Meet SCANPH Board Member Nancy Conk
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.
Nancy Conk is a consultant with an extensive background in affordable housing development and financing. With nearly 20 years of experience as an Executive Director and a CEO of non-profit housing development organizations, Nancy has expertise in all aspects of affordable housing development, property management and asset management. Her development financing expertise, enhanced by her experience in community development lending as a relationship manager for a major national bank, spans experience with multi-family rental, single-family subdivisions, condominiums and mobile home park developments.
Nancy is also actively engaged in affordable housing and community development policy and legislative advocacy. The ability to develop much needed affordable housing requires housing policies that create a positive environment for development. Nancy’s advocacy work has been on the local, State and Federal levels, both directly on behalf of the organizations for which she has worked as well as through the organizations on whose Boards she has served and of which she has been a member. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of California Coalition for Rural Housing since 1996 and is also currently serving on the Boards of Southern California Association for Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) and Brilliant Corners.
Why were you interested in joining the board of SCANPH?
When I returned to Southern California (Ventura County) in 2011 I was very pleased that SCANPH had added Ventura to its geographic service area. When I left SoCal in 1996 (!) that had not been the case. I always valued SCANPH’s role in affordable housing advocacy but the Central Coast has some housing challenges that are distinct from those of the Los Angeles region—farmworker housing being one of the most important. Serving on the SCANPH board gave me an opportunity to highlight those regional differences—and to expand SCANPH’s voice and influence in Ventura County.
How did you first get involved in the affordable housing sector?
I am originally a New Yorker and returned there after college. The affordability of housing in New York City has always been a tremendous challenge – especially for low-income workers and those living at or below the poverty level. I decided to make a career change in 1987 and wanted to pursue work more consistent with my social justice values. The increase in homelessness in NYC at that time made affordable housing a very immediate and compelling issue to address. So, I went to NYU to study real estate investment finance and development – and distinguished myself as the only student in my program who proposed an affordable rental housing development as my thesis project. Soon after that I moved to California and began working for a non-profit housing development organization – a career move I have never regretted.
What is the best part of your job?
Serving on the SCANPH board is a very gratifying role. I am continuously impressed with the talent, wisdom and dedication of my fellow board members. Everyone is there to do what is best to improve the quality of life of the families and individuals that their organizations serve. I often walk away from meetings feeling I’ve gained more than I’ve given.
If you could enact one policy change with the snap of your fingers what would it be?
I am a strong believer in inclusionary housing policies as a vehicle to create more affordable housing. The need is so great, the availability of land is so limited, and the cost of land is increasingly a barrier to new development. Mandating that a portion of all new residential development be affordable below market ensures that providing decent, affordable housing is a shared responsibility – and one that promotes social integration.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I was a journalist before I changed careers to work in community development. I was a producer for CBS News for 15 years, based in New York City.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Do you have a motto or personal mantra?
“There is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities, no separation between the deepest desires of heart and of mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems.” —Robert F. Kennedy