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Housing Professionals Recognized at Annual Excellence Awards Ceremony

On December 14, 2023, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) presented its annual Conrad Egan Excellence Awards to housing professionals at the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).  The awards are given in honor of former FCRHA Chairman Conrad Egan and recognize outstanding contributions of staff in the areas of Collaboration, Service, and Leadership.

 

“Each year, our talented and dedicated professionals at the Department of Housing and Community Development achieve amazing feats.  I would like to express my appreciation, and that of my colleagues on the FCRHA, to HCD staff for all that you do for our community. All our awardees this year have distinguished themselves through exceptional service to our mission.“ – Lenore Stanton, Chair, FCRHA

 

This year’s Conrad Egan Excellence Awards were presented as follows:


Excellence in Collaboration: Gabriele Hickey and Lisa Jones

Over the past two years, Lisa and Gabriele have consistently gone above and beyond their assigned work responsibilities to provide significant support for the financial management of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.  The HCV program is extremely complex with different funding categories and has an annual budget of $84 million.  Over the past several years, Lisa has worked diligently to maintain the continuity of the fiscal services for the program during periods of staff turnover. She consistently provides excellent customer service to residents and program staff.  Although not part of her assigned work, Gabriele voluntarily provided important and crucial training including the complex monthly pay package process to new staff.  Knowledgeable, pleasant, and patient, both have offered a helping hand to the team during transition periods and provided instrumental advice and support while building a high-performing HCV financial team.


Excellence in Collaboration: Katrina Wayne and Bobbi Mason

 Katrina and Bobbi each played a critical role in the creation of a new Coordinated Entry

System policy that improved access to homeless services for people who are pregnant.  Prior to the creation of this new policy, people who were pregnant and experiencing homelessness with no children could only access adults-only shelters, which are often at capacity during non-winter months.  Based on research, they wrote a policy and process that states that a pregnant person can access family shelter at any point during their pregnancy.  The final policy was created in partnership with the continuum of care providers and intentionally included gender neutral terms and trauma informed language. This policy also furthers our commitment to equity as we serve a disproportionate number of Black households in the homeless system.


Excellence in Collaboration: Xiomara Fleming, Lucy Aguilar, and Ninfa Stewart

Ninfa, Lucy and Xiomara all exhibit exceptional dedication and commitment to collaboration

within HCD.  Their collaborative approach has significantly contributed to the lease up efforts of the Housing Assistance RAD-PBV team.  They assisted the team by reviewing initial RAD applications and determining eligibility.  Another notable example of their exemplary collaboration was their willingness to work together in sending out a total of 200 RAD-PBV applications, including working overtime and evenings to conduct in person client interviews and process initial applications.  Through their exceptional communication skills, openness to feedback, and willingness to integrate ideas, they were instrumental in increasing the number of families that were offered affordable housing by HCD staff. 


Excellence in Service: Laura Lazo

Laura consistently contributes to the mission of the FCRHA through her ongoing work, most of which is behind the scenes but critical to the overall success of the organization.  Even while understaffed due to vacancies this year, Laura maintained her commitment to excellence and was always willing to support new projects.  Under Laura’s leadership, the Grants Management division has been excellent stewards of federal dollars; enhanced the work of the Consolidated Community Funding Advisory Committee; and produced high quality and timely federal plans and reports.  Along with managing highly complex and technical work, Laura is always willing to help her colleagues including participating in recruitment panels; assisting with high profile community events; providing her expertise and assistance to colleagues on federal funding questions; and much more. 


Excellence in Service: Michael Beale

Michael is an integral part of Rental Assistance Division and has consistently demonstrated

exceptional communication skills with staff, tenants, and applicants alike. He is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure that tenants feel heard and valued.  Michael applies sound reasoning to solve work problems in a myriad of situations.  He identifies potential problems before they occur and takes proactive steps to mitigate them.  This past year, Michael worked closely with a software vendor and HCD staff to ensure that processes were correct when HCD opened wait lists at several project-based voucher properties.  His ability to juggle many priority items while still taking up additional responsibilities is commendable.  Michael demonstrates a clear understanding of work policies, housing programs and is always willing to help his colleagues understand them as well. 


Excellence in Leadership: Diana Pina

Diana consistently demonstrates exemplary leadership through her unwavering commitment to fostering a supportive, respectful workplace, particularly as the department’s Equity Lead.  In this role, she has been a champion of change, driving the equity work of the department to a new level that will have a tremendously positive internal and external impact.  At the heart of Diana's work is her ability to facilitate pivotal conversations centered on racial and social justice.  These dialogues, though often challenging, are a testament to her commitment to fostering an environment where every individual's perspective is valued.  Under her guidance, these conversations have paved the way for dismantling long-standing barriers.  Her tireless efforts have not only fostered trust among team members but have also cemented a culture that thrives on continuous learning, introspection, and genuine empathy. 


Excellence in Leadership: Mark Buenavista

During the past year, Mark has led the Design, Development and Construction team to many key accomplishments including the delivery of two properties; construction oversight on properties; closings; and the transfer of three properties from the Board of Supervisors to the FCRHA.  Mark continues to develop his professional skills and supports his division with team-building activities.  In addition, Mark expanded the monthly Development Team meeting he leads to invite various development divisions, policy, finance, and others to ensure that project status updates were available to staff outside his division and help improve coordination.


Congratulations to the 2023 Conrad Egan Excellence Award honorees for your outstanding work!


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