Meet Sandy Pearson, CEDAM’s Real Estate Program Manager

As CEDAM continues to grow our programs, we continue to welcome more individuals to our team to add their expertise to our organization. With the goal of growing our Real Estate Development trainings and programming, we are pleased to add Sandy Pearson to our team! A veteran of the community economic development field in Michigan, we are very excited to add her to our team and get to know her better.

Jennifer Lareau-Gee, Communications Specialist: Can you give me a brief overview of what you were doing before joining CEDAM and how that led you here?

Sandy Pearson: Many years in the affordable housing community development and economic development field. I’ve worked in it since I graduated from MSU. I took a job with the state of Michigan in civil rights at the Michigan Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and that was the base of… everything. Because of that base and the deep meaningful education that I experienced when I was working in civil rights at MSHDA, I saw housing as a platform from which individual economic development, as well as community development, could be used as tools to advance civil rights. I then worked in community development, then in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and writing how to use the voucher toward a mortgage instead of rent, and then in their executive office where I started working with the MSHDA board, the governor’s office, and Habitat for Humanity. Through Housing and Community Development Fund advocacy, I established a strong relationship with the founder and leader of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, and he invited me to join Habitat for Humanity of Michigan. When he retired, I was appointed to take his place. And that is what I was doing until officially joining CEDAM. I have been in partnership with CEDAM throughout all of my time working in affordable housing, community development, and economic development.

Jennifer: How do you see working with CEDAM on community economic development being different than working with them in your previous role?

Sandy: The role is very similar to the role that I was serving with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan in that they’re both statewide networks responding to the needs of local members and affiliates and really listening to what their needs are to best help them. A big difference for me personally is that I’m at a point where I want to contribute in a non-leadership way. Now I have been able to re-join this community that I have been part of all of my working life and continue to contribute my passion and do the work that I care tremendously for. I can continue to partner and contribute what I can to the mission and the work of the local organizations and communities.

Jennifer: What are you looking forward to most in this role, working at CEDAM? What do you see this role as providing? What are you looking forward to the most?

Sandy: There is a growing connectivity and ecosystem throughout the state, and more people are prioritizing housing, community development, and economic development than I have personally ever witnessed. I find it very exciting that I get to be part of this moment in time. I very much believe in bolstering small development and rural development, as well as continuing to maximize what we can do everywhere whether it’s urban or rural, and individual economic development or community economic development. I feel a strong sense of commitment and diligence in reminding that we’re here to provide equitable opportunities through housing through development to support individuals, developers, and communities.

Jenn: What excites you most about community development as a field? What excites you the most community development right now as a field?

Sandy: I want to be part of Michigan’s story where we are at the top of the nation. I want a strong Michigan and to have a strong Michigan, it starts with the people. Housing and economic development are drivers of healthy people. I want to be part of the story where we are better year after year; we are better by every human indicator and community indicator. One thing I’m really looking forward to is deepening my relationships with the member network.

Lightning round get-to-know-you questions!

What’s the last book you read?
Small-Scale Farming by Melissa Nelson, D.V.M.

What’s a current or recent TV/movie you enjoyed?
Food Network in general. There are a handful of shows I enjoy, but I love watching The Kitchen.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Europe. I want to take that high-speed rail route around the continent; I think it goes to Denmark, Spain, France, London, and more.

What was the last concert you attended?
Carrie Underwood with my nephew.

Do you have any hobbies right now?
Cooking and spectating my husband who is in a band with my uncles…and I’m a grandmother now.

(Sandy and her family gathered to watch the Lions game.)