All Topics     |     Industry News     |     Knowledge Base     |     Company News     |     Product Updates

Meet the NMA team: Betty Turner

Posted by BEMuser on Mar 6, 2014 9:38:02 AM

Betty TurnerToday in the NMA "Meet the Team" interview series, we sit down with senior associate trainer Betty Turner. With longstanding expertise in subjects including transition to asset management, supervision, and working with commissioners, Ms. Turner frequently trains popular NMA classes such as Public Housing Management, Public Housing Specialist, Supervision and Management, and Hearing Officer Workshop.

Tell us about your work experience.

I have over 25 years of experience in the affordable housing industry and have worked in both public housing and Section 8.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I ended up in the industry because I needed a job! I had no clue what a housing authority was about — in fact, I didn't know the government was even involved in housing!

How many years have you been at NMA?

Nine years. Ten years this September.

Education credentials and professional organizations?

B.S. in business administration, and some graduate school. I'm semi-retired now, so I don't do a lot with professional organizations anymore.

What’s one topic you’re most passionate about in the affordable housing industry?

Public housing management. You have an opportunity to work with the whole family in a very meaningful way.

What's your favorite part about your job?

I love training, especially when I see the class participants really getting it!

Describe your typical work day?

Up at 5:30 a.m., in the training room by 6:45 a.m., no lunch, out of the training room about 6 p.m.

Tell us about a successful project that you had a part in.

A collaboration with the social services department in assisting kids aging out of foster care with eligibility for family unification Section 8 vouchers.

Hobbies outside of work?

Movies! There's just something magical about sitting in a large, dark room full of strangers eating popcorn.

NMA senior associate trainer Betty Turner honed her creative team-building skills over more than three decades as executive director of both large and medium-sized PHAs.

Topics: asset management, commissioners, foster children, hearing officer, Meet the NMA team, public housing management, supervision

Are you friends with us on Facebook?

Posted by BEMuser on Dec 3, 2013 9:47:47 AM

December is here (is it just us, or did this year go by way, way too fast?) and we're celebrating with giveaways for our fans over at the NMA Facebook page.

Of course, we couldn't leave out our blog readers. If you haven't friended us on Facebook yet, head over to our page and click the "like" button to join the contest.

Visit the NMA Facebook page!

The first prize we'll be giving away to one lucky fan is a full set of NMA handbooks. Stay tuned for more great prizes throughout the month of December.

The NMA handbook series is a great way to share program information with families, staff, commissioners, and landlords. And now through the end of the year, all individual handbooks are 20% off! Purchase in bulk and save even more. Contact for more information.

Topics: commissioners

New NMA conference sessions and one-on-one consulting

Posted by NMA on Aug 29, 2013 3:32:22 PM

One week left to register for the 2013 NMA Housing Conference and GoSection8 User Conference! New track sessions and signups for one-on-one consulting have just been announced. To read the full list of sessions, go here.

Executive Leadership for Performance Excellence

Don't Waste Strategy Time on Goal Setting!
Presenter, Eric Kaufmann, President, Sagatica LLC

Most strategy sessions are merely operational — a missed leadership opportunity. Eric Kaufmann guides leadership teams across the country and coaches corporate CEOs. He will present the way to prepare a strategic action plan that becomes a useful resource to accomplish your agency’s goals within limited funding. You will discover the six deadly mistakes of strategy planning. Ask the right questions, set the right measurements, and get to work!

Regulatory Knowledge for Smart Management

Why Your Agency Should Be Taking a Second Look at RAD
Presenter, Carrol Vaughan

The RAD demonstration program is a unique opportunity for housing authorities to convert their at-risk public housing to long-term Section 8 rental assistance contracts. In this session, we’ll cover the latest information on the program and discuss why your housing authority should take a serious look at whether RAD would work for your agency. We’ll also hear from staff at a large housing authority on why their agency is considering submitting an application, and review the thought process involved in making the decision to apply.

Fair Housing/Civil Rights Reviews: Are You Prepared?
Presenter, Annie Stevenson

Using HUD’s civil rights review checklist, we’ll discuss fair housing requirements for the public housing and HCV programs. Topics will include limited English proficiency (LEP), reasonable accommodations, alternative communication methods, and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to prepare for civil rights monitoring.

Free One-on-One NMA Consulting

Reserve your free session with an NMA industry expert! These consulting sessions are limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. In fact, some are already full, so we encourage you to sign up now.

