Session Descriptions & Speaker Bios

SAHMA Virtual Leadership Conference Session Descriptions:

Assistance Animals – Do I Have to Accept this One?
HUD recently issued a new Notice on assistance animals in an effort to clarify when a housing provider is required to accept a request by an applicant or resident. While HUD’s Notice answered a couple of questions, for most, it did not answer the most pressing questions. During this session, we will review HUD’s new Notice and examine the lessons we can learn from it. We will also recommend additional questions housing providers can include on their reasonable accommodation forms, and when it is justified to ask the verifier for additional information, or to reject a request for an assistance animal. Using case studies as examples, the trainers will explain each step in the process necessary to defend your decision of whether to grant a request for an assistance animal.

Best Practices for REAC Panel
Join industry leaders to explore REAC best practices and the changes that are happening with NSPIRE in this informative and interactive session.

Complying with Quality - Understanding the Average Income Set Aside
Learn to better understand the Average Income Set Aside Test and feel confident in managing this new set aside as it becomes a common election on many LIHTC communities. This session will discuss the risks of the set aside and provide recommendations on best practices for how to implement this at your new community.

Eviction Pitfalls Panel
Join industry leaders to explore eviction pitfalls in this informative and interactive session.

How to be a Grassroots Advocate
Effective grassroots advocacy is a critical part of the policy-making process at all levels of government. Now more than ever, affordable housing advocates require knowledge and skills to create and sustain effective advocacy efforts. The NAHMA Grassroots Advocacy session will provide a bottom-up approach for advocacy that grows the understanding and skills among participants and increases the effectiveness of your advocacy to reach out and influence the public officials, legislators and agency leaders that can best get your affordable housing issues resolved. Participants need not have experience working on advocacy campaigns prior to participating in this workshop.

NAHMA Washington Update
The world of affordable multifamily housing is not only highly regulated by three federal agencies, but also highly dependent on the ability of Congress to pass timely and sufficient annual funding bills. This session will focus on key current federal legislative and regulatory issues facing providers of multifamily affordable housing participating in HUD, rural housing and Housing Credit programs.

Preparing for eSignatures, eStorage & eTransmission
HUD has released the long-awaited Notice explaining owner/agent requirements for eSignatures, eStorage and eTransmission. Join us to review federal requirements and to prepare to develop your own internal policies and procedures.

RAD for PRAC – What Does It Mean for Your PRAC Properties?
HUD is issuing new legislation to allow PRAC owners to convert their subsidy to a more leverageable form of subsidy through the “Rental Assistance Demonstration” (RAD) Program. This session will cover the issues related to PRACs and their recapitalization needs, and how the program can help these properties.

Streamlining & The FAST Act
Join us to discuss new options for streamlined verification of assets, streamlined verification of fixed income and streamlined certification for fixed income families.

Tax Credit Hot Topics Panel
Join industry leaders to explore tax credit hot topics in this informative and interactive session.

The Fair Housing and Other Legal Implications of the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate and enormous impact on our professional and personal lives. In this session we will explore the possible fair housing and other legal ramifications for housing providers resulting from the pandemic both now and in the future. Is this illness a disability, and if so, will housing providers be required to provide reasonable accommodations and modifications to applicants and residents who had the virus? Can housing providers enforce rules pertaining to wearing masks, social distancing or gathering in the common areas? Once the moratoriums against lease terminations have ended, will a three-month-old violation still be an evictable offense? If residents were permitted to pay rent late through work out agreements during the pandemic, will all future requests to accept late rent also need to be permitted? Join us as we explore the various legal issues that will linger for housing providers long after the current crisis passes.

The Lifecycle of an Employee: From Hiring to Termination
Employees are our greatest asset but can also be our biggest challenge. As we all know, the hiring, discipline and termination process fraught with legal peril. This session will guide you through these complex issues and will help minimize risk at every stage. During this interactive session, we will discuss: advertising job openings, applicant screening and background checks, conducting interviews, disciplinary write ups, performance reviews, and the termination process. When you walk away from this session, you will understand some key employment laws that will guide you through the employment lifecycle, help you understand compliance with HR laws, and assist in the development of productive employees.

The Intersection of Employee Leaves During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has created new challenges for employers every step of the way but particularly in the area of paid and unpaid leaves of absence. With the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), employers now face some of the most significant paid leave obligations than ever before. However, we cannot forget that we still have legal requirements under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and both new and existing state leave laws. There are new challenging issues employers are facing involving employee pregnancy leave, bonding, return to work requirements, high risk illness questions, accommodations and other issues that employees are raising every day. In addition, what can you do when you suspect fraud by an employee during leave? What documentation can you request? This interactive session will address these questions and more as we walk through the risks and compliance obligations created by the intersection of leave laws during the pandemic.

Speaker Bios:

Dena B. Calo, Esq.
Partner, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP
Ms. Dena Calo, a Partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP and Vice-Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group, counsels companies through complex labor and employment risks that pose a threat to their reputation in the marketplace. As a seasoned HR strategist and employment lawyer, she understands employers are facing increasing scrutiny of their labor and employment policies and procedures from government regulators and employees. She advises management clients, particularly in the hospitality, construction, and multifamily real estate industries through the country on the application of employment laws to their particular business needs, the implementation of legal HR policies, and representation in litigation in courts throughout the United States when their compliance is challenged. Ms. Calo also defends cases in court when necessary. She has litigated cases to state and federal juries and to arbitrators throughout the United States. These cases involve discrimination and harassment, leave issues, wage and hour compliance, defamation, and non-competes. Ms. Calo is a frequent speaker and writer for our industry, both regionally and nationally. She has recently presented in front of NJAA, IREM, NAA, PAA, PENN Del AHMA and NAHMA.

