Atlanta Meeting Focuses on the Road Ahead

“I left feeling energized and inspired.” That was one participant’s take from HPN’s Fall Member Meeting in Atlanta which closed out our virtual and in-person peer exchange for 2023. We were joined by staff from 80 HPN member organizations, totaling over 220 attendees from HPN, member organizations, and partners.

During the meeting more than 20 peer exchange sessions took place, including communities of practice that bring together colleagues in similar roles to share challenges and best practices, and cross-cutting topics such as trauma-informed housing, leveraging climate resources for housing, and strategies to ensure financial stability and operational strength for properties, portfolios, and organizations.

In welcoming the network to Atlanta, John O’Callaghan, CEO of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP), reflected on the region’s challenging history of racial segregation and discrimination and the important steps forward the community development sector continues to make in a city famously described as “too busy to hate.”

John expressed his deep appreciation for how HPN is intertwined in ANDP’s history, as ANDP Founder Hattie Dorsey was one of HPN’s incorporators, and ANDP itself was created after HPN’s member meeting in Atlanta in 1992. “We are here because of HPN. And we are still growing our work because of y’all.”

ANDP CEO John O’Callaghan welcomes HPN members to Atlanta
HPN CEO Robin Hughes convenes the group during the Fall Member Meeting Opening Plenary
HPN Board Members Nick Mitchell Bennett (cdcb), Deidre Schmidt (CommonBond), Sean Spear (Community Housing Works), and Robin Hughes (HPN) share reflections on HPN’s strategic framework – listed from left to right
HPN Member CEOs Bernel Hall (New Jersey Community Capital), Linda Mandolini (Eden Housing) and Margaret Salazar (REACH CDC) chat with Stacy Spann, Wells Fargo Foundation (second from right)

Deidre Schmidt, HPN Board Chair and CEO of CommonBond, formally opened the 59th member meeting. She reminded attendees of the power of coming together as a network and looking ahead while at the same time honoring the deep and often radical origins of many nonprofit housing organizations, some of which are now nearly three decades old. For CommonBond’s founders, Deidre recalled, “Housing was the most subversive act they could dedicate themselves to in broad daylight.”

HPN CEO Robin Hughes helped tie these powerful origins to our present day by introducing HPN’s new strategic framework, a foundation that will guide the network in the next several years. The framework is people-focused, grounded, and seeks to answer the question: “What is the world we want to live in?”

As Robin introduced the framework, based on five pillars (Members, People, Housing, Systems, and HPN Operational Excellence), members had the chance to engage with peers in breakout discussions, reflecting on how these pillars apply to their work and for HPN more broadly.

One member spoke to the need for collaboration:

“While I can stay focused on my organization's mission, the work we all do has a larger impact on a larger scale. We have a responsibility to come together to learn, share, and support one another.”

This responsibility to come together carried throughout the remainder of the meeting, from thinking through narrative change for the sector, advancing racial equity through investments and programs, or leveraging the opportunities presented by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Meeting elements and key takeaways are outlined below.

Communities of Practice

In Atlanta, CEOs, CFOs, COOs, Multifamily Developers, Property Operations + Resident Services, and Lenders + CDFIs all came together with their communities to discuss challenges, strategies, and new successes.

One member powerfully summarized the opportunity to engage:

“As usual, the peer exchange – both formal and informal – was incredibly helpful. I find it allows me to pull up from being in the weeds and think more strategically.”

Off-Site Sessions

HPN members active in Atlanta (ANDP and Mercy Housing Southeast) were generous hosts to groups of HPN members across the city, visiting homeownership efforts on the West Side, talking about regional investment funds with a group at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and discussing senior housing and community partnerships at Mercy Housing properties in Reynoldstown and Sweet Auburn.

A group of HPN members had the chance to hear from Rosanne Haggerty, President of Community Solutions, who led a visit to a property the organization has recently acquired as part of their efforts to end homelessness in cities across the country.

Off-site sessions allow members the chance to apply discussions to reality, as one member put it: “I always enjoy the opportunity to visit peers and see this work in action.” Another member noted: “I so appreciate the opportunity to hear from innovative leaders and organizations in affordable housing.”

Concurrent Sessions

Cross-cutting sessions created opportunities for members to share new ideas, including a focus on creative investment initiatives and wealth building efforts that support residents whether through small business owners, small landlords, or homeowners; ensuring staff and resident safety through community engagement, hiring additional security, and working more closely with police; and serving hard to serve populations more effectively by engaging with public officials to advocate for greater support for services and operating funds.

Racial equity cut across multiple discussions and was the focus of in-depth conversation by members on how they are approaching diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at their organizations – and as a network – by coming together and signing on to HPN’s racial equity pledge, which creates benchmarks for tracking member progress across multiple dimensions.

“The event left me feeling energized and inspired, and ready to reenergize my staff as we continue to fulfill our mission of developing, owning, and operating affordable housing.”

HPN members came together for dynamic peer exchange
HPN members came together for dynamic peer exchange
HPN members came together for dynamic peer exchange
HPN members came together for dynamic peer exchange
HPN members enjoy an evening out at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater
HPN members enjoy an evening out at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater
HPN members enjoy an evening out at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater

To learn more about the Atlanta meeting, take a look at the meeting agendas and feel free to reach out to any of the HPN facilitators to learn more about the communities of practice or other sessions of interest. We look forward to seeing you all again in virtual cross-cutting peer exchange sessions this spring, and we hope you will join us for our next member meeting in Seattle from 6/05 - 6/07.

Please reach out to our Membership and Peer Exchange team any time with questions or suggestions, including ideas for virtual peer exchange or our next member meeting. Thank you, as always, for your commitment to HPN, and more importantly, for your work.

Margaret Scott


Margaret Scott is responsible for peer exchange among the Network’s membership. Prior to HPN, she spent 4+ years at Enterprise Community Partners, supporting program evaluation, technical assistance, and strategic planning efforts across the organization. Her previous experience includes consulting and research on affordable housing development in the U.S. and Latin America.

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