Nicole Lagace last year stepped in to lead HousingWorks RI as interim executive director after former Executive Director Nellie Gorbea left. Lagace had spent four years in communications at the research group, developing the organization’s communication initiatives and managing public relations activities, including its annual Housing Fact Book and other special reports.
In July, she was named director, as the developing affiliation with Roger Williams University became permanent.
PBN: What did you learn about the research group and Roger Williams University, its host, as interim director that led you to seek the permanent position?
LAGACE: I had already known a lot about HousingWorks RI [as] communications director. The past year has been a great learning experience in terms of really honing my fund-development skills, identifying areas of research that the organization could focus on, as well as collaborations within the university. And being successful in those ventures made me confident I would be a good fit in the permanent role.
PBN: What new areas of research have you identified?
LAGACE: Working with our board of directors, I facilitated a strategic-planning process to revisit the organizational goals of HousingWorks RI, particularly as we would fit in with the university. As part of that process we decided to expand our scope of research to include housing affordability overall as opposed to just the public investment in affordable housing.
Affordable housing had been the core focus up until the past year. But through the strategic planning process we recognized the importance of looking at the entire housing picture as opposed to one aspect. It allows us to paint a broader picture of housing affordability in Rhode Island without the foregone conclusion that affordable housing is the solution for everyone facing housing cost burdens.