Pat Garrett Wins NNA Lifetime Achievement Award 2013

Washington, DC –  The National NeighborWorks® Association (NNA) announced last night the winners of its 2013 Excellence Awards – presented annually to outstanding practitioners in the field of housing and community development. The Awards were announced at the Annual NeighborWorks® Executive Directors Presentation, sponsored by Citi Community Development.

The Presentation was held in conjunction with the launch of the national initiative Home Matters™. The Home Matters initiative emerged from a growing coalition of housing and community development organizations across the country whose leaders believe that the importance of Home, as a core building block for America, is not sufficiently recognized. The initiative aims to unite America around the essential role that Home plays as the bedrock for thriving lives, families, and a stronger nation.

The Award-winners were selected by a jury composed of three industry-related executives from outside the NeighborWorks network, as well as last year’s winners. This year’s Award-winners are as follows:

  • Richard Stallings Lifetime Achievement Award – Pat Garrett, President, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, Charlotte, NC;
  • Practitioner of the Year Award – Kevin O’Connor, CEO, Rural Ulster Preservation Company, Kingston, NY;
  • Emerging Leader Award – Clemente Mojica, President and CEO, Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services, Ontario, CA.


Richard Stallings Lifetime Achievement Award (Prize: $5,000) –
This Award recognizes an executive director who has served in an executive position in the housing or community development field for more than 20 years and has made a significant contribution to the field. The Award has been renamed this year to honor Richard Stallings – former Member of Congress (from 1985 to 1993) and Executive Director of the Pocatello (ID) Neighborhood Housing Services (from 1995 to 2003), and a longtime friend of NNA.

This year’s Award-winner, Pat Garrett, has made significant contributions in the arena of affordable housing since 1981. Her 23 years of leadership at The Housing Partnership have ensured that it operates in an extremely flexible manner to meet its steadfast mission in the context of a dynamic and changing environment. The latest example of her work is the master-planned redevelopment known as Brightwalk at Historic Double Oaks – the culmination of every effort Pat has led.

The new community is five years into a 10-year master plan and survived the challenging market forces of the nation’s economic downturn. In the past year alone, Pat has strategically positioned this redevelopment to achieve the following: receive a $110,000 Leading the Way Home grant through Wells Fargo; secure the commitment of national homebuilder Standard Pacific, which has sold 47 homes in Brightwalk since June 2012; receive a U.S. Green Building Council Award; and, involve the McColl Visual Arts Center in ongoing planning. Pat’s innovative, bold, and determined approach to meeting housing needs has enhanced the lives of many people in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and inspired housing leaders across America to creatively meet their local housing needs.

Practitioner of the Year Award (Prize: $2,500) –
Kevin O’Connor’s dogged determination to build 52 units of affordable housing in Woodstock, NY, a community where no new affordable housing had been developed in 30 years, is legend in the region. Some 44 years after the epic concert of the same name, the town of 5,900 inhabitants has become the wealthiest in Ulster County, with many of its residents as second-home owners. After being invited by the community-appointed Woodstock Affordable Housing Committee to propose housing on an infill site in 2005, the effort faced “Not In My Back Yard” opposition that created an approval process lasting seven years – and ended only after two court cases were successfully overcome.

Kevin demonstrated unequaled persistence in anchoring a development team that included biologists, attorneys, architects, engineers, financial and environmental consultants, as well as internal staff. RUPCO won and then twice lost funding, due to the prolonged approval period – and had to apply for funding a third time before breaking ground in July 2011. In January 2013, after 18 months of construction, the first residents moved into Woodstock Commons, a full eight years after the agency was first invited to accept the challenge.

Woodstock Commons is an intergenerational campus of 20 units of senior housing and 32 units of family housing serving residents at between 30% and 80% of the area median income. In a community known for the arts, it offers preferences for artists, and it adheres to the criteria for New York State Energy Star 3.0 and LEED for New Construction.

Emerging Leader Award (Prize: $2,500) –
This Award recognizes an executive director, with less than five years with an NNA Member, whose energy and innovation has improved the value of his or her organization and the NeighborWorks network. In three years at Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services (NPHS), Clemente Mojica has doubled the organization’s annual operating budget, from $1.1 million to $2.2 million, through the establishment of multiple partnerships with local government and financial institutions and a greater focus on organizational grants. He has expanded the number of employees from eight to 23 and has invested in employee development through trainings in construction management and green building practices, foreclosure prevention and home-buying education and counseling, HUD and regulatory compliance, and Short Sale Certification programs. He has established two new lines of business: redevelopment and real estate services. He has also created other new initiatives and best practices that provide valuable services to those who need it most.

In an effort to reach out to the veteran community, for instance, NPHS has established the Veterans Homeownership Initiative. The program is a volunteer resident- and staff-led working group created to provide education and outreach to the large veteran community in San Bernardino, Riverside and eastern Los Angeles County. The initiative’s goals are to educate active duty and the reserve military on issues related to achieving and sustaining homeownership. It will include home buying and foreclosure prevention workshops conducted in the cities of Ontario and Riverside.