I recently shared news with staff and Network of my intent to transition from President of ROC USA® to serve as CEO of our new subsidiary – Integrity Community Solutions. This means ROC USA will initiate a process to hire a new President, a process that ought to conclude later in 2024.
This is a big deal to me. I founded ROC USA in 2008 to make resident ownership viable from coast to coast, and by most measures we have done that!
We – as in the national team and the teams of the ten Certified Technical Assistance Provider organizations – working in partnership with the 212 Resident Owned Communities we’ve helped become community owners in the last 15 years. And none of that would be possible without the donors and lenders and many collaborating agencies and organizations who are integral to our ability to meet co-ops’ need for financing to fulfill their goal of land ownership.
Personally, since 1988, my focus has been to support the success of Resident Owned Communities, beginning in New Hampshire and then nationally since 2008. That focus will continue in this final stage of my career, but how I do that is going to change.
One of our Board members captured two important elements when I told her. She said, “I’m just really impressed with how ROC USA has adapted to the changing market and how the organizational reset implemented two years ago has added the capacity to support this change.”
Let me break that down.
By adapting to market changes, she’s referring to the consolidation of the MHC industry and the dramatic increase in the price of communities. By “consolidation,” I mean the growing trend toward bundling a bunch of MHCs under the control of one company or investor. It has happened in a lot of U.S. industries – from funeral homes to RV stores – and the net effect is fewer local owners.
Three quarters of MHCs are now sold in portfolios according to one broker. Cooperatives are single community buyers. If five or ten or a hundred are being sold in a portfolio, there are only two ways homeowners have a chance for resident ownership:
- If they live in one of eight states with strong Right of First Refusal laws; or,
- An interim owner buys the portfolio and, after making them co-op ready, is committed to offering each individual community to the homeowners who live there.
To acquire and break up portfolios, ROC USA formed the new subsidiary – Integrity Community Solutions (ICS). It’s a vital service that needs to be developed and expanded to accelerate the growth of resident ownership.
ROC USA and ICS share the same mission – providing viable opportunities for resident ownership – but the strategies, capital requirements, and operating systems are quite different.
I came to the decision that serving as President of both organizations will not provide ROC USA or ICS with the focused leadership both need to serve communities well and meet the market where it is.
This is my choice based on what I think is best for both organizations and the mission. My timing stems from the preparatory work we’ve undertaken since 2021 and the substantial opportunities for our mission that are on our doorstep. It is the “reset” to which the ROC USA Board Member referred, and it involved great new leadership in some new roles, retention of strong long-time leaders, managers, and staff as well as new staff.
I have such great confidence in the team we’ve built at ROC USA and I know we are now organized for the next stage of growth, which feels great.
Simply stated, I truly believe we will accelerate the growth and impact of resident ownership faster and better with each organization – ROC USA and ICS – headed by dedicated and focused leadership. I have always done my best work when I am focused.
It is a hard decision. I have loved my work with this team and Network and the Board and co-op leaders from across the country. I’ll still be here but after a transition period working together with the new ROC USA President, I’ll serve in a different role. I will respect those boundaries.
A leader’s highest priority must be the mission and organization. I truly believe this transition is fulfilling my obligation to both ROC USA and ICS. I believe that because there is so much work to do to help homeowners gain security through ownership and to help make that ownership as positively impactful as possible. Let’s keep on keeping on!