Our team ensures that residents and clients are receiving the best experience possible while working with HOU staff. To support this goal, sites have to be properly staffed to handle irregular spikes in activity, and staff have to be well trained and supported with professional development.
Our goals include increased access to, and strengthened skills of staff in leadership positions. We learn best from each other. Every new site presents a new set of challenges, but our colleagues have the required experience. Our parallel approach to leadership is designed to serve you, the resident and client, better. You receive access to all talent at HOU. When challenges are presented, we are all there for solutions.
David I Connelly, Founder, founded HOU in 1982 after spending years providing resident services and community organizing in Boston, Baltimore and Washington DC. David’s goal has been to create a company where each and every person is respected for who they are and where they come from, a philosophy echoed in all of HOU’s staff work and interaction with residents. David grew up in Dorchester and his first “real” job was as a counselor in the ABCD job training program in 1965. He went on to run ABCD’s Job Training Centers in Codman Square and Uphams Corner. From there, he ran the juvenile probation program for the Dorchester District Courts and the Youth Justice Resource Program. David holds a degree in Counseling from Suffolk University and is currently reminding people that President-Elect Biden is only four years his junior.
Chief Operating Officer & Principal
Susan Connelly, Chief Operating Officer, has devoted her entire career to affordable and public housing. In May 2020 she joined HOU, where she oversees the company’s internal operations and, as part of HOU’s Leadership team, supports staff and external relationships.
Prior to HOU, Susan was the Director of Community Assistance at the Massachusetts Partnership (MHP), a quasi-public agency. For 16 years she led a team whose goal was to increase affordable housing across the state of Massachusetts. To that end, she advanced the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development by creating a public finance product to leverage private capital for the replacement of state public housing; administered a $7.5 million grant program to spur nonprofit development; and conducted dozens of fiscal and pre-development analyses to enable new affordable housing.
Leading up to her tenure at MHP, Susan immersed herself in private real estate development for 20 years, developing over 4,200 units of housing in Massachusetts and the Mid-Atlantic. Susan employed her expertise at conducting community input processes as a representative of the state, as a developer, and as an affordable housing manager.
Susan was first introduced to relocation services in 1986, when she was part of the HOU relocation team at Columbia Point in Boston, now Harbor Point, the nation’s first public housing project to be converted to private mixed-income housing.
Susan holds a degree in Economics from the University of Vermont. She is a Commissioner for the Cambridge Housing Authority, a member of the Urban Land Institute, current co-chair of the Real Estate Advisory Committee and a founding member of the Women’s Development Collaborative based in San Francisco, CA.
Chief Executive Officer
Christopher Jones, Chief Executive Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org joined HOU in 2010 as a Relocation Coordinator at Oliver Hills Courts in Richmond, VA, where he was responsible for facilitating on-site relocation activity for Winn Residential. Following that success, Chris was dispatched to Chicago, IL, where he became Relocation Coordinator for St. Stephen’s Terrace, a 263-unit property redeveloped by The Community Builders (TCB). Subsequently, Chris was named HOU Employee of the Year, and was promoted to Project Director with the responsibility of overseeing multiple relocation projects throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
Over the past decade Chris has successfully helped implement many large-scale, temporary, in-place, and permanent relocation efforts, including Chicago’s Marshall Field Gardens, a 628-unit development with myriad housing relocation including on-site, in-place, and off-site citywide. Chris assisted in securing a contract with the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) portfolio and managed seven large-scale relocation projects totaling over 600 units, all participating in Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversions from 2017-2019.
In May of 2020, Chris was promoted to Vice President of Client Relations. In addition to managing and providing consulting for relocation projects nationwide, his oversight includes quality control, monitoring operating standards, staff orientation, capacity building and ensuring contract deliverables are met.
Chris is also responsible for managing relationships with new and existing clients to maintain steady company growth and is heavily involved in creating new marketing strategies for the company. Coupled with a decade of experience in relocation, he is a certified Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspector.
Mr. Jones holds a BA in Business Management and Corporate Communications from Queens University of Charlotte, NC.
