March is Women’s History Month – a time when communities come together to celebrate the women who inspire us to show up for one another and advocate for a more equitable future. To recognize the women who are making a difference here in Adams County, we sat down with Maiker’s Shant’a Johnson, director of family and community vitality, and Carolee Jackson, director of strategic initiatives and data analytics, to learn more about their experience as housing leaders in Colorado.
Here’s what they had to share.
Tell us about your role as a leader in the housing industry. Why is it important to have women in leadership positions in housing?
Shant’a: As director of resident service offerings at Maiker, I say that I am “They” and “they” are me. I have experienced homelessness and housing instability as well as food insecurity. I understand that it takes more than putting a roof over someone’s head for them to be truly “housed”. I am also a community member in my neighborhood and I desire to be a supportive neighbor and to have supportive neighbors. We all deserve to know that we are the best part of the solution to our lives’ challenges and that there are neighbors in our corner to support us.
As times get tougher and resources seem scarce, it is sacred work to be able to support the community in creating the lives they want and deserve to live. With any person, it is important to see a version of yourself in spaces that create change in order to see those roles as a possibility. As a black woman at Maiker, I hear from various community members that they are glad to see me in the role I am in and that it helps them feel like they too can affect change in the world.
Carolee: I am a new leader in the housing industry, but I believe it is important to have women in leadership positions in any sector that directly touches the daily lives of all people in our community. This is because it is imperative to have a diverse and inclusive perspective at all levels of design, decision-making, and policy change. As women, we reflect back on some of the same lived experiences of half of the community we serve. This balance is crucial to meet community needs and create opportunities to develop shared power.
How does Maiker advocate for female leaders in housing and beyond?
Shant’a: Early in my time at Maiker, our CEO connected me to the National DEI Committee for National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. This opportunity has meant so much to me and I have gained mentorship and an expedited understanding of the HUD affordable housing industry.
Carolee: Maiker does an amazing job at recognizing the skills, experiences and talents of its staff and elevating women into positions where these assets can make a real impact. As a female leader at Maiker, I very rarely worry that my voice won’t be heard or that my judgment won’t be trusted. This is a refreshing experience for sure!
Do you have any additional reflections on Women’s History Month you’d like to share?
Shant’a: I will share this quote by the beloved bell hooks that is the cornerstone of my leadership practice and challenges me everyday: “What we do is more important than what we say we do what we say we believe in.”
Carolee: I love to see women stepping into their power as leaders and change-makers across a variety of industries. I think we all still have a lot of work to do when it comes to elevating the voices of women of color though. Additionally, in my experience, glass ceilings are still very real, and I would love to see more women represented at the C-suite and policy-change levels, in affordable housing and elsewhere.
Maiker Housing Partners is proud to have a strong network of female leaders across our organization. We are honored to join our community in celebrating the women who are making a difference in Adams County this Women’s History Month.
Thank you to Shant’a and Carolee for taking the time to share your story with us!