Building Strong Community and Diversity

(Arlington, VA – December 21, 2021) The past two years of public health and financial disruption underscore how vital community ties are to each of us. As we move forward into 2022, AHC is focusing on building strong community and diversity in three critical areas: Within AHC apartment communities, across our own organization, and throughout our relationships with local government and community partners.

  1. Residents are AHC’s #1 Priority. Building on our award-winning Resident Services program and active engagement with residents and tenant advocates, we are elevating resident voices across every aspect of our work, from onsite repairs and development plans to board discussions. Initial steps include adding two current AHC residents to our Board, adding a dedicated staff member to coordinate our resident voice and community engagement efforts, and launching a joint CEO-Board organizational-wide community engagement initiative.
  2. Skills and diverse viewpoints support AHC staff, vendors, and board. We are also expanding our customer service training diversity and inclusion efforts to include new trainings on intercultural communication strategies and trauma-informed practices. Our new class of AHC board members brings together diverse voices and lived experiences, including AHC residents, housing professionals, community members, and youth advocates from Montgomery County, Alexandria, and Fairfax.
  3. AHC continues to innovate and collaborate with community and government partners. We are redoubling our commitment to building strong and diverse communities by expanding and deepening our partnerships with the many community organizations and local governments that make our work possible. We are committed to working hand-in-hand with our partners to develop innovative and cutting-edge strategies to create and preserve affordable housing where it is most needed throughout the region.

Affordable, stable housing is the foundation for healthy families, individuals, and communities – and increasingly critical in today’s daunting economic climate. At AHC, we are hopeful that, by prioritizing thoughtful engagement and deeper partnerships with the residents and communities we serve, we can make a real difference.

Photo: AHC Inc. Board, clockwise: Wanda L. Pierce, Mildred Mack, Tom Klanderman, Katharine Dixon, Andargachew Legesse Wolde, Jessica Majano-Arriaza, David Barsky, C.C. Jenkins,  and Susan Cunningham. Not pictured: Ginger Brown, Justin C. Oliver, Tedi Osias, and Terron Sims, II. 

AHC Inc. Welcomes New Community Engagement Assistant Director

(Arlington, VA – December 14, 2021) Affordable housing developer AHC Inc. is pleased to welcome Roxana Hernandez as its new Community Engagement Assistant Director. With over six years of experience in developing and coordinating programs in the mental health, community impact, and housing stability fields, Hernandez will coordinate community engagement across AHC, ensuring resident and community perspectives will inform strategic decision-making throughout the entire organization — from communications to real estate development and property management.

In this newly created role, Hernandez will serve as a liaison to residents, resident advocates, and other community members. She will also work alongside third-party property managers, asset management, and resident services to develop and implement strategies to help ensure AHC’s facilities and on-site staff are meeting residents’ needs.

A resident of Arlington County herself, Hernandez is very familiar with the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, and is also a graduate of the Ignite Young Professionals Program with the Leadership Center for Excellence. Additionally, Hernandez has received special training in community engagement, financial capabilities, domestic violence trauma, mental health aid, and COVID-safety. All of these skills will greatly help AHC with its commitment to elevating resident voices and building strong and diverse communities.

“We are thrilled to welcome Roxana as AHC’s new Community Engagement Assistant Director,” said Jennifer Endo, Vice President of Community Relations. “As AHC continues to prioritize community engagement throughout our strategic decision-making process and foster trust with our residents and the communities we serve, Roxana’s experience and innate ability to connect will be a tremendous asset.”

Hernandez added: “I am so excited to join the AHC family. I look forward to connecting with residents and being able to make a direct positive impact in their lives.”

About AHC Inc.
Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing that provides quality homes and education programs for low-and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,800 apartment units in 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults, and seniors each year.

Online Book Club Builds Literacy for AHC Afterschool Students

Engaging students during the pandemic was a key challenge for AHC’s multi-pronged educational program, which supports youth living in affordable apartment communities from kindergarten through high school.

When the pandemic prevented in-person learning opportunities, AHC’s Resident Services staff pivoted to online programming to keep students connected. Helping early readers stay on track was a particular challenge since many had little experience working online and often irregular access to devices.

As the year evolved, volunteers played a valuable role in providing different kinds of literacy-building opportunities for students. One such initiative was a weekly book club created by Anna Niepold, a senior at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, MD. The book club met weekly over Zoom, serving kindergarten through second graders in AHC’s Afterschool Program at Virginia Gardens apartments in Arlington, VA.

Typical meetings included fun icebreaker games followed by either Anna’s team members or the students reading books out loud before reflecting on them through art, discussion, or other activities. The group read a variety of different books based on students’ feedback as well as on reading levels. Some of the favorite books include The Good Egg by Jory John and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dewalt.

“Anna was a great help to staff and students during an unprecedented time,” said Melissa Mulé, AHC Resident Services Manager. “Her willingness to assist virtually and arrive to sessions with a smiling face made a difference in the lives of our students. Reading aloud to the class was a great way to promote literacy and keep them engaged.”

Anna initiated the volunteer project as part of the Girl Scout Gold Award program. The Gold Award involves working on a project the girl cares about and requires 80 hours of commitment. Anna’s long-time love of reading and appreciation for the value of reading comprehension skills spurred the creation and format of the Book Club.

“Our team really enjoyed the experience of creating a fun learning environment,” said Anna. “The kids were all incredible, and as time went on, they really began to open up and display their amazing progress in their reading confidence and comprehension. I hope aspects of the program can continue throughout AHC’s Afterschool program, and hopefully we made a difference sharing the joy reading can bring.”

AHC is grateful for the many volunteers and community partners who help make our education programs possible. For more information on volunteering, please visit