Mercy Housing Names Southeast President

James Alexander has been appointed president of Mercy Housing Southeast, working out of the organization’s Atlanta office.

Alexander has worked in various leadership and project management capacities in affordable housing, community development, and real estate for over 13 years.

Before coming to Mercy Housing, he was the housing policy and development director for the Atlanta Beltline. The Atlanta Beltline seeks to connect communities and create a framework for growth by delivering an ambitious program of transit, greenspace, trails, and affordable workforce housing. At the Atlanta Beltline, he worked closely on affordable housing projects, including Reynoldstown Senior Residences, which recently won the Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award for Outstanding Senior Housing Development.

NEF Creates COO Position

National Equity Fund (NEF) recently appointed Alex Denja, its current CFO, to the new position of COO.

Alex Denja
Alex Denja

Denja, who joined NEF in 2001 and has been CFO since 2011, will continue to serve in that capacity.

“As we continue to strengthen our organization and develop new opportunities, it seemed like the right time to share the internal day-to-day responsibilities by creating a new position—chief operating officer—leaving more time for the CEO to focus on our developer and investor partners and their interests,” said Joe Hagan, president and CEO of NEF. “Alex understands the operation side so well and will do an outstanding job.”

Headquartered in Chicago, NEF is a leading syndicator of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs). A nonprofit affiliate of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., it has invested $13.3 billion in 2,494 LIHTC developments, creating approximately 158,907 affordable homes for low-income families and individuals.

Innovative Housing Opportunities CEO to Retire

Patricia Whitaker, CEO, will retire from Innovative Housing Opportunities (IHO), an Irvine, Calif.-based nonprofit affordable housing developer, next April.

"I've been privileged to lead one of Southern California's most passionate and innovative companies," Whitaker said in a statement. "After eight years with IHO, I believe that it is the right time for me to move on and transfer the helm to a new generation of leadership. The company is operationally sound, and positioned for sustainability and future innovation. I am very confident in IHO's continued success. I look forward to working with IHO's board and executive team during the six-month transition period. I plan to be available as a continued source of support to IHO's new CEO and stakeholders after retiring."

IHO's board of directors has formed a recruitment committee and engaged the services of OneOC to conduct an executive search for Whitaker's replacement.

Wakeland Housing Announces Promotion

Peter Armstrong has been promoted to vice president, real estate development, at Wakeland Housing and Development Corp. In this new position, he will oversee all aspects of Wakeland's real estate development projects from initial conception through construction.

Armstrong joined Wakeland in 2014 as a senior project finance manager, playing a key role in the creation of over 500 units of affordable and supportive housing. Prior to joining Wakeland, he worked for the San Diego Housing Commission, EAH Housing, and the cities of Berkeley and San Diego.

Headquartered in San Diego, Wakeland has created more than 6,700 affordable homes at 44 properties.

Walker & Dunlop Adds SVP

Chris Harris has become senior vice president in the capital markets group at Walker & Dunlop.

Chris Harris
Chris Harris

Based out of the firm’s Dallas office, he is primarily responsible for nationwide structured finance and equity placement. During his career, Harris has been responsible for over $14 billion in equity and debt financings for conventional multifamily, student housing, and affordable housing properties throughout the United States.

Prior to joining Walker & Dunlop, Harris was a principal and CFO at Criterion Development Partners, where he was responsible for finance, accounting, planning, investor relations, and risk management. Earlier in his career, he was at FirstWorthing, where he served as executive vice president, CFO, and partner.

Industry Experts Establish Law Firm

R. Wade Norris, Ryan George, and Ethan Ostrow have become partners in the new law firm of Norris George & Ostrow, PLLC, in Washington, D.C.

Wade Norris
Wade Norris

The team specializes in municipal bond finance and has been active in affordable housing.

Tom Downey and Randy Putnam have joined the new firm in an “of counsel” capacity, and Kim Griffith, formerly of Freddie Mac, has also joined in an “of counsel” capacity as well.

S.F. Appoints Head of Community Investment Commission

Nadia Sesay has been named executive director of the San Francisco Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure.

Sesay has been serving as interim director since January and joined the commission from San Francisco’s Office of the Controller, where she served as director of public finance for the last 12 years.

The commission is responsible for the development of the Transbay, Mission Bay, and Hunters Point Shipyard neighborhoods, which collectively provide for over 22,000 new housing units, including the development of approximately 7,000 affordable units and 12 million square feet of new commercial space. It also oversees the asset management of former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency assets.