NLIHC Highlights 50 Years of Leadership at Awards Celebration

NLIHC hosted a Leadership Awards Celebration on March 20 to commemorate the Coalition’s 50-year anniversary and honor a selection of exceptional leaders in the movement for housing justice. In addition to recognizing NLIHC’s history, achievements, and partners, the celebration featured the presentation of leadership awards to NLIHC Board Chair Dora Leong Gallo, Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL), four Resident Organizing Network groups, journalist Soledad O’Brien, and Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA). The event was a tremendous success, celebrating and honoring those who have played a critical role in building the organization’s strength and impact over the past five decades, as well as those who will successfully lead the housing movement in the years ahead.

Former NLIHC CEOs Sheila Crowley and Barry Zigas, and former NLIHC Board Chairs Andy Mott, Belinda Mayo, Karen Hill, George Moses, Marla Newman, and Greg Payne shared highlights from NLIHC’s 50-year history and achievements, giving the audience an important reminder of NLIHC’s role in advocating for housing justice and enacting major federal legislation to address the housing and homelessness crisis.

NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel moderated a panel with former HUD secretaries Carla Hills, Henry Cisneros, and Shaun Donovan, who discussed the history of federal housing leadership over the decades and the future of housing policy. The secretaries discussed the challenges they faced in office, their achievements, and the work that still remains to ensure that all people have an affordable, accessible home in communities of their choice.

NLIHC also honored those whose support has been instrumental to the Coalition’s advocacy successes, with a focus on the areas of community leadership, organizing, media, and policymaking.

Dora Leong Gallo, president and CEO of A Community of Friends and Chair of NLIHC’s Board of Directors, was recognized with the NLIHC50 Community Leader award for her decades of work providing support, services, and a place to call home for those most in need.

Four Resident Organizing Networks – Resident Action Project (RAP), Resident United Network (RUN), Residents Organized for Change (ROC), and Resident Organizing for HousingLOUISIANA (ROHLA) – were presented with the NLIHC50 Organizing Leader Award. All four networks center and amplify the leadership of people with lived experience of housing instability and homelessness, ensuring that those directly impacted by the housing crisis are among the leading voices advocating for solutions.

Journalist Soledad O’Brien was presented with the NLIHC50 Media Award for her ongoing coverage of the housing crisis and the solutions needed to support the lowest-income people. 

Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL) accepted the NLIHC50 Emerging Leader award for his trailblazing work in Congress and his efforts to advance legislation promoting racial equity and housing justice for all. When Congressmember Frost accepted his award, he paid tribute to his grandmother for instilling in him the importance of advocacy.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) accepted the NLIHC50 Policy Champion award for her lifelong work as a pioneering leader and an unyielding champion for the lowest-income renters and for those experiencing homelessness. Representative Waters spoke passionately about her life’s work to fight on behalf of racial equity and housing justice.

NLIHC also announced the creation of a new award to be presented at next year’s celebration and in perpetuity. The Loraine Brown Resident Leader Award is named in honor of NLIHC board member Loraine Brown for her many years of dedication to helping tenants, people experiencing homelessness, and her community, as well as her ongoing, deep commitment to NLIHC.

NLIHC is grateful to all those who attended this special celebration and thanks this year’s honorees for their unstinting efforts to achieve housing justice!