Communities Together Inc —

our history:

Communities Together Inc (CTI) was formed as a non-profit 501c3 in 2017 to carry forward and build upon the resident service programs developed and implemented by AHD Management and Residential One over the preceding 20 years.

The owners of AHD, Inc (Affordable Housing Developers) www.ahd1.com have long realized that affordable housing is about more than just building units and the need to focus on building strong communities. Typical of affordable housing portfolios utilizing Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), the AHD Inc portfolio consisting of 20 projects with over 3,000 units in Maryland, DC and Virginia was required to provide a “resident Services plan” in order to receive tax credits and financing.  In order to implement the plans, a budget was provided from operations for each property to pay for resident services and activities. A resident services coordinator was hired by the management company to coordinate the work in concert with the resident manager at each property.

Over the years, this model has served the residents of the AHD portfolio well. With limited staff and resources, we learned to partner with other service providers to leverage our efforts. The senior properties focused on social activities, health and wellness. The family properties have offered a wide variety of programs tailored to the make-up of the residents, including family oriented social activities, afterschool enrichment, and adult education.

Among the many lessons learned, the most important was the need to have the resident’s engagement in developing and implementing programs. We have found that a bottom up approach with input and involvement of the residents is always more successful than a top down delivery of service. This was the basis for our official change of direction in 2012 from “resident services” to “resident engagement” and the basis for our work at CTI.

Communities Together Inc was formed to bring this work to the next level and to build a model actively engaging residents to improving their communities, that we can bring to other low- and moderate-income communities. CTI will allow us to leverage our resources by partnering with other service providers, foundations, lenders, investors and others active in the affordable housing industry.

Our Core values:

  • The success of society as a whole depends on fairness and equal opportunity
  • All people have a right to live in healthy, holistic communities
  • Providing opportunities and tools to remove barriers and empower
    people in achieving their full potential
  • When people are comfortable in their homes they will engage in
    and contribute to their communities

Our Approach:

We aim to actively engage the residents of affordable housing communities in providing activities and services that enrich their lives by promoting wellness, opportunities for continued education and increasing civic pride. We intend to develop model programs that can be applied to both affordable family and senior housing communities by continuously monitoring and measuring the success of our programs, services and activities.

Our Story:

Communities Together, Inc. is a joint effort by a group of real estate professionals including developers, architects, builder, property managers and lenders along with community organizers, social workers, musicians, artists and tutors who share a firm belief in the power of community. As long-term members of a team responsible for design, development, financing and management of affordable housing, we have come to realize that the success of our collective work is not measured by counting units of housing built but rather by the strength of the communities we have created. Community is the launching pad for success. Low and moderate residents can leverage scarce resources by networking and sharing information and material.We actively engage the residents in determining the type of activities and services required at each site. CTI works with the site management staff and the residents for the delivery of desired activities and services. The “resident engagement” model promotes resident buy-in and constructive participation in the community.

Board of Directors:

Donald E. Tucker AIA, LEED, AP

CTI President & Founder

A real estate developer and registered architect, Don Tucker is a recognized expert in the programming, design, and development of multi-family, elderly and special user housing, and he has an extensive portfolio of successful projects. With more than forty years of design and development experience, Mr. Tucker has been responsible for numerous projects, from small group homes for seniors to large multi-family residential complexes. As both an architect and as a developer, he has consistently focused on affordability, sustainability, and meeting resident needs.

Mr. Tucker is the president of AHD (Affordable Housing Developers), Inc. Since its founding in 1986 AHD has been responsible for development of more than five thousand affordable rental units in the Washington, DC market area. AHD is known for its focus on community building and resident services. Mr. Tucker is also president of Eco Housing Corporation, a national leader in the development of Cohousing communities and a principal of the award-winning EDG (Environmental Design Group) Architects, LLC, a full-service architectural firm known for creative, user-driven, sustainable design.  In addition, Mr. Tucker has taught architecture at Temple University, lectured at numerous conferences, and written published articles on affordable housing, senior housing, and cohousing.He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of New Mexico in 1968 and was subsequently awarded a fellowship in urban design at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his Master of Architecture degree in 1970.

Michael L. Seltz

Treasurer, CTI Board of Directors

 Michael Seltz currently works as a housing development consultant. He works under contract to St. Mary’s Housing Development corporation, where he supervises a 223f refinance currently underway in Fredericksburg, Maryland, and under contract to Volunteers of America (VOA), where he manages several Low-Income Housing Tax-Credit funded (LIHTC) projects, including projects in California, Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Alaska, and New Jersey.

He served as the Director of Real Estate Development for VOA from 2004-2006, and as their Vice President of Housing Development from 2006-2015. In these roles, he supervised project and development managers across the nation, and he also managed acquisitions, renovations, and refinances for LIHTC projects. Before joining VOA, Mr. Seltz worked as an independent project manager and real-estate developer; he participated in the development of a variety of senior and multifamily housing projects in the DC metro area. Prior to his work in development, Mr. Seltz worked in architectural and interior design. After serving in the US Army in Vietnam, Mr. Seltz worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merill, where he rose to Associate Partner. He subsequently founded Oldham & Seltz, a commercial architectural and interior design firm which designed $475 million in built construction over the course of twelve years.

