Good Shepherd Housing leader honored at farewell luncheon
Fairfax County officials joined Good Shepherd Housing (GSH) board members, staff and friends in saying farewell to departing GSH Executive Director David Levine at the Mount Vernon Country Club Feb. 23. Levine, a prominent member of the nonprofit community along the Richmond Highway corridor, is leaving after 14 years to become the executive director for Mountainlands Community Housing Trust based in Park City, Utah.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay presented Levine with a plaque thanking him for his contributions to the community. Levine also received a plaque from Fairfax County Communities of Trust Committee Chair Shirley Ginwright. Earlier in the week, Good Shepherd Housing received the 2023 Nonprofit of the Year Award from Leadership Fairfax.
Good Shepherd Housing evolved from a mid-1970s effort by Good Shepherd Catholic Church parishioners to build a house for a Vietnamese refugee family. The program was run by church volunteers until the late 1990s when the organization was established as a nonprofit and began hiring staff, Levine said.
Unlike affordable housing developers that build or purchase multifamily apartment buildings, Good Shepherd purchases condominiums at scattered sites, which it rents on a discounted scale to low-income families to whom it also offers social services. For example, Good Shepherd owns 60 units in the 200-unit Colchester Towne Condominium off Buckman Road. It encourages its clients to become active in their condo association and in neighborhood events.
Under Levine’s leadership, Good Shepherd grew its stock of housing by 54%, with the most recent batch of 18 units purchased with a $2 million grant from Amazon.
Levine was a leader on the boards and steering committees of many organizations devoted to affordable housing and community services in the Richmond Highway area, including Ventures in Community, the South County Task Force, the South County Leadership Council and the countywide Alliance for Human Services.
He was a member of formal county advisory groups such as the Advisory Council of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, the Original Mount Vernon High School Reutilization Task Force, the Affordable Housing Advisory Council and a number of other local and countywide advisory panels on affordable housing
At the farewell event, Levine praised his staff and board, and county officials spoke fondly of his years at the organization and in the community.
Levine said the opportunity at Mountainlands, an affordable housing developer, came up unexpectedly while he and his wife were spending the winter holidays at their property in Utah.
“We have owned property in Park City for 11 years and intended to move there eventually,” he said. “It is a beautiful place. But this opportunity was a surprise."
“People are saying they are sad to see me leave," said Levine, "but no mourning is needed; things may be even better with new leadership. I am leaving while things are on an upward trajectory. We just developed a new five-year strategic plan; we got the grant from Amazon; the search for a new director is going well; and I think we will have a good outcome.”
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While the GSH board searches for a new executive director, Good Shepherd will be run by Interim Executive Director Michelle Krocker. Krocker was the founder and executive director of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA) but stepped down this past December to become a consultant. NVAHA is a multi-jurisdictional advocacy coalition that works at the intersection of housing research, advocacy and public policies for systems change.
Krocker, who is widely known and respected in the Washington Metro area, is familiar with the Route 1 community. She was instrumental in shaping local and county policy advisory committees on affordable housing preservation and manufactured housing communities. NVAHA also sponsored a community meeting and a mobile home park survey along the Richmond Highway corridor.
“I’m excited to be joining GSH at this time,” Krocker said. “The organization has hit a number of significant milestones in the past year under Mr. Levine’s leadership, and I look forward to working with the board and staff as the organization continues to grow.”