Career Opportunity:

Berman Indictor LLP, a Philadelphia boutique law firm specializing in affordable housing and other tax credit transactions, is seeking to hire one or more attorneys to join our practice.  Ideal candidates will have some level of prior experience with tax credit transactions or other solid real estate experience, as well as strong communication and writing skills.  Salary will be based on experience and hybrid/remote work opportunities will be considered for appropriate candidates. 

Email:  indictor@bermanindictor.com to discuss potential opportunities.

Member Spotlight- Rada Lisitsa

Tell us about yourself. (Your background and what led you to your current role)

Rada: I think like most people in this niche industry, the world of low-income housing tax credits kind of fell into my lap.  I grew up around real estate with my dad being a broker, as well as flipping and developing housing.  After spending time at open houses and construction sites as a child, I came to enjoy the architecture, in addition to the numbers behind the walls that bring profit to the involved parties (sellers/buyers, builders, and financial institutions).  I studied finance and entrepreneurship at Drexel University, which has three co-ops, where you work for six months each.  I did two of my three internships in real estate and it solidified my interest in the field.  My last co-op was at Wells Fargo in the commercial real estate group, where I helped structure market rate, office, and industrial transactions.  I graduated college in 2009 and reached out to Wells Fargo for a job hoping to land in commercial real estate but was only offered a community lending position because of the downturn in the economy. I recall not knowing what it even was but thinking, “it’s close enough to commercial real estate so let’s give it a try!”  I spent three years as an analyst, underwriting construction loans, permanent loans, and land acquisition loans, in addition to analyzing developer’s credit strength and ability to repay.  From 2012 until now, I have been on the equity side of transactions, where I source, underwrite, and close tax credit equity investments.  These include 9% LIHTC, historic and state tax credits, tax-exempt bond, and mixed-income transactions throughout the Mid Atlantic region.  I enjoy all aspects of my role from number crunching to meeting and servicing smart, savvy, and caring clients/developers, to analyzing credit and IRS risks, to providing much needed affordable housing to those in need, and I feel lucky that I landed here. 

You are a founding member of WHF-PA and are stepping down from the Executive Committee this year.  How has your involvement in the organization helped shaped your career?

Rada: The idea of WHF-PA came about from a few of us who saw this hole in our industry, especially since WHF already existed in nearby New York and Washington DC.  Those same people and many more became friends and this supportive network has been there for me since 2013.  It provided me an additional resource of diverse women with shared experiences whom I could lean on for industry insight, make a connection, get a pep talk or various tips like communicating with senior management.  Having WHF-PA ladies in my corner has given me the edge in my organization by leveraging their knowledge and has given me courage within my career, despite being traditionally under represented in financial institutions and real estate.  Although I do note this is slowly shifting for the better and I am proud to say that a woman is now the head of community lending and commercial real estate at Wells Fargo.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

Rada: This is a tough question for me as I am still learning myself.  I used to have the mentality that hard work will be seen and acknowledged but, unfortunately, sometimes the loudest people in the room win (who usually end up being men).  I am working on highlighting my achievements, having an honest and open dialogue with managers, and reaching for stretch projects and/or jobs and I encourage you all to do the same.  No one is going to fight for yourself better than you! Don’t be afraid and make sure to believe in yourself!   

What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Rada: Reputation is key, both internal and external to your organization.  Even if it’s a tough message, be honest in your delivery.  Colleagues appreciate your words and your actions. 

Compass Working Capital is Hiring! Chief Strategy Officer

Compass Working Capital is Hiring a Chief Strategy Officer. Check out the job posting here: Compass Chief Strategy Officer – Positively Partners

HumanGood is Hiring! Housing Developer – Affordable Housing

Check out this job opportunity at HumanGood – seeking a Housing Developer – Affordable Housing: HumanGood hiring Housing Developer- Affordable Housing in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, United States | LinkedIn

Member Spotlight – Blanca Ramirez

You may know Blanca Ramirez as the Co-Chair of Women in Housing and Finance of Pennsylvania (WHF-PA), but do you know her path in the industry and to WHF-PA?  We caught up with her and explored these topics.

Industry Career Path

            Blanca, a New York native, was a history major and, until her senior year, a pre-med student, at Binghamton University.  Following graduation, she participated in the AmeriCorps VISTA program in New Bedford, Massachusetts where she created a community service program within the career center at UMASS Dartmouth.

            Believing her passion and future career lay in policy work, particularly social welfare issues, Blanca obtained a MBA in Management and Public Policy from The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.  While at Brandeis, Blanca had a professor who also served as the President/CEO of a nonprofit in Boston.  Through this connection, she began her career with what is now Hearth, Inc. (formerly Committee to End Elder Homelessness).  She originally managed the operations of two buildings before taking over administration and processes for a portfolio covering 5-6 different buildings and creating centralized tenant placement.

            Blanca’s next step was as Director of Member Services at Supportive Housing Network of New York.  In this position, she was introduced to broader housing issues and the array of professionals working in this industry in New York state.  Blanca moved into a primarily development role when she started the development office for supportive (homeless) housing as Director of Supportive Housing at Lower Eastside Service Center.  There, Blanca developed housing, managed staff and learned the inner workings of a nonprofit.

            During her journey, Blanca began to rethink her emphasis on policy.  While she was passionate about the policy issues, the slow progress of change led her to make a move.  She served as a Senior Program Officer – Loan Officer for The Corporation for Supportive Housing where she worked on predevelopment acquisition and financing.  In this role, she learned how financing can help policy makers and advocates obtain resources to do more.  This also offered the opportunity to work nationally, experience jurisdictional differences as well as see a variety of projects and approaches.  Blanca shared that she loved working with developers and their partners and thinking through projects, strategies and challenges.

            When Hudson Housing Capital approached Blanca, she had not been looking to make a move – particularly to the for profit side of the industry.  Hudson reached out to her based on her experience around supportive housing.  Blanca took the new position for the opportunity, knowing that the role was to be figured out collaboratively, and it has been a great fit.  Blanca now has the opportunity to work on the bigger picture with more properties under the affordable housing umbrella keeping in mind both the mission and the best interest of Hudson.

            Thus, Blanca slowly expanded from the idea of helping one individual at a time in her days as a pre-med college student to impacting many people at once – with the projects in which Hudson is involved and the organizations, like WHF-PA, in which she is involved.

WHF-PA

So, how did WHF-PA fit in to Blanca’s journey, particularly given her location in New York City?  It started there.  Blanca was a member of Women in Housing and Finance in New York and found it to be a great network that made comfortable conversations possible and connected her with others beyond the financial segment of the industry. 

When Hudson assigned Blanca to cover the Pennsylvania market, a former colleague tipped Blanca off that she had heard a group of women were planning to get together during the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania’s Homes within Reach Conference to discuss starting Women in Housing and Finance in Pennsylvania.  Blanca attended that meeting and met other founding members of WHF-PA.  They planned their first networking event.  Subsequently, the President of Women in Housing and Finance in New York spoke with the WHF-PA founders that led to the current structure with officers, bylaws and discussions with the Housing Alliance.

Blanca credits WHF-PA for providing a role and space for her in Pennsylvania.  She is also thankful for the introductions and connections it has afforded her as well as the comradery of its members who understand the challenges and barriers one sometimes faces as the only woman in the room.

As Blanca steps down at the end of the year as Co-Chair of WHF-PA, we are all grateful for her role in the creation of WHF-PA and her ongoing efforts to support the organization and its members so that we all have that opportunity to connect.

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