Mr. Seltz received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Brandeis University in 1965, and a Master of City Planning degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967.

Rosemary Pezzuto

Secretary, CTI Board of Directors

Ms. Pezzuto is currently the CEO of Camp Fire Patuxent Area, the Maryland and DC-metropolitan-area chapter of a national youth development organization. In her role at Camp Fire, she oversees day to day operation of regional activities and operations, fundraises in support of program activities, establishes community relationships and partnerships to increase participation and service activities, and supervises staff, inter, and volunteer programs.

She has served as the social work supervisor for the American Red Cross in a variety of military locations across the country. Subsequently, she served as an officer in the US Coast Guard, where she designed and developed the Coast Guard Family Support and Wellness Program, which provides childcare, social services, wellness, and primary prevention programs for military members and families around the world. She also has extensive college teaching experience, including professorships at University of Maryland, California State University, San Deigo Bowie State University School of Social Work, and the University of San Diego.

Ms. Pezzuto received a Bachelor of Social Work degree and a Master of Arts degree in teaching from Notre Dame de Namur University. Subsequently, she received a Master of Social Work degree in public health and administration from the California State University at San Diego.

Donna P. Thurmond

Member of the CTI Board of Directors

Donna Thurmond has worked in the field of aging services for over 30 years and currently serves as the Vice President of Resident Services and Programs at Volunteers of America’s national office. She has developed and implemented a wide array of programs and services, including health promotion and disease prevention initiatives for seniors living in subsidized housing. Donna provides national oversight for a multi-million dollar service coordinator program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her efforts have resulted in implementing 135 service coordinator programs in 158 subsidized housing facilities. Donna, also serves as the Treasurer on the American Association of Service Coordinator national board.

Donna is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and received her Bachelors of Art and Master of Arts degree in sociology with a specialization in gerontology.

Tony Ross, HCCP

Member of the CTI Board of Directors

Tony Ross is the President and a co-founder of ResidentialONE, a real estate management company with an extensive portfolio throughout the DC metropolitan area.

Prior to the founding of ResidentialONE, Mr. Ross worked at Edgewood Management Corporation, where he gained experience in affordable housing, commercial real estate management, property renovations, and development, and where he rose to the position of Vice President. Subsequently, he worked at Equity Management, where he rose to the position of Executive Vice President; in this capacity, he served as an integral part of the organization’s strategeic management. In addition, Mr. Ross has served as an Adjunct Professor of Property Management at the University of the District of Columbia Community College.

Mr. Ross received a Bachelor of Arts in leadership and a Master of Science in organizational performance from Bellevue University. He also earned an Associate’s degree in occupational studies and emergency and disaster management from Thomas Edison State College. His professional designations include an HCCP (Housing Credit Certified Professional) certification from the National Association of Home Builders, a NAHP-e certification (National Affordable Housing Professional – Executive) and a SHCM certification (Specialist in Housing Credit Management) from Spectrum Seminars, Inc.

Karon L. Phillips, Ph.D., MPH. CHES, CAPS

Member of the CTI Board of Directors

Dr. Karon Phillips is a public health gerontologist working in the Washington, D.C. area working as a Scientific Reviewer (contractor) for the NIH Center for Scientific Review and as a community engagement consultant. She has significant experience conducting and coordinating a variety of coalition building and programmatic activities to promote healthy aging. She has extensive training in community-based interventions for older adults. Her experience includes directing the implementation of programs and services focused on health promotion, including chronic disease self-management and falls prevention, across several senior affordable housing communities. Along with the addition of new programs and services, she has developed and led numerous research projects and multi-site needs assessments.

Dr. Phillips holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Women’s Studies from Cornell University. She received her Master of Public Health degree and her Doctorate in Aging Studies from the University of South Florida

Shavon Bartley

Member of the CTI Board of Directors

Shavon Bartley is currently the dedicated Property Manager of Laurel Lakes Apartments in Laurel, Maryland. Shavon has 13 years’ experience in Property Management; She is well versed in managing Residential, Commercial, Section 8-Housing and Tax Credit properties. She has earned titles of Leasing Excellence Top Performing Associate for the Mid-Atlantic Portfolio in 2007, Property Manager of the Year in 2012 and 2015. Furthermore, has proven ability to lead a team by earning the Distinguished Community Award in 2015 and Judge’s Choice Award from the Property Management Association in 2018.  Shavon holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Scott Willis

