Washington, DC—The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) taps Renee M. Willis as its first senior vice president for racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. Ms. Willis, formally NLIHC’s vice president for field and communications, will work to ensure that NLIHC’s commitment to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion is prominent in the Coalition’s policies, programs, and practices, both internally and externally.
Ms. Willis brings more than twenty years of local, state, and national experience working on affordable and sustainable housing issues for diverse, low-income communities. Most recently, she represented NLIHC as a fellow with the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute, joining a network of advocates working on racial equity issues across the country, and she was part of a Ford Foundation-funded workgroup developing innovative ways to shift the national narrative around race and the intersectionality of health, education, economic mobility, housing, and racial justice.
“Justice requires intentional, overt action to eradicate systemic oppression,” said NLIHC Board Chair Marla Newman. “I congratulate Renee for assuming such a critical role as NLIHC imbeds racial equity in all we do—with our staff and the many partners and renters with whom we work. Creating the SVP of racial equity, diversity and inclusion position and establishing an NLIHC Equity Action Team demonstrates NLIHC’s earnestness and dedication to ensuring housing stability for all marginalized people.”
“I cannot think of a more ideal person than Renee to lead this work for NLIHC,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Renee’s skill, expertise, dedication, and knowledge of every aspect of NLIHC’s programs and operations, as well as the respect and trust she has earned from the full NLIHC team and from our members and partners, made her the obvious best fit for this critical leadership position.”
NLIHC has undertaken an organization-wide initiative to advance racial equity and inclusion in its policy analysis and advocacy, research, advocate-mobilization, internal operations, and external relationships. With the assistance of a diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism consultant over the past year, NLIHC established an Equity Action Team of NLIHC staff to guide and inform the overall direction of NLIHC’s racial equity work. In this newly created SVP role, Ms. Willis will lead the Equity Action Team to advance NLIHC’s commitment to racial equity and diversity in the months and years to come.
“It is an honor to lead NLIHC’s inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racist work during this pivotal time,” said Ms. Willis. “This is an enormous responsibility that I don’t take lightly. There is so much urgency in the work that needs to be done to disrupt and dismantle systems that continue to oppress BIPOC and other marginalized communities.”
“As we advance solutions to achieve racial and housing justice,” Ms. Willis continued, “we will also ensure that low-income renters and people with lived experience of homelessness and housing instability, especially people of color, people with disabilities, and others who are too often marginalized, are included in the development and implementation of NLIHC’s policy agenda.”
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