Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself:
A: I am a proud Washingtonian. I earned my Bachelors in Urban Studies from Stanford University, my Masters in Community from the University of Maryland in Community Planning and my JD from American University, Washington College of Law. I am currently an associate at Bocarsly Emden Cowan Esmail & Ardnt LLP, where I represent investors in affordable real estate projects, primarily using the federal low-income housing tax credit. My passions have always been centered around the uplift and support of low-income and minority communities. My career and education are a direct reflection of an intentional path to create and facilitate solutions to reinvigorate such communities and the families that reside within them.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge in your industry, and how have addressed it?
A: I would describe my industry as the lawyers who represent the developers, lenders and investors in affordable housing projects. Beyond learning all of the law needed to be a great attorney, in my opinion, the hardest challenge is getting in the door. The community of affordable housing lawyers in the DC Metropolitan region is very small. Our practice area is very niche and the pathway for entering into the field is not very defined. As such, breaking in can be challenging.
In order to address the challenge, I learned to be very tenacious in my efforts to build connections and mentors. I met with everyone – developers, attorneys, investors and policy makers. I pushed myself to attend events and talk to people in the industry to learn as much as I could. And from those experiences, I learned that the leaders in this industry have a wealth of knowledge that they are beyond willing to share. Presenting myself as one who is worthy of an investment was all that was needed.
Now, as a young attorney, I continue to challenge myself to maintain and develop those connections. I am constantly striving to gain new information and facilitate my personal and professional growth. Every day, I challenge myself to demonstrate that I am one who is still deserving of investment.
Q: What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had gotten sooner that helped you be successful?
A: A piece of advice that I wish I would have gotten sooner is to release the fear of starting over. As one who is constantly striving for success, accepting the idea that a direction you have set for yourself is no longer fitting is difficult. Releasing the idea that your professional career will be linear is necessary to achieve greater heights. I constantly remind myself that I can recreate and revise the blue print and that has been freeing! I have become less and less wedded to some fictitious future that I envisioned and have learned to have faith in the process.
Q: How has being a member of HAND helped you with your community development efforts?
A: HAND has helped me to connect with the broader affordable housing community. Heather Raspberry, specifically, has been beacon in my journey to become more engaged in community development. I feel so much more informed about the affordable housing landscape and the issues that confront my practice and the industry. HAND affirms my belief that my work is meaningful and that community development and affordable housing creates change.