NLIHC Honors Barbara Lee and Nancy Bernstine with Dolbeare and Brooke Awards

Nancy Bernstine and Barbara LeeThe National Low Income Housing Coalition held its 34th Annual Leadership Awards Reception on April 5 in Washington, DC, awarding Nancy Bernstine with the Cushing Niles Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) with the Edward W. Brooke Housing Leadership Award

The event was hosted again this year by BBVA Compass. Emcee Bill Faith, NLIHC board member and executive director of the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio, thanked the many donors and introduced BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation and former NLIHC Board Member J. Reymundo Ocañas.  Mr. Ocañas congratulated the honorees, committed to hosting NLIHC’s 2017 Leadership Reception and pledged $100,000 to the Sheila Crowley Housing Justice Fund. (see related article in this week’s Memo to Members).

The Edward W. Brooke Housing Leadership Award is named for the late Senator Brooke (R-MA) who championed low income housing as a United States Senator and as Chair of the NLIHC Board of Directors after he left the Senate. The Brooke Award goes to an exemplary housing leader with a record of fighting for affordable housing on the national level. The 2016 Brooke honoree, Representative Lee, has committed her life to social justice and affordable housing.  Representative Lee co-sponsored the first housing trust fund bill in 2001, played an instrumental role in getting the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) enacted in 2008, and vigorously defended the NHTF against threats to defund it in 2015.  

Sheila Crowley presented the Brooke award, thanking Representative Lee for her support and lauding her leadership in working to overcome inequality and housing poverty. Ms. Lee was not able to attend the event but prepared a video that was presented at the reception in which she expressed her profound gratitude for the award, thanked Sheila for her many years of leadership of NLIHC, welcomed NLIHC’s new President and CEO Diane Yentel, and encouraged the attendees to continue to fight for affordable housing.

The Cushing Niles Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award, named after NLIHC’s late founder, goes to an individual who has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to achieving safe, decent, and affordable homes for low income people. Nancy Bernstine, the 2016 Dolbeare Award winner, retired from the National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC) in 2015 where she served as its executive director since 2003, working tirelessly to secure affordable housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. Prior to NAHC, Ms. Bernstine held senior policy positions with the National Housing Law Project and the McAuley Institute. Earlier in her career, she was a partner in Roisman, Reno, & Cavanaugh, a DC law firm representing housing authorities and non-profit housing organizations. Ms. Bernstine was a member of the NLIHC board of directors from 2002 to 2011 and served as the board secretary from 2008 to 2011.

Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Patty Fugere, executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and Christine Campbell, former board chair of NAHC, praised Ms. Bernstine for her unwavering commitment to social justice, her ability to ensure that everyone had a voice, her persistence, and her ability to achieve results. 

Upon receiving the award, Ms. Bernstine expressed her gratitude for the recognition and thanked her family and friends for being present to share in the moment. Ms. Bernstine thanked her mentors and fellow advocates, including Cushing Dolbeare, Sheila Crowley, Nan Roman, George Moses, Joy Johnson, Malcolm Coley, Florence Roisman, and Gordon Cavanaugh.  Ms. Bernstine highlighted the importance of the work of HIV/AIDS housing advocates and providers who “work magic with woefully stretched resources, but stitch together solutions that help thousands of people get healthy and stay healthy.” Ms. Bernstine said she took to heart Cushing Dolbeare’s wisdom that “you can get anything done in Washington that you want to get done as long as you don’t have to take credit for it.” 

Incoming NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel closed the program by congratulating the honorees and thanking the organizations and individuals whose support made the evening a success. 

A list of this year’s Leadership Reception many donors can be found at