Instructors and key staff

NCHM instructors are proven performers—both in the field and the classroom. It is this dynamic combination of practical experience and teaching skill that has made the National Center for Housing Management the most respected name in housing management training.

Our instructors undergo extensive training before they are allowed to take the lead in a program. To ensure that our faculty continues to meet the highest standards, NCHM conducts periodic peer reviews and gathers student feedback from every educational event.

Paul Votto

Paul Votto

Paul Votto has been affiliated with NCHM since 1981, serving as its Executive Vice President until 1987 and then in a variety of capacities throughout his subsequent private sector career, including on its Board of Directors and as a lecturer and consultant. Paul rejoined the staff on a full-time basis in 2013 as National Director of Housing Programs and was appointed President in February 2018.

Paul has more than thirty years' experience in property management and real estate development. He has managed several large multi-family and commercial portfolios and has developed more than $500 million in real estate assets. On the multi-family front, Paul has overseen portfolios containing virtually every type of property including conventional market-rate apartments and federally-assisted housing, as well as senior housing and assisted living.

Paul has extensive training experience, having designed and delivered training programs, seminars, and webinars on a variety of topics. He has served as an instructor for more than two hundred classroom-based programs across the country and overseas and is a regular contributor to NCHM's online webinars.

On the consulting front, Paul has advised local, state and federal agencies, public housing authorities, non-profit organizations, and private development and management companies on a variety of real estate related matters from development and finance, through construction and operations.

Paul is a Fellow in the American Academy of Housing and Communities, a prestigious group of men and women selected for their special contributions in advancing the quality of housing and communities in American life.

Matt Garrow

Matt Garrow became NCHM's Vice President of Operations in the spring of 2016, having previously served as Director of Operations with the company. As the Vice President of Operations Matt is responsible for the day-to-day internal administration of the Center's many programs and services, including IT and data base management, faculty scheduling and logistical support, materials coordination, staff logistics, and customer service.

In addition to his administrative duties Matt assists with the delivery of NCHM services including both training and consulting. 

Chris Gowland

Chris Gowland

Chris Gowland is Vice President of Training and Systems Development for NCHM. In this capacity Chris assists with the creation of classroom and web-based seminars, training and certification programs, with an emphasis on operational systems and computer-aided applications. He also assists in the fulfillment of various consulting assignments for the company. For example, Chris is presently a member of the NCHM team that is transforming and streamlining the maintenance operation of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis. Chris also provides system design support for other NCHM subject area experts in housing management, maintenance and program compliance.

Lisa Vercauteren

Lisa Vercauteren joined the National Center for Housing Management in 2014 as the Vice President of Housing Programs after a long career in Housing Management. She began her career in the early 90s working at an affordable community for Seniors. In 1995, she was tapped to start the Compliance Department for her growing management company. When she left this position in late 2013, she oversaw compliance for 60 communities totaling 5000+ units. Lisa has trained for the Center since 2001 and currently teaches all the compliance-based courses. Her experience on-site and in the corporate offices for a major property management company allows her to integrate practical property management experience into her courses.

Jo Ikelheimer

Jo Ikelheimer

Jo Ikelheimer has served as NCHM’s Director of LIHTC Compliance since 1998. Jo is the primary architect of NCHM’s Tax Credit Specialist (TCS) course and the lead developer of Blended Occupancy Specialist (BOS). In addition to leading the development of the curricula, Jo trains these courses as well as NCHM’s signature compliance course, Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS). Jo was also the lead developer of the LIHTC "add-on" test for NCHM's Housing Management Aptitude Test (HMAT). Jo regularly provides technical assistance through NCHM's "Spot-On" webinar and eHotline services and she is a regular contributor to NCHM's monthly and quarterly publications.

Prior to joining NCHM, Jo served in both LIHTC compliance and development positions with the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters in Public Administration from Appalachian State University.


Martha Abrams-Bell

Martha Abrams-Bell

Martha Abrams-Bell is the Chief Operating Officer of The Abrams Management Company, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, where she has worked since 1981. Her long tenure in property management has been focused on affordable housing with experience in a variety of programs including Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Section 8. In addition to managing affiliated developments, her portfolio experience includes non-profit and for-profit owners, family, elderly, government-owned and church-owned rental property as well as condos and limited-equity coops.

Martha obtained her COS in 1991 and CMM in 1992 and also holds the SBBS and ERS designations; additional ones include Certified Property Manager (CPM) through the Institute of Real Estate Management and Certified Credit Compliance Professional (C3P) through Spectrum Enterprises. She has a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Northeastern University with concentrations in Human Resources and Management Information Systems and is a licensed real estate broker in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Sharon Chaippero

Sharon Chiappero

Sharon Chiappero serves as a trainer for NCHM’s Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS) program. In addition to training for NCHM, she is currently the Training and Compliance Manager for PK Management, LLC where she provides regulatory and software training and oversees compliance of approximately 14,000 units in 125 communities—billing and reconciling the monthly HAP vouchers for 7000 of those units.

