Diane is the newly appointed President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a membership organization dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. This is Diane’s second stint at NLIHC, having previously worked as a policy analyst from 2005 to 2008. Diane is a veteran affordable housing policy expert and advocate with nearly two decades of work on affordable housing and community development issues. Before rejoining NLIHC, Diane was Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at Enterprise Community Partners, where she led federal, state and local policy, research and advocacy programs. Prior to Enterprise, Diane was the director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where she managed a team overseeing the development and implementation of nationwide public housing policies, procedures and guidelines. She also worked to advance affordable housing policies with Oxfam America and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, and was a community development Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. Diane has a Masters in Social work from the University of Texas at Austin.
Malik Siraj Akbar joined NLIHC on June 22 as the new Communications Specialist. Malik just completed his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. There he was elected Vice President of Communications for the Kennedy School Student Government, and served as the Online Editor of the Citizen, the campus newspaper. Malik was responsible for managing the communications for more than 70 student organizations and professional interest groups.
Malik brings to NLIHC ten years of experience in journalism, communications, and international reporting. He has been a Contributing Writer at The Huffington Post, a Fulbright Hubert Humphrey Fellow (2010-11) at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, and a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the Washington DC-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED). He was a 2011 Visiting Journalist at the Pulitzer Prize-winning Center for Public Integrity.
Malik founded Pakistan’s first English hyper local newspaper, the Baloch Hal in 2009, and previously served as the Bureau Chief of Daily Times in Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan. Malik’s writings have appeared in Foreign Policy, The Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Times of India, and several international publications. He has been interviewed or quoted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Reuters, and the Voice of America. Malik is the author of two books, The Redefined Dimensions of the Baloch Nationalist Movement and Pakistan: A Broken Democracy. The Huffington Post Live called Malik “a real mouthpiece for the oppressed.”
Andrew Aurand joined NLIHC in July 2015 as the new Vice President for Research. Andrew has extensive experience in research and affordable housing. He previously served as a faculty member in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University, where he taught graduate courses in research methods and housing policy, and where he completed research on the impact of comprehensive planning and land use principles on the supply of affordable housing for low income households. He has also worked in the Research Division of the Montgomery County Planning Department. Andrew received his PhD and MSW from the University of Pittsburgh. Andrew will lead the Research Team at NLIHC.
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Josephine joined the NLIHC team as Executive Assistant in September, 2015. Prior to joining the Coalition, she worked at Strayer University serving in executive support role for more than eight years. Josephine also has 10 years of experience working in the program and budget areas at the United Nations Children’s Fund in Liberia. She received her AABA, BBA in Finance, and MBA in Information Systems Management from Strayer University.
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Dan Emmanuel joined the NLIHC staff in November 2013. Dan completed his Master of Social Work degree from Saint Louis University in May 2013 with a concentration in community and organization practice. Since 2008, he has worked in a range of housing and community development contexts involving program evaluation and community needs assessment. Prior to his role as Research Analyst, he served as a Senior Organizer for Housing Advocacy at the Coalition. Dan earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from the College of William & Mary.
Graphic Design and Web Manager
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Ellen joined NLIHC in July 2014, with not only extensive graphic design and website management experience, but also Capitol Hill experience. Prior to joining NLIHC, Ellen served as a Graphic Designer for the United States Senate Printing, Graphics, and Direct Mail office. She comes to NLIHC with over a decade of graphic design experience, and has lent her talents to other organizations such as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the American Trucking Associations. Ellen is also the recipient of seven APEX Awards—highly prestigious advertising industry awards—for her branding, logo, advertising, and website designs. In July 2014, United States Senate Sergeant at Arms Drew Willison awarded Ellen the 2014 Excellence in Achievement Award for her work on various projects while at the Senate. Ellen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from High Point University and a Web Design certificate from the Northern Virginia Community College. Born in Baton Rouge, LA, Ellen grew up in Montgomery County, MD and now lives in Woodbridge, VA.
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Ed Gramlich has been at NLIHC since October 2005. For his first two years Mr. Gramlich staffed the RegWatch Project, an endeavor to expand the Coalition’s capacity to monitor federal regulatory and administrative actions, with a focus on preserving the affordable housing stock, both public and assisted. Between October 2007 and January 2010 he was the Director of Outreach. Prior to joining the staff of the Coalition, he worked for 26 years at the Center for Community Change (CCC) where his primary function was to provide technical assistance about CDBG to low income community-based groups. While at CCC, Mr. Gramlich also devoted considerable time to providing technical assistance to groups concerned about the negative impacts of UDAGs in their community. Mr. Gramlich is currently NLIHC’s senior advisor to the CEO and leads NLIHC efforts related to affordable housing regulations and has been NLIHC’s expert on regulations related to the National Housing Trust Fund and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. Ed Gramlich as a BS and MBA from Washington University.
Organizer for Housing Advocacy
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Sarah Jemison joined NLIHC in February of 2016 as a Housing Advocacy Organizer. Prior to coming to NLIHC, Sarah worked as the Special Projects Fellow at Achievement Prep Charter School in Southeast DC, where she witnessed the impact of concentrated poverty, neglected public housing projects, and homelessness on students and their families. Sarah earned her B.A. in History with a minor in African American Studies from Princeton University. She is originally from Memphis, TN.
