Every quarter TSAHC spotlights a staff member or partner to help our readers get to know our mission and industry a little better. This week, we are spotlighting TSAHC's Development Finance Specialist, Cassandra Ramirez.
Originally from Donna, TX, Cassandra works on our Development Finance team, managing TSAHC's Affordable Communities of Texas (ACT) land bank and land trusts and Texas Housing Impact Fund (THIF).
Below is her interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, five minutes from the border (literally). I’ve lived in Austin since 1999 though, so I’ve been here for a while. I’ve always lived on the east side, which is great – I’m a big proponent of East Austin.
I went to Cornell University for my undergraduate education in Urban Studies and City Planning. I actually came to Austin to earn a master's degree in architecture.
What led you to work at TSAHC?
It’s funny, because the people that I work with at TSAHC are people that I worked with in my old jobs. Everything is connected.
I used to work at Diana McIver & Associates. I started out as her intern in the early 2000s. Coincidentally, she was the consultant to my job after that, which was at Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation, a local nonprofit. I worked there for several years before coming here to TSAHC. It’s just funny—that nonprofit might be a potential partner for one of TSAHC's programs!
They’re what led me here. I did community land trust work for that nonprofit. The first in the state. So I think what attracted me to TSAHC was the land bank and the opportunity to do more land trusts across the state. That’s kind of how I landed here.
What’s your favorite part about working here?
Probably learning new things. The biggest learning curve for me (and in reality, I’m still not perfect at it) was underwriting loans. I’ve always been on the applicant side of loans in housing. Because as a nonprofit, you’re always looking for financing, grants, and loans. So I was very used to filling out applications, but now I’m on the opposite side writing the applications. I think it's really interesting to see things in a different way.
I also enjoy working with the Valley nonprofits a lot! Just because I’m from the Valley, so it’s really cool to work with ASHTI, CDCB, and everyone else working in the area that I grew up in.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do, I listen to live music around town. My husband does artist management stuff, so we get some cool tickets.
I love going to Continental Club at their 3 o'clock happy hour time and just seeing who’s playing… I like all kinds of music. If you’ve never been, go to Continental Club at three o’clock in the afternoon and they’ll do live music and have lots of specials. It's up on Congress Avenue. I highly recommend it.
What’s your favorite genre of books/movies/TV shows?
I read a lot of short stories and autobiographies. My favorite author for short stories is Roald Dahl. He has cool adult short stories. There’s this collection called Omnibus that’s really good. I re-read that all the time. And my all-time favorite books are definitely Gone with the Wind and A Confederacy of Dunces.
For shows, I like sci-fi and thrillers. I loved Battlestar Galactica. Dorky, I know, but my husband and I loved that series. My son and I are also waiting for The Umbrella Academy to come back on Netflix. And Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a great Friday-night movie as well.
What’s your favorite piece of advice?
Always make the ask. Because the worst that they can say is no. If you don’t make the ask, then it’s an automatic “no;” so what do you have to lose by taking a chance and asking?
On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.