The day after Lincoln Financial Group announced my retirement, the phone rang at my desk. It was the late Rosemary Heard saying that she wanted CATCH to be the first nonprofit to ask me to join its board. (It was!) I was a little surprised. As Regional Director of Foundation and Community Relations for Lincoln Financial Foundation, I had been making grants to CATCH and other nonprofits for at least a decade, but to avoid conflicts of interest I had not been able to serve on their boards. I naively thought that once divorced from the corporate purse strings I would fade from memory. Rosemary proved me wrong!
I jumped at the opportunity to become a CATCH director. After years of grantmaker’s due diligence, I already knew that CATCH was a fiscally-sound, extremely well-managed organization. And that it did critical work creating affordable housing in Concord and elsewhere. I also admired how CATCH had played a role in downtown Concord’s revitalization by converting the Endicott Hotel property into market rate housing and retail space. This showed flexibility, vision and commitment to our community.
Having a roof over your head is a fundamental necessity of life. Almost everything else—holding a job, creating a family unit, being part of a community—relies on this simple need. By building homes, CATCH builds lives and contributes to the social and economic health of our city and state.
I was elected to Concord City Council in 2013. As a policy maker, I’ve come to realize how important clean, safe, reliable housing is to a community. Many of the challenges we face, like homelessness and fostering economic growth, have causes or answers rooted in the availability of affordable housing. For example, agencies trying to move individuals from chronic homelessness into supportive housing can’t be successful unless the housing units exist to accept their clients. Businesses cannot be created, expanded or relocated here without housing for workers.
Serving on the CATCH board of directors has helped me understand more fully just how complex and multifaceted is the process of funding, building and managing affordable housing. It may sound easy, but it isn’t, and each successful project is a triumph; a tribute to our dedicated staff and funding partners. I’m proud to be associated with CATCH and grateful for the chance to support its work.
Thank you so much, Byron, for your dedication to the Concord community and for your many insights and contributions to the work of CATCH!
Other organizations Byron is associated with include N.H. Preservation Alliance, Capitol Center for the Arts, Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, Leadership New Hampshire (Board of Directors on all); Member of Wesley United Methodist Church and Chair of the Steering Committee on Concord’s Plan to End Homelessness.