Nan McKayNan McKay, President and Founder
Expertise: HCV program management

John McKayJohn McKay, CEO
Expertise: Performance management, applying Baldrige principles to affordable housing

Carrol VaughanCarrol Vaughan, VP of Professional Services
Expertise: Procurement, organizational development

Dorian JenkinsDorian Jenkins, VP of Program Management
Expertise: HCV program, public housing leasing, tenant relations, rent collection, REAC prep, cost controls

Cydney JonesCydney Jones, Director of Program Management
Expertise: General HCV topics and issues

Sheryl PutnamSheryl Putnam, Professional Development Manager
Expertise: LIHTC compliance, HOME, PBRA

Samantha PratterSamantha Pratter, Writing Supervisor
Expertise: HCV and public housing eligibility, occupancy, and rent calculation

Annie StevensonAnnie Stevenson, Senior Trainer
Expertise: Fair housing, hearings, EIV, general HCV and public housing topics

Terry ProvanceTerry Provance, Senior Trainer
Expertise: Fair housing, PHAS, public housing property management, general asset management issues

Sammie SzaboSammie Szabo, Associate Trainer
Expertise: General HCV and public housing, PBV, blended occupancy

Jay OrtenzoJay Ortenzo, Property Services Manager
Expertise: HCV inspections and standards, public housing maintenance management

Teri RobertsonTeri Robertson, Senior Consultant
Expertise: SEMAP, quality control, HCV program utilization

Betty TurnerBetty Turner, Senior Associate Trainer
Expertise: Transition to asset management, supervision, working with commissioners

Please note that you must be a registered conference attendee or new registrant in order to take advantage of free consulting sessions. Non-registrants without an accompanying registration are not eligible. Register online or email for more information. Winners of the 2013 NMA Housing Awards will be announced at the conference — don't miss it!

Topics: asset management, blended occupancy, commissioners, EIV, eligibility, executive management, fair housing, HCV utilization, hearing officer, HQS, inspections, LIHTC, maintenance, NMA Housing Awards, occupancy, PBRA, PBV, PHAS, program management, quality control, RAD, rent calculation, SEMAP, supervision, The Housing Conference

Meet the NMA team: Nan McKay

Posted by NMA on May 2, 2013 1:24:50 PM

Nan McKayContinuing the "Meet the team" series, NMA founder and president Nan McKay was kind enough to share some of her busy time with us for an interview. Nan has previously written for the NMA blog on the topic of executive management and high performance achievement in the HCV program.

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. She has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course and rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book.

Tell us about your work experience.

In 1980 I had 17 years' experience working for housing authorities and wanted to do something new. I decided to start a training company and, a month after beginning Nan McKay and Associates, I won a HUD training contract with four contracts awarded nationally, mine coming in second because HUD awarded the contract on experience, not money. I probably wouldn't have known how to bid a big (or little!) HUD contract at that time. The dollar amounts you received as contractor were set by HUD, and they provided the material for you to train. I was thrilled, to say the least.

The training covered HUD's new housing quality standards, and attendance was mandatory. Many housing authorities didn't like that. I figured I had better put on a pretty interesting show, or the students might shoot the messenger! I traveled with a set of 10 pre-completed flip charts (we didn't have overheads and PowerPoints yet — I don't think they had been invented). I drew stick figures on the charts to illustrate topics. Very professional. A trial by fire. Dee Dee Strum, Ellen Hart, and Joanne MacDonald helped me out, and we did HUD sessions around the country.

Lo and behold, people liked the training and wanted me to do other things. So we did. I learned how to negotiate with hotels and even decided what to serve at the lunches we provided at seminars back in those days. We developed new training material, and by that time I had written and published three books, which we used in the training. We even finally purchased an Apple II computer and didn't have to type all those labels anymore!

I love to go to cities and talk with people

and see how they live. My hobby is life.

For five years, I worked out of the basement of my home, starting early before the kids were up and often talking on the phone with housing authorities in my nightgown. We did the business as a family team, with Molly and John (my children) sharpening pencils, collating papers, sealing envelopes, and writing name tags.

There were a couple hard parts: having to leave the family, sometimes with tears, week after week, missing birthdays and school events; and trying to do the training and the business work while I traveled about 40 weeks a year. My husband learned to cook something other than scrambled eggs and became "Mr. Mom" in addition to his work, and Molly and John were troopers about only talking with me at night on the phone many nights during the week. Whatever success I have had, I credit much to my family. Without my team supporting me at home, I couldn't have done it.

Over time, the business grew, with more books and more seminars. We relocated to California in 1985 and moved into real office space. In the '90s, some wonderful people joined me and are still with NMA. Ray Adair, Jay Ortenzo (as a contractor first), Dolores Figueroa, and Bill Caltabiano were the earliest, then Carrol Vaughan, Cara Gillette, Holly St. Hilaire, Annie Stevenson, John McKay, Terry Provance, Teri Robertson, Gaye Walker, and Lois Boyles. We also had a computer company for 15 years with housing software and, on the side, I started a business called Designer Outlet (my midlife crisis, I think) which was not financially successful.

