Meet SCANPH Board Member Alexander Russell
SCANPH Board Members – the strength behind its success – are geographically diverse and serve as experts, practitioners, and advocates for supporting policy and programming that addresses the needs of economically disadvantaged individuals and families who are most in need of affordable housing. Our team is grateful to be backed by the decades of experience and expertise of the board, who reflect a diverse and representative body of SCANPH organizational members.
SCANPH will introduce each of our board members and share background about the leadership we count on to guide our initiatives.
Alexander Russell is the current Board President of SCANPH. He is the Executive Vice President at Many Mansions (a nonprofit affordable housing developer, property manager, and service provider based in Thousand Oaks) where he oversees the Housing Division. He is responsible for all affordable housing development, asset management, and business development. He has successfully secured over $100 million in private, local, state, and federal financing for affordable housing. He is responsible for increasing the number of Many Mansions’ housing units by more than 30 percent, substantially expanding their geographic footprint, and serving several new populations. His team is working on a dozen affordable housing projects at various stages of development—totaling over 600 new construction units (not to mention doubling the existing portfolio) plus the acquisition/syndication/resyndication of over 200 units of affordable housing.
Russell was recently the recipient of the Young Leaders Award at the Affordable Housing Finance Conference in Chicago. The award is for individuals 40 and younger who share a passion and mission for creating affordable housing and serving low-income households across the nation.
Why were you interested in joining the board of SCANPH?
The SCANPH Conference was the first affordable housing industry event I ever attended. I remember being amazed by the sheer number of people and associated industries in our filed. I also remember being so impressed by the gorgeous affordable housing communities that were built and the talent and ingenuity of the people in the affordable housing industry. This was also around time of the Proposition 1C campaign and the advocacy work that SCANPH did was awesome. It was from that experience during the beginning of my career that I knew I wanted to be on the SCANPH Board someday.
What is the best part of your job (either for your organization or as a board member)?
The best part of my job is being able to help turn a piece of dirt into affordable homes that help improve people’s lives and transform communities. There is nothing better than seeing people move into their new home! The best part of being the SCANPH Board President is working with and learning from the amazing staff, Board Members, and all of our stakeholders.
How did you first get involved in the affordable housing sector?
I started working in the affordable housing sector by sheer luck. My undergraduate degree was in Biology and I worked in biotech and nutrition science at the beginning of my career. While finishing my MBA I started volunteering at Many Mansions in the after-school program and then became an intern. We were short-staffed in housing development at the time and so I was offered a position as a project manager and I have been at Many Mansions almost 13 years now.
What project are you most proud of and why?
Like any developer, I love all of my projects, but I am most proud of our Hillcrest Villas development. This was my first and biggest new construction development to-date. I am especially proud that despite the Great Recession (we bought the property in 2007) and several set-backs, we were able to persevere and complete this beautiful permanent supportive housing community.
If you could enact one policy change with the snap of your fingers what would it be?
Assuming some basic design standards, I would allow all housing developments with a majority of units restricted as low-income, in perpetuity, to be built by-right.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I was the first person in my family to graduate from college.
If you didn’t live in Southern California where would you live?
Oregon. I don’t love the rain but it’s beautiful and I have a lot of family up there.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
The Dos Equis guy since he is the ‘Most Interesting Man’ in the world.
Do you have a motto or personal mantra?
All you can control is your effort.