Affordable housing expert named next president of ROC USA

Emily Thaden, a respected leader in shared equity housing, begins July 1

 

CONCORD, N.H. – ROC USA, that nation’s leading organization committed to empowering manufactured home communities through cooperative ownership, is pleased to announce the appointment of national affordable housing champion Emily Thaden as its next President.

Thaden comes to ROC USA with a rich background in advancing housing with lasting affordability and collective ownership models for racial and economic equity and community well-being. She said she is excited to join ROC USA, an organization she described as having long been at the forefront of empowering communities through the limited equity cooperative model. 

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Emily Thaden

“For years, I’ve admired ROC USA’s dedication to providing a secure and affordable housing solution that fosters stability and pride,” said Thaden, who succeeds Paul Bradley, ROC USA’s President since its 2008 launch. “Now more than ever, I firmly believe that manufactured home communities, when owned by the residents themselves, offer a crucial solution to the ongoing national housing crisis.”

Bradley said he is excited for Thaden’s arrival at ROC USA on July 1. He said her dedication to expanding affordable housing, particularly in the shared-equity space, makes her the ideal leader to guide ROC USA into the future.

“I could not be more pleased with Emily’s appointment or more confident about the future of resident ownership with Emily at the helm,” Bradley said. “She’s the right person, and she has the right expertise to lead the social venture to a new level of scale and impact.”

Thaden’s extensive background includes serving as the Vice President of National Strategy at Grounded Solutions Network, where she spent more than a decade scaling shared equity homeownership and community land trusts. During her tenure, she led the organization’s policy and research departments, notably developing financing solutions and field standardization initiatives to drive increased affordability and impact.

“I’m passionate about leveraging ROC USA’s considerable success and expertise to further expand access to secure, affordable homeownership opportunities across the country,” Thaden said.

ROC USA’s multi-stakeholder Board of Directors conducted a thorough and inclusive national search to reach a unanimous decision. Board Chair Andrea Levere said ROC USA and the homeowners it serves have flourished under Bradley’s visionary leadership, which has transformed the manufactured housing marketplace on behalf of residents to build financial security and hope for thousands.

“As ROC USA’s Board Chair, I have the benefit of looking backward to review our history and ahead to imagine what ROC USA can become.” Levere said. “Paul’s contributions have built an incredibly strong and innovative social enterprise, which allows us to welcome Emily with confidence and optimism for her leadership.”

Executive Committee Member Marjory Gilsrud, elected by her fellow ROC leaders to ROC USA’s Board, said Thaden is a leader who will prioritize the needs of ROCs and work collaboratively to continue fostering thriving and empowered communities for all residents.

“I was encouraged by the strong pool of candidates, and I’m thrilled that Emily will join ROC USA this summer,” said Gilsrud, who also serves as Board President at Madelia Mobile Village, a 67-home ROC 100 miles outside Minneapolis. “Throughout this process, the homeowners I represent have been first in my mind, and I’m confident their interests were well represented.”

Bradley and Thaden will work together through a six-month transition period. In January 2025, Bradley will move full time to lead Integrity Community Solutions, a ROC USA subsidiary whose mission is to purchase manufactured home community portfolios, stabilize them, and sell individual communities to the homeowners who live there through ROC USA.   

“Now more than ever, I firmly believe that manufactured home communities, when owned by the residents themselves, offer a crucial solution to the ongoing national housing crisis.”

– Emily Thaden

Executive Committee Member Julia Curry, elected by ROC USA’s affiliate organizations to the Board, noted that the selection process was structured to make sure a wide range of stakeholders in ROC USA played key roles from start to finish.

“This was a rigorous process by a hiring committee that devoted ample time and thoughtful discussion, and I couldn’t be more delighted with the result,” said Curry, co-director of Cooperative Development Institute’s NEROC program. “Emily completely embodies the qualities we all sought in a new leader. I’m confident she will drive the continued success of ROC USA, its partners and the communities we all serve, and I can’t wait to see her shine in the role.”

Most recently, Thaden served as Senior Director of Housing Solutions at Habitat for Humanity International. She is widely published on the topic of shared equity including in Housing Studies, Urban Geography, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, Social Science Quarterly, Shelterforce, and numerous reports published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.  Beyond her professional accomplishments, she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Commissioners for Nashville’s housing authority, the Metropolitan Development & Housing Agency.

 

About ROC USA & ICS

ROC USA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping residents of manufactured home communities achieve and sustain resident ownership. ROC USA provides financing, technical assistance, and training to support residents in purchasing and managing their communities as cooperative corporations. With its network of affiliated nonprofit organizations, ROC USA has helped 326 communities in 21 states achieve resident ownership, empowering 22,500 households to build wealth and secure their housing futures.

In traditional manufactured home communities (sometimes still outdatedly called “mobile home parks”), community owners control the land, set the site fees, and make the park rules. They also control the condition of the community – including roads, water, electric, and waste-water systems. Each time the community is sold to a new owner, the rent is likely to increase. In ROCs, homeowners form a cooperative to buy and manage the land and common areas of their neighborhood. This cooperative ownership gives homeowners the ability to control costs, improve facilities, and make their own rules while providing the peace of mind of cooperative land ownership.

Integrity Community Solutions is a wholly owned subsidiary of ROC USA that is acquiring “but-for” communities and readying them for resident ownership through ROC USA’s core services of technical assistance and community financing. ICS will be leveraging impact equity through syndicated transactions to start and within five years, launch a substantial prospective equity fund to dramatically confront consolidation through its market-based strategy.