Sharon has worked in the affordable housing industry for 15 years as a trainer, tax credit compliance specialist, IT specialist for affordable housing and compliance specialist and came to the industry after leaving a career as a child protective Social Worker. She has a Bachelors degree in psychology from Ohio University, is a Certified Instructor/Facilitator through Langevin and holds numerous industry certifications including: Blended Occupancy Specialist, Certified Occupancy Specialist, Tax Credit Specialist, Senior Housing Specialist, Specialist in Housing Credit Management, National Compliance Professional Executive, and Site Compliance Specialist.

Paul Flogstad

Paul Flogstad

Paul Flogstad has been involved in the real estate industry for over 38 years, including sales, construction, project management, appraisal, property management, consulting, and training.

Through his consulting company, Property Management Solutions, Paul provides training and consulting services nationwide to owners, management companies, multi-housing associations, as well as state and federal agencies.

Paul specializes in fair housing issues and has developed fair housing and outreach programs for governmental agencies and seminars that he presents to property management companies, apartment associations, and the general public nationwide. As a consultant to the State of South Dakota, Paul developed a ground-breaking fair housing awareness program that makes use of an ombudsman concept, which has proven effective in dealing with discrimination and landlord/tenant issues.

Paul holds numerous professional property management designations and currently holds the prestigious RHM designation from the National Center for Housing Management.

Paul was previously Vice President of the South Dakota Multi-Housing Association, Vice Chairman of the Minnehaha County Housing and Redevelopment Commission, and Chairman of the Sioux Falls Property Appeals Board. In 2009, he received the Outstanding Educator of the Year award from the South Dakota Multi-Housing Association.

Deborah Gershen-Gennello

Deborah Gershen Gennello

Deborah is the Vice President and Director of Property Management for Moderate Income Management Company, Inc., an Accredited Management Organization located in Princeton, New Jersey. Ms. Gennello has become widely recognized for turning troubled properties around and restoring tax credits lost due to compliance issues.

“Dodi,” as she likes to be called, is a third-generation affordable housing professional. Dodi’s maternal grandfather, Arthur Blaine, worked for the Federal Housing Administration at the time of its creation in 1934. Dodi’s father, Alvin E. Gershen, wrote the legislation which helped to create what is now the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance agency in 1967. Dodi herself holds numerous housing certifications including the prestigious Registered Housing Manager (RHM) designation from NCHM, and the Certified Property Manager designation from the Institute of Real Estate Management. She is a member of NCHM’s National Certification Review Board and has been teaching a variety of courses—including COS, TCS, and MORS—for NCHM for the past 17 years.

Valli Sears-Jones

Valli Sears-Jones

Valli, a regional portfolio manager for FPI Management, joined NCHM in 2006 and instructs the Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS) course. Valli has worked in the affordable housing industry for 15 years, including positions as vice president of compliance, director of property management, and director of asset management for the Los Angeles HUD office.

Valli is also president and CEO of Making A Difference Consultant Inc., which specializes in affordable housing development, compliance monitoring, property management services, strategic planning, organizational development and training in both the public and private sectors. She is highly knowledgeable with various programs such as Section 8, HOME, LIHTC, Tax Exempt Multifamily Bonds, and CDBG.

Valli has a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from Long Beach State University and holds several industry certifications: COS, HCCP, NCP, and AHM, and is a CPM through the Institute of Real Estate Management.

Gwen Smith

Gwen Smith

Gwen Smith joined NCHM as a COS trainer in March of 2009. Throughout her career in property management, Gwen has successfully worked to improve the value of the assets she manages as well as to improve the quality of life for the residents within her communities and those living in the surrounding areas. Passionate about affordable housing and leading a mission driven life, Gwen strives to create an environment of compassion and to incorporate as many supportive services as possible into the properties she manages. Whether she is working with affordable or market rate assets, Gwen strives to bring philanthropic and charitable opportunities to the communities she serves. In her previous full-time position, Smith was a Vice President and Regional Asset Manager with a large private Midwest property management firm.

Joe Thomas

Joseph L. Thomas

Joe joined NCHM team in 2007 as an instructor and curriculum developer. He teaches the Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS) program. Joe has over 20 years of experience in designing, developing and administering developmental needs assessments, as well as research, design and development of interactive learning programs based on adult learning principles. Joe is an experienced Human Resources professional and holds the Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR) designation.

Joe is a graduate for Florida A&M University where he received his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Masters of Arts degrees in Adult Education, and Education Administration and Supervision. He was also awarded a Masters of Arts degree in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University.

