MEET THE TEAM
Bringing a vast range of knowledge and experience to their respective roles, our team members are experts in their fields, united by a sense of purpose and commitment to the creation of communities where all can live and thrive.
Heather Raspberry is the outgoing Executive Director of HAND, a cross-sector collective of changemakers whose strategic collaboration brings equitable communities to fruition in the Capital Region of Baltimore, Washington and Richmond. Through education, engagement and regional advocacy, HAND strengthens the capacity of its members who share a commitment to creating communities anchored by affordable housing. A values-driven and entrepreneurial leader, Heather believes that through thoughtful engagement and strategic collaboration, institutions and mission-driven stakeholders can disrupt systems of inequity to address the root causes that amplify housing disparities and restrict access to opportunity for communities of color.
Since her appointment in 2012, Heather has led HAND’s strategic, financial and administrative operations with innovative thinking and strong coalition building across sectors and jurisdictions. As a change association committed to centering racial equity, HAND identifies patterns of inequity, solves for the problems that persist, and activates its members to lead with collective action. Under her leadership, the organization has been deliberate in advancing the scale and depth of its programming and advocacy designed to empower HAND’s member base to operationalize racial equity within their respective institutions, while catalyzing impact for the communities they are missioned to serve.
Prior to her role with HAND, Heather held various leadership positions within the public, private and social sectors. While at Enterprise Community Partners, she executed national public relations campaigns to advance their business and philanthropic priorities. Additionally, Heather has designed resource development strategies and communication initiatives for housing & economic development coalitions, held public service positions with local and federal government, and managed political campaigns for elected officials. She has also operated a robust consultancy business that developed comprehensive branding strategies for companies to increase their competitive edge and impact.
Over the course of her career, Heather has been recognized for a number of accomplishments in the field. She was named the Court Appointed Special Advocate of the Year in recognition of her passion to represent the best interest of youth in foster care to the District of Columbia Family Court; honored as a Rising Leader in Community Development by the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development; received Affordable Housing Finance’s Young Leader award; CREW DC’s Raise Up Your Voice award; and named Commercial Observer’s 25 Most Powerful Real Estate Players in Washington, DC. Heather serves on the boards of New Partners Community Solar, Truist CRA Advisory Committee, City First Capital Advisory Board, Corporation for Supportive Housing Advisory Board and her homeowners’ association. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Leadership Greater Washington, and a Founding Board member of Women of Color in Community Development. Heather holds a dual bachelor’s degree in public relations and business management from Hampton University, earned the National Development Council’s Housing Development Finance Professional Certification, and completed NTL Institute’s Executive Leadership Program and Prosperity Now’s Building High Impact Nonprofits of Color initiative.
The challenges of providing housing that people can afford impact each local jurisdiction and thus our entire region. This is exactly why HAND plays a critical role in the support of the region’s affordable housing industry. Through thoughtful engagement and strategic collaboration, HAND’s collective membership has the ability to transform communities across the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region.“
Courtney Battle is the Acting Executive Director for the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND). HAND’s growing network of members includes a wide variety of real estate and community development professionals in the Capital Region (Baltimore, Washington and Richmond) who share the mission of creating more equitable outcomes through the vehicle of affordable housing. Courtney believes that relationships are one of life’s cornerstones, and cultivating a strong network of changemakers who are transforming communities is vital to addressing the inequities that create barriers to opportunity.
Courtney joined the organization in October 2016 as Membership Manager, and was promoted to Membership Director in July 2019. In these capacities, she was responsible for: the recruitment, management and engagement of members; launching and administering the association management system for 1,000+ members and 400+ prospective members; implementing the organization’s marketing & communications initiatives (including the website, social media, e-blasts sent to 10,000+ inboxes, annual marketing materials, blog posts and the annual fundraiser digital program book distributed to 1,000+ attendees); the planning and execution of 40+ training and capacity building events each year; overseeing activities of the committee supporting the emerging leader member segment; and supporting the Executive Director in special projects.
