2021 HAM Conference Speakers

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Byron Waters

Byron Waters is the Southern Regional Director, Field Operations Division for USDA Rural Development. Byron oversees the 10 servicing teams that service the USDA multi-family portfolio in the Southern Region, consisting of 12 southern states and the islands of Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, PR, SC, TN, TX, VI).

Byron has been with USDA for 25 years. He started as an attorney in the Richmond Office of the General Counsel branch office. After several years with OGC, Byron moved to multi-family program management, first in Virginia then in North Carolina before the recent realignment of the program into the present regional structure. 

Byron lives in Littleton, North Carolina with his wife Judy. They raised three children who have flown the nest and who have blessed them with six grandchildren.

Cecil Williams
Team Leader for Team 2 in the South Region of the Field Operations Division of Rural Development

Cecil L. Williams, Jr. is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a graduate of Southern University A&M College in Louisiana.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Chemistry.  

Cecil began his career with the United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service in Halifax, Virginia in 1988 and later became employed with Rural Development (formerly Farmers Home Administration) in 1989.  Cecil Williams has worked with the Single Family Housing Program, Commercial Loan Division, Multi-Family Housing Specialist Acted as the Civil Rights Manager and now the Team Lead for team in the Field Operations Division.    

For 25 years, he has assisted the residents of Hinds County through mentoring high school students, serving as President of the Board of Directors for Mississippi Families as Allies, President of the Southern University Alumni Federation in Jackson, MS, and a Board of Directors for the Jackson Housing Authority. 

He thanks God for the opportunity to serve the people throughout the state of Mississippi and the pleasure to work with so many sincere and caring co-workers.  There is not a greater pleasure than helping someone obtain the basic necessities of life and knowing you are just a conduit.

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Ronnette Smith

Senior Trainer. Ronnette is an affordable housing expert across multiple funding restrictions and training disciplines. Once a rising star in the field, she is now widely considered a "must-have" for properties that require teams with proficiency in compliance. Ronnette's students boast designation pass rates amongst the highest in the nation because of her unique ability to make otherwise complicated information logical.
Ronnette has worked in the Affordable Housing industry since 2001. She started her career in Low Income Housing Tax Credit as a Compliance Coordinator, then branched out as a Sales and Marketing Manager, and now as a Trainer. She has overseen more than 30 communities at varying levels, which has created a vast depth of knowledge from multiple vantage points. Ronnette is a motivated, energetic, and goal-oriented trainer, which makes her a great asset to the Affordable Housing industry. Ronnette helps Zeffert ensure wide territory coverage coast to coast. She is a graduate of Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.
Ronnette holds the HCCP, HCM-R, and FHS designations.

Omar Jimenez

Omar Jimenez’s decision to accept a position as Make-ready in 2002 started him in a 15+-year career in multifamily maintenance. Omar already had almost 10 years in the electrical and 3 years of HVAC prior to entering the field. Omar’s efforts and ability were rewarded as he was progressively promoted and naturally, transitioned into the role Maintenance Supervisor in 2004. Omar’s range of expertise in all aspects of facilities maintenance from managing new construction lease-up to renovating 30+ year old apartment communities has given him the ability to share his expertise by training maintenance technicians. As a Market Trainer in Fort Worth Texas for HD Supply, Omar is excited to share his experience with property management and maintenance professionals currently holding certifications, EPA Type Universal, NSPF Certified Pool Operator, multiple HVAC manufactures continuing educational certifications (Goodman, Trane, and Carrier), heavy machine operators’ certifications.

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Robin Wolff
Robin is the Rural Housing Senior Program Director at Enterprise Community Partners where she is responsible for implementing the rural and Native program’s housing and economic development strategies. Robin provides direct technical assistance, coaching and training to nonprofit organizations, government agencies and other stakeholders pursuing affordable housing and economic development opportunities in rural and Native communities.

Prior to joining Enterprise, Robin served as the Deputy Director of Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation (CRHDC) a nonprofit housing developer and service provider with an extensive rural portfolio. Robin has spent the majority of her career focused on housing affordability and economic development, helping groups to leverage funding, promote development and spread the word out about their programs and services. She has extensive experience with and knowledge of affordable housing and loan fund development financing, and is accustomed to working with public, private and non-profit sectors to make projects happen.
Robin holds a B.S. in Corporate Communication from the University of Texas and an M.A. in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Interchange from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. She resides in Denver, Colorado with her husband, two busy boys and an energetic pup.   

John Sullivan

Senior Program Director, State and Local Policy, Gulf Coast

John Sullivan is a Senior Program Director of State and Local Policy for Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit dedicated to building stronger neighborhoods for low-income communities and ending housing insecurity. Enterprise delivers capital to affordable housing projects, advocates for effective policies, and connects affordable housing owners to resources and expertise. 

