Leading Together: A Co-Directorship Model

Presented by: Leah Marmo, Co-Director, Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania (SDHP) & Laura Willmer-Rodack, Co-Director, Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania (SDHP)

Synopsis: Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania may be small, but the past six months has shown us just how mighty we really are. Soon after the pandemic hit, SDHP experienced a loss of leadership staff, including the Executive Director, leaving our organization in a great deal of unrest and uncertainty. SDHP works to expand affordable and accessible housing options for individuals with disabilities across the state of Pennsylvania, a mission that would be even more pertinent following COVID-19. Existing members of SDHP management created an emergency strategic plan that led to the creation of SDHP’s new organizational leadership model of Co-Directorship. In addition to the leadership change, SDHP Co-Directors redesigned the organization’s staffing structure, creating opportunity for upward growth and mobility, while also on-boarding six new employees increasing our staffing by 60%. With the new leadership restructuring, SDHP has been able to dig more deeply into its existing policies and procedures, identifying areas that could be updated to reflect and establish a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse practice.

Learning Goals:

  • Identify the unique strengths in your existing staff. Wherever you are in your organization, whether that be office administration, front-line staff, management, or executive leadership, each person represents a very important and powerful part of what makes your organization function and proceed toward your mission. Participants will learn how SDHP leadership uses a strengths-based and human-centered approach to build staffing capacity.
  • Lean into discomfort. Participants will learn how SDHP creates space for uncomfortable conversations with staff, shares vulnerably with leadership and team members, and takes chances when there may not be a clear path forward. Growth, both personally and professionally, can be achieved when we trust ourselves and our voices to be a part of collective change.

Workshop Details

When: Thursday, October 29,
12:00 – 1:15 pm

Track: Leadership

Target Audience: New Nonprofit Professionals, Executive Leaders, Young Professionals, Front Line Staff, Administrative Staff

Leah Marmo

Co-Director, Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania (SDHP)

Leah Marmo (Rainey) born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, brings over 10 years of housing and social service experience to SDHP. From a young age, Leah learned about the importance of housing and community while she moved from one Pennsylvania coal town to the next. After completing her Masters Degree in Social Work- Community Organizing from the Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Social Work, Leah began working in mixed-income housing and property management. Dismayed by the ever-increasing waiting list for affordable housing, Leah made her way to Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services where she began learning more thoroughly the programmatic and systemic effects of housing instability and homelessness on communities as a whole. From DHS, Leah worked for ICF, one of HUD’s national consulting firms, working with Continuums of Care around the country to assist in creating stronger, more efficient Criss Response Systems to help the most vulnerable individuals locate and maintain permanent housing. With a desire to return once again to her Pennsylvania roots, Leah is joining SDHP with aspirations to better understand the specific needs, barriers, and strengths of her home state, while also thinking creatively about how Pennsylvanians can help support individuals with disabilities and older adults to find and maintain affordable and accessible housing options across the Commonwealth.

Laura Willmer-Rodack

Co-Director, Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania (SDHP)

Laura Willmer-Rodack joined Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania as a Program Manager in April 2019 and moved into the role of Co-Director in May of 2020. Laura has over 10 years’ experience working in the fields of housing in multiple capacities. Following completion of her undergraduate degree, Laura spent six plus years working as a Housing case manager providing housing search and supportive services to families in emergency shelters in Lancaster County. While working as a Rapid Re-Housing case manager in Lancaster County, she earned her Masters of Social Work degree. Upon graduation, she was chosen to establish a new system to assess how individual participants in Rapid Re-Housing programs receive services. Laura spent the last several years building strategic relationships with landlords and working collaboratively with several housing programs to ensure their clients were housed as quickly as possible. Under her leadership, this new model saw over 400 households move into permanent housing in under 4 years.

Check Out More Sessions.

Each day of the virtual conference will feature workshops in the following workshop tracks: Advocacy, Building the Plane While Flying It, Caring for Ourselves & Each Other, Fundraising & Communications, and Leading through Change.