Chief Operating Officer
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Paul Kealey joined NLIHC as its Chief Operating Officer in June 2014, with more than twenty-five years of leadership and management experience. As COO, Mr. Kealey leads the Coalition’s financial and human resources management, program planning, resource development, field outreach and organizing, and communications. Mr. Kealey has a rich background of developing, directing, and evaluating large and complex operations, staff, and programs in international and domestic community development and affordable housing, human services, volunteer service, environmental conservation, and professional development and training. Paul served for twelve years as a Senior Vice President and Division Director for NeighborWorks America overseeing its affordable housing and community development training programs, the Achieving Excellence leadership program with Harvard University, the Success Measures enterprise, and many other programs and operations. He has also held leadership positions with the Corporation for National and Community Service/AmeriCorps VISTA, World Wildlife Fund, and Peace Corps. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer with his wife in Guatemala in the 1980s, Mr. Kealey later joined the Peace Corps staff as a Chief of Field Operations in Washington, Deputy Country Director in Costa Rica and Paraguay, and Country Director in Paraguay. Paul earned a Master of Arts in Geography at the University of California, Davis, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations at San Francisco State University. Paul is also a graduate of the Harvard University Kennedy School/NeighborWorks America 18-month Achieving Excellence Program.
Senior Organizer for Housing Advocacy
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Joseph joined the NLIHC staff in February 2013, but he first worked with NLIHC in 2000 while organizing Wisconsin advocates in support of the National Housing Trust Fund campaign. He led campaigns in Madison, WI, on issues such as the local minimum wage, funding for homeless services, and eliminating housing discrimination against Housing Choice Voucher recipients. In addition to his advocacy and campaign work, Joseph has also worked in various direct service capacities including as a homeless outreach coordinator, tenant’s rights counselor, and workforce development professional. Joseph received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin with majors in political science and religious studies.
Director of Policy
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Sarah Mickelson has joined NLIHC as Director of Public Policy in June 2016.Sarah previously worked with Enterprise Community Partners as a Senior Analyst. In this role, she focused on building Congressional support for federal affordable housing and community development appropriations, including funding for programs administered by HUD and USDA. Prior to Enterprise, Sarah served as Policy Counsel at Rapoza Associates, a government affairs and lobbying firm specializing in affordable housing and community development, where she focused largely on rural development. While working as a Legislative and Policy Analyst at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Sarah’s portfolio included expanding access to affordable mortgage and small business credit in low-income communities. Sarah graduated from the University of Connecticut, School of Law after receiving her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. She has also been a member of the Virginia State Bar since 2009.
Director of Administration
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Khara was with NLIHC from 1999 through 2005 as Executive Assistant to the President and returned in January 2009 as Development Associate. In the interim, Khara served as Development Coordinator at YWCA USA. In September 2009, she became Director of Administration where she assists the Administration team in their effort to sustain the coalition’s primary mission to end America’s affordable housing crisis. Khara is currently enrolled at Prince George's Community College to receive an associate's degree of applied science in accounting.
Organizer for Housing Advocacy
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In September of 2015, James joined NLIHC as a Housing Advocacy Organizer. Prior to NLIHC, James worked at Ashoka Changemakers, where he served as a Finance & Administrative Associate. Prior to his work at Ashoka Changemakers, James was a Research Associate for a national real estate organization based in Washington, DC. In this role, James observed first-hand the gentrification trends in several cities across America. Originally from New Mexico, James earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business and served as a leader and member of several social justice-oriented student organizations.
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Christina joined NLIHC as Executive Assistant to the President in July 2012, and was promoted to Development Coordinator in April 2013. Prior to coming to NLIHC, Christina was the Executive Assistant in the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Office of Civility and Community Standards at the George Washington University. Christina received her BA in International Affairs and Women’s Studies with minors in Geography and History, and her MA in American Studies, both from the George Washington University. She is originally from New York City.
Elayne joined the NLIHC staff in November 2014. Prior to joining NLIHC, Elayne served as a legislative assistant for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office where her work concentrated on reproductive and women’s rights. In her position at the ACLU, Elayne helped craft and implement strategies to meet the organization’s advocacy goals, and worked on a broad range of issues, including housing protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Recently, Elayne played a critical role in helping plan and manage the successful legislative campaign expanding reproductive health coverage for U.S. servicewomen and military families. Elayne holds a JD from the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law and a BA in economics from Brandeis University. Elayne is originally from Philadelphia.
Renee M. Willis joined NLIHC in June 2015 as the new Vice President for Field and Communications. In this role, Renee leads all of NLIHC’s field and communications efforts in support of our mission, goals, and objectives. Renee brings more than fifteen years of experience in affordable housing, including establishing and leading successful community and region-wide initiatives. Ms. Willis has extensive experience in strategic planning, financial management, marketing, organizational development, staff management, and program operations. Ms. Willis served as Housing Services Chief with Arlington County, VA from 2008 to 2015. Prior to her work in Arlington, she served as the Administrator of the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs for Montgomery County, MD from 1999 to 2004 and as an Advocate and Manager for the Public Justice Center’s Tenant Advocacy Project in Baltimore, MD from 1993 to 1999. Ms. Willis earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Spanish from the University of Maryland. She also holds a Certificate in Public Management from George Washington University.