On December 28, 2020, our beloved Rosemary M. Heard, CEO left this world and passed away peacefully surrounded by her loved ones. CATCH, New Hampshire, and the world lost a one-of-a-kind friend, a brilliant leader, a committed community member, and a housing trailblazer.
2020 was a tough year for everyone. It stole many things from us, including our sense of well-being, and our ability to feel safe and healthy in public. Just before this difficult year came to a close, 2020 took one of our greatest gifts. While we miss her dearly, we are grateful for her many contributions to the housing world and for the joy, laughter and thoughtfulness she shared with each of us.
Her friends and colleagues at CATCH will remember her as a smiling, considerate leader who always had time to chat about anything, whether it was a plumbing issue at a CATCH property, ordering her favorite steak bomb pizzas for an impromptu lunch meeting, or sharing an Irish idiom that perfectly addressed a difficult situation. Her days were usually filled with a wide range of responsibilities from advocating for a housing bill, sifting through complex housing regulations, taking a resident’s call, thanking a donor, working through the details of a real estate development, attending numerous committee and board meetings, and chatting with staff and board members on her way to and from meetings and her home in Sandwich. Despite her long commute, she was always willing to embrace 7:00 a.m. Chamber meetings or Rotary breakfasts for an early morning presentation, or work her way skillfully through the crowd at an evening networking event, no matter the weather. She was so committed to checking in with staff, sharing whip smart anecdotes from her colorful life, and never missed an opportunity to celebrate someone’s accomplishments, no matter how small. Her style was impeccable and she was known for passing along fabulous clothes, favorite books and recipes, restaurant recommendations, and always good advice.
More than a friend, mentor, and leader, Rosemary was an expert and a shining star in her own light. She had held the title of President and CEO of CATCH since 2006, leading and growing CATCH into a dynamic community organization. Among her many accolades, she made the inaugural list of NH Business Review’s top 200 business leaders, and was named the Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce at their annual Pinnacle Awards in 2019.
Rosemary would be the first to tell you that community relationships enable CATCH’s success, and she worked tirelessly to make everyone a friend of CATCH by showcasing CATCH’s mission at every opportunity. She did this by telling stories about residents or clients that had benefitted from CATCH’s services. Rosemary always had these heartwarming stories at the ready because she cared about the people CATCH served deeply and always, always put people first.
Throughout her time at CATCH, she expanded our reach growing the portfolio of housing south to Bow and north to Franklin. She was passionate and instrumental in developing different ways to help the community and residents through programs like first-time homebuyer education, and health and wellness services to our residents. She was a dynamic speaker at CATCH events and others, sharing her own experiences of housing struggles and confidently promoting CATCH’s work. Through a NeighborWorks America and Harvard Business School leadership program, she spearheaded the creation of Alliance Asset Management and other complimentary mission ventures to CATCH.
Together with CATCH’s sister housing organizations in NH, she co-led the creation of HOMEteam, a partnership that provides homebuyer education, financial fitness courses, and one-on-one counseling throughout most of the state. With this and other initiatives, Rosemary foresaw and emphasized the need for a wide range of housing opportunities for New Hampshire residents.
Yet another accomplishment that Rosemary drove forward was bringing all of CATCH’s staff and programs – CATCH, Alliance and HOMEteam – together in CATCH’s very own home at 105 Loudon Road. Through her vision and tenacity, she led a remarkable campaign and helped the organization overcome many obstacles to bring her team together to most efficiently and effectively help CATCH’s residents and clients. From raising the first dollar to cutting the ribbon on the building that carries her stylish and thoughtful touches everywhere, this is yet another of her many legacies.
Rosemary strongly believed in the connection between health and housing and served on numerous committees, commissions and boards throughout her career to work on these issues. Most recently she joined the board of Concord Hospital, an organization which she was very passionate about. She was generous with her time and energy and spent every day working to improve others’ lives. Because of her efforts and expertise, hundreds of children, adults and seniors have had safe, affordable places to call home for years. Most recently she helped facilitate the beginning of another housing development to construct more safe and affordable homes in Penacook.
These are far from the only accomplishments, awards and accolades she achieved in her decades of development and nonprofit experience. While she started her career as an architectural draftsperson in her homeland of Ireland, she is truly an example of grit, determination and hard work as she grew to be a brilliant designer and developer of real estate and programs that served to better her communities. Throughout her 15 years leading CATCH, she truly lived the vision of creating communities where every person is confident of a home.
From all of us at CATCH and Alliance, we are deeply grieving losing our friend, colleague and brilliant Rosemary. As we process this loss, we pledge to follow her visionary lead and continue her legacy of fulfilling the mission of providing safe affordable housing in our community. We are forever indebted to her passion and dedication to CATCH and we will work tirelessly to attempt to fill the hole she has left. Thank you for everything, Rosemary.
“May the roof above us never fall in. And may the friends gathered below it never fall out.” -Irish proverb
Per Rosemary’s family, there is a memorial service planned for the summer of 2021.
The CATCH Board of Directors have appointed Tom Furtado as the acting President and CEO of the organization.
Please direct any questions to Erin Schaick, CATCH’s AVP of Community Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-715-8330, or to Tom Furtado at email@example.com.