In July 2021, Courtney was promoted to Director of Strategic Partnerships & Membership. In this role she led a wide range of projects designed to scale HAND’s reach across the region and increase the organization’s ability to build its members’ capacity. These included, but are not limited to: relationship building and strengthening; fundraising activities; assessing member needs that can be translated to programming and/or advocacy initiatives; serving as an ambassador for the organization in external events and media interviews; overseeing membership functions; and leading the marketing and communications strategy.
Courtney brings a wealth of experience in journalism and communications to her work. Prior to joining HAND, she served as an Account Manager for a local public affairs firm, and spent several years at CNN’s Washington, DC bureau as a News Assistant and Media Coordinator.
Service is also deeply embedded in her DNA, and Courtney has engaged with several community organizations which include Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Reading Partners, and Community ONE. She has the pleasure of serving as a Board member for Women of Color in Community Development, and was President of the Board from 2020-2021. She also successfully completed the Illuminate Your Leadership Nonprofit Coaching Program and Prosperity Now’s Building High Impact Nonprofits of Color initiative. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Howard University, where she majored in Journalism and minored in Afro-American Studies. She is originally from Southfield, Michigan, and has found a second home in Washington, DC.
I consider it an honor to work for an organization that plays such a critical role in increasing and maintaining affordable housing in the city that has been so good to me personally and professionally. This issue is one that touches all of us, and I am very excited to be involved in creating solutions to this pressing challenge.”
Susan Ortiz joined the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers as the Program Director in April 2023. She brings with her an expertise in communications with a background in public and community relations.
As Program Director, Susan is responsible for the strategic planning and execution of HAND’s training and events calendar. Each year, HAND hosts more than 40 plus virtual and in-person events to help build the capacity of its collective to increase the affordable housing supply and build a more equitable region. Susan has launched HAND’s first-ever internship program, targeted to graduate and undergraduate students, furthering the GenerationHAND initiative’s commitment to preparing the DMV’s next generation of leaders. Susan also assists in HAND’s grant writing processes, drafting and editing applications to raise funds to support the curation of intentional programming and events.
Growing up, Susan aspired to be a housing and education reporter because she has always believed that access to housing and education are two fundamental human rights that everyone should have fair, easy access to. Nothing – race, class, gender – should be a barrier to someone’s access to a roof over their head or the opportunity to learn and thrive. Having a stable home is the root of building a foundation to grow upon. Being able to work with HAND provides Susan with the opportunity to collaborate with affordable housing professionals on ways to advocate for policies that will turn into actionable solutions for the region’s most vulnerable residents. Susan’s goal is to ensure that HAND programs and trainings are intentional, diverse and impactful.
Prior to joining HAND, Susan was the Public Relations Manager at the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA), where she managed the agency’s website, social media, advertising, event planning, annual report and other external communications. During her tenure, she was able to build the Agency’s online presence by successfully scaling their LinkedIn page to be an example for other local housing institutions. In this role, Susan had the opportunity to collaborate with several different organizations to include government agencies, for-profit and non-profit developers, local officials and more – all of which has been crucial in her transition to engaging with HAND’s diverse membership. She received the MarCom Awards 2021 Gold Award in the Annual Report – Government category for her design and execution of the Fiscal Year 2020 report. Her experience at DCHFA has provided her with the foundational knowledge in affordable housing that is essential to her work here at HAND.
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in media studies from the University of Virginia and earned a master’s degree in journalism from the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. She previously served as the Vice President of the Georgetown Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a member of Housing Up’s Associate Board from April 2021 to July 2022. She received a certificate in Data Visualization from Berkeley’s Advanced Media Institute. Her other passions include health and wellness; she works part-time at a local boxing gym to not only prioritize mental and physical health, but to connect and engage with her community. Susan is an avid reader who participates in several local book clubs and reviews books in her spare time.