Member of the CTI Board of Directors

Scott currently serves as a Senior Community Development Manager with HSBC North America; where he leads the bank’s CRA strategy to meet it’s LMI residential mortgage, small business lending, community and retail service, and community development loan and investment targets for 32 retail bank branches in the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and South Florida markets. Prior to joining HSBC, Scott served in Regional Multi-Cultural and Affordable Lending Executive positions with JP Morgan Chase Bank, First Horizon Home Loans, and AIG United Guaranty; where he directed regional business development and product development strategies that increased retail lending to first time homebuyers, ethnic–minority, and LMI consumers across a 17 state territory. Scott earned a B.A. degree in Public Administration from Kentucky State University (1990) and Masters’ degrees in both Public Policy (1997) as well as Urban and Regional Planning (1998) from the State University of New York at Buffalo. With regard to current industry partnerships, Scott is active with the Junior Achievement Metro Affiliates of Washington DC and South Florida, The Washington DC LISC Lender Advisory Council, The BEACON DC Women’s Founders Initiative, Venture Café Miami, The Maryland Women’s Business Center, The Washington DC Affiliate of the SBA Emerging Leaders Program, and The Madame CJ Walker’s Legacy Foundation.

OUR STAFF:

Duncan C. Ferguson

Director of Resident Engagement,  ex officio CTI Board of Directors

Duncan Ferguson is an architect by trade who has shifted his focus to fostering and serving communities. Mr. Ferguson served from 2010 To 2017 as Director of Resident Engagement for Residential One. He has initiated many programs in multi-family and senior low-income communities in the mid-Atlantic. His programs have served resident children, young adults, families, and older adults; they include academic and arts-focused after-school and summer programs for K-12 students, support programs for teens and young adults which include gang prevention, sexual health, and entrepreneurial programs, summer food service programs, which serve thousands of free meals to low-income youth, and mobile library educational programs. Accordingly, he has extensive experience in program design, organizational development, and community engagement.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Oberlin College, and subsequently received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Anastasia Wroblewski, MSW, NRP

Community Engagement Coordinator

Anastasia Wroblewski is a social worker who has been committed to service and helping young people since her own youth. In 2008 she developed a program for Camp Fire Patuxent Area Council, which led to the expansion of their summer camp program for kids who live in homelessness and low income housing and the development of a full-time employment position.

During her college years at St. Bonaventure University, Anastasia participated in almost every service program provided by the University, and took advantage of an opportunity with the University’s Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) and became a nationally-registered paramedic. Anastasia has a strong sense of family and community; she believes that a unified community is a family in and of itself. She is committed to developing fun, interactive and dynamic activities to help bring people together and foster lifelong friendships and relationships. Anastasia has completed service projects within the United States, as well as internationally to communities in need.

The programs she has developed have helped serve low- and moderate-income youth, providing them access to summer camp activities and educational service trips. Through service opportunities, she believes that youth develop sympathy for others and servant-leader qualities that will result in their own commitment to service and supporting people in need. She has been recognized locally and nationally for her service accomplishments.

In 2011 Anastasia graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology, then completed a Master’s degree in 2015 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore in social work. She has subsequently completed a Certificate program in Strategic Planning at St. Bonaventure University.

Cinthya Rivera, MSW

Resident Engagement Assistant

Cinthya Rivera is a social worker with a passion for serving children and their families; she has done so in schools, mental health agencies, and communities. Fluent in Spanish and English with a proficiency in American Sign Language, Cinthya has spent majority of her career working for the Hispanic and deaf/ hard of hearing populations. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in deaf studies from Towson University, followed by a Master’s degree in social work from Gallaudet University. She has subsequently completed the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants, Toddlers and their Families: Collaboration and Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate.

Cinthya’s experience comes from working with low- to moderate-income families. She has striven to provide resources to undocumented families and to people with intellectual/cognitive disabilities.  Her passion is supporting vulnerable families to become the best versions of themselves. Her hope is to implement diverse family-based programs within CTI and continue providing resources to vulnerable families.

 supporting campfire staff:

Santana Questa

Writer/Communications Specialist, freelance

Santana serves as a consultant and communications specialist to Camp Fire. She has a Master of Arts degree in integrated marketing communication as well as a Bachelor’s degree in journalism with a focus in history from St. Bonaventure University. She has been with Camp Fire for four years and manages social media and communication activities. She is also a graphic artist and has created a number of fun and informative graphics to support Camp Fire programs. Santana has a passion for writing and is in the process of authoring a novel and a short story collection. She has written several features and event publications, and works on a daily basis correcting written errors to maintain consistency and branding standards. She is committed to journalism ethics and teaching proper writing techniques to youth

Interns:

Educational internships are available with Communities Together Inc. Past internships have included undergraduate and graduate level students from several universities.
Universities include:

University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work

Gallaudet University School of Social Work

Howard University School of Social Work

Washington Adventist University School of Nursing

University of Maryland Public Scholars

Salisbury University

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Bowie State University

If you are interested in an internship with Communities Together Inc please contact, Anastasia@commtogether.org