Gates Dunaway
Founder & Managing Principal, The Gates Dunaway Group
Ms. Gates Dunaway is the Founder and Managing Principal of The Gates Dunaway Group. With over 24 years of experience in the industry, she is an authority on preservation issues, with a deep passion for this work. Fifteen years with regional and local non-profit affordable housing developers allowed her to develop expertise in these types of preservation transactions. She also spent two years at the helm of the Blaine County (Idaho) Housing Authority, working on public policy incentives for workforce housing, and restarting the valley’s focus on attracting quality LIHTC developments. Ms. Dunaway has been an active educator on the topic of affordable housing development and preservation. She is a HUD “Subject Matter Expert” on housing preservation, and she was a co-facilitator for HUD’s Partners in Housing: Multifamily Preservation trainings and for HUD’s Preservation Clinics. In 2019 she launched a new training for PRAC owners that is being taught across the country through 2020. She is a frequent speaker at a variety of trade associations and conferences, focusing her presentations on helping owners understand their options.  

Kathi Williams
Partner, The Law Firm of Williams Edelstein Tucker, P.C.
Ms. Kathelene (Kathi) Williams practices exclusively in the fair housing legal arena by advising and defending the Firm’s housing provider clients in matters involving their fair housing and other civil rights requirements. She is one of the country’s leading experts in senior and federally assisted housing, consulting regularly with clients from throughout the country and national and regional housing trade organizations. Prior to forming Williams & Edelstein, P.C. in 1996, Ms. Williams served as HUD’s Southeast Regional Director of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Ms. Williams is also president of The Fair Housing Institute, Inc., a training firm that provides cost-effective online fair housing training delivered via the internet, or through its customers’ learning management systems.

Kris Cook
Executive Director, NAHMA
Ms. Kris Cook joined NAHMA as its Executive Director in November 2002. NAHMA is the leading voice for affordable housing management, advocating on behalf of multifamily property managers and owners whose mission is to provide quality affordable housing. NAHMA's mission is to support legislative and regulatory policy that promotes the development and preservation of decent and safe affordable housing. NAHMA serves as a vital resource for technical education and information, fosters strategic relations between government and industry, and recognizes those who exemplify the best in affordable housing. NAHMA is the voice in Washington for some 20 regional, state and local affordable housing management associations (AHMAs) nationwide. NAHMA's membership represents 75 percent of the affordable housing management industry, and includes its most distinguished multifamily management companies and owners.

Larry Keys, Jr.
Director of Government Affairs, NAHMA 
Mr. Larry Keys, Jr., joined NAHMA as director of government affairs in 2015, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he worked as a Policy Analyst in the Office of Policy, Programs, and Legislative Initiatives for Public and Indian Housing since 2009. Prior to working at HUD headquarters, Mr. Keys was a Project Manager in the Office of Multifamily Housing in Jackson, Miss., from 2006 to 2009. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Master of Public Policy and Administration. In 2019, Mr. Keys received a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Leslie Tucker
Partner, The Law Firm of Williams Edelstein Tucker, P.C.
Ms. Leslie Tucker has been working in the field of civil rights law for over 10 years. Prior to joining the Law Firm of Williams Edelstein Tucker, P.C., she worked with the EEOC and the City Attorney’s Office for the City of Atlanta litigating employment discrimination and other civil rights cases. She currently focuses her practice on defending housing providers nationwide in fair housing and employment matters. Ms. Tucker also provides clients with consultation and live training on fair housing topics. Ms. Tucker also specializes in physical accessibility in multifamily housing, including local building codes as well as UFAS and FHA requirements, and travels around the country performing inspections on new and existing properties.

Mary Ross
President, Ross Business Development, Inc. 
Ms. Mary Ross (CPO, FHC & MORS) is a nationally recognized expert in property management training and consulting and related areas. Ms. Ross is the President and CEO and majority shareholder of Ross Business Development, Inc. a small, woman-owned business based in Atlanta, GA. As a senior business executive and savvy industry insider, she provides clients with high-level consultation and advice on how to succeed when managing properties set aside for low-income families. In 2001, Mary and Mark Ross created a unique training, learning development and consulting practice that marries knowledge of HUD occupancy requirements, HUD systems and process development. Ms. Ross works closely with contract administrators, software vendors and HUD to help assist owner/agents with implementation of and compliance with HUD’s occupancy and system requirements. She is a member in good standing of NCSHA, SAHMA and Leading Age. Ms. Ross delivers HUD occupancy training, fair housing training, TRACS training and EIV training throughout the country. She also develops policies and procedures and supporting forms and notices for key HUD management processes.

Michal Machnowski
Manager of Government Affairs, NAHMA
Mr. Michal Machnowski joined NAHMA as manager of government affairs in March 2020. Previously, he worked as a program specialist and senior legislative analyst at The Salvation Army National Headquarters, where he represented the organization on public policy initiatives related to food and emergency feeding operations, emergency shelters, and healthcare, and assisted in coordinating the recovery efforts at FEMA’s National Recovery Coordination Center for The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service, among other duties. Prior to joining The Salvation Army, Mr. Machnowski was a legislative correspondent for a U.S. Senator, a program officer for an international think-tank, and a research assistant for a national trade association. Mr. Machnowski has a B.A. in political science and international relations from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Public Policy from George Mason University, in Va.

Stacy Day
Vice President Operations, Innovation, Karen A. Graham Consulting, LLC
A highly experienced professional in the multi-family property management industry, Ms. Stacy Day has 25 years of experience in the affordable housing industry. She has held Vice President roles in both Compliance and On-Site Operations, so she understands the challenges to keep the bottom line in check while staying in compliance. Ms. Day focuses on and has the knowledge for what is needed to keep things organized and easy to understand for the on-site staff.