“My journey to APAH all began with Carmen Romero,” recalls Rich Jordan, who joined the Board in 2016 and currently chairs the Finance Committee. Like so many people, Rich and his wife Wendy had developed a new circle of friends around their young children’s playgroup and the conversation sometimes shifted from parenting to work. “At the time, I was working for developer JBG. I didn’t know much about APAH or affordable housing, but from time to time, Carmen would ask me a real estate question and I was intrigued.”
Jordan was looking for a way to serve that used his skills. “I had been on a few other boards, but it seemed like I was just there to stroke a check on behalf of [my] company. APAH really wanted me to be involved with the advancement of their mission.”
“Drawing on that expertise has been key to APAH’s success,” agrees Romero, now APAH’s President and CEO. “Our Board is a very special think tank. We have really open dialogue so that together we understand all the risks and opportunities and then move forward together. Rich has been central to that.”
The desire to serve was nothing new for Jordan. Inspired by his father’s 25-year military career, he went to the Naval Academy and served as a Naval Flight Officer on the S3.“ When people ask me what I did in the Navy, I just tell them I was a navigator like Goose in Top Gun, just a different plane (the S-3B Viking),” Jordan laughs. But after nine years of service and with the Navy transitioning to a different aircraft, he had a choice, “I could basically start over in the Navy, or I could start over doing something else.”
Jordan earned his MBA in finance and then came back to Arlington to work for an investment banking firm. “It was a great entry into the business world and real estate because I got to work on all kinds of projects—hotels, offices, medical, senior housing, so many different industries. I loved the fast pace and just jumping into the fire.” From there he went on to JBG and then Potomac Investment Properties, where he now serves as Managing Director. “They always say it’s good to have a plan, but don’t fall in love with it, because it’s never going to work out exactly the way you expected,” notes Jordan. “But in the end, it turned out to be a perfect path for what I am doing now.”
“It’s exciting to bring my experience to APAH, especially at a time of so much growth and transition,” notes Jordan. “APAH’s progress is pretty phenomenal. In the five years since I’ve been involved, the pace at which APAH has implemented its strategic plan for growth outside Arlington is really impressive—the organization has basically doubled its production and it has done it thoughtfully.”
Looking ahead, it is an exciting time for APAH. “I give great kudos to Nina [Janopaul, APAH’s former CEO]. She built APAH and a great team of people.” As a Board member, Jordan has had the opportunity to work closely, not just with Romero, but with Kelly Eichhorn and Kyle McCandless who lead APAH Finance, and with Cheryl Ramp and the fundraising team when he chaired the capital campaign for Terwilliger Place, APAH’s project with American Legion Post 139. “It’s really cool to see all of these talented folks stepping up to expanded roles and taking the organization forward.”
Jordan is also excited about APAH’s sharper focus on racial equity, and the statement and workplan that the Board adopted in July. “APAH has been spearheading these conversations on race. I’m not having these conversations elsewhere—even among my friends—and it is important that we talk about it. The past year and half has really been a perfect storm—we have had horrific, high-profile incidents and we’ve all been at home with more time to reflect. But as soon as you turn the light switch on things get busy quick, we are already seeing it, so there’s a risk of losing momentum. It’s important that you keep the conversation going—especially among people who don’t have to live it every day.”
“For residents at APAH properties, many of whom are brown, black, Latinx, it’s important for them to see APAH’s commitment, to see people who look like them, now even in the top job in the organization. APAH is a community and in order to have community you have to have trust. I think all of this work is going to help residents feel even more that they will be heard and that they are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
As a developer, APAH can also impact racial equity through its business practices. “When APAH goes out and chooses contractors and other partners there is an opportunity to make sure minority-owned firms are in the mix,” notes Jordan. And when APAH does that, it trickles down through the system to help qualified people of color grow their businesses. APAH has a lot of influence and as the organization continues to grow it’s only going to become bigger.”
Never a Dull Moment – 4 Things You Need to Know about Rich Jordan
- He’s Global: By the time he graduated high school, Jordan had lived overseas longer than he had lived in the US.
- Navy by Accident: The original plan was to go to West Point, but when a lost application delayed his acceptance, Annapolis won out.
- He’s Got the Beat: Real estate by day, rocker by night as the drummer for eclectic cover band, Gutterball Kingpin.
- He Loves Barcroft: When he and Wendy bought their home, the only thing it had from their priority list was a roof—but today it is a home they adore in a down-to-earth community with neighbors they love.