Regional Housing Budget Briefing

Regional Housing Budget Briefing

Thursday, June 4, 2020 | 12:00pm – 2:00pm


Faced with the impacts of COVID-19 and an evolving political landscape, it is more important than ever for industry professionals to stay abreast of developments emerging from our regional governments. On June 4, HAND and African American Real Estate Professionals (AAREP) are pleased to host the directors of housing departments from around the region, who will share budget updates from their respective jurisdictions. This timely discussion will provide key insights on how these important partners plan to prioritize their missions, while making the necessary pivots on the production and preservation of affordable housing. Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to hear directly from our government leadership!


12:05 pm

Welcome Remarks
Heather Raspberry, Executive Director, HAND

Carisa Stanley, President, AAREP DC, First Vice President Commercial Real Estate, Amalgamated Bank

12:10 pm

Regional Budget Updates
Moderator: Christopher E. Donald, 
Interim Executive Director, DCHFA; Board Member, HAND; Board Member, AAREP     

Thomas Fleetwood, Director, Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development
Aseem Nigam, Director, Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Anne Venezia, Housing Director, Arlington County Housing Division
Estella Alexander, Director, Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development
Helen S. McIlvaine, Director, City of Alexandria, Office of Housing
Polly Donaldson, Director, DC Department of Housing and Community Development

1:10 pm

Panel Discussion & Q&A

2:00 pm    Adjourn


Supplemental Links

Regional Budget Resources:

Thank you to our co-host!


Speaker Bios

Estella Alexander
Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development

Currently, Estella Alexander serves as the Director of the Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development where she oversees the operations of the Community Planning & Development Division (CPD), the Housing Authority of Prince George’s County (HAPGC) and the Redevelopment Authority of Prince George’s County (RDA).

Prior to her appointment as DHCD’s Director, she served as the Deputy Director for DHCD’s Community Planning & Development Division for 8 years wherein she was responsible for the administration of three federal entitlement programs, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, and the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program.

Ms. Alexander has served in various leadership roles, guiding real estate development efforts with the Housing Authority of the City of Baltimore and the Stamford Housing Authority.

Ms. Alexander received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from Smith College and a Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Urban Planning from Columbia University School of Architecture and Planning.

She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Housing Opportunities for All Workgroup in Prince George’s County and is a member of the Maryland Association of Housing and Redevelopment Agencies, and the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition.

Christopher E. Donald
Interim Executive Director
DC Housing Finance Agency

Christopher Donald was appointed Interim Executive Director in January 2020.   As Interim Executive Director he is responsible for the overall supervision, coordination and strategic direction of the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency.  Mr. Donald joined the Agency in October 2016 as the Senior Vice President of Multifamily Lending and Neighborhood Investments.  He served as part of DCHFA’s senior management team. His primary responsibility  was to manage the day-to-day operations of the Multifamily Lending and Neighborhood Investments (formerly Public Finance) department and assist the Executive Director & CEO with the development of multifamily programs, products, polices and strategic planning.

Mr. Donald has over 15 years of experience in real estate finance, community building, development, land entitlement and construction.  He’s entitled over 1MM square feet of mixed income, transit oriented, amenity rich housing.   Mr. Donald specializes in acquisitions, entitlement, community visioning and deal structuring.  He has completed over $1 billion in real estate financing over the course of his career and renovated over 1,000 multifamily units and entitled and underwritten almost 3,500 multifamily units throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.   Mr. Donald has also acquired and programmed commercial space for small local businesses and retailers.

As the Director of Development at the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Mr. Donald underwrote and structured $60MM in low-income housing tax credit transactions.  Over the last several years he has provided underwriting services to the Office of State Superintendent for Education for the District of Columbia and financed over $300 million in improvements for public charter schools using New Markets Tax Credits, Tax Exempt Bonds and other tools.  Mr. Donald began his career in finance at Lehman Brothers in the Municipal Finance Group and underwrote $200MM in revenue bonds for the District of Columbia.

Prior to his tenure at DCHFA, Mr. Donald served as the Principal and Co-Founder of The Leidesdorff Group.   The Leidesdorff Group (TLG) is a diversified real estate advisory firm focused on the regeneration of urban communities within the Mid-Atlantic region.  As a principal of TLG, Mr. Donald focused on distressed and disinvested urban communities.   Mr. Donald is a member of the Urban Land Institute and serves on the Board of Directors of the African American Real Estate Professionals of DC  (AAREP-DC) and the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND).   He is a graduate of Stanford University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

Polly Donaldson
DC Department of Housing and Community Development 

Polly Donaldson has served as the Director of the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) since January 2, 2015. As Director, she oversees 180+ employees, 14 program areas and manages an annual operating budget of over $250 million to preserve and produce rental and homeownership opportunities for District residents and leading the charge of revitalizing underserved neighborhoods across DC.

