Today’s ChangeMaker is Evette Hester, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority of New Orleans. Evette brings decades of executive-level experience at several housing authorities across the U.S. including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston and Montgomery, Alabama. In her current role, Evette manages nearly 5,000 low-to-moderate income housing along with administering 18,000 Housing Choice Vouchers.
About Evette Hester:
Evette is the current Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO). In 2002, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) placed HANO in full administrative receivership for over decade. After several years of federal oversight, HANO was returned to local control in July 2014 and hired its first Executive Director. In October 2019, Ms. Hester became the second Executive Director and the first woman to lead the Agency. In her role as the Executive Director, Ms. Hester oversees the agency’s $196 million budget, a housing stock of 4,877 affordable housing units and serves over 18,000 families in HANO’s Housing Choice Vouchers programs.
Since becoming the Executive Director, Ms. Hester has realigned the Agency’s core values by developing a strategy to rebrand its vision with an emphasis on expanding affordable housing in a city where there is a lack of affordable housing and improving the overall customer experience using technology and streamlined business processes. Recognizing that successful service delivery hinges on having proper infrastructure, several initiatives have been implemented. These initiatives are designed to not only improve day to day operations but also improve overall customer satisfaction.
Ms. Hester has worked at several housing authorities across the country including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chester (PA), Houston and Montgomery (AL). With more than three decades of executive-level experience in the affordable housing industry, she is recognized as a trusted, confident change agent.
Before joining HANO, Ms. Hester served as the Executive Director of the Montgomery Housing Authority (MHA), serving over 4,000 families in its affordable housing programs and managing the Agency’s $50 million budget. During her tenure at MHA, Ms. Hester planned and directed a $112 million development and modernization budget. The redevelopment and modernization activities she implemented stabilized communities and service as a catalyst for economic development activities in that city.
While at the Chester (PA) Housing Authority, Ms. Hester had the unique experience of serving the once “troubled” Agency under a judicial receivership. Under Ms. Hester’s leadership and only after serving this Agency for one year, through improved performance, the “troubled” designation was removed from the Housing Authority.
Over the last three decades, Ms. Hester has committed her career to public service and has served underserved communities across the country, in various capacities. Her unique experience has positioned her as a resilient, respected affordable housing professional. She has also used her passion and experience to leverage resources to ensure that families and communities are provided with the essential resource of housing.
Ms. Hester holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Maryland, and a Masters of Business Administration from Morgan State University.