Meet Kimberly Black King, senior vice president of housing development at Volunteers of America, one of the nation’s largest developers and owners of affordable housing.

Kimberly Black King
Kimberly Black King

She stepped into the role in 2018 after serving as chief development officer at the District of Columbia Housing Authority. King, who has also held roles at CSH and Fannie Mae, shares what she’s working on this year, what feature she would add to a development, and the best advice she’s received.

What was your first job?

A hostess at IHOP. I was so excited to turn 16 and get a job outside of babysitting. I worked the Saturday and Sunday morning shifts, the busiest time for IHOP, which meant dozens of customers tolerating a long wait. I wanted to improve the process so I convinced the manager to hire my best friend, which added capacity for us to support the waiters and bus tables, which got people seated faster. I learned early on that I am a hard worker and like challenges.

What was your path into affordable housing?

Pure luck. I landed a pretty good job after college but was bored with the work. A few years later, a friend became the controller at McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS) and invited me to join the team as a development accountant. I was fascinated by the work and knew I wanted to make an impact in affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization. About a year into the job, I met with MBS leadership, Tony Salazar and Vince Bennett, to discuss my career development goals. They fully embraced my plans to learn the business from soup to nuts … so I worked hard and it paid off. I shadowed Tony, Vince, and Kevin McCormack and learned so much from them. They made an investment in me, and I will forever be grateful for that.

What are you working on this year?

Developing a robust pipeline that integrates health care and housing. Volunteers of America is uniquely positioned given our leadership and expertise in both the health-care and housing sectors. We are thinking about how technology changes the way our residents live, how they are served, and what that means for building design and access to health care.

If you could add any amenity to a development, what would it be and why?

I would include a resident services coordinator in all properties—both senior and family properties. Volunteers of America has resident coordinators in about 180 of our properties. This is a tremendous asset to the residents. In those properties, we see less turnover and healthier residents.

Housing trend or issue that you’re following:

Higher construction costs and how we can incentivize training to build a pipeline of qualified workers to meet the labor shortage across building trades. And, then there is technology. I’m keeping my eye on prefab/modular options as an efficient construction method.

Best advice that you’ve received:

A good industry friend advised me to exercise my relationship muscle. It is important to take the time to invest in building and maintaining relationships because one of your most important assets should be your network.

Last book you read:

I try to alternate career/business books with leisure books. My last business read was The Four Disciplines of Execution. It provides an effective formula to executing your most important strategic goals. We are applying the formula at Volunteers of America to help achieve our annual metrics. It is an incredibly simple yet effective formula. My next leisure read will be Tara Westover’s Educated, a memoir of how Westover escaped from a life with her survivalist parents by pursuing higher education.

Favorite way to spend a Saturday:

My husband and I love to entertain, and nothing makes me happier than seeing people have a good time. My ideal Saturday is a gathering of family and friends in our backyard for a dip in the pool, barbecue, our specialty cocktail, and laughs.