Quadel celebrates Women’s History Month and all the strong women who help make a difference in the affordable housing industry.

March is Women’s History Month, and as it wraps up Quadel would be remiss if it didn’t highlight some of its fearless women leaders. Directors Sandra Soucie and Penny VanderWall have been in the affordable housing industry for decades.

Women Leaders Understand the Importance of Work/Life Balance 

Soucie believes women leaders are unique because they tend to emphasize a “holistic approach” to leadership decisions; women think of work in conjunction with other life responsibilities.

“I have witnessed and modeled how women can navigate both professional and personal responsibilities, showing that it’s possible to excel in leadership roles while also prioritizing family and relationships. Do we do it perfectly? No. And that’s ok,” Soucie said. “I have been fortunate to be alongside women leaders who demonstrate the value in both data-driven decision-making and intuition/gut feeling. Both analytical rigor and emotional intelligence.”

Women Leaders Learn from Those Before Them

Most women in positions of power or influence succeeded by following the lead of others before them. While VanderWall’s grandmother was not a modern businessperson who led teams of employees or managed multi-million dollar projects, VanderWall learned the soft skills leaders possess to be successful and make a lasting impact on those around them.

“My grandmother was a powerful woman ever since I could remember. She and my grandfather were very poor and farmed on rented land. She did everything her husband did and more,” VanderWall said. “Throughout all her life she was strong, supportive of all her children and grandchildren, and was always positive. She never complained about how hard her life was; she enjoyed every minute. She taught me how to be a strong woman, to look ahead and be positive, and to find something good in every day.”

Women Leaders Fight for What’s Right and Listen to the Needs of Others

Both Soucie and VanderWall have interesting workforce journeys.

Before becoming a part of the affordable housing industry, Soucie worked at a male-dominated company and had to advocate for fellow female employees frequently. This included fighting to lessen the gender pay gap – which she did – by presenting information about the wages and wage discrimination laws.

“One of my responsibilities was to conduct a local wage survey and provide management with the information I collected. As I was analyzing internal data, I realized that (a woman manager’s) salary was significantly less, as much as 60% less than other managers,” Soucie said. “I may not have had the courage to shout from the rooftop, but I did advocate for what was right. Even today, I am rarely the one shouting. For me, leadership and advocating aren’t necessarily about making grand gestures or receiving accolades; rather, it’s  pursuing what’s right even when it’s difficult.”

As a women leader, VanderWall also advocates for her team members and those she serves – like the residents of Phoenix, Arizona.VanderWall made sure her team members’ and clients’ needs were met during a recent wait list opening where thousands of people applied for the City of Phoenix Housing Department’s HCV program.

“Most of the AZQ staff are women and most of our applicants are women. I made sure to advocate for the women in the office for all the necessary items and training to accomplish such a huge task. I made sure the staff was informed, trained, and supported during the 15-day opening,” VanderWall said. “As a leader, it’s important to listen and be sure your audience knows you are listening. Valuable information and team building is garnered often by active listening. Talking to be heard is not necessarily saying anything at all.”

Interested in joining a women-led company with a culture of embracing individual strengths? We’re hiring.