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The Lyre, Summer 2010 / Best Practices of the National Housing Corporation

aggieby Aggie Smith Steiner
(Βeta Eta, Florida State University)

When I was growing up, my favorite colors were yellow and green. Pollyanna was my favorite movie and a yellow daisy my favorite flower.

Pollyanna was the story of a young woman who lived her life by seeing the best in others, and expecting the same of herself. Every Sunday, she and her cousins were made to dress-up and sit for hours on uncomfortable wooden  pews in a stifling hot church where a minister preached fire and brimstone. When told that there was no way she could find good in that, she quickly responded, “Sunday only comes once a week.”

I joined Alpha Chi Omega as a shy, naïve 18-year-old. My sisters always expected the best from me. They saw something in me of which I was unaware–a potential for leadership–and gave me opportunities to succeed. Fast forward 40 plus years and I am serving as the National Housing Corporation President. When I was asked to write the “Corner Office,” I began by thinking about what makes our NHC the best. Quite simply, it’s our philosophy.

We believe that a premier living environment adds value to the overall Alpha Chi Omega experience. And, we believe this provides a competitive Panhellenic advantage. We are in the business of providing our sisters a home away from home.

In mid-March, Alpha Chi Omega leaders met in Indianapolis to determine future directions. We reviewed where we are today with read-outs on the Strategic Plan 2005-10 and discussed where we want to be five years out. We discussed best practices and agreed upon a shared vision.

In 2005 the NHC embarked upon a forward-looking plan to work more closely with all Alpha Chi Omega facilities by being the best that we could be.

  • We seriously focused on operating within our means and becoming revenue neutral.
  • We grew total assets by 12% and our general fund to 108%.
  • We refinanced our owned/managed properties to secure more favorable interest rates and pay-back periods.
  • We grew inventory of our owned properties by 20%, leased 60%, custodial 10% and developed new models to support un-housed chapters and locally owned properties.
  • We reduced administrative costs and facilitated cash positive positions for the majority of NHC properties while providing 10-year maintenance and repair plans for 100% of them.
  • We implemented a vibrant housing volunteer structure and supported the creation of a Housing Advisor position to better focus the Chapter Advisor on programming and member issues.
  • We further defined our grant policies and provided $30,000 for health and safety related projects such as sprinkler and fire door installations, replacement windows and bathroom remodels.

For me, I think that is a very good list of results for our best practices work!

Over time, my favorites have changed. I learned that I should never wear yellow and most greens aren’t that good either. My current favorite color is red and movie is The Blind Side, a movie about seeing the best in others and providing opportunities to achieve. I guess I haven’t really strayed that far from my youth. Oh, and my favorite flower—a red carnation.

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