Eric Mai is Our New Co-Executive Director

New Leader, Familiar Face.

At HousingForward Virginia, we strive to take advantage of opportunities in our ever-evolving housing landscape. For instance, we platform housing innovators from across the globe, lead the effort to build a Virginia Zoning Atlas, and make sure you have the latest housing insights in your inbox (almost) every Thursday.

We also value innovative thinking within our organization. In 2021, we introduced co-director leadership roles when Erica Sims and Jonathan Knopf succeeded our long-term executive director, Bob Adams. As we wrote then, shared leadership might be unusual, but was logical to us. It still is today.

That’s why we’re excited to announce Eric Mai as our new Executive Director for Strategy and Sustainability, succeeding Erica. Jonathan will continue as Executive Director for Programs, and Erica isn’t headed anywhere either—more on that later.

Many of you have worked with Eric since he joined as a Senior Associate in 2020. Over the past three years—all during the COVID pandemic—Eric’s skills and experience helped drive our core programs forward. He also found time to successfully pull off our 2022 HousingX conference, become the engine behind our current ZONED IN initiative, and further expand our connections with partners and funders.

Thanks to Eric, we’ve grown our ability to provide timely, detailed knowledge and services to “housers” across the Commonwealth. Recognizing this leadership, Erica will confer a title that more accurately reflects Eric’s current and future contributions. Erica will remain an important part of our team by supporting Eric and Jonathan, and by devoting her expertise to our initiatives.

Following our Hampton Roads Zoning Atlas Forum next week, where we’ll unveil the first findings from the Virginia Zoning Atlas, Eric will focus on ZONED IN’s next steps, collaborate with partners to expand the VZA, and raise HousingForward’s profile as part of the growing National Zoning Atlas movement.

In the meantime, Jonathan will continue to lead the numerous housing studies and technical assistance engagements we have underway with PDCs and local governments across the state, along with other core activities. Both Eric and Jonathan will regularly collaborate on HousingForward’s events, communications, and overall presence throughout the Commonwealth.

We may be charting new territory with this “uncommon” shared leadership model, but believe our success proves the value of trying something different. After all, staying allergic to change won’t fix our housing problems anytime soon.

Finally—and most importantly—we are nothing without our incomparable staff and board, who are the folks you really need to know. Together, we’re ready to work with you to make affordable housing a reality for every Virginian. 

Looking forward,
Erica, Jonathan, and Eric

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