Public Housing Agency (PHA) Executive Directors face a wide range of challenges and difficulties. While Executive Directors focus on operational performance trends and budget bottom lines, most spend their days managing agency relationships. Quadel Director, Demetria Simpson, talks about the unique relationship between Executive Directors and the Board of Commissioners and how Executive Directors can navigate these important interactions.
Different Roles, Same Goals
Executive Directors oversee the day-to-day operations of PHAs. The Board of Commissioners ensures PHAs are operated fairly under HUD regulations. Both want to provide affordable housing to their community members. Simpson noted Executive Directors may have a harder time working with Commissioners who don’t understand their role within PHA governance.
“Board Members provide governance and establish policies. Commissioners must be informed and educated about the (affordable housing) industry and how their agency operates within it. They need to know how to best serve their residents,” Simpson said. “Executive Directors often struggle to get the Board educated on its governing role and how to it ensures adequate and effective oversight across the agency.”
Establish Positive Communication and Transparency
As a former Executive Director, Simpson has no shortage of stories from her time working with the Board of Commissioners. Her secret to success? Talk honestly with Board Members about their goals for the PHA and encourage them to be committed to understanding the affordable housing industry.
“As an Executive Director, I was focused on positive communication, transparency, and relationship building. I met with each Commissioner individually and discussed the issues he or she was most passionate about for our residents, our communities and staff members. I made sure they knew their voice mattered and that the expertise they brought to the Board mattered.”
A Collaborative Partnership is Key
Simpson noted an internal collaboration between Executive Directors and the Board of Commissioners is imperative when working with external agency partners. By establishing a framework of collaboration, both parties have a better chance of success.
“Executive Directors and Board of Commissioners should commit to establishing a framework that includes education, communication, transparency, accountability, and commitment. These five things are key to effective leadership and operations,” Simpson said. “Executive Directors should be a cheerleader for their Board. The more the Board is educated and informed, the better it can govern and establish effective policies that benefit the communities it serves. The relationship between Executive Directors and the Board is not just a relationship. It is a partnership.”
Quadel offers Board of Commissioner and Executive Management training to PHA leaders across the country. Housing practitioners who faced the same challenges as our attendees lead the courses. Topics for Boards of Commissioners include HUD funding and budget cycles, governance roles and responsibilities, ethics, and oversight. Executive Directors will get an in-depth look at asset-based management and planning, managing agencies in a changing environment, and understanding leadership skills and styles.
In addition, Board of Commissioners training can also be found at the HUD Exchange.
To find out more information about Quadel’s training or to view our upcoming training, visit here.