Q & A with SHA Executive Director Denise Jordan
Meet our new executive director, Denise Jordan, who answers a few questions about herself and her approach to the job running the state’s third largest public housing authority. She began in early October.
- How would you describe yourself?
I am somewhat of an introvert, I am social, and I’m not, all at the same time. I don’t like beating around the bush and one of the mottos I live by; If you don’t want to know, don’t ask me! I am very friendly and have been told that I have a great sense of humor, but…once you show me who you are, I will believe it and deal with you accordingly.
- What has the transition been like from City Hall to SHA?
So far, it’s been a great transition, staff have been very welcoming and willing to share information with me. I’m getting used to the “quiet” and not hearing phones ringing every other minute. I have to admit, that I am having “separation anxiety”, I really miss city hall and the employees. The City of Springfield is a great place to work and the employees are so knowledgeable and easy to work with. Seeing the Mayor at press conferences and events and not being there was hard, as we were a time and worked side by side for over 10 years, and the folks at in the Mayor’s office, they are my extended family. I miss them the most, they are so talented, knowledgeable and dedicated to the City and residents of Springfield, they are an amazing group of individuals and it was a pleasure to go to work with them every day. The Mayor has always had the best staffers, we had a great time together, while doing the work that needed to be done. I deliberately spent the first 30 days trying getting to know the staff and the work they do here at the Authority. My sole purpose for holding ‘Meet and Greets’, was to hear directly from those outside of 60 Congress Street, to get advice and most important, to listen to their concerns and suggestions. I was very pleased by the dedication and commitment to SHA that was consistently expressed during the meet and greets. I think it’s a testament to those employees that are so committed to playing a part to improve the quality of life for our residents.
- What are the similarities?
The transition thus far has been pretty similar to when I started at City Hall. SHA is like a small city, if you will, the tenants are residents of the City of Springfield, who have needs and expectations that have to be addressed and may sometimes require assistance on quality of life issues, the same kinds of issues I dealt with in the Mayor’s office.
- What is different?
The obvious is that SHA is a lot smaller than the City of Springfield, so that equates to fewer staff and residents to work that I have to work with. At City Hall, I worked many late nights and weekends, although I haven’t experience the lull yet, I know it’s coming.
- What are your strategies for your first year in terms of getting to know and fit into the organization?
To be a student leader. I have a learning curve regarding the ins and outs of public housing, HUD and DHCD. I am going to very methodical on how I prioritize my goals and objectives for SHA going forward, while learning any and everything relevant to making SHA the best public housing authority that it can be. Because of the institutional knowledge and wisdom so many of the employees have here, I feel confident that there are many great things in store and I look forward to leading the troops!
- What gifts do you bring to SHA from your upbringing or past jobs, and how can those help you?
I’m pretty easy to get along with, as long as you are honest and respectful to me. I have a very good spirit of discernment that has aided me well over my career, but I don’t have a lot of tolerance for disingenuous people. I have a penchant for finding hidden talents, especially in young adults. I am always open to helping folks achieve their personal, professional or educational goals in any way that I can. It’s an awesome feeling when I see some of the young people that I have mentored over the years, to see all of the great things they are doing in the community and in the workplace, it truly warms my heart and fulfills my obligation to give back what was given to me. I have been blessed to be the recipient of so much wisdom from many people that I have met and worked with over the years. My parents were my first teachers, who always instilled in me to give back to my community. Growing up as the child of two civil rights activists, I learned the value of public service at an early age. I grew up having a ‘village’’ of men and women who were active in and out of the community. People who dedicated their lives to improving the conditions of my people and others were constant fixtures in my formative years. It is on the shoulders of those men and women that I stand on committed to continue to work to support and empower those that need it the most. I have had the honor and the privilege of having worked in various capacities, Workers Compensation Manager, Sexual Harassment Officer, Civil Rights Officer, Chief of Staff for the City of Springfield and now as the ED for SHA. In all of these employment opportunities, I have been paid to do what I love, to help people! I’m a bridge builder; I like to get folks together for the common good. I have always been successful working on or leading teams, I’m a pretty good mediator too. I have learned at times, to talk less and listen more and I have a management style of inclusivity, giving opportunities for all to have a voice and sometimes a seat at the table when making decisions that will affect the body.
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