We periodically spotlight a staff member or partner to help our readers get to know our mission and industry a little better.
This week we interviewed Tarisha Duson, Director of Administrative Services at the Housing Authority of the City of Texarkana, Texas (HATT), a Public Housing Authority located in Northeast Texas. Tarisha is one of the many counselors who has benefitted from our Housing Connection training.
Below is our interview with Tarisha.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you came to work with HATT?
I am a mother of two amazing children ages 23 and 15. I love spending time with my family, friends, reading classic biographies, and watching sports like wrestling and football.
While pursuing my Bachelors degree in 2009, I wrote a paper about HATT being awarded a $20 million grant for the revitalization of three of its public housing developments in the historic RoseHill Neighborhood where I grew up. The grant was the HOPE VI grant. It's just so happened that when I was job searching, I stumbled across an open position for the HOPE VI clerk, and the rest is history!
Tell us about what HATT does and your role there.
HATT is a Public Housing Authority that strives to be a leader in revitalization by providing affordable housing, promoting self-sufficiency, and excelling in customer service. We offer low-rent units and Housing Choice Vouchers. We also provide supportive services such as modernization and community involvement.
I serve as the Director of Administrative Services which includes overseeing the Human Resources Department, providing administration to our Board of Commissioners / Directors, customer service, and procurement.
What is your favorite thing about the work you do?
Helping people! I absolutely love what I do. By the close of business each day, my heart feels full if I've helped at least one person. Whether it's talking to a client, signing paperwork, chatting with co-workers, or simply sending or responding to an email, I know that I've helped someone that day.
You got to know TSAHC through our Housing Connection training for counselors. We appreciate your work as a counselor. We have in-person Housing Connection training coming up in October. Tell us about your experience going through that training and what people attending should expect.
The training provided by TSAHC was wonderful, especially since they partner with NeighborWorks. The expertise and knowledge of the trainers make a tremendous impact, and the trainers help you understand the concepts of the classes in an enjoyable way. People should expect to gain plentiful knowledge from the upcoming courses and to be engaged through exercises like the case studies which I love. There will be people from different agencies and backgrounds that make it a very insightful experience.
You received a couple certifications through training - the Homeownership Counseling Certification and the Financial Capability Certification. Tell us about that certification process and how it's benefitted the work you do there.
Honestly, the certification process was a breeze, and that's really a testament to the trainers and TSAHC staff like Frank Duplechain and Sarah Ellinor. They make sure you have everything you need to prepare for the exams and complete the certification process.
I can't say enough about the support you have. That extends beyond just the certification process. Whether it was the scholarship provided or my interactions with NeighborWorks trainers and TSAHC staff, I always felt supported through the entire process.
The past two years have been unique and unpredictable. What's one thing you've learned from the challenges of the recent times?
I've learned to be patient and to just focus on the tasks in front of me. It's made me appreciate my work more with an understanding that people have needed more help and assistance. It's reinforced the importance of what I do and what we do collectively at HATT.
Personally speaking, I discovered that I enjoy being in the office and with my colleagues. We have a small, tight-knit group here, and we like being around each other to get our work done.
What personal or professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
When I Received my Masters in 2014! I worked full-time while pursuing my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and I'm proud that I was able to balance it all while also raising a family. It's because of my family that I embarked on a higher education journey in the first place. They challenged me to believe in myself and pursue my dreams. I'm grateful they encouraged me to keep pressing on despite how hard it was at times.
Looking ahead, what's on the horizon for you and HATT?
The HATT has evolved under the new leadership of Antonio D. Williams, Chief Executive Officer for HATT/VCTT. He brought in a five-year plan to grow the organization and build upon its past successes, and we have some exciting changes on the horizon. Most notably, we are in the process of rebranding as Village Communities of Texarkana, Texas, so look out for that change in the near future.
I've seen my role grow and evolve as well. I appreciate that leadership believes in me, caters to my strengths, and allows me the opportunity to expand on what I enjoy doing most which is directly helping people we serve.
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.