriestRoy Priest is the CEO of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority. He manages all aspects of housing development and operations. He established an economic framework and strategic plan to address the financial sustainability of the agency, repositioning the housing program from upkeep of over 1,000 older units dependent upon variable subsidies, to a model which uses land value and other equity to redevelop obsolete housing into new affordable units as an integral part of vibrant, mixed-income communities.

MiraSignerMira Signer served as the Executive Director of NAMI Virginia from 2007 to 2017. With her leadership, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for people with serious mental illness has received increasing support from the Virginia General Assembly over the last four years. Specifically, Mira worked with advocates, people with mental illness and their families, lawmakers, and other stakeholders to secure new state general funds dedicated for PSH for people with serious mental illness who are frequent users of high cost systems such as hospitals and jails. As a result, a new line item was established in the mental health budget and funding for PSH went from zero dollars in FY 15 to nearly $10 million in FY 17-18. It is estimated that close to 900 adults with serious mental illness will be served with this funding. Mira has also provided leadership on numerous state level initiates including the Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century Housing Work Group and the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health Services and Crisis Response. In May of 2017, Mira joined Magellan of Virginia as the System of Care Director to work across agencies and stakeholder groups to lead system transformation initiatives.
Kristin Yavorsky photoKristin Yavorsky serves as the Homeless Projects Coordinator at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services where she oversees the acitivities of a $6.8 million SAMHSA Collaborative Agreeement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) grant as well as $10 million in new state funding for permanent supportive housing for adults with serious mental illness. Kristin has been a critical player in transforming the housing landscape for people with serious mental illness. Her knowledge, presence, and persistence have given confidence to legislators, providers, and advocates that DBHDS is implementing high-fidelity PSH and that the agency is establishing strong mechanisms to be sure the right population is targeted and that evaluations mechanisms are built in to ensure good outcomes.

This year’s Game Changers will be honored at the 30th Annual Awards Luncheon on June 15th at theGreater Richmond Convention Center. Click here to sponsor the event! Individual tickets will go on sale on May 15th!