Board Chair, Jose Villanueva, with President and CEO, Roy Nash presenting Vice President and COO, Delisa Burnell-Smith with an achievement award.

President and CEO, Roy Nash, interviewed Vice President and COO, Delisa Burnell-Smith about her dedicated service over 25 years. Here are the secrets to her success.

25-years is a long time for anyone to stay at one organization.  What kept your interest and your loyalty over these years?

I’m not only fortunate, but blessed to work for an organization that is both mission driven and shares a set of values and purpose.  That purpose helps me to find more meaning behind my work, which results is better outcomes for the families and communities our organization is designed to assist.  In addition, I’m even more thankful to work with folks who share some of those same values.

Tell us what has changed with the organization over time?

Over the course of 25 years the organization has continued its initial goal of building stronger neighborhoods through homeownership.  In 2006 this country experienced a real estate bubble, which had a direct impact on home valuations, mortgage markets, home builders and real estate.  This caused a significant increase in foreclosures throughout this country. It was that crisis which lead the organization to implement a new line of business: a homeownership incubator, or our rental program. The organization began to acquire and rehab distress properties.  As of today, the organization has 85 rental properties, run as homeownership incubators, and over 30 of our tenants have moved forward to become homeowners! Being able to act swiftly in a changing market has helped to sustain our organization.

Tell us what has changed in the business of homeownership over this time?

What we have learned in this industry is to expect the unexpected.  Customers’ access to information has undergone a huge change over the past 25 years.  The answer to most of their questions are easily addressed through the internet.  Today, customers can go on a website and obtain real estate listings, a Realtor, mortgage lending products and loan pre-approvals. Real-estate documents can also be signed electronically from anywhere in the country.  The internet and electronic signatures has revolutionized buying a home.

How do you feel about the future of homeownership and NeighborWorks Waco over the next 25-years?

Over the next 25 years, I anticipate a repeat of volatility in the real estate market.  History does have a tendency to be repeated, especially in this industry.  The organization must continue to be prepared and equipped to survive the downturns and the upswings of an evolving real estate market. NeighborWorks Waco must continue to be creative in all aspects: housing developments, mortgage lending products, and other related services. It’s imperative that the organization continue to increase our rental portfolio through single family and/or multi-family developments, while simultaneously increasing the number of homeowners.  All of these efforts will build stronger and stable communities.