Leadership Profile: Melissa Chung
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Posted by: Emily Nilsen
June 2018 - Melissa Chung
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.
Melissa Chung is a manager in the San Francisco office of Novogradac & Company LLP. She provides audit and tax services for affordable housing developments, real estate partnerships, and for-profit and nonprofit housing developers in the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) industry, solar power project operators in the renewable energy tax credit (RETC) industry, single-family home builders, and carbon credit development companies. Ms. Chung also has experience with the auditing requirements of HUD, OMB Uniform Guidance, CalHFA, HCD, NJHMFA and OHCS. In addition, she serves on the Housing Colorado NOW! conference committee. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics, with a concentration in accounting and a minor in Chinese studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She is licensed in California as a certified public accountant.
How did you end up in affordable housing?
It runs in the family! My mom used to work for an affordable housing developer in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and my sister is about to graduate with a Master’s degree in urban and regional planning, with an emphasis in housing. I signed on with Novogradac & Company as an intern, excited about the opportunity to work for a company whose legacy is built on expanding affordable housing and community development. 9 years in, and I am still as thrilled as ever! As Michael Novogradac says, “do well by doing good.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the friendships I have created with clients and colleagues. Through these relationships, we are working towards more affordable housing for everyone, especially Coloradoans.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Right now, it’s tough to see such a demand for affordable housing coupled with political and bureaucratic barriers to its supply. However, this is also the reason why the work is so gratifying – when a property is placed in service, I feel happy for my clients and for the communities they serve.
How did you get involved with Housing Colorado?
Novogradac has been attending and sponsoring the Housing Colorado NOW! Conference for over a decade. I started out by putting together workshop presentations for my partners, but when I got the opportunity to go 3 years ago, I chomped at the bit. I have a large Colorado portfolio, so I look forward to the conference each year to catch up with my clients and industry colleagues.
How do you currently serve Housing Colorado, and what do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I have been part of the Conference Planning and Publications Committees since 2016. I learn a lot from fellow volunteers and the organization, and it’s great to be a part of a collaboration that has so many refreshing ideas to support a great cause.
What are some exciting progressions or projects currently going on in your work?
Tax reform has definitely spiced things up. We’ve been talking to a lot of people regarding Opportunity Zones, which is another tax incentive to boost investments in underserved communities.
What project, program or undertaking are you most proud of and why?
I’m proud of working on any project with my affordable housing clients – it’s hard to play favorites!
What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
Someone recently shared that a person’s strongest points can also be that person’s weakest. Knowing what you are good at highlights other areas you want to hone your skillset. It has made me look at all aspects of myself more to try and become a more well-rounded professional.
Who has been an instrumental mentor through your career so far, or who do you look up to?
My boss and fellow Housing Colorado volunteer, Jeff Nishita at Novogradac, has been my mentor since my first day at the firm. He is not only smart on the technical aspects of the industry, but he also has a high EQ. I have learned and continue to learn a lot from working with him.
What website(s) do you find useful in your work?
I use Novogradac & Company’s site for many aspects of my work. I know it seems like a shameless plug, but it truly is a one-stop shop for all things affordable housing-related, and I refer to it multiple times a week.
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?
I am fortunate enough that I get to cross off the number one spot on my bucket list this summer – Japan! I am planning to eat my way through the streets of Tokyo and Osaka. I can’t wait to go see the legendary Tsukiji fish market.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Colorado?
So many of the restaurants I’ve been to are great, but if I had to choose one, it would be Matsuhisa in Vail. The waitstaff and kitchen are really attentive and even though they specialize in raw fish, they have plenty of items to suit every palate. The wine list is unbeatable too.
What book are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it?
I am rereading Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour. He was a great storyteller, who inspired many across the globe to travel and immerse ourselves in different cultures.