March 5, 2021
Please join us in welcoming the newest member of NHA’s Housing Development Team – Mary Bradshaw
With a background in architecture, Mary began her career in affordable housing in Oregon as a Community Builder Fellow in 1999 with the local HUD office. She has since served as the first full-time executive director of the Portland Community Land Trust, now Proud Ground; worked in the public sector doing development at Home Forward and the Housing Authority of Clackamas County housing and most recently as the Director of Construction Management at the Housing Development Center. She maintains her architect’s license to accompany her sharp skill set in real estate development and approach to create meaningful community projects.
As Mary joins the NHA team as a Senior Housing Developer, she shared with us what she’s all about.
Q: Mary, how do you describe yourself, and what motives you in this work?
MB: [Laughing] I’m a momma bear and kind of a chatty goofball; you might have to cut me off sometimes. I love a good puzzle. I love the technical complexities of development, working with the residents of the developments there are lots of moving parts and inputs, and figuring out how to make each one work is what keeps me going. My kids are definitely a motivator. They inspire and push me by who they are as young adults. I feel like I owe it to them and their generation to leave something better. I hope our work is at least some incremental change toward solutions. It feels better being a part of the solution than being part of the problem.
Q: What are some of your favorite past projects and why?
MB: The Garlington with Cascadia Behavior Healthcare was significant. It tied to my family stories, and offers housing and services deeply needed in our community for those with mental health challenges The Asian Health and Service Center is another one, the Asian community here worked, saved and planned for years, to overcome decades of discrimination and racism to build an all-inclusive facility to serve the community.
Q: What challenges do you see in our [affordable housing] industry?
MB: First is the intensity of competition for the limited funding available. Second, there seems to be an emphasis by public funders on volume and speed over quality of services, racial equity, supporting residents as whole people, and supporting local efforts. Cost containment is such a challenge and very difficult to achieve when the scale of so many community-based and important projects is modest.
Q: As you onboard with NHA and your role changes a bit, what are you looking forward to?
MB: I am lucky to have worked for and with some wonderful and amazing people on some very challenging and creative projects. I’ve learned so much from so many, and from various roles and experiences. I’m looking forward to bringing all that together to help move NHA’s mission forward, and to being a part of an engaged and passionate team.