Chief Learning Officer
Lisa Mangum, Chief Learning Officer, joined HOU in 1995 and is an integral part of HOU’s growth and performance. As a member of HOU’s Leadership Team, Lisa’s primary role is new hire and client training. As an extension of that training, Lisa provides quality control and oversees relocation projects, case management, resident services, and senior programs. She is well-versed in federal and state relocation regulations and has written over 100 HUD and state-approved relocation plans.
Lisa is a National Center for Housing Management (NCHM)-certified Senior Housing Specialist and is involved with HOU contracts serving frail and senior residents. She has developed and implemented curricula for HOU staff to assist residents in addressing and maintaining housekeeping compliance.
Lisa is pivotal to community center program planning and coordination, implementing federal and local grants, and providing technical assistance to Resident Councils. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross and earned her Master of Science degree in Health Care Administration from Simmons College.
LaShone Davis, Program Administrator, is a demonstrated leader in positions held both in the non-profit and for-profit industries. LaShone offers over 15+ years of experience in the human services field, residential services and grants management. Early on in LaShone’s career, her work spanned child welfare working with children in the DC Foster Care System, therapeutic school counseling with youth who had social-emotional and behavioral health needs and non-profit management. LaShone joined HOU in May 2013 as a Case Manager and then was promoted to Lead Case Manager, providing comprehensive case management/relocation services to the NW/ Temple Courts residents under the New Communities Case Management Initiative. LaShone has been part of the New Communities Initiative since the grant initially began in July 2007. Today, LaShone manages two public housing sites in Washington, DC; NW1/Temple Courts which consist of 211 households and Park Morton with 174 households where residents are being relocated due to redevelopment.
Prior to joining HOU, LaShone partnered with HOU and other community partners to host workshops, community events and meetings for residents under the New Communities Case Management Initiative. LaShone has implemented programming for financial literacy, mental health and wellness and housing stability for permanent and temporary relocation. LaShone has been very instrumental in the continued 11+ year partnership with the DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) who funds the New Communities Case Management Initiative.
Some of LaShone’s proudest accomplishments include being able to work with and successfully relocate 15+ residents to new redevelopment housing in DC. LaShone has been able to establish an ongoing partnership with various community agencies property management companies such as Capitol Area Asset Builders, Lasting Change, Life Coaching, LLC, Office of the People’s Counsel, Freddie Mac, Department of Behavioral
Health, Department on Disability Services, Columbus Property Management and William C. Smith Company and the DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic and Development to provide supportive services to the residents we serve.
LaShone holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) from Howard University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Morgan State University. She also holds a certification in Co-Occurring Disorders.
Director of Operations
Ivette Timberlake, Director of Operations works with Project Directors and the HOU staff, providing them with support and overseeing company benefits. She works closely with the Chief Operating Officer to create and implement company-wide best practices, and she is part of the HOU Management Team.
Prior to HOU, Ivette was Administration and Human Resource Manager for Mass Housing Partnership (MHP). Ivette joined MHP in 2002 as Receptionist, and quickly advanced to Office Administrator, Finance & Human Resources Assistant, and Staff Accountant and Budget Analyst Supervisor. Ivette’s drive for professionalism in the workplace, her ability to meet crucial project timelines, and excellent interpersonal skills have afforded her the many opportunities and promotions she received during her 18+ year tenure at MHP.
Ivette attended professional courses at Cambridge College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the evenings, where she obtained a B.S. Degree in Business Management. She is a member of Northeast Human Resources Association, Society of Human Resources Management, and the Latino Professional Network. She is fluent in Spanish.
Jeray Wilson, Senior Project Director, is a proven veteran in relocation, case management, and resident services. As Project Director, she is responsible for site set-up, staff supervision, relocation implementation, and client and resident relationships for over 1,000 units. Jeray directs relocation projects across the country in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, as well as New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Washington state.
She began her career with HOU as Resident Coordinator in 2007. At Circle Terrace Apartments in Baltimore, MD, she implemented a full course of resident programming, including a GED program, financial literacy, summer youth camps, financial assistance programs, holiday celebrations and field trips for 303 households.
