October 28, 2014

Meet Barbara Hamm Lee, Chair of NRHA Board of Commissioners

Barbara Hamm Lee is making history at the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Lee is the first female to be elected Chair of the NRHA Board of Commissioners in its 74-year history. Appointed in 2010 as vice-chair, Lee is the Executive Producer and Host of WHRV-FM’s “Another View” and Managing Director of SkillsOnline, a workforce/professional development initiative at WHRO Public Media. We asked Lee about her experience thus far and what is in development at the Housing Authority.

1. How did your initial 2010 board appointment come about? Did you have a track record of housing advocacy? 
I did not have a track record of housing advocacy, but I had a passion for helping people. I served on many boards and was known in the community as a “doer.” I was asked by Mayor Fraim if I’d be interested in serving and I said “yes.”

2. What have you learned since your 2010 appointment that may help you in this role?
First and foremost, the acronyms! Just kidding, but they are daunting if you do not work in the housing industry. I have learned how NRHA interfaces with many other city and regional entities and why it is critical to have a housing authority. I have learned from residents how they feel about their neighborhoods and what they are doing to make improvements. I have learned that the stereotypes of people who live in public housing are NOT true in most cases. Most of all, I have learned that you have to have a level head, a business mind and a compassionate heart to be an effective leader in this arena.

3. Does the NRHA have an exciting or innovative project currently in the works that you can share information about?
Right now, NRHA’s Board of Commissioners is most focused on giving our beloved CEO, Shurl Montgomery, a proper retirement send-off while at the same time working hard to find a new leader who will build upon the work of NRHA and the Board by continuing to implement fresh and innovative ways to serve Norfolk and our residents.

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