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2015 Employees of the Year

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At the close of every year, CHP recognizes employees who have demonstrated exemplary service to our clients, service to work colleagues, service to the communities in which they work, and overall service to the company. The following five staff members were honored at our December board of directors’ meeting for their professional commitment and hard work as CHP’s 2015 Employees of the Year. Congratulations to these deserving individuals!

Working for CHP Design Studio as a Construction Contract Administrator, Jimmy Holland is involved in all aspects of construction project management from preconstruction activities through final building commissioning. This key position ensures all contractual provisions related to projects are followed, monitored, and closed in compliance with contract terms. Holland works closely with the Vice President of Architecture, Project Architects, Construction Project Managers and Superintendents, owners, and other applicable stakeholders to meet project timelines efficiently and within scope, budget, and quality standards.

According to Vice President of Architecture Colin Arnold, Holland has been an outstanding employee throughout 2015. Most notably, he has taken the initiative to cover for staffing deficiencies in the construction department during the final phases of substantial completions and closeout for several projects. These services, which are in addition to his normal duties working for the Studio, include:

• Providing close-out supervision at Armstrong Place Apartments and supervising the project’s final site work completion, retaining wall repair, and interior storm window installation.

• Coordinating the work at New Phoenix Apartments and obtaining temporary certificates of occupancy, which are critical for the immediate placement of residents who have physical disabilities and require the amenities provided by these apartment units.

• Taking a more active role with project completion activities at Overlook Terrace Apartments, including coordinating site plan amendments with the county and facilitating building component approval with county building inspectors.

• Taking lead at Summit Place Apartments by providing corrective measures to a defective, whole-building Energy Recovery Ventilator system. This correction was crucial in order to maintain building occupancy status with the Department of Social Services.

Holland is also a teacher to the Studio staff and others. He routinely provides feedback and lessons learned from the construction sites and openly shares his experiences with staff to help improve the effectiveness of CHP. Joe Vigna, interim vice president of construction, has applauded Holland’s efforts, noting that he has become a leader and role model within CHP.

Added Arnold, “Jimmy’s diligence, integrity, and resourcefulness has become vital to the performance of CHP, and I believe he is well deserving of this recognition."

Although Nicole Kemp-Larson has only been with CHP for nine months, she has had a big impact in the short time she has been on staff.

Kemp-Larson was originally hired as a property manager of Horizon and Sunset Apartment communities, where she immediately began to address significant issues facing the properties such as multiple vacancies, late re-certifications, units with mold issues, maintenance problems, fire damage, and some gang activity.

Scott Reithel, CHP’s vice president of property management said that since Kemp-Larson started, she has “worked intelligently, often without much background knowledge, to seek solutions to these problems.” She regularly and effectively leverages her contacts at the Gainesville, Fl. city hall and police department to work with her side-by-side in the resolutions of these concerns.

During the process of resolving the fire damage, she stepped in for the departing regional manager and became CHP on-site representative dealing with contractors, city code officials, and insurance representatives. She also satisfactorily worked with HUD to relocate the residents and arranged for continued subsidy payments to pay for the dislocated resident lodging. Kemp-Larson has kept HUD and corporate CHP advised of progress on a weekly basis throughout this process.

In addition, Kemp-Larson corrected the file and physical plant deficiencies well enough to pass a recent state monitoring agency audit of the properties.

Reithel remarked that Kemp-Larson’s extraordinary efforts at Horizon and Sunset Apartments should make her eligible for Employee of the Year on their own merits, however, she also went above and beyond the call of duty as senior property manager by spending many days willingly training, mentoring and coaching a newly hired property manager in the absence of a regional manager.

“I have rarely seen a property manager proactively take these types of actions to achieve the results that Nicole has accomplished in her relatively short tenure with us,” said Reithel.

Alicia McCoy is CHP Homeownership’s client services manager in Christiansburg, Va. and she also provides support to our Homeownership Center in Inverness, Fl. Her primary responsibility is managing the client experience across all service lines. McCoy oversees the client intake process, supports the interaction between counseling and realty staff, coordinates with funding partners in single- family development projects, and organizes the real estate closings between settlement agents and funding sources for CHP owned properties. She also manages the reporting process to grantors to ensure compliance for continued funding.

CHP Chief Business Development Officer Karen Turner stated McCoy performs all these tasks with great care and efficiency, while always maintaining a customer focus and mission driven approach.

In 2015, McCoy’s dedication to Homeownership was highlighted in the deployment of NeighborWorks America’s Sustainable Homeownership Program (SHP). This was a NeighborWorks initiative that officially deployed in 2015 to help member organizations become more sustainable by increasing the efficiency of client management through and across service lines. It involved rethinking business models and incorporating technology to increase accessibility and support a more streamlined journey to homeownership.

McCoy was chosen as the lead staff member to execute the organizational roll out, spending countless hours on conference calls and training seminars to prepare CHP Homeownership for launching the technology suite. She performed business planning, complied training manuals, and held group and individual training sessions with all staff members. Through the struggles of deployment readiness, many organizations were forced to delay their launch date; however, due in large part to McCoy’s work, CHP became the first NeighborWorks Organization (NWO) in the country to go live with the new technology.

