Women in the Affordable Housing Industry: The Paradox of Perfection

Monday, November 5: 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Risk-taking is a critical and valued element when assessing leadership effectiveness. Yet, too often, we do not branch out of our comfort zone because we fear failure, or not being "perfect." An essential element for taking risks, and overcoming the fear of mistakes, is courage. We invite men and women to join our discussion with prominent women business leaders as we explore elements of risk tolerance including: exploring the role of perfection in our decision-making, learning how to manage smart risk-taking and increase resilience, and trusting our intuition to find alternative solutions to longstanding problems.

Session Materials:

Women in the Affordable Housing Industry Presentations (603 KB Adobe PDF File)

Room Number:

Union Station Ballrooms


Debbie Watts Robinson, Miami Valley Housing Opportunities
In 2010, Debbie became the CEO of Miami Valley Housing Opportunities, the largest provider of permanent supportive housing in Montgomery County. Since MVHO was founded in 1991, MVHO has developed over 500 units of permanent supportive housing and administers subsidies for over 500 vulnerable individuals and families. Today, MVHO provides housing opportunities for over 1200 citizens in the Miami Valley. Debbie earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Law Degree from The Ohio State University. Prior to becoming the CEO of Miami Valley Housing Opportunities, Debbie served as a Chief Legal Counsel for NCR Corporation for nearly 20 years. She currently serves on the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati's Advisory Council, the Board of Graceworks Lutheran Services and the Board of the Dayton Art Institute. She also serves on several committees in Montgomery County dedicated to providing housing for vulnerable citizens.


Joyce Beatty, U.S. House of Representatives (3rd District of Ohio)
Congresswoman Joyce Beatty proudly represents Ohio's Third Congressional District in the United States Congress. She sits on the exclusive Committee on Financial Services and is a member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Congresswoman Beatty is known for connecting people to policy and politics, and for being a bridge-builder. In Congress, Beatty has distinguished herself as a tenacious fighter and for making the impossible possible. She has had several bipartisan bills signed into law and is committed to ensuring that individuals and families have access to safe, affordable housing and equal opportunity at achieving the American Dream of homeownership. She has dedicated her life to making an impact by delivering results to Central Ohio. Named one of Ebony Magazine's 150 most powerful African-Americans in the United States, Congresswoman Beatty is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Urban League's I AM EMPOWERED Shirley Chisholm Housing Award, the King Art Complex's 2017 Legends and Legacies Award, the American Bar Association's Justice Award, and the WomenHeart's Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Policy, to name a few. Prior to coming to Congress in 2013, Beatty was Senior Vice President of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University. She also served in the Ohio House of Representatives, becoming the first female Democratic House Leader in Ohio's history, and was the first African-American woman to chair the Columbus Urban League Board.

Jennifer Walters, Fairfield Homes, Inc.
Jennifer Walters, President, joined the staff of Fairfield Homes, Inc. as Vice President in 2008. She was appointed President in May 2010, expanding her talents through the land development, construction and realty divisions as the third generation of leadership for Fairfield Homes. Having learned all phases of the business working directly with her father, she has an acute sensitivity to Fairfield Homes' commitment to quality within the organization, with the customers they serve, and within our communities. Jennifer founded Gorsuch Construction, Inc., a full-service commercial construction and development company, as well as a Certified Women's Business Enterprise, in 2013. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Denver, a real estate license, and certification from the Corporation for Supportive Housing's Supportive Housing Institute, Opening New Doors. She is actively involved in the Ohio Housing Council, the Lancaster Festival Board of Directors, Special Improvement District Board Member, and the Young Presidents Organization Board Treasurer.

Robie Suggs, First Financial Bank
Robie Suggs is a passionate and experienced community development and community relations professional with over 40 years of knowledge in the financial industry. Ms. Suggs varied career includes mortgage lending and underwriting, small business lending, philanthropy management, Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and relationship management. Additionally, Robie received her certification as a Coach and Mentor from the University of Cincinnati. In her current role, Robie manages and oversees the bank's economic development strategy, its philanthropy and obligations related to community development and CRA in the Ohio and Northern Kentucky markets of First Financial Bank. Due to hear passion and knowledge, she is highly sought after to provide technical assistance in collaboration with local government and on various boards and committees with non-profit partners. Robie maintains leadership positions on numerous boards. Robie has been recognized for her leadership and accomplishments winning numerous awards. Most recently nominated for a 2018 State of Ohio SERVICEOHIO Award, she was honored to receive the United Way's 100 Heroes award for her volunteerism and dedication to the community and the LifeSpan, Inc. Humanitarian Award. Robie is a lifetime Cincinnati resident currently living north of the city, doing what she loves every day.

Sue Zazon, Huntington National Bank
Sue Zazon leads the diverse team of financial services professionals at Columbus-based Huntington Bank who are committed to serving consumers, businesses and communities across central Ohio. A 31-year banking veteran, Sue joined Huntington in 2016 with the acquisition of FirstMerit, where she led the organization's consistent growth across greater Columbus for a more than a decade. Prior to FirstMerit, she held a number of positions at KeyBank, including service as central Ohio president. Active in the community, Sue is a member of the board of trustees for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Columbus 2020, the Ohio Bankers League, Rev1 Ventures and The Wexner Center Foundation. She is also a member of Young Presidents' Organization Gold in Columbus. Sue is past treasurer and president of the YMCA board of trustees and past board member of Columbus Children's Theatre, Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, Experience Columbus, Columbus Symphony Orchestra and The Ohio State University East Hospital. She is also a past member of the United Way campaign cabinet and past chair of the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges and Law Enforcement Foundation annual campaigns. In 2018, Sue was recognized by WELD as a "Women WELDing the Way" award recipient for making a positive impact on the economic and leadership development of women in Central Ohio. She is also the 2017 recipient of the Smart Business Magazine "Trailblazer Award" which recognizes an exemplary and high-ranking female executive who has made far-reaching contributions to the growth and sustainability of their organization. Sue is a former recipient of the Business First "Forty under 40" award which recognizes career achievements and community involvement. Sue earned her bachelor's degree in finance and international business from Miami University of Ohio and graduated from the executive management program at Case Western Reserve University. She and her family reside in northwest Columbus.

Lori Little, National Affordable Housing Trust
Lori Little serves as just the fourth President and CEO in National Affordable Housing Trust's history. Ms. Little is an experienced affordable housing professional with more than 25 years of leadership experience in real estate and finance. She joined NAHT in 2002 and previously served as the Senior Vice President of Capital Markets and Investor Relations with NAHT. During her tenure at NAHT, Lori has held numerous syndication roles and led the Originations and Syndication teams. She also worked with the team to negotiate and place more than $1 billion in investor equity. Prior to joining NAHT, Lori served as Vice President of Operations for JPMorgan Chase. She has also held positions at Associates Financial Services of North America and Blalack & Williams, LLP. Lori holds a JD from Baylor School of Law and received a BA from Abilene Christian University. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Volunteers of America of Texas.