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SMALL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS Julie Hovermale, CPA, Better Housing Coalition, Richmond


Tough calls helped nonprofit to recover from the recession


by Joan Tupponce


housing options and support services throughout the Richmond region to about 3,000 modest-income families and senior citizens. “I live in the city, and I believe


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everybody should have a safe place to call home,” she says. The Illinois native, who is a Certified


Public Accountant, brings to the organi- zation experience working for for-profit and nonprofit ventures. “She is setting a high bar of account-


ability and transparency for an industry that sometimes hasn’t had that much rigor all the time,” says Greta Harris, the organization’s president and CEO. “She brings that rigor. She believes if we are stronger financially, we are in a better position to have an impact on the com- munity. The balance between financial strength and our ability to advance our mission is one of the greatest gifts she brings to Better Housing Coalition.” Hovermale was faced with a big


challenge when she joined the organiza- tion in 2012. It was struggling to recover from the 2007-09 recession and resulting downturn in the real estate industry. Wheat McDowell, portfolio manager


at Richmond Capital Management, is finance committee chairman on the organization’s board of directors. He says the Better Housing Coalition needed someone like Hovermale “to come in and save the day. At that time we had a lot of projects underway and some debt that was burdensome to the organization. We had outgrown what we were doing from a control standpoint.” Hovermale spent a lot of time get-


ting “her arms around a very complicated organization,” which has many companies


Photo by Mark Rhodes


ulie Hovermale is passionate about the mission of Better Housing Coalition. The nonprofit provides


and subsidiaries, he adds. Her find- ings led a two-year series of changes that included wholesale organizational restructuring and new accountability for all business lines. The organization now has a new


focus that balances corporate sustain- ability with community impact. The cor- porate turnaround has resulted in a new nonprofit structure that generates 85 per- cent of its $15 million annual budget. “From my standpoint, she did what a good CFO does,” McDowell says. “She allowed us to understand our own or - gan ization, and from that we were able to make a lot of good decisions as a board.” One of Hovermale’s biggest strengths


is her analytical nature. “Some people look at numbers, and they get scared. I look at numbers, and I see a story,” she says. She had to make tough decisions


that aren’t always popular with others. “I can leave my emotions on the outside and think more from a business standpoint,” she says. “I do have strong beliefs, and I don’t have a problem voicing my beliefs.” Hovermale is “not scared to ask tough


questions or to make recommendations to the board,” says finance committee member Neil Amin, CEO of Shamin Hotels. “She is also very down-to-earth, friendly and supportive of her colleagues. She is trustworthy and helpful to the whole organization.” Admittedly introverted, Hovermale


feels she has grown considerably since coming to the Better Housing Coalition. “I have learned a lot about myself,”


she says. “It feels good to do something for your community and for others. It makes me feel good going to work every day knowing I am helping people. Not every- body has an affordable place to call home. My goal is to continue to help my commu- nity and help through any way I can.”


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“Some people look at numbers, and they get scared. I look at numbers, and I see a story,” Hovermale says.


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