RUPCO Expands Senior Leadership with Addition of Vice President of Portfolio Management

Jake Michels of Poughkeepsie, NY adds Depth and Experience to Real Estate Asset Oversight

RUPCO, a Hudson Valley (NY) community developer and chartered member of NeighborWorks America, promoted Jake Michels to the newly created position of Vice President of Portfolio Management this month. Michels joins the nonprofit’s Executive Council and will handle responsibilities involving RUPCO’s property portfolio, communications and fundraising, and real estate development pipeline.  

Michels has been with RUPCO since August 2017, originally as Director of Property Management, with a later promotion to Assistant Vice President for Operations. Jake brings over five years of housing management experience and a proven track record of increasing efficiency to support portfolio expansion.

“I am excited to be here, to be a part of RUPCO’s mission and creating homes for those in need. Since coming to RUPCO in 2017, we have improved processes within the property management department while investing in the development of our staff. Developing a “team first” mentality is something that has been a focus of mine since I started. I look forward to helping our communications and real estate departments achieve similar efficiencies this year,” states Michels. Property management oversees building maintenance, tenant relations, and leasing. His personal philosophy on stable housing influences his work approach. “Home Matters because it’s the foundation of our lives. Stable housing allows you to progress in all other areas, and allows you to progress as an individual.”

“Jake brings a fresh perspective and his work has traversed the nonprofit and private sectors,” says Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “Jake’s ability to navigate partnerships, streamline processes, and manage people will serve the agency well as we grow our portfolio and prepare for new ventures throughout the Hudson River Valley.”

RUPCO currently owns/manages 22 properties with 586 apartments providing homes to 762 people. The majority of those residents represent the area’s most vulnerable populations: the elderly, seniors, disabled and working class families. In its $90-million real estate development pipeline, RUPCO currently plans to add another 185 apartments in 25 buildings in 4 communities, including commercial space for rent.

Jake Michels joins RUPCO Senior Leadership Team

RUPCO welcomes Jake Michels as Director of Property Management at its Kingston office at 37 John Street. He will oversee issues relating to tenant property and maintenance, as well as coordinate best practices to ensure departmental efficiency. Michels, a graduate of Duchess County Community College, previously worked in management for luxury and commercial markets based in Poughkeepsie. He is currently studying for a real estate license; the educational background will provide him with a more comprehensive knowledge of the real estate field and property administration.

“I am excited to be here, to be a part of RUPCO’s mission and moving them forward. Over time, we can improve processes and increase usage of resident software to better our practices and building relationships,” states Michels, who currently resides in Poughkeepsie. Property management oversees building maintenance, tenant relations, and neighbor interaction. His personal philosophy on why stable housing is so important also influences his work approach. “Home Matters because it’s the foundation of our lives. Stable housing allows you to progress in all other areas, and allows you to progress as an individual.”

Michels recently went through the homebuying process himself after renting for years. He brings personal knowledge of the renting process to his job duties so he can better serve the tenants that live under RUPCO’s housing programs.

“Jake’s fresh perspective and diverse background in Property Management will be a great addition to the department,” says Vice President of Operations Sheila Kilpatrick. “RUPCO is growing its portfolio in the Hudson Valley. Jake’s ability to streamline processes and proactively prepare for new ventures will be invaluable.” RUPCO currently owns/manages 16 properties with 411 apartments providing homes to over 560 people. The majority of those residents represent the area’s most vulnerable populations: the elderly, seniors, disabled and working class families. In its $70-million real estate development pipeline. RUPCO plans to add another 171 units in 19 buildings at 4 locations.

RUPCO Board Receives $10,000 at Completion of Leadership Development Training

RUPCO Board accepts $10k Big Check for Excellence in Governance workThe Board of Directors at RUPCO, affordable housing advocate and innovative community developer in the Hudson Valley, received $10,000 last week for its completion of the NeighborWorks America (NWA) Excellence in Governance Program. NWA President & CEO Paul Weech and the Board’s personal coach Carilee Warner presented the check and commemorative tile awards to key board members at RUPCO’s 35th anniversary celebration, Community Lunch, on October 13.

The NeighborWorks Excellence in Governance program is an 18-month board leadership development intensive designed to help boards create lasting, adaptive change and transform from responsible to exceptional. “Our Board of Directors is dedicated, passionate and, now with this training, empowered to take our organization to the next level,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “We look to them for leadership, direction and commitment as we move into our next 35 years of creating homes, supporting people and improving communities.”

