Inspirations and Aspirations for 2018

Joan ServissI had the pleasure of talking with Joan Serviss, executive director of the Arizona Housing Coalition. Joan became a NACEDA member after a merger between the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness (led by Joan) and the Arizona Housing Alliance (led by Val Iverson, a NACEDA board member). Joan and Val served as co-executive directors from July 1 until yesterday, when Val retired. We're that delighted Val will continue to serve on the board and that the NACEDA network will get to know Joan.

What are your New Year's traditions?

I usually run in a half marathon in late January, so I try to start the new year by going out for a long run. But don’t get me wrong – I follow that with a Harry Potter or Lord Of the Rings movie marathon on the couch with the whole family. We’re Harry Potter nerds. I’d like to say we make some elaborate dinner, but we usually do “rock-paper-scissors” for who’s going to the drive-through.

What inspired you in 2017?

I was inspired by new people taking small steps forward in a call to action. I heard folks are saying, "I’m really frustrated with the state of the world. How can I have some sort of impact"? I had friends call me and say, “did you know you can send letters to your legislator?” I would just giggle because I’ve been in advocacy for 24 years. Yes, I know that you can call your legislators. And yes, please do that! It's been really inspiring to suddenly hear folks say, "I want to make my voice heard."

Joan Serviss graduationDo you have a favorite memory for 2017?

I’m a soccer mom tried and true. Both of my kids are in competitive soccer. So, spending every weekend of 2017 on the sidelines is my favorite memory. My second favorite memory was completing my master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University. As I walked across the stage, my son screamed “that’s my mom.” I got emotional. I’m 41. I don’t need the pomp and circumstance of graduation. I walked because I wanted my kids to see why mommy was reading journal articles on the soccer sidelines. This is the reason mommy couldn't do everything we wanted to do on the weekends. I was trying to reach a personal goal and get my degree. Having them witness that was very important to me.

What are you excited about in 2018?

I'm really excited to focus on the challenges and opportunities the Arizona Housing Coalition will bring post-merger. Val Iverson did an amazing job in 2017 creating the operational infrastructure. We have been a little ragtag in the past. Val created a really strong foundation. With the structure she’s created, we’re ready to attack 2018 with strong focus on meeting our neighbors' needs and increasing our impact with finesse and sound governance.

Arizona Housing Coalition staffWhat is your New Year's wish for the Arizona Housing Coalition?

My dearest wish for the Arizona Housing Coalition is to be vigilant. We need to be attentive to our members' needs and vigilent about the changes occurring at the federal, state, and local levels. We need to be vigilant in communicating with our members about how we can take proactive steps early and often in 2018.

What is your New Year's wish for NACEDA?

Being open to new opportunities – that would be my wish for NACEDA. In an era of limited resources, we all need to be more open. In preparing for this interview, I stumbled across your strategic plan. I love that NACEDA uses the action verbs "convene, advocate, partner" to represent the organization. I think NACEDA can be very flexible in meeting its members' needs. By playing the role of convener, NACEDA can be strategically open and connected, bringing folks together so they can share best practices with each other, and maybe work on a project together.

What is your New Year's wish for the country?

I wish people would connect more, but more on a face-to-face level. The fact is that human beings want to connect with others. Social media has been a great connector, but now we need to take it one step further. We need to put down the computer and the tablet and the iPhone to make authentic connections. We need search to find a commonality, then be open to listen. I go to church with a lot of folks who share similar lives, hopes, and dreams but quickly diverge from each other politically. We still have commonality and learn from each other through open dialogue and through listing. That’s authentic and right in my church relationships. How can we be open to opposing opinions and still strive for commonality?

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year for you and the communities you serve!

Suzanne Gunther
NACEDA Communications Director
Share this post:

Comments on "Inspirations and Aspirations for 2018"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment