May 2023 – "When I first joined Nuestra, I thought I’d be here for maybe three years,” says Director of Real Estate Development Diane Clark. “Then it was five, then seven. I just got so connected to the projects I was working on and I wanted to see them through. Somewhere between seven and 10 years, I stopped counting!”
Diane has now spent 20 years at Nuestra and completed or played a direct role in over 16 projects, creating more than 507 housing units (128 homeownership). During Diane’s tenure as Director of Real Estate Development for the last two years, Nuestra has received three prestigious awards in connection with the Bartlett Station Project in Roxbury—which, with 380 mixed-income housing units as well as offices, retail, and open space, she considers the culmination of her career.
“The community developed this thoughtful vision for Bartlett Station,” she explains, “and it’s really one of our greatest projects.”
Diane spent her teenage and young adult years in Roxbury and says it is the place that ignited her passion for community development. “I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. But as a kid I would see buildings and lots that were run-down and filled with debris and I thought…they need to do something about that….I soon realized that I could be part of the “they” and became focused on making a career rehabilitating those run-down buildings and developing homes on those debris-filled lots. So I have these ‘before and after’ pictures in my head.”
“I earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and a graduate degree in public administration,” she continues, “with the thought of going into public policy. But while working as a property manager and thinking about my next career move, a recruiter suggested project management, and I decided to respond to the ad for an opening at Nuestra.”
As it turns out, her role at Nuestra has incorporated all of Diane’s skills, knowledge, and interests: managing multiple projects in various stages with different timelines, a wide variety of funding sources, extensive legal stipulations, architecture, construction, and of course governmental regulations and policy as well.
One of Diane’s favorite memories is a homeownership project in Roxbury, where her team was able to add an accessible home for a family in need that was facing a tragedy.
“It took some work,” Diane recalls, “but we were able to redesign and add a homeownership unit with the necessary features.” All of the funders were immediately on board and the contractor donated their time and labor to make the modifications. “I was happy to learn early on that not everything is etched in stone,” she comments. “We recently witnessed the benefits of the same kind of rethinking with the grand opening of Nubian Markets at Bartlett Station this May.”
So would she recommend a career as a CDC project manager to others? Yes! “It’s so fulfilling to work for the community,” she responds. “You have to listen and have respect and understanding. You also have to remember that although we don’t always agree or have the same vision or path for how to get to an end, those involved want to do what we believe provides the most benefit for the people. There will be tough conversations and many opinions, and there should be, because it’s important work.”
On behalf of everyone at Nuestra Comunidad, we offer our deep gratitude to Diane for doing that important work so well for the past two decades. Happy 20th anniversary, Diane, and thanks for playing such a significant role in Roxbury’s “before and after”!