Having served as top staff executive of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) for nearly half its three-decade existence, it’s no surprise that supporters of the organization wanted to send Nina Janopaul off in style.
And they did on Oct. 6, saluting Janopaul’s service as CEO while also raising a record-setting $800,000 through the organization’s annual “Celebrate Home” fund-raiser.
“Her accomplishments are legendary.Game-changers,” said Susan Bell, APAH’s board chair. “Not only here in Northern Virginia, but across the nation.”
Founded by a number of Arlington couples in the 1990s, the organization was still miniscule – just a handful of employees – when Janopaul came on board. It has since grown to own and manage a portfolio of affordable-housing communities valued at a half-billion dollars, and is now expanding beyond its home community into other areas of the region.
“It’s a great story,” said John Ziegenhein, who chaired the Celebrate Home event and serves on the APAH board. He pointed to properties under construction and those set for groundbreaking by the end of the year.
“An extraordinary year – a lot of firsts,” Ziegenhein said. “You can really see the impact APAH makes.”
Janopaul announced earlier this year she would be stepping down. She was succeeded by Carmen Romero, who served on the staff before being upped to CEO.
The switch in leadership was marked by “the smoothest, most graceful . . . leadership transition we have ever seen,” Ziegenhein said.
“Smooth” and “graceful” were apt descriptors for Janopaul, a number of speakers noted.
State Sen. Barbara Favola thought back to Janopaul’s early years on the job, when she used those trails “to bring people together even in contentious times” in support of affordable-housing initiatives.
“Nina showed grit and patience and knowledge – real leadership,” said Favola, who saw the efforts up-close while serving on the Arlington County Board.
That leadership extended to the state level, said Susan Dewey, CEO of the Virginia Housing and Development Authority, the state government’s affordable-housing wing.
“We will all miss this passionate, visionary thought-leader,” Dewey said, praising Janopaul for her “relentless advocacy for action and, most important, delivering results.”
(It was a theme echoed by Bell, who remarked that anyone could build housing. Doing so in a way to improve the lives of residents was not as easy, she said.)
One of the organization’s growth areas during Janopaul’s tenure has been in an array of services provided to those living at its apartment complexes. That effort has delivered support and stability for families that need it, said Marquan Jackson, APAH’s director of resident services.
“All of us long for and deserve a home that is safe, secure,” he said.
In remarks during the event (held in person for the first time since COVID’s arrival), Janopaul said APAH’s staff – past and present – deserved much of the applause for the organization’s achievements.
“You are giving me credit for the work of many,” she said. “Tonight celebrates of all.”
And as for the future? “APAH has the talent and the resources and the track record to make a significant impact,” Janopaul said.