Because of her success at Circle Terrace, Jeray was promoted to Case Manager and Job Developer at Park Morton Apartments in Washington, DC, where she focused on relocation and subsequently relocated over 800 units households in a combination of temporary and permanent relocation projects in Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC and Arlington, VA.
Jeray serves on the Leadership Committee for HOU. She has been recognized numerous times by HOU client AHC, Inc. for her for work ethic, positive attitude and completing relocation ahead of schedule. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services/Management from University of Maryland and is a certified Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspector.
Vanessa Rivera, Project Director
Vanessa joined HOU in 2009 as a Relocation Coordinator at the Mary Ellen McCormack Apartments, and later at the Old Colony Apartments, both in South Boston, MA. She then spent 5 years at the 1283-unit Harbor Point Community Apartments in Dorchester, MA, serving as a Bilingual- Case Manager providing resident services, support and advocacy to clients and their families within the community. Over the past decade Vanessa has held many positions in relocation and has extensive experience in permanent, temporary, in place relocation and residents services. In July 2020, Vanessa was promoted to APD and has the responsibility of overseeing seven relocation sites in the Boston area. Vanessa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a Minor in Entrepreneurship from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and is proﬁcient in Spanish.
Erica Babernitch, Project Director, oversees HOU relocations for Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) projects and projects that conform with the Uniform Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Act (URA) in the Midwest and South regions. This includes communities for the Vantage Group, Lafayette Housing Authority in Lafayette, Louisiana, and URA-temp projects for Redwood Housing located in Augusta, Georgia. She also supervises a RAD temp project with the Jacksonville Housing Authority and a relocation project with Olive Tree Holdings in Pasadena, Texas.
Erica joined HOU as Relocation Coordinator to work on a URA project for Redwood Housing in Fort Myers, FL where she excelled, identifying budget savings for the client while maintaining excellent communication with the tenants, on-site construction, off-site housing management and the development team. As a result, there were no relocation related delays at Redwood and the client requested Erica to assist with upcoming projects. Next Erica completed additional training on URA and RAD projects, and was soon promoted to Assistant Project Director.
Prior to joining HOU, Erica worked for the State of Florida and The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida for 6, both on the ground level as a Child Protective Investigator, and in a supervisory capacity as the Intake Triage and Referral Specialist. Erica is dedicated to the improvement of low-income and vulnerable communities, and an advocate for universal fair housing.
Erica has a Bachelor of Science in Housing and Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia and a Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University
Assistant Project Director
Marisa Rodrigues joined Housing Opportunities Unlimited (HOU) in 2016 as Relocation Coordinator in Boston, MA. Since then, she has successfully completed a number of relocation projects with the Boston Housing Authority. She is currently an Assistant Project Director, overseeing relocation services in the greater Boston area. Marisa is a certified Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspector.
Prior to HOU, Marisa was a Housing Supervisor and Case Manager at the YMCA Homeless Shelter in Elizabeth, NJ and a Program Administrator at Metropolitan Housing Partnership in Boston. Marisa has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts.
Marisa is very passionate about advocating for the residents and communities that HOU serves. She was awarded HOU employee of the Year in 2017. Marisa lives in Attleboro, MA with her lovely daughter and husband.
Sylvester C. James III
Assistant Project Director
Sylvester C. James III, Assistant Project Director, is currently working on his ninth year with the company. Sylvester graduated from the University of Purdue North Central with a B.A. in Behavioral Science Social Work. Sylvester started with HOU as a Mobility Counselor, building great relationships with clients and private landlords/owners relocating residents into areas where there was opportunity for success. Continuing his progress and achievements, he was promoted to a Relocation Coordinator, facilitating and coordinating moves while transitioning and assisting residents through their temporary relocation process. There, Sylvester excelled. A Chicago native, Sylvester exhibited a contagious work ethic and stayed committed to learning the rules and regulations to relocation while experiencing In-place rehab, Temporary Relocation, and Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) projects. While on this path, Sylvester completed one of HOU’s largest relocation projects (Marshall Field Gardens) and built a great relationship while completing a large portfolio of projects for Housing Authority Cook County (HACC). Now as an APD, Sylvester is tied into a number of HOU projects that is spread throughout the states, overseeing projects that cover the East to West coast regions. Sylvester knows what truly drives the conversation with a resident and the ability to connect. Assisting residents and completing the job is the reward.
