Leadership Profile: Elizabeth Salkind
Friday, March 2, 2018
Posted by: Emily Nilsen
Each month Housing Colorado profiles a member volunteer who serves on a committee or another volunteer opportunity. This profile features members who have shown great commitment to the mission of Housing Colorado.
Elizabeth Salkind came to Housing Solutions for the Southwest with a legal and housing background. She has twenty-five years of experience working as an attorney, most of which has been with non-profit organizations and indigent clients. As the former Executive Officer of our region’s Home Builders Association, she brings knowledge of the development and building communities. She was an active Board member of several local community partners, including Volunteers of America and Habitat for Humanity.
How did you end up in affordable housing?
I have definitely taken a circuitous path to a job in the affordable housing industry. After graduating law school, I worked as a public defender for nearly ten years in the Denver Metro area. My next position involved working as the in-house attorney for an employee union that represented governmental employees throughout the State. After a few brief detours, I took a position as the Executive Director of the Homebuilders Association of Southwest Colorado. Throughout my time there, I worked closely with affordable housing advocates in our community. Housing Solutions asked me to come on board in 2012.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy being around some very creative and persistent people who are passionate about the people in their communities.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Navigating the different state and federal regulations related to funding
How did you get involved with Housing Colorado?
I attended the Housing Colorado conference in my first year on the job. I was impressed by the level of expertise on so many different affordable housing issues.
How do you currently serve Housing Colorado and what do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I am on the Legislative Committee. I enjoy being part of the State-wide effort, which is so different than the day to day workload of being a Director of a regional non-profit in a very remote and rural part of the State. I have learned about the substance of many legislative initiatives that can benefit affordable housing efforts, and the often multi-year approach it takes to get something in place. But, mostly I have been able to learn about the nuances of the political process itself from my colleagues on the committee and Housing Colorado staff.
What are some exciting progressions or projects currently going on in your work?
While the traditional HUD Transitional Housing Programs are being phased out nationally, Housing Solutions has been able to develop new ways to serve people in our community with Transitional Housing services through two new collaborative grants. The first serves victims of crime who have lost housing as a result of a crime with rental assistance and supportive services. The second is a Department of Justice grant that can assist victims of sexual assault or domestic violence for longer periods of time and specific services, such as counseling and therapy. The employees at Housing Solutions are so excited to be able to offer this type of help to people looking to reestablish stability for themselves and their families.
What project, program or undertaking are you most proud of and why?
What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
Someone told me that the most important role is to set employees up to succeed. Go to people’s strengths, rearrange and reimagine current job descriptions to fit the best qualities of the best people.
Who has been an instrumental mentor through your career so far or who do you look up to?
Early on in my career, I was fortunate to work in the City and County of Denver in the courtroom of Judge Breese, long since retired. I learned, through his example, that it doesn’t really matter what your job is, as long as you are doing it with integrity. He was never afraid to laugh with someone as well.
What website(s) do you find useful in your work?
Lately, I have been going to www.caplaw.org for information.
If you were given the chance to go on a vacation to any place of your choosing, where would you go and what would you do?
Today, I would pick a secluded warm water beach (because it is finally snowy and cold here in Colorado).
What’s your favorite restaurant in Colorado?
I really miss the authentic Greek restaurants out on Colfax in Denver. Can’t get that here in Durango..
What book are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it?
I just finished The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. Swanky nightclubs, false identity, secret family… It has it all.