RUPCO is one of 16 Class of 2016 graduates and joins 40 other affiliates as Excellence in Governance Program alumni. NeighborWorks America directly supports a network of more than 240 nonprofit organizations with technical assistance, grants and training for more than 12,000 professionals in the affordable housing and community development field every year. RUPCO is a Charter Member of NeighborWorks and CEO Kevin O’Connor was recognized as NeighborWorks’ Practitioner of the Year in 2013.

“RUPCO’s team worked one-on-one with Coach Carilee Warner to develop performance challenges and areas for improvement and focus,” added O’Connor. “Using a performance-based framework paired with governance principles, the Board assessed their current level of engagement, set goals, defined success, and measured effectiveness.” The Excellence in Governance Program enhances governance through changing behaviors, strengthening ways of doing business for the long term, as well as enhancing the culture of the board.

“Five board members took on the leadership challenge,” noted O’Connor. ‘This was a huge time commitment from this team. They worked with Coach Carilee, attended three weekend in-person trainings, and then reported back and received input from RUPCO’s full board of directors at a board retreat. The goal was to focus on important existing work rather than to create new work. The leadership training lasted 18 months and NeighborWorks will circle back with our group in 18-24 months to assess our progress, find out what habits we’ve held onto, and how our Board is working with our broader constituent base and partners.”

The Board plans to use the Excellence in Governance award check to seed a new homeowner restoration fund in honor of Lisa Schatzel, a former RUPCO board member who passed away earlier this year. Lisa dedicated her life at Ulster Savings Bank to orchestrating mortgages for first-time homebuyers; this fund would help fund post-closing repairs and renovations.

According to the NeighborWorks America website, “training and additional governance experts help board members learn and apply concepts on:

  • building constructive partnerships and an engaging board culture
  • fostering functional and social inclusion
  • sustaining organizational resources
  • becoming ambassadors beyond the board room
  • creating lasting, adaptive change”

(Pictured are past-chair James B. Childs, Secretary Leah Gherardi, current board chair Catherine Maloney and RUPCO Chief Executive Officer Kevin O’Connor. Other Excellence in Governance Program team members were Christopher Marx and Patrick Paul. RUPCO’s complete board member list is captured below.)

RUPCO Board of Directors: Catherine A. Maloney (Chairperson), Christopher J. Marx (Vice-Chairperson), Henry Gleich (Treasurer), Leah Gherardi (Secretary), James B. Childs, Renee Darmstadt, Karen Winkle-Gorsline, Richard Heese, Joan Lonergan, Adam Mandell

Advisory Council Members: Thomas A. Collins, Peter M. Frank, John Mizerak, Patrick Paul, Constance Snyder

Housing Services VP Accepted to Harvard Leadership Intensive

KKathy Germain, Vice President, Housing Services, RUPCOingston resident Kathy Germain was accepted to the Achieving Excellence Program (AE) at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. German, Vice President of Housing Services at RUPCO, is attending the 18-month leadership training as part of RUPCO’s affiliation with NeighborWorks® America. RUPCO is the Hudson Valley’s premier developer and operator of affordable housing and a chartered member of NeighborWorks® America (NWA). NWA is a national network of community developers and affordable housing nonprofits based in Washington, D.C.

“As the Achieving Excellence Program enters its 8th round, we’re honored to have Kathy represent the RUPCO family,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO, himself a graduate of the AE in 2009. “Kathy was selected from a highly competitive candidate pool; only 50 people attend this prestigious training every two years. A team player at RUPCO for nearly a decade, Kathy continues to bring her best skills to work for us. With a focus on building leadership skills and identifying a top performance challenge, Kathy’s participation in AE will lead to significantly greater impact in housing services by RUPCO here in the Hudson Valley.”

Germain is one of 50 enrolled in the NWA-Harvard program centered on leadership skills, critical thinking, project administration, and community development. “I’m looking forward to bringing back knowledge that will help us grow our communities in smart, effective ways with housing and supportive services at their core,” adds Germain. “I just received my first homework assignment! With a coach, I’ll join a team of 10-12 participants and take part in a 3-week on-campus experience. This is a wonderful opportunity for me personally, but professionally, with this training and education, I feel we can really make a difference helping people find a place to call Home in the Hudson Valley.”

While vice president at RUPCO, Germain has overseen its HomeOwnership Center (HoC), which helped 75 first-time homebuyers achieve their dreams of homeownership last year. “This year, we’ve already guided 66 households through the homebuying cycle, thanks to 11 dedicated HoC staff members. We’re looking to break out record of 75 by October 31,” adds Germain. RUPCO’s HoC also provides free foreclosure counseling services, homeownership preservation strategy, accessibility modifications for seniors, financial counseling, homebuyer education, and access to state and federal mortgages and grant programs.