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Meet Our PDA Board Members

Community Roots Housing and the Community Roots Housing Foundation are both led by volunteer boards made up of individuals passionate about supporting our neighborhoods and those neighbors in need. We chatted with each board member to learn what they enjoy most about working on the board as well as what being a good neighbor means to them. 

Read about Community Roots Housing Board Chair Shalimar Gonzales here. Check out Q&As with the Community Roots Housing Foundation Board here

Drew Porter | Vice Chair

Why did you join the board?

The Capitol Hill I remember from my youth in the 80s/90s is long gone. There are many positives about the changes happening in our neighborhood, but as a community we need to make sure we can preserve the values, diversity, and culture that Capitol Hill represented. In that context, it’s important to me that Community Roots Housing is ensuring affordable housing remains a part of the neighborhood and more people have the opportunity to choose to live here, and there are still opportunities for artists, musicians, and locally-owned small businesses to thrive amongst all the change and development.
Across the city, Community Roots Housing can provide similar neighborhood-specific benefits and help partner with local organizations to provide great, affordable and safe housing opportunities while promoting community in a way that for-profit housing developers won’t.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

I appreciate that Community Roots Housing approaches development starting from a community perspective and ensuring that its buildings and tenants integrate into their surroundings. Community Roots Housing’s mission ties the building to the community through initiatives like the EcoDistrict, the 12th Avenue business coalition, focus on culture and art, and deep partnership with community organizations in the CD, White Center, and elsewhere.

Frank Alvarado | Vice Chair

Why is Community Roots Housing’s work important to you?

Community Roots Housing’s work is important to me because when I was younger my parents got divorced, so it was me, my brother, and my mom. She was a single mom, had never worked before, and there were a lot of things stacked against us that would have led to maybe homelessness. We were able to overcome a lot of those odds – really my mom was able to overcome those odds. As I’ve grown older and done more things, giving back has become very important to me. I know where I came from, and I know that if I had had an organization like Community Roots Housing helping me when I was younger, it would have changed my life. And I think it’s important that because I feel like I’m successful in my own right, that I pay that back. That’s really what I’m trying to do – pay it back to the folks who need it, because I know I needed it when I was younger.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

It means a lot of things – I think it depends on your background or where you’re from. As a person of color, especially now, I think being a good neighbor means being able to talk about difficult things. I think being a good neighbor comes down to civic duty, just being a good person, thinking about what is right, and not hurting people. How can you progress the city, the neighborhood, the areas you touch – whether you’re living there or working there – how can you add value? I think it’s important to be a volunteer and to add value in the work that you do. I remember as a kid, I needed to make some money, so I went around and knocked on all the doors of my neighbors. I was growing up in Tempe, Arizona, and I basically said ‘hey, do you have any stuff around the house I can do? My rate is…’ and I don’t know, $2 an hour, I don’t remember, it was so small. And my neighbors all gave me miscellaneous stuff to do. I remember one lady had some rocks and asked me to move them from one end to the other. As a kid, I didn’t realize, I made $5 and was happy, but as an adult, I look back and I’m like ‘she probably didn’t need me to do that, she was just trying to be a good neighbor.’ And I think about stuff like that – what are the simple things you can do to help people and make them feel like they’re a part of that community? I think I’m pretty lucky; I grew up in a great neighborhood. As a single mom, when my mom went to work, my neighbors were there to pick me up from school, my neighbors were there to take me to school when I missed the bus, my neighbors were there to watch me when my mom had to come home late. So I formed these relationships with these folks who really helped me grow as an adult.

Derrick Belgarde | Treasurer

Why is Community Roots Housing’s work important to you?

Our work is important because it protects some of our most vulnerable people in our community from being pushed out and homeless. Everyone should have the right of housing security, and shouldn’t constantly live in fear of losing everything and becoming homeless due to unjust and unfair rent increases.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

For me it’s having a genuine concern for the well being of others in your community and realizing that when they’re suffering our entire community is suffering, and when they’re thriving the entire community is thriving. We are all connected and should value each other that way, especially our neighbors.