I am excited for the opportunity to help forward HAND’s mission, ensuring residents throughout the DMV region have access to quality affordable housing and essential resident services. Providing safe, stable housing is simply the first step in helping residents thrive, and I am proud to work for an organization that wants to go miles beyond taking just that first step.“
Taylor Phillips is the Director of Public Policy for the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND). With a background in strategy development, policy analysis, cross-sector stakeholder engagement and a commitment to racial equity, she is dedicated to the advancement of HAND’s mission of ensuring a Capital region where all can thrive. As a highly motivated professional with dual degrees focused on policy and business, she brings an interdisciplinary background that enables her to approach policy challenges with a holistic perspective and leverage data-driven insights to inform decision-making. Taylor’s academic and professional experiences working with organizations across the public, private, and non-profit sectors have honed her ability to analyze complex policy issues, develop strategic partnerships, and drive positive change through cross-sector collaboration.
Taylor brings a wealth of cross-sector experience in strategy and policy development to her role. Prior to joining HAND, she was a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, helping government clients craft and execute their policy and programmatic agendas by conducting environmental policy research and analysis, developing congressional reports, and facilitating interdisciplinary working groups. As a social impact consultant with Community Wealth Partners, she conducted hundreds of interviews with stakeholders, synthesized and communicated findings, and made data-driven recommendations to assist non-profit clients in achieving their financial and mission goals. At Trust Neighborhoods, she developed a partnership and ecosystem-building strategy to meet stakeholder needs and facilitated the initial cohort convening of community development organizations in the program.
Taylor also carries a strong passion for advocating for equitable policies and communicating complex topics. At Harvard, she researched promising policy solutions across the country that prioritize racial equity in housing and community development and crafted policy recommendations for local officials to consider to fuel equitable access to housing. She also worked to advocate for greater equity from within organizations, co-leading work at Community Wealth Partners to operationalize racial equity into the firm’s way of working. She conducted research on best practices and led firm-wide working sessions to create a shared vision of the culture, and the steps to take as an institution and individuals to get there. In her new role, she looks forward to applying her interdisciplinary background, strategy development and policy analysis experience, and passion for re-designing systems to be more equitable.
Taylor is also deeply dedicated to giving back to the next generation of leaders. She is no stranger to community service, including coaching an award-winning D.C. public school robotics team, and serving as an Alumni Board member and mentor for first-generation college students via Management Leadership for Tomorrow. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Duke University, where she majored in Civil Engineering. She also received a Master of Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Taylor is originally from Lawrenceville, GA and enjoys global cuisine, clothing design, tennis, and dancing in her spare time.
Trianna Overton joined the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers as the Program Associate in 2021. She is a Washington, DC native, who brings a wealth of experience in communications and administration to this role.
Prior to her work at HAND, she was an Office Manager for a local small business and has also served as a social media/communication coordinator for businesses in the publishing and home improvement sectors. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where she majored in Public Relations. During her junior year of college her love of traveling led to her studying abroad in Italy. She also has volunteered in her community via organizations like Forgotten Cat and Passport to Global Temple.
I am eager to help support HAND’s mission of maintaining and increasing the supply of affordable housing in the DC region, because of the known benefits housing has towards bettering the quality of life of residents and communities. I also welcome working for an organization that fearlessly and compassionately marches toward achieving a more racially equitable and inclusive region.”
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONSVideo Production, Robin Hamilton
The ARound Robin Production Company is a full service, script-to-screen elite film/video production firm. Emmy-award winning journalist Robin Hamilton is principal of the company, which works with a number of prestigious organizations, including HAND. Collaborating with the executive director’s vision, the ARound Robin Production Company has produced the Housing Achievement Award videos since 2017, profiling leaders in housing development across the metropolitan area.
Other clients include Shepherd’s Table, an area soup kitchen, Tzedek DC, an organization providing pro-bono legal services and the Capital Region YWCA.
The ARound Robin Production Company has also produced and released two documentary films, and Hamilton hosts specials for the local Tribune station, where her work has garnered 2 Emmy awards, 4 Salute to Excellence awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, and one Gracie Award.
For the company’s full portfolio, visit www.aroundrobin.com.
Stacey is a freelance graphic and web designer and founder of The Smith Creative which helps nonprofits, dance companies and impact-driven businesses build cohesive visual brands. She has 15 years of experience in design, desktop publishing, proposal management, and most recently arts marketing. Wanting to get back to her creative roots, she started The Smith Creative to provide simple and strategic design solutions by offering brand identity, Squarespace web design, and graphic design services to organizations driven by mission.
