Congrats to the 2017 Top 40 Network and Hall of Fame Inductees!
We are pleased to announce the 2017 Top 40 Network and Hall of Fame Inductees! These individuals will be recognized at our 30th Annual Awards Luncheon, which will be held at noon at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. To join us as a sponsor, click here.
2017 Top 40 Network Inductees
The Top 40 Network was created in 2012 with a mission to “connect and develop leaders impacting housing through engaging opportunities for learning and relationship building to create transformation in the industry”. The Top 40 Network recognizes emerging affordable housing and homeless service professionals who have demonstrated professional excellence in Virginia’s housing industry and leadership in innovation.
Melissa Cohen is an affordable housing development specialist with Arlington County. Her work focuses on helping to underwrite loans to affordable housing developers utilizing the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Funds. She was instrumental in the creation of new affordable housing financials tools for the Columbia Pike area of Arlington County, which include tax increment financing, a Transit Oriented Affordable Housing Fund, and transferrable development rights. She also plays an integral role in the County’s site plan process, capably negotiating affordable housing bonus density terms with developers and facilitating form-based code housing requirement discussions with developers. Before arriving in Arlington almost five years ago, she worked for RKG Associates, an economic planning and real estate consulting firm located in Alexandria, VA.
Mira Signer (who is also a Game Changer this year!) 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.
2017 Hall of Fame Inductees
The Hall of Fame is a very prestigious honor. These individuals were chosen because they demonstrated outstanding career performance in Virginia’s housing industry or homeless services field. They are recognized for their dedicated service and contributions to the field.
Dr. Sheila Crowley retired as President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) in May 2016 after 17 years of leading the membership organization that is dedicated to achieving socially just public policy that assures people withthe lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. During her tenure, NLIHC led the effort to establish the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) which was enacted into law in 2008 and received its first funds in the summer of 2016. At least 75% of NHTF dollars must be used to build or preserve rental housing that is affordable to the lowest income households in the U.S., the first new federal money in a generation to produce housing specifically for this population.
Graham Driver recently retired from the Virginia Community Development Corporation after serving for more than 12 years as the Director of New Market Tax Credits and Project Development Advisor. Graham began his career in affordable housing in 1988 at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program had just begun, and Graham wrote the first operations manual on LIHTC. As a result, he is considered the “grandfather” of LIHTC in Virginia. In 1995, he was transferred to VHDA when the LIHTC program was relocated to that agency. His long history working for affordable housing is legendary and the very successful LIHTC program is a testimony to his work.
Delegate Frank Hall represented the City of Richmond in the Virginia House of Delegates for 34 years. He was the minority leader in the House, a key member of its appropriations committee, and a member of the Virginia Housing Commission. He was a longtime supporter of affordable housing efforts in the City. He served as a dedicated and tireless Commissioner of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority from June 2012 – April 2015 and provided leadership as the Vice Chairman of the Board of the Commissioners in 2013. He brought to RRHA a wealth of legal, banking, and legislative experience. Delegate Hall passed away in May of 2015 following a battle with cancer.
Shurl Montgomery served the City of Norfolk for 27 years in key leadership positions before joining the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA) as the CEO in 2004. Under his leadership, NRHA grew to provide better quality housing for over 20,000 Norfolk residents. He also transformed Broad Creek, an 81- acre former public housing site into a vibrant mixed- income, mixed- use urban village- the first in the Hampton Roads region.
Michael Shank retired as the Director of Community Support Services at DBHDS, where he dedicated more than 20 years to advancing policy and funding initiatives that resulted in statewide expansion of evidence-based practices for adults with mental illness, including Assertive Community Treatment, Supported Employment, Supportive Housing, and Peer Support Services. His leadership resulted in the addition of “supportive housing” as an approved setting for Virginia’s Auxiliary Grant Program in 2015 and in the establishment of DBHDS’ Permanent Supportive Housing program, first funded by the General Assembly that same year.
We look forward to honoring these individuals and celebrating their contribution to the housing field at the Annual Awards Luncheon on Thursday, June 15th at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.