Since 2015, Donaldson has led the implementation of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s housing strategy, which has doubled the annual commitment to the Housing Production Trust Fund to over $100 million and created a twin $100 million-plus Housing Preservation Fund, which leverages $30 million of District funds with $90 million of private capital. Since 2015, the District has produced over 9,500 units of affordable housing with another 9,000 under construction or in the pipeline and has preserved over 1200 units of existing affordable housing.

Donaldson’s nonprofit career spans over 32 years, with senior management experience in homeless services, affordable housing and international community development. Prior to joining DHCD, Donaldson served as the Executive Director of the Transitional Housing Corporation (THC) for 11 years and THC Affordable Housing, Inc., since its founding in June 2005. Under Donaldson’s leadership, THC was on the front lines addressing the city’s housing crunch, working with churches, charities and other nonprofit groups to produce and support affordable units for the formerly homeless.

Donaldson currently serves as co-chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Housing Directors Advisory Committee. She serves as DC’s representative to the High-Cost Cities Housing Forum which brings together the local housing commissioners and directors from nine of the most expensive cities in the United States to discuss housing policy and program ideas and exchange best practices. Donaldson is the former board president of the DC Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, an umbrella group of affordable housing developers. In 2012, she also served on the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force assembled by former Mayor Gray. In 2014, Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser named Donaldson as the co-chair of the Transition Team’s Affordable Housing Committee. In 2015-2016, Donaldson served as the chair of Mayor Bowser’s Affordable Housing Preservation Strike Force.

Donaldson has lived in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in Ward 1 for over 28 years. In the late 1990s, she was elected and served as the chair of the Mt. Pleasant Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1-E. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral science from The Johns Hopkins University.

Thomas Fleetwood
Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development 

Thomas E. Fleetwood was appointed as the Director of Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in March 2016. Mr. Fleetwood has more than 15 years of experience in the field of housing and community development and has been with HCD since 2005. He has served in a number of roles within the agency including Strategic Planner, Associate Director for the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA); Director of FCRHA Policy, Reporting and Communications; and Acting Director. 

Mr. Fleetwood developed the award-winning “Housing Blueprint,” an affordable housing policy endorsed by the Board of Supervisors, which guides the county’s affordable housing efforts in the community.  The Blueprint focuses on serving those with the greatest need, including homeless families and individuals, persons with disabilities, and people with extremely low incomes. Mr. Fleetwood was awarded Fairfax County’s prestigious A. Heath Onthank Award in 2012, the Conrad Egan Excellence Award for Service in 2014 and was recognized as one of Housing’s Virginia “Top 40 under 40” in 2012. He has a bachelor’s degree in Interdepartmental Studies from West Virginia University and attended the Senior Executive Institute, Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia in 2013

Hellen McIlvaine
City of Alexandria, Office of Housing

Helen McIlvaine has been Alexandria’s Housing Director since 2015; she was Deputy Director from 2006 to 14. Helen leads implementation of the City’s Housing Master Plan; supports citywide policy, investment and planning initiatives to increase affordable housing preservation and production; and works with nonprofit and private developers to structure and finance developments that include affordable housing.  Since 2017, Helen has been part of City and regional efforts to increase housing options and create opportunities that empower all Alexandrians to benefit from economic development related to Amazon HQ2 and the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus locating in National Landing.  

Helen participated in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s (COG’s) regional housing initiative as co-chair of their Housing Directors Advisory Committee from 2017-2019. In March 2020, Alexandria City Council formally endorsed COG’s regional housing targets. Helen is a member of VHDA’s Rental Advisory Board and its Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Stakeholders’ Group which helps prioritize state investment in housing to support economic development.  In 2018, Helen was honored by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement with the Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Leadership Award for her contributions in public service. In 2019, Helen and other Northern Virginia housing and economic development leaders received the Governor’s award for Best Regional Partnership for their ongoing collaboration. In 2018, Helen attended the Senior Executive Institute at UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Aseem Nigam
Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs

Mr. Nigam is the Director of the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA).  Mr. Nigam manages Finance and Administration, Code Enforcement, Community Development and Housing Programs.  He serves as a member of the County’s senior management team which plans, implements, evaluates and administers County-wide housing and community developments/revitalization strategies including tax incentives, low-income and moderate-income housing including senior and special needs housing, workforce housing, other programs and services.