Now I oversee the company at a high level, with John handling the heavier load. The principles we started with are still in place: treat your customers well, operate with integrity, work hard, make people's lives better, do the best job you can with a positive attitude, and know that you have to be 100 percent correct when discussing the HUD requirements — or suffer the consequences!

How did you get your start in the industry?

I had been a flight attendant in Illinois. I got married, which at that time required you to resign as a flight attendant.

My husband and I moved to Minnesota and I needed a job. I was 21. I started in the rehabilitation department at my first housing authority as a secretary. In 1963, women were pretty much relegated to secretarial jobs, unless you had a degree; then you might get a job as a housing manager. I had two years of college at that time, and therefore only qualified for a secretarial job.

Nan McKay in her flight attendant uniform, 1962

I keep getting "other duties as assigned" and became more of an administrative assistant (in job duties only — not title). When the job of administrative assistant for our department was posted — the job that I was actually doing — I applied, and my boss recommended me for the position.

However, I was brought down to the executive offices and told that higher positions in that department really weren't for women because, historically, women got pregnant and left — and I didn't get the job. I trained the man who got the job, but it was hard to keep my heart in my work.

I had organized a national conference for the department and ran into Harold Moriarty, who had recently been appointed as executive director of a smaller housing authority. He asked me what experience I'd had with the department, said he was looking for someone with responsibilities similar to those of an administrative assistant, and asked me to write a job description for that position, which
I did. He offered me the job — and I took it.

Mr. Moriarty did more for me than anyone else before or since in my career. He gave me a chance. After a year or so, he wanted to promote me to assistant to the director and, as I understand it, had to put his own job on the line to get agreement from the board. He not only championed me, but I had been divorced and he introduced me to my current husband of almost 45 years.

I worked with Mr. Moriarty for nine years. I helped him build the agency by working on an urban renewal project, writing a business relocation and acquisition guide with a HUD staff member, and finally becoming assistant executive director. While there, I supervised the design and construction of, and then managed, a highrise for elderly families in South St. Paul.

The highrise was a wonderful experience. In the beginning, many of the elderly residents felt like they were old and their lives were over. Some of them were so poor, they were eating dog food before they moved into the building. Many were embarrassed to have to have this kind of financial help. I was about 25 and didn't agree with any of it. I told them that they had worked all their lives and paid their taxes and they deserved it.

We had New Year's Eve parties where everyone dressed up and ate popcorn and drank punch. We went to plays and other events. We created a beauty shop in the highrise with money donated by the business community. We had pool tournaments. We had dancers and singers come in and entertain us. We made a garden that the residents could plant. We laughed and we cried. We were a family.

The Nan McKay Building in South St. Paul, 1960s

I had my daughter while working in the highrise (I worked until 5:30 p.m. and she was born at 8:30 p.m.). I was back at work in two weeks, and the caretaker's wife babysat for her. Molly had 132 grandmas and grandpas, because she spent so much time at the highrise until I had John. The commissioners named it "The Nan McKay Building."

The county called and said they wanted to build an elderly highrise just like South St. Paul's. I did the organizational transcript, and when they were finally funded in 1976, after a HUD moratorium on funding, I left to build their program.

During the four years I worked there, we did community development, housing, a weatherization program, 115 grants, and 312 loans. We worked in 32 communities and built sidewalks, a shelter for battered women, and a community services building, as well as both elderly and family public housing and the Section 8 program, which was selected by HUD as one of the 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country. The board was kind enough to name a family project "McKay Manor."

I started Nan McKay and Associates in 1980, and the rest is history. 2013 is my 50th year in the housing industry.

Education credentials?

I went back to college in the '70s (I was then in my 40s), finished my bachelor's degree, and did about two years of work on my master's degree. I worked full-time and went to school at night. I had the company by then, and my travel just didn't allow the time for school anymore. However, I also attended the Federal Executive Institute and completed many, many managerial courses. I'm working on an Excel class this year, which will give Andrew Denicola and my other helpers some relief.

What’s one topic you’re most passionate about in the affordable housing industry?

Making a difference in the lives of the families who are housed is the biggest one. Until you really see the struggles low-income families and elderly and disabled people have, up close and personal, you don't have any idea how hard life can be. Treating people with compassion and respect is so very critical. Their lives are hard enough without having to deal with a bureaucratic, insensitive housing authority employee who doesn't administer their subsidy according to HUD rules.

When we work with housing authority staff, we help the people who help the people. If we can impart the knowledge that housing authorities need when managing the regulations, and can be the "wind beneath the wings" of management staff in how to manage their staff with knowledge, professionalism, and respect, we will make a difference in the housing world.

What's your favorite part about your job?

I love everything about what I do and have done.