Jill Cronauer | Secretary

Why is Community Roots Housing’s work important to you?

I have been a community partner with Community Roots Housing for a decade, working side-by-side on a number of Capitol Hill opportunities and challenges. I have always been impressed with the thoughtful inclusion and outreach that Community Roots brings to the table, making efforts to elevate voices that are often left out. Not only can this be a difficult task, it often adds time to the process. But by doing so, the results are often more effective and the product more dynamic.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

Being a good neighbor means helping out when and where you can, regardless of any personal gain.

Rachel Ben-Shmuel

Why did you join the board?

I joined the board because the lack of affordable housing for low-income people disturbs me profoundly. I came to this country as a child, and my parents had very little money. I was acutely aware of what a struggle it was to survive. I’ve carried that memory into adulthood.

Paul Breckenridge

Why did you join the board?

I joined the board because I wanted to be a part of an organization that is contributing to the stock of responsibly-managed affordable housing in my immediate community.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

Being a good neighbor means looking out for the people in your neighborhood and helping to create an inclusive, supportive, and happy environment in your community.

Bob Fikso

Why did you join the board?

I joined the board because I have tried to be involved in at least one community activity outside of work at all times, and I decided to see if Community Roots Housing could use someone like me with real estate legal experience. On top of that, I spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill in those days and was interested in its development and evolution. Finally, there is no greater priority in Seattle than increasing and maintaining affordable housing, and I decided I wanted to be part of that.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

A good neighbor is helpful, observant, open to his neighbors’ perspectives and experience, and willing to learn at all times. A good neighbor tries to give back at least as much as he gets from being part of his community.

Chasten Fulbright

Why did you join the board?

My desire to serve Community Roots Housing culminates from over 20 years of engagement in Capitol Hill as well as from property management. Beyond Capitol Hill, Community Roots Housing’s work in affordable housing throughout Seattle aligns with my passion for providing healthy, sustainable housing to all individuals. Community Roots Housing combines both a dedication to Capitol Hill and a unique blend of support to the residents who call their buildings home.

Barbara “b.g.” Nabors-Glass

Why is Community Roots Housing’s work important to you?

Maintaining and growing the affordable housing stock in Seattle-King County is important to begin to address homelessness.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

A good neighbor is someone who looks out for their neighbor, maintains their property, and participates in the civic life of their neighborhood and city.

Michelle Purnell-Hepburn

Why is Community Roots Housing’s work important to you?

Community Roots Housing was instrumental to the raising of the Liberty Bank Building, whose history lies with 10 progressive risk-takers who dared to open a minority-owned bank.  Two of those risk-takers were my parents.  I was taught to ‘Lift As We Climb” and thus I am obliged to give back.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

Being a good neighbor means caring enough to introduce yourself and your family to each other, talking about more than the weather when we see each other, being mindful of pedestrians as we drive, and watching out for the children.

Eric Snow

Why is Community Roots Housing’s work important to you?

The role Community Roots Housing plays in keeping Capitol Hill economically diverse has allowed my family to live in a neighborhood that is more closely reflective of the world we are a part of and leads to my children being better citizens.

What does being a good neighbor mean to you?

Being a good neighbor means being ready to step in when needed and being protective of everyone’s rights.

George Staggers

Why is Community Roots Housing’s work important to you?

The privilege and opportunity to participate with an organization that improves the quality of living by providing affordable housing in communities close to major job center, educational facilities, parks and public transportation to people that need it, but lack the financial means. An opportunity to impact or change communities that are visible today and in the future. An opportunity to share experience, diversity, complexity within the organization that’s going beyond its historical comfort zone to serve and make Seattle liveable through job, business and housing creation and retention.

Board member Sara Cubillos was not available for comment. 

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