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Spotlight on Joanne Campbell, Former Executive Director of Valley Community Development Corporation

As the second installment of our series profiling retiring leaders of organizations throughout Western Massachusetts, please take a moment to learn a little about Joanne Campbell of Valley Community Development Corporation.

We are grateful for her years of service and the impact she has made on the community development movement in Massachusetts and so many individuals in need.

How long were you an Executive Director at Valley Community Development Corporation (Valley CDC)? What is your best/favorite memory?

I was at Valley for 23 years and Executive Director for 22 of those. I have a lot of good memories, but I’ll pick 2005 because that was the year Valley paid off all its outstanding delinquent debts.  Another memory was the approval of Parsons Village from the Town of Easthampton Zoning Board of Appeals, after having been denied a special permit from the Planning Board. And of course, no appeal of this approval by abutters.

What projects did you work on with CEDAC?

The Lumber Yard in Northampton stands out because of the complexities of an 1849 brick stormwater conduit and the need for state infrastructure funding through MassWorks, with CEDAC standing by us through those complexities and then the surprising opposition to the development.

What do you consider to be your top three accomplishments during your time with Valley CDC?

  1. Parsons Village
  2. The Lumber Yard
  3. Amherst Single Person Housing

Other accomplishments in small business and homeownership include moving Northampton’s small business grants through in record speed during the pandemic. It included creating a program and finding the software to make it happen. For homeownership, finally getting approved as a HUD counseling agency with the tenacity of Donna Cabana, Homeownership Program Manager, to make it happen.

What is one thing you want people to know?

Community development work is incredibly rewarding, especially when the individuals and families move in to their new homes. I wish the process for approving such multifamily housing wasn’t so complicated, and I hope that zoning reform will become a reality not too far into the future. Having support from the many people in the community who support affordable housing is critical in having voices counter the opposition who are more apt to come out.  Anyone interested in getting involved in the field must have an inordinate amount of patience and be tenacious in moving forward and accomplishing the goal of housing our most vulnerable neighbors.

What are your plans for retirement?

I’ve been retired for 18 months. Travel, travel and more travel. I have already travelled and continue to plan on camping, hiking, biking, cross country skiing all in moderation while I’m still healthy and on the young side of older folks. I’m enjoying seeing more of my young adult children, who are now all in their 20’s, without being so rushed with a busy work schedule. (My daughter Rebecca turned 30 in November!) I’m also enjoying seeing more of my friends and having relaxed times and laughter with them. I’m trying to stay up with what’s happening in the housing world through being on mailing lists and occasionally joining Zoom meetings on housing topics. Lastly, I’ve recently joined a Circle of Care in Northampton/Amherst for a recently arrived Afghan family.

Categories: CEDAC, Housing

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