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Meet Our Spring 2022 Housing, Communities and Asset Building Staff

Over the past year, Abt’s Housing, Communities, and Asset Building team has grown. These staff—located across the U.S.--represent diverse backgrounds, and bring a wealth of experience and perspectives to our work.

Get to know some of the new experts working on housing and community development projects:

Candace Baker- Associate

Candace Baker is a seasoned public service strategist, and has experience working with government and nonprofit management entities to develop sustainable systems of care. Candace specializes in capacity building and system management. Her work promotes systemic solutions that integrate principles of equity and inclusion, in support of efficient homeless services system infrastructure and outcomes. In her role at Abt, she provides technical assistance support to operationalize, train, and educate providers from the following grants: Community Continuum of Care, Support Services for Veteran Families, and Emergency Solutions Grants-CARES Act.

Samantha Concepcion - Senior Analyst

Before joining Abt, Samantha Concepcion was the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) administrator for DuPage County Continuum of Care (CoC) from 2017 to 2021 and was the HMIS Administrator for Chicago CoC from 2021 to 2022. Her work at Abt focuses on data and HMIS, whether it be in products like Stella, the analysis of System Performance Measures, or helping individual communities analyze and maximize their data.

Genelle Denzin – Associate

Genelle Denzin has worked with homeless services data since 2009. She began her career in information technology and has experience in data analysis, including working as a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) administrator and HMIS data analyst. At Abt, Genelle works on the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR). Genelle is located in Columbus, Ohio.

Nishi Kumar - Senior Analyst

Before coming to Abt, Nishi Kumar served as the Manager of Policy & Research at Rhode Island Housing. In that role she provided analysis for state/federal officials to support housing policy development, and she led a range of research and evaluation activities related to the agency's rental, homeownership and development programs. Nishi received her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Toronto in 2016, with a concentration in social & behavioral health sciences. After graduating, she completed a fellowship with the Wellesley Institute, where she contributed to policy research related to wages and employment, climate change, and housing and homelessness. At Abt, she supports a range of research projects in the Housing & Communities practice area: she serves as a task lead for the HUD Moving to Work landlord incentives evaluation, contributes to Local Housing Solutions, and supports several projects related to financial well-being for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Nishi is based in Providence, R.I.

Lauren Lee - Senior Associate

Lauren Lee's career has addressed advocacy, civil rights, housing and homelessness, immigrant rights, social services, and policy work through her roles as an executive director, division manager, and elected official. She’s addressed housing discrimination and fair housing planning on the state and national level, worked on social policy issues as an elected Tacoma City Councilmember for nine years, and directed community action and immigration programs locally. At Abt, Lauren is working to connect HUD grantees and public housing authorities with the disability community with the goal of addressing discriminatory practices in housing related to Fair Housing Act requirements. She is based in Tacoma, Wash.

Jessica Lurz - Senior Associate

Prior to joining Abt, Jessica Lurz was a Senior Project Manager at Mullin & Lonergan Associates, Inc. Jessica has worked in the homeless services and housing field for over 17 years and has experience providing direct service to people experiencing homelessness, as well as  technical assistance to local governments. At Abt, Jessica is on the HOME-American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance team. She assists with Abt’s work with HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and the Office of Public and Indian Housing. She also provides Emergency Solutions Grant—CARES Act Technical Assistance to Rhode Island. Jessica is located in Pittsburgh.

Kathryn Primas - Associate

Kathryn Primas has experience operating, managing, and monitoring homeless services programs. Before joining Abt, she worked as the Continuum Program Coordinator in Cook County, Ill. She earned her Doctor of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California, where she focused on innovative ways to use federal funding to end youth homelessness. At Abt, Kathryn answers questions on the HUD Ask-A-Question desk, provides technical assistance for communities that have received Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program funding, serves as co-lead for the Stimulus Response Core Team coordinated entry lane, is part of the Emergency Solutions Grant working group, and is on the SNAPS Racial Equity Review Team.

Shantae Smith - Associate

Shantae Smith has worked in the field of homelessness and human services for 10 years, with a focus on direct service, and systems level improvements and coordination. At Abt, Shantae provides technical assistance and support to communities as they work to end homelessness for special populations, primarily veterans. Prior to joining Abt, she worked as a Systems Transformation Advisor with Community Solutions and worked with cities on their efforts to end homelessness for special populations. Shantae is based in Phoenix.

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