Next: Read Nan's "Fifty years in housing: Part I"

Nan has chosen the National Leased Housing Association as the organization she supports and to which she volunteers her time; she currently serves on the NLHA board and is an active member. In the past, she has been actively involved in NAHRO as a regional board member, president of the state chapter, and national chair of their housing subcommittee. She helped start DARTS (Dakota Area Referral and Transportation for Seniors), a community-based nonprofit that connects people to services and partnerships that improve their quality of life.

In addition to her participation in many women's organizations and associations for women in business, Nan also co-founded Minnesota Women in Housing with Lyn Burton-Feeney.

Topics: commissioners, executive management, HQS, Meet the NMA team, seniors and elderly, The Housing Conference

Meet the NMA team: Rhonda Brown

Posted by NMA on Feb 21, 2013 10:00:18 AM

Today in our interview series we'll be talking to attorney and NMA senior trainer Rhonda Brown, who currently teaches the NMA Hearing Officer Workshop and was also part of the team that developed the workshop. She has previously written for the NMA blog about how to be an effective hearing officer.

In addition to handling both HCV and public housing hearings for PHAs in western Washington State, Ms. Brown is also a full-time administrative review judge for a state agency, where she's been hearing appeals and writing decisions for over 20 years.

Tell us about your work experience.

I started early! I've held employment of one kind or another for 46 years. Okay, let's skip ahead to my post-undergraduate life. I started a career as a social worker, performing intake of abuse and neglect referrals at a child protective agency, then a few years later, I worked on a locked ward at a psychiatric hospital for adolescents. When I moved to a new state, I took on my first job in advocacy, and my first job in the housing industry, as manager of a housing assistance program for people with disabilities.

It was in this capacity that I was asked by HUD to offer comments on the draft regulations for implementing the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities by federally funded entities. Responding to the request introduced me to community organizing, public speaking, and regulatory analysis. Being involved in this undertaking also alerted me to the fact that I needed stronger credentials to work effectively in advocacy, which led me to the idea, then the reality, of law school!

After law school, I joined a law practice, concentrating in administrative law (social security appeals, special education advocacy), landlord-tenant law, and family law. Wanting more control over my time, I joined public service, working for the state on an equal employment opportunity/affirmative action project, then as a contracts lawyer, and finally as a review judge, where I've been for 22 years, hearing and deciding unemployment insurance appeals.

About 10 years ago, I opened my own consulting firm, which provides technical expertise and training in the public and private sectors on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seven years ago, I was asked to be a hearing officer, and I perform those duties as an independent contractor through my consulting company.

How did you get your start in the industry?

The housing assistance program for people with disabilities was my introduction. Because of that work, I began participating on housing-related boards and committees. I was also called upon to serve on government committees to represent the "disability perspective." I continue that participation now. It was due to my association with other folks from the housing industry that I was asked to be a hearing officer.

How did you get your start at Nan McKay and Associates?

I took an NMA training course about a year and a half ago and was asked to join as a trainer for the Hearing Officer Workshop.

What’s one topic you’re most passionate about in the affordable housing industry?

Helping to advocate for and promote affordable, accessible housing.

What's your favorite part about your job?

Hah! Which one? For my job with NMA, it is meeting and working with all the dedicated, caring, knowledgeable people both at NMA and in my workshops, who are doing the work that helps people meet a basic human need — housing!

Describe your typical work day.

Reviewing and writing unemployment insurance cases for the majority of the weekdays. I use vacation to attend housing hearings and NMA workshops. Then, evenings and weekends reading housing hearing files, writing up housing hearing decisions... and miscellaneous business tasks, as they come up.

Tell us about a successful project that you had a part in.

I managed and performed the development, training, and facilitation of an ADA compliance project for a county government. Despite looming cuts of federal dollars due to the county's noncompliance, the county commissioners were hostile to changing the status quo. I met with the commissioners to describe the project and to get their support for a resolution which would set the tone for the managers of the 21 departments required to participate.

In a half an hour, I had to explain the technical aspects of the ADA, the county's role, what we were doing, and why. I wanted to emphasize the similarities between the county's mission and the ADA's mission, the achievements that they had already accomplished, the benefits of a well-considered plan, and the fact that the process was a matter of justice.

I was able to establish rapport and a foundation for trust, and the commissioners completed the resolution. Over the next two years, I worked with the department managers and as a team, we evaluated all the county departments, set up strategies for change, began implementation, and devised protocols for future compliance. A successful project.

When she isn't working, NMA senior trainer Rhonda Brown enjoys reading, writing, travel, opera, movies, cooking, dining out, swimming, and Scrabble. She has been affiliated with many different organizations over the years, including the Washington State Bar's Access to Justice Committee, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Disability Advisory Committee, and the Pierce County Citizens Advisory Board for the Community Development Block Grant Program. Ms. Brown is currently a board member for the Fair Housing Center of Washington, where she has served for 18 years.

Topics: commissioners, fair housing, hearing officer, Meet the NMA team

Subscribe to our blog via email!    

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all