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Town Manager Paul Bockelman announced his nominations to the Affordable Housing Trust Board of Trustees (AHT) and to the Shade Tree Committee (PSTC) in a memo to the Town Council dated  June 20, 2019. The nominations were subsequently approved by the Town Council at their meeting of July 1, 2019.

Affordable Housing Trust

Nominated and approved for two-year terms on the AHT were Rob Crowner, Carol Lewis, Erica Piedade, and William Van Heuvelen.  Nominated and approved for one- year terms were John Hornick, Thomas Kegelman, and Nancy Schroeder. Sidonio Ferreira will continue as a member with his term expiring on June 30, 2020.

Profiles of the nominees, provided below, are taken from the Town Manager’s appointment memo.

Rob Crowner has been a member of the Planning Board, Comprehensive Planning Committee, and Public Works Committee. He has worked on the Master Plan, reviewed projects, and worked with others to develop amendments to the zoning bylaws. His employment is with a nonprofit that works on developing ways for low income and disadvantaged people to access resources, including housing, that are usually considered necessary for achieving economic empowerment. 

Carol Lewis has been a carpenter, nonprofit administrator, member of the collective staff of a Food Coop and of a paper recycling business, and a teacher of college freshman-level English. She has also participated in a prison Alternatives to Violence program, a housing cooperative, and Common Good Finance – an organization working to create a depositor-controlled banking system. Carol is a trained mediator with a strong commitment to social justice issues. 

Erica Piedade has worked for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and seeks to bring a public health perspective to housing initiatives. She emphasizes the importance of community engagement and involvement and the use of fact-based decision-making. 

William Van Heuvelen seeks to work on the Trust to provide solutions to the housing issues faced by the Town. He owns a small business that he hopes to relocate to Town and is a new homeowner. In the process of buying his house, he came to recognize the processes by which income and wealth stratify neighborhoods and populations. He has worked in a law firm in Springfield on tenant-landlord cases and developed expertise with housing authorities. 

John Hornick  has been studying issues related to homelessness and housing for many years. He has attended two training sessions on housing trusts and two affordable housing institutes sponsored by the Massachusetts Housing Partnership. John has been a member of the Trust Board of Directors May 2, 2016 and is the current chair. 

Thomas Kegelman is the executive director of Home City Development, Inc. (formerly known as Better Homes, Inc.). He has also been a senior project manager for The Community Builders, Inc., a major nonprofit developer of affordable housing based in Boston. Tom has been a member of the Board since January 26, 2015 and is the former chair of the Board.

Nancy Schroeder is on the Board of Commissioners for the Amherst Housing Authority. Previously, she worked as a staff member from 1985-2015 serving as Section 8 Coordinator, Modernization Coordinator/Development Specialist, Bookkeeper, Housing Manager, and Asset Manager. She coordinates the Homeless Prevention Subcommittee of the Affordable Housing Trust and volunteers at the Amherst Health Department three mornings a week. She is on the Trustee Board of the Goodwin AME Zion Church and volunteers at the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke. 

The Process

Bockelman reviewed the applications of all who expressed interest in serving on the AHT. He assembled a team to conduct interviews comprised of John Hornick of the AHT Board of Trustees; Keisha Dennis of the Residents’ Advisory Committee; and himself.  The interview team interviewed all new applicants. All team members asked questions and contributed to the discussion during the interviews. At the conclusion of the interviews the team reviewed the candidates and the needs of the Trust. Under the current (un-amended) bylaw, the Select Board had a seat, made appointments, and could remove members. Under the new bylaw proposed by the prior Bylaw Review Committee, the Town Manager has a seat, makes appointments, and can remove members. 

The charge for the Affordable Housing Trust Board of Trustees can be found here.

Public Shade Tree Committee
Nominated and approved for three-year terms were Claire Bertrand, Bennett Hazlip, and Gordon Green; for two-year terms Shoshana King and Henry Lappen, and for a one-year term, Nonny Burack. Rachel Loeffler will continue as a member with her term expiring on June 30, 2020.  According to Bockelman there were not enough candidates to fill all available seats.

Profiles of nominees below were taken from the Town Manager’s appointment memo.

Clare Bertrand has been a professional property manager for 30 years and has been a homeowner for 22 years. She finds the work of this Committee valuable and wants to contribute to the community. Her desire is to keep a healthy connection to the trees that line the Town’s streets and serve many natural functions. She says she is a hard worker and reliable. 

Bennett Hazlip is pleased to live in a community that values the environment and shade trees in particular. He believes trees are one of the most important investments a town can make and would like to play a role in shaping the future of Amherst’s trees, especially as we address the challenges of climate change. He has no formal training, but has a long history of planting and caring for trees on his property and, with their permission, on his neighbors’ properties. He is skilled at communications and would bring that as an added skill to his enthusiasm.

Gordon Green is a self-described “tree lover” who is eager to continue his work with the Committee. He is a GIS software engineer by trade and has been a member of the Committee since October 17, 2016. 

Shoshona King is a life-long independent artist & activist, having spent the last decade focusing on costume design & visuals in local festivals. She has been attending Public Shade Tree Committee meetings and participating in plantings for months and would like to become a full member. Shoshona has also been appointed to the Public Art Commission. 

Henry Lappen is an environmental educator who performs a show called “A Passion for Birds.” He is an occasional columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Amherst Bulletin and has appeared on cable television here: Henry has been a member of the Committee since February 9, 2011 and is the current chair. 

Nonny Burack: Nonny is very active on the Committee helping to organize the monthly tree plantings sponsored by the Committee. She has been a member of the Committee since February 9, 2011.

The Process

Bockelman reviewed all applications of those who had expressed interest in serving on the PSTC. He assembled a team to conduct interviews. The interview team was comprised of Lappen,; Connie Kruger of the Residents’ Advisory Committee, and Bockelman,. Lappen was not able to attend all interviews. The interview team interviewed all new applicants. All team members asked questions and contributed to the discussion during the interviews. At the conclusion of the interviews, they reviewed the candidates and the needs of the Commission.
The charge of the Public Shade Tree Committee can be found here.

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