Carrie Tietjen

Carrie Tietjen

Carrie joined the staff of NCHM in 2006 and teaches compliance programs, including Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS). Prior to joining NCHM, Carrie held the position of Compliance Agent and Housing Supervisor in a privately owned, multi-million dollar property management company located on the southern Oregon Coast. Carrie singlehandedly oversaw 20 HUD, Rural Development, and conventional properties.

Elizabeth Vermales

Elizabeth Vermales

Elizabeth joined NCHM in 2006 and instructs the Tax Credit Specialist (TCS) program. She began her career in 1989 as a leasing agent. Her experience includes working as a regional training director,sSoftware trainer, auditor, senior accounting supervisor, compliance director and regional manager. She is president and principal of Horizon Housing Management, a property management company. Elizabeth also serves as director and vice president of National Development Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit company dedicated to providing affordable housing.

Her diverse background and experience in property management complements her ability as an instructor. Elizabeth is known for telling stories from her experiences to make a point and enhance the lesson. Years later former students will approach her and say “I remember the story that you told …” and relate how it helped them in their own career.

Elizabeth holds several industry certifications and designations: Tax Credit Specialist (TCS) and Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS); Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP) – National Association of Home Builders; Certified Credit Compliance Professional (C3P) – Spectrum Seminars; National Affordable Housing Professional Executive (NAHP-e), Specialist in Housing Credit Management (SHCM), Certified Professional of Occupancy (CPO) and Fair Housing Compliance (FHS) – National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA); and Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) – Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). Elizabeth is also adjunct faculty for the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).

Pedro Vermales

Pedro Vermales

Pedro E. Vermales is the Chief Operating Officer of Horizon Housing Management, LLC. which manages apartment communities for National Development Foundation Inc., a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation that Pedro co-founded in 1998 to develop and provide affordable housing.

From 1994 to 2004, Pedro served as President and Principal of Reliance Management Services, Inc., a national full-service real estate management company that managed over 15,000 apartment units in 14 states.

With over 35 years of experience in all aspects of the real estate industry, Pedro has successfully managed market-rate and affordable housing communities, office buildings, and shopping centers.

He is an active member of and has chaired various national and local real estate association committees. He has been an instructor of real estate finance, maintenance, human resources, marketing, and fair housing for the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) since 1994. Additionally, Pedro has over 20 years of bilingual international teaching experience.

Pedro earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from California Coast University; the professional designation of Certified Property Manager from IREM; two Low Income Housing Tax Credit designations; and is a Florida real estate broker. He has also successfully completed the Certified Manager of Maintenance, Certified Manager of Housing, and Certified Occupancy Specialist certifications from The National Center for Housing Management, where he currently serves as an instructor for the COS course.

James Waller

James Waller

James Waller is Senior Trainer for the NCHM and is nationally renowned for his expert leadership and facilitation in both the Certified Manager of Housing (CMH) and Certified Manager of Maintenance (CMM) programs, both of which he helped to redesign and modernize. James was also involved with the development of NCHM’s Realistic Approaches to Drug and Alcohol Reduction (RADAR) program and Registered Housing Manager (RHM) comprehensive designation.

James grew up in New York city and joined NCHM in 1991 after serving as Administrator for BankersTrust/Uris Brothers Foundation providing technical assistance and organizational Development to 34 nonprofit housing corporations. He is a certified counselor whose career has involved assisting at risk youth participating in jobs training programs; designing a training module for young adults involved in obtaining their GED; and teaching Atkins Life Skill courses at Columbia University’s Urban Studies Program. He was also involved with the Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association in the South Bronx.

James holds a B.A. from the College of Human Services, a part of the New York state collegiate system. James sums up his life’s work as “trying to help improve the lives of people.” He has inspired tens of thousands of people who have attended CMH and CMM to improve their own professional skills while keeping in mind that, as important as rules and regulations are, housing management is first and foremost about human beings.

Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams has been in the affordable housing industry for over 25 years. As an instructor for NCHM she has taught Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS), Certified Manager of Housing (CMH), Site Based Budging Specialist (SBS), Senior Housing Specialist (SHS), Enterprise Income Verification (EIV), Tax Credit Specialist (TCS), and Blended Occupancy Specialist (BOS).

Lisa has also contributed to the development of curriculum for the Center. Lisa’s experience spans from her early years as a site manager; starting her own management company; developing tax credit properties; and working as a consultant and trainer.

Lisa currently acts as senior consultant/director of compliance for Affordable Housing Compliance Specialists of Blue Springs, Missouri and volunteers as a renters’ advocate and options counselor for seniors and persons with disabilities in her community. She has experience in development, management and compliance of most any affordable housing, e.g. Section 42 (LIHTC), Section 236, Section 202, RD 515, Bonds, AHP, FHLB and HOME financed properties.

Lisa holds her broker’s license in Missouri and has received multiple industry designations over her past 25 years in the affordable housing business.