Sintia Yanes Orellana
Assistant Project Director
Sintia Yanes Orellana has been with Housing Opportunities Unlimited since November 2017. She began as a Relocation Coordinator assisting in permanent relocation in Arlington, VA. Shortly after beginning with HOU she completed a temporary project in Alexandria, VA as a solo project. Her drive and talent ensured her promotion to Assistant Project Director. Currently, Sintia oversees projects and staff alongside all Project Directors.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology. Born in New York, she currently resides in Maryland.
Director of Resident Services
Theresa Williams, Director of Resident Services, Harbor Point, Theresa Williams grew up at the former Columbia Point, a 1500-unit failed public housing project that was converted to 1283-units of private mixed-income housing in partnership with the residents in 1986. It was the nation’s first federal housing project to be converted to private housing, and Theresa served on the elected Columbia Point Task Force through concept, development and completion.
For the past ten years Theresa has served as HOU’s Director of Resident Services at Harbor Point. Here, Theresa and her team provide a link between residents, property management and area social services dealing with issues big and small that affect the community. Prior to her tenure as Director of Resident Services, Theresa served as HOU’s Relocation Coordinator at Charlestown Apartments, a 1100+ Boston Housing Development and provided technical assistance for other HOU Boston-based relocation projects. Prior to coming to HOU, Theresa was the Director of the Harbor Point Fitness Center. Theresa has a passion for providing resident advocacy and support to all residents.
Pamela Jones, Human Resources Manager, started her career at Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC), then moved laterally within the organization at A.C.T. Roxbury, MPDC’s arts and culture program. At MPDC. Pam learned about program management, community outreach, workforce development, community building, and engagement.
After MPDC, Pam worked at the startup company, Next Street Financial, located in Roxbury. In 2008, Pam returned to school to pursue a Master’s in Business Management at Cambridge College. Upon graduation, Pam built her human resources career as a Human Resources Manager at Showa Boston and later at the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center.
Prior to joining Housing Opportunities Unlimited, Pamela was the Human Resources Assistant at Zoo New England, Pam was responsible for HR programs and initiatives, employee engagement, employee benefits, and recruitment at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA.
Pam has served on several boards over years including, Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston and Mothers for Justice & Equality (MJE). Pam lives with her family in Mattapan, where she is an active community member and in June 2021 was elected to the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council.
Bonnie Lowe has been with Housing Opportunities Unlimited (HOU) since 2004. Ms. Lowe has over twenty-five years of accounting experience. She undertakes bank account and general ledger account reconciliation, monitors site balances and budgets, conducts month-end close, and is responsible for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable activity for over fifty sites. Ms. Lowe provides Staff Accountant Services for all HOU contracts. Bonnie uses her skills and expertise to contribute to the overall mission of HOU and maintain our clients’ budget needs.
Bonnie received a Bachelor of Science from Bryant University. She resides in Rhode Island and loves to quilt in her spare time.
Gisel Pena joined Housing Opportunities Unlimited (HOU) in 2018 as the Senior Accountant. Gisel supports the day to day work of HOU’s Finance Department. This includes focusing on accounts payables, invoicing, financial statement production, and other Finance Department duties. Prior to HOU, Gisel was the Senior Account at Urban Edge Housing Corporation – an affordable housing developer in Boston, MA. Gisel also has experience with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Santander Bank.
Gisel has a degree in Information Systems, Audit, and Control from Bentley University. She is also a graduate of the STRENGTH Matters Boot Camp on Financial Reporting for Rental Housing Nonprofit Enterprises.
Gisel enjoys volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and Cradles to Crayons. She resides in Dorchester, Massachusetts with her daughter and family.