KINGSTON - RUPCO CEO Kevin O’Connor was named Practitioner of the Year by the National NeighborWorks Association (NNA) in Washington, D.C., an honor that brought a $2,500 prize back to his affordable housing agency. NNA lauded O’Connor for involvement, skill and accomplishment during a 25 year career in the affordable housing industry. Nominated for the award by Marianne Garvin, President and CEO of Community Development Corporation of Long Island, O’Connor was recognized for success with special projects, turnaround accomplishments, internal operations and advocacy efforts in the affordable housing industry.
O’Connor joins an elite group of CEO’s from around the country who have received NNA Excellence awards. Designed to highlight individuals who foster and lead great projects and practices, the award showcases "shining examples of the Network of Excellence." NNA is an organization that unites housing and community development practitioners to advocate for affordable housing and economic opportunities for individuals, families, communities and neighborhoods across the country.
After the award announcement, Garvin said "It was truly my pleasure to nominate Kevin to be NNA Practitioner of the Year. I hold him in very high esteem. I have gotten to know him over the years, his values and how strategic he is in achieving excellence in all his endeavors. He inspires and encourages me to do better work in my own community."
In announcing O’Connor’s award locally, RUPCO Board President Richard Heese spoke of the pride that everyone in the organization takes from O’Connor’s recognition and the level of achievement it represents.
Heese went on to note that "in May we’ll be cutting the ribbon on 53 brand new, sustainably built, affordable apartments at an intergenerational campus that will not use any fossil fuels for routine heating or cooling. It would be considered a major accomplishment under any circumstances," said Heese. "But when you consider that it took 8 years to get the project approved and that funding to build it was approved and lost twice before it all came together, you see in just one project, what we see every day."
Woodstock Commons, which is RUPCO’s first housing with any housing preferences for artists, helped pave the way for the Lace Factory proposal in Kingston, where a century-old factory will be turned into 55 apartments and related work spaces for artists. The effort is viewed as an economic development catalyst in addition to a housing initiative.
"It is extremely gratifying to be recognized by my peers," said O’Connor. "The NeighborWorks network represents the most excellent organizations and leaders working in the field of affordable housing." He went on to note the award "is also a tribute to RUPCO’s outstanding board leadership and staff who are responsible for delivering our programs and services. This recognition is important if it helps us to deliver the message that Home Matters - that Home is where everything starts for our families, our communities and our economy.
RUPCO has delivered affordable housing services in Ulster County and the Hudson Valley for more than 30 years. Whether helping people pay their rent, live in clean affordable apartments or purchase and maintain their homes, the agency is a recognized leader for creating homes and improving communities.