CHP went live with the SHP suite in August of this year and has become the torch bearer of the entire SHP initiative for NeighborWorks. We have encountered road blocks, as any technology deployment would, and some early resistance from NeighborWorks as we challenged the model to become a better tool. McCoy was able to meet these challenges head on, develop workarounds, and provide feedback to NeighborWorks on improvements. Through her ability to cultivate relationships, NeighborWorks has pivoted their position and now looks to CHP to push innovation.

According to Turner, McCoy is tremendous leader who is not only helping guide CHP through the adoption of a new business model, she is pushing the entire NeighborWorks collective. “Alicia’s leadership in this program has allowed us the opportunity to rethink the Homeownership staff structure and make adjustments to position ourselves for increased opportunity. NeighborWorks America and its SHP members view CHP as an industry leader and Alicia has represented our company with grace and professionalism. I am extremely thankful we have Alicia leading the way and representing CHP’s values to our partners and our staff.”

Samuel Mengesha was hired by CHP in 2010 when CHP Energy Solutions was expanding its Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) energy auditing team in response to the federal stimulus (ARRA) funding. He came to CHP due to his interest in renewable sustainable energy, and because CHP’s mission is intertwined in this philosophy.

Upon arriving at CHP, Mengesha was not only a great help to us in meeting our need for additional in-house WAP work, but also for our outside “market” and Weatherization subcontractor work. CHP Vice President of Energy Solutions Research and Training Center Mark Jackson said Mengesha has done all this exceptionally well.

Before being hired by CHP, Mengesha worked as an auditor and building performance specialist. He had all the training and credentials required in the private sector but soon learned about all the additional training, certifications, and licenses required in order to perform his responsibilities in the publicly-funded WAP. According to Jackson, Mengesha quickly and easily acquired the additional skills and did not hesitate to take on and share what he learned with his co-workers and supervisors.

Mengesha’s academic experience in electrical engineering, as well as practical experience gained while serving in the Navy, have enabled Samuel to easily navigate through the complex software programs, old and new, used in our public and market endeavors.

Jackson indicated that Mengesha also has a reputation for never backing down from a task or challenge, and easily works independently with little to no supervision. “He has been our one, solid, auditor working out of the northern Virginia office and has more than carried his share of the auditing workload there.”

Bill Beachy, CHP’s vice president of Energy Solutions field operations, agrees with Mengesha’s current and past supervisors who have consistently said, “We wish we could clone him.”

Marsha Underwood’s holistic approach to her work sets her apart as she consistently strives to make connections, leverage resources, and improve efficiencies across all of CHP’s lines of business.

Her eye for the “big picture” greatly benefited the Resident Services department throughout 2015 when she taught them how to see things differently: how to look at what they were doing and to recognize measurable outcomes. Underwood’s supervisor, CHP Director of Development Kimberly Strahm, reported that Underwood went above and beyond her normal responsibilities to collaborate with Resident Services staff to put together logic models for each of their key focus areas. These models—now called Service Maps—enabled staff to more easily identify with the departmental goals and to understand that outcomes can be achieved from showing correlation, not just from proving causation.

Based on the findings of a 2014 staff survey which identified a disproportionate amount of time was being spent on administrative tasks rather than service activities, Underwood worked with CHP’s Vice President of Resident Services Angie Roberts-Dobbins to complete a departmental workflow analysis and recommended areas where adjustments could be made to ensure better service delivery. Part of this process is to continually look at what Resident Services is reporting, and to recommend changes based on what story they want or need the data to tell; and to identify if there could be a better, more efficient way to tell the same story.

Roberts-Dobbins has high praise for Underwood, confirming that she has improved operations in Resident Services “by 100%.” Roberts-Dobbins stated that Underwood also provides excellent service to Resident Services by creating and distributing resident surveys, providing technical training, acting as a liaison between NeighborWorks and Resident Services to help interpret various program goals and objectives, and sharing resources when she sees them, and/or researching resource opportunities as needed.

Said Roberts-Dobbins, “Marsha has gone above and beyond her identified job responsibilities to dig into the internal operations of Resident Services to ensure that they are able to preserve their limited resources by operating as efficiently as possible.”

Strahm remarked that Underwood has also created a strong collaborative partnership with IT department and began identifying areas across the organization where new or different technologies could be leveraged to enhance work flow and improve efficiencies. This partnership resulted in Underwood playing a key role in several technology-centered initiatives in 2015 which focused on CHP’s Support Services activities. She quickly became the liaison between IT and the Support Services departments and assumed yet another key responsibility: change management. Undwerwood currently works across all Support Services departments to “manage change” by providing appropriate pre- and post-implementation planning and communications to staff around new or different business practices and technology solutions. To better reflect her changing and growing responsibilities, Marsha’s job title was changed to Business Analyst in October, 2015.

“On a corporate level, Marsha has the natural ability to see CHP from the 20,000-foot-level, and to identify areas where we can function more efficiently as a whole. The steps she has taken in 2015 to move towards a more efficient whole make her the ideal candidate for a 2015 Employee of the Year,” said Strahm.