Based in the Gulf Coast Office in New Orleans, John leads Enterprise’s policy development and advocacy work to create stronger, more affordable communities in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mississippi. John works with federal, state, and local governments, housing advocates, and other community stakeholders to create solutions to housing problems. He organizes local support for Enterprise’s federal policy priorities, including the campaign to expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and has participated in the development of long-term housing plans for the city of New Orleans and led advocacy initiatives at the state and local levels for better housing policy.  

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Colleen M. Fisher

Colleen M. Fisher has served as the Executive Director of the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) since 1996. CARH represents the interests of over 300 companies that are involved in the building, development, financing, management and ownership of housing in rural areas across the country.

Prior to joining CARH, Ms. Fisher was the Industry Relations Manager in the Resolution Trust Corporation’s (RTC) National Marketing Department in Washington, DC,  Vice President for Government Relations for the National Apartment Association (NAA) and as a Legislative Assistant for former Senator Richard S. Schweiker (R-PA).  She was also a Majority Professional Staff member on the United States Senate Appropriations Committee, where she worked for former Senator Jake Garn (R-UT) on the HUD-VA and Independent Agencies Subcommittee.

Ms. Fisher serves on the Board of Directors for the National Affordable Housing Preservation Associates, Inc. (NAHPA) and the Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts Council.  She is a past member of the Advisory Board for the Housing and Development Reporter (HDR) and Fannie Mae’s National Housing Advisory Council.

Ms. Fisher earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University and her Master’s degree from George Washington University.

Larry Anderson

Since retiring from USDA in December of 2011, after 31 years of Federal Service as the Director of the Multi-Family Housing (MFH) Preservation and Direct Loan Division of the Rural Housing Service (RHS), Larry can best be described as a part-time developer and consultant, but a full-time advocate for MFH programs.  Through his consulting entity “Get RD Done Right,” Mr. Anderson provides advice, support and consulting services to individuals, groups, and non- or for-profit entities interested in understanding and working with USDA Rural Development (RD) policies, procedures and statutes, especially those related to preserving and rehabilitating RD’s MFH portfolio.  This includes significant educational and advocacy work in support of the MFH program and budget.  Currently, Larry is working with a number of clients including Abt Associates providing rural expertise for the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) “Duty to Serve” efforts and Enterprise Community Partners in implementing the Texas RHS Preservation Academy.

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Kelly Hardwick

Kelly Hardwick currently serves as the Executive Director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board, which he began in March 2017. The Mississippi State Personnel Board serves more than 24,000 public employees and 121 state agencies, boards, and commissions. It provides human resource policy and oversight for state government and administrative support for the Employee Appeals Board.

Kelly has served as both General Counsel and Chief of Staff for the Mississippi Home Corporation, the housing finance authority for Mississippi.  He also spent time as the Chief of Staff to Mississippi’s Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck. In this role, he was responsible for all affairs and daily operations for the Lieutenant Governor and acted as both counselor and adviser.

After serving as Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck, Kelly returned to private law practice specializing in governmental consultation, public finance, and business transactions. In his practice, Kelly had the opportunity to issue opinions on over a billion dollars worth of transactions representing public and private clients from mom-and-pop organizations to Fortune 500 companies.  His housing-related clients include South Delta Regional Housing Authority, Jefferson County Housing Authority, Jackson Housing Authority, and many owners and developers.

Kelly received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Alabama and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law. He has served as a Director of HAM, Inc. since 2015.

Nick Brown

Nick Brown has worked in law enforcement in the Hinds County area for over 17 years. He began working Human Trafficking while assigned as supervisor over the Hinds County Narcotics and K9 Unit. Nick is currently the Human Trafficking investigator in the Public Integrity Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and is assigned to the FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Taskforce. He is assigned to the North and Central portions of the state. Nick is also the President of the Mississippi Human Trafficking Operational Taskforce Board that oversees training in the state for certified Human Trafficking investigators. He is also the President and founder of the Mississippi chapter of Bikers Against Trafficking a non-profit organization that raises money and awareness for the victims of Human Trafficking in the state as well as nationwide.

Phillip Hendricks

Phillip Hendricks has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He has worked in law enforcement for fourteen years. His leadership roles have included Commander of The 12th Circuit Narcotics Enforcement Team and Chief Investigator at The Forrest County Sheriff’s Office. Phillip currently serves as a Human Trafficking Investigator for The Mississippi Office of The Attorney General and a Task Force Officer for The Drug Enforcement Administration