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.
Executive Director, Heather Raspberry
Heather Raspberry is the 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 HAND’s Director of Strategic Partnerships & Membership. She brings a wealth of experience in journalism and communications to this role. Prior to her work at HAND, she was an Account Manager for a local public affairs firm, and also spent several years at CNN’s Washington, DC bureau as a News Assistant and Media Coordinator.
She received her Bachelor’s degree from Howard University in Washington, DC, where she majored in Journalism and minored in Afro-American Studies. She has also been very engaged in her community via several organizations which include Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Reading Partners, and Community ONE.
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.
Prior to joining HAND, she 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. Her experience at DCHFA has provided her with the foundational knowledge in affordable housing that will be essential to her work here at HAND. Ortiz 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.
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.“
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.”
PUBLIC POLICY & ADVOCACYHousing Indicator Tool Policy Director, LaToya Thomas
LaToya Thomas is the Principal & Founder of Brick & Story, a consultancy focused on using intentional engagement, communication, and storytelling strategies to foster stronger communities and tell the stories of the built environment in creative and authentic ways. Ms. Thomas has a unique focus in the areas of affordable housing, urban revitalization, and community development, and she has a strong commitment to creating opportunities for marginalized populations. Her career has merged her knowledge of urban planning and policy with her talents as a strategic business developer, marketer, facilitator, and consensus-builder. Ms. Thomas obtained both a Master of Regional Planning (’05) and a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies with a Concentration in Architecture (’04) from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Related affiliations include: ULI Washington Women’s Leadership Initiative (Steering Committee), The Aspen Institute’s Weave: The Social Fabric Project (DC Cohort/Partner), Wacif Ascend Cohort (2019), and Next American City Vanguard, Class of 2012.
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.
When she’s not designing, Stacey is usually at dance rehearsals or a comedy show. For more information on The Smith Creative visit www.thescreative.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.