Prior to joining DHCA, Mr. Nigam was Director of Real Estate Finance and Grants Management Division with the Fairfax County Department of Housing.  Mr. Nigam supervised staff with responsibility for multiple programs involving community development and established financing policies and procedures in accordance with County, Federal (CDBG, HOME), State and Lender/Investor requirements including establishing underwriting procedures and overseeing the issuance of tax-exempt bond  and the syndication of low-income housing tax credits.  Besides managing tax-exempt bond portfolio, Mr. Nigam was responsible for managing and disbursing Federal and Local funds.  Mr. Nigam as on VHDA’s Multi-family Advisory Board and Northern Virginia Advisory Board.

Prior to joining Fairfax County in August 2004, Mr. Nigam was Senior Manager with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, District of Columbia, where he managed day-to-day operations of the Revenue Bond Program portfolio aggregating $5 billion, including transactional analysis, regulatory review process, and overall management of projects involving the issuance of 501 (C) (3) and Enterprise Zone Facility Bonds.  He was also responsible for developing product through tax incentives, providing business technical assistance, evaluating commercial development proposals, and working on special legislations.  Mr. Nigam was responsible for closing the District’s first tax-increment/Enterprise Zone Facility bond transaction, The International Spy Museum.  He as a member of the Mayor’s Blue-Ribbon Incentives Group and was on the board of the Council of Development Finance Agencies.

Prior to joining the Revenue Bond Program, Mr. Nigam worked as an underwriter with the Enterprise Social Investment Corporation (ESIC), now called Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. where he was responsible for underwriting and providing equity for the low-income housing tax credit projects throughout the U.S.  Mr. Nigam holds an MBA in Finance and M.S. (Information System) from the University of Baltimore, Maryland.

Carisa Stanley
President, AAREP DC, 
First Vice President, Commercial Real Estate, Amalgamated Bank

Ms. Stanley has almost 20 years of experience in banking and finance in the Washington, DC region. Immediately prior to her existing position as First Vice President with Amalgamated Bank, Ms. Stanley served as Director of Single Family Programs with DC Housing Finance Agency where she developed and managed residential mortgage products and services, including the affordable mortgage program, DC Open Doors and the federally funded HomeSaver foreclosure prevention initiative. Ms. Stanley spearheaded the development of DC Open Doors and under her management the program grew to over $15 million in residential loan volume in a fifteen month period.

Ms. Stanley was also Vice President of Commercial Real Estate at Fidelity and Trust Bank and EagleBank where her focus was real estate development in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Ms. Stanley underwrote and financed commercial acquisitions as well as affordable housing projects in the District of Columbia while managing a commercial real estate portfolio in excess of $100 million. Ms. Stanley led commercial real estate debt restructures and workouts, up to and including foreclosures.

As First Vice President of Amalgamated Bank, Ms. Stanley is responsible for leading the Bank’s commercial real estate efforts in the Washington, DC region, with a focus on affordable multifamily and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) lending.

Ms. Stanley served as the Mortgage Bankers Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2012 and 2013 Affordable Housing Committee Chair and was a certified instructor with the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors. She has served as the President of the Washington, DC chapter of African American Real Estate Professionals since 2017 and is a member of the Board of Directors for The Center for Law and Social Policy.

Ms. Stanley earned an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Anne Venezia

Housing Director
Arlington County Housing Division

Ms. Venezia started as Arlington County’s Housing Director in April 2020 and brings more than 20 years of experience in housing policy and finance. She started her career in private consulting, working on housing policy and disaster recovery at two different firms before entering the public sector. She accepted a position with the Development team in Arlington County’s Housing Division in 2008, underwriting loans to support acquisitions of new affordable units and managing the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF). Following a re-org in 2016, Ms. Venezia moved to a newly created Finance and Asset Management team, overseeing an annual budget of $30 million for housing programs as well as asset management and compliance functions of the County’s more than 8,000 committed affordable units, nearly $400 million in multifamily development loans, and over 200 single-family loans. She most recently served six months as the County’s Acting Housing Director. While much of her background has been on the finance and data side of housing, working directly with families benefitting from these programs has always been the most rewarding. Ms. Venezia earned a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College and both a Master of Urban Planning and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan.