TNAHC announces inaugural Hall of Fame class

The Tennessee Affordable Housing Coalition (TNAHC) has announced five inductees to the inaugural class of its affordable housing hall of fame.

TNAHC's new recognition program was named for the former executive director of Nashville's Woodbine Community Organization. The full name is the TNAHC Cathie Dodd Memorial Hall of Fame. Dodd, a long-time advocate of affordable housing, died in March 2016.

Dodd was among the initial inductees into the Hall of Fame. Fellow inductees in the 2016 class include Loudon County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Shauna Oden, Crossville Housing Authority Executive Director Don Alexander, Nashville affordable-housing activist Rev. Bill Barnes, and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis -- Memphis Branch Sr. Community Development Specialist Kathy Moore Cowan.

TNAHC Chairman Eric Haralson said the awards were created to recognize the work of long-time housing advocates in Tennessee.

"We felt it important to recognize the people who make substantial or continuous contributions to the industry," said Haralson, who also serves as vice president of the affordable housing nonprofit FAHE. "Affordable housing is a critical factor in sustaining economic growth in the state. It provides housing for service workers, factory workers, low income individuals of all occupations, so it's really important that we maintain a stock of affordable housing."

Haralson added that the awards were named after Dodd to honor her commitment to affordable housing.

Dodd spent over 25 years providing assistance to residents of South Nashville through her work leading the Woodbine Community Organization. Under her leadership, the WCO developed housing for families of low- and moderate-income throughout Nashville and expanded the services it offered to meet the needs of a diverse and growing population.

Oden, who plans to retire from her position as executive director of Loudon County's Habitat for Humanity in the near future, has worked for the nonprofit for the past two decades. The first executive director of the Loudon County affiliate, Oden first became involved with Habitat as a volunteer in 1996 before taking her current role in 2000. Since then, she has overseen the construction of over 90 houses, and the rehabilitation and repair of nearly three dozen more.

As executive director of the Crossville Housing Authority, Alexander has seen the number of units his agency oversees grow from 294 when he took the position 26 years ago to 1150 today. Under Alexander's leadership, CHA has built 10 single family houses for homeownership each year, provided administrative services for the continuum of care in the Upper Cumberland region and begun the operation of a child care center and community cable access television channel.

Barnes, a Methodist minister and civil rights activist from Nashville, has long been a champion for affordable housing for those who need it most. The namesake of Nashville's recently created Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing, Barnes has fought for years to keep the rising cost of housing at the forefront of city leaders' concerns. Barnes is the founding pastor of Edgehill United Methodist Church and has served as the Vice President of the Tennessee Council of Human Relations.

Cowan has been a supporter of affordable housing in Tennessee through her position as a community development specialist at the Memphis Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Prior to joining the Fed nearly a decade ago, Cowan served as president and CEO of The Works. During her time at the faith-based nonprofit community development corporation, Cowan oversaw work that focused on affordable single- and multi-family housing and homebuyer education.

The Cathie Dodd Memorial Hall of Fame was created to recognize members of the Tennessee Affordable Housing Coalition who have provided outstanding services over careers to the affordable housing industry and championed the cause of affordable housing.

The Tennessee Affordable Housing Coalition was created to improve the availability and quality of affordable housing throughout the state. The group includes nonprofit providers, public housing agencies, builders, Realtors®, government agencies, financial institutions and others interested in housing matters.