Stacey has worked with HAND over the past year on various design projects including developing the branding for the 2021 Annual Meeting and revamping the look of HAND’s website.
Rhea Whitney is an international speaker and wedding photographer for the chic, modern couple and creative + educator for rising pro photographers who want to run a profitable photography business. In less than 10 years, Rhea has consistently driven her business to six figures by putting client service first, establishing a constant brand presence, collaborating with top vendors and sponsors + implementing strategic marketing that works!
Recently, Rhea was named one of the world’s top wedding photographers of 2020 by BRIDES magazine; and has also been featured in many other national publications. Though Rhea has become one of the most sought-after photographers and speakers in her industry, she is most passionate about collaborating with local sponsors and vendors for events, styled shoots, and content creation. To date, Rhea has spoken and shot all over the world, helped over 100+ creatives build a revenue-generating business through 1:1 coaching + her digital education platform PhotoBomb Academy™; and has been featured on over five of the top business and photography podcasts in the nation.
Rhea grew up with a camera in hand, and in her free time loves to work out, hang with her girlfriends, relax by the water, or do a little shopping at Nordstrom. She is a proud graduate of Howard University, where she majored in Business Finance & Accounting. She attributes her success to her genuine passion for client service, business and finance acumen + innate love for photography and art; which allowed her to deeply understand the numerical world of camera settings and the beauty it creates.
She is most renowned for giving real-life applicable tips that any brand or business can apply right now, in a simplified way they can understand. While featured on the Purpose To Create podcast, Rhea spoke to fellow business owners regarding how to identify, and relate to their ideal client. Partnering with others and creating strategic content is how she wins on social media.
To check out her portfolio, visit www.rheawhitney.com.
OPERATIONSAccounting, Nick Hollander
Nicholas Hollander, a certified public accountant, has over 18 years of experience in public accounting, providing audit, accounting and tax services. He brings a broad array of skills and knowledge in the accounting and finance field to all his clients. He started his career with the Maryland Legislative Auditors where he worked on both compliance and performance audits of state agencies. He served as an audit manager at Reznick Group (Cohn Reznick), a top 20 national accounting, tax and business advisory firm. While at Reznick Group, he had the opportunity to work on a variety of clients and industries, including commercial real estate, rental real estate, homebuilders, construction companies, hospitality, non-profits, state and local governments. In 2010, together with his partner he started L&H Business Consulting, LLC, a full-service CPA firm located in Baltimore County, where he has been providing clients the highest level of all audit, accounting and tax services. It was during this time Nick was introduced to HAND and their dedicated hard-working staff. Nick along with his accounting staff have provided accounting and reporting support for HAND. Our hope with timely and accurate financial records, HAND is able to further their mission to provide support for a professional community of housing providers in order to increase the supply of affordable housing.
In his spare time, you can find Nick enjoying time with his wife and 4 kids. As an avid cross-fitter and outdoorsman, Nick enjoys staying healthy and doing anything outside. In between coaching and watching his kids sports he also enjoys gardening and growing his own fruits and vegetables with his family.
Jen Lachman is an organizational consultant and coach who is deeply committed to supporting social change leaders, teams, and organizations. As the founder of Lachman Consulting (www.lachmanco.com), Jen helps mission-driven organizations create and sustain transformational change and specializes in strategic planning, leadership coaching, and team development. Jen has been honored to work with HAND’s staff and board to develop and execute a new strategic direction for the organization. In addition to her work with HAND, Jen has partnered with a variety of national and local organizations including Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, Miriam’s Kitchen, Meals on Wheels America, Teach for America, and N Street Village. Jen also serve as faculty for ProInspire’s Managing for Success Program.
Jen is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) and a graduate of Georgetown University’s Executive Certificate Program in Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership. In her spare time, Jen can be found on her yoga mat, adventuring with her husband and two sons, or volunteering as a Board Member at Carpenter’s Shelter in Alexandria, VA.