Rita Bamberger joined APAH’s Board of Directors in 2000 and has never looked back. She has served as Secretary and as Board Chair, and today she not only serves as a Board member, but is also a donor, mentor, and cheerleader for APAH. So, how did it all begin and, 20 years later, what keeps Rita engaged?
Rita first learned about APAH when she was approached by a member of the APAH Board who felt her knowledge and experience in the residential real estate development would be an asset to the organization. At the time, APAH was still a relatively new organization. The Board was still trying “to get the APAH name and work to be known” in the community. APAH’s portfolio included only 200 affordable units in renovated garden-style apartment buildings, there were no resident services, and no newly constructed buildings.
Rita has seen – and influenced – the growth of APAH. She served on the hiring committee that selected Nina Janopaul to serve as APAH’s President and CEO. In 2012, she facilitated introductions that led to APAH’s acquisition of Arna Valley View apartments. She was Board Chair when APAH launched The Springs redevelopment project and decided to relocate APAH’s headquarters. She served as the Chair of APAH’s Celebrate Home! fundraising committee in 2017 and raised more money than ever before.
Rita was on the Board during APAH’s first new construction project; when APAH acquired its first property outside of Arlington, VA; when APAH’s biggest project broke ground; while the staff grew from 4 to 28; while the portfolio grow from 200 units to nearly 2,000.
APAH’s Arlington Mill Residences was APAH’s first public-private partnership project, and Rita recalls the tremendous waitlist. “For the first time, the waitlist [for apartments] illustrated such a great need for affordable housing.” She remembers seeing similar need when The Springs was leasing apartments. Being involved with APAH is “such a rewarding experience. I hadn’t planned on staying [involved] this long.”
It’s easy to understand why Rita continues to serve and volunteer with APAH. She has helped shape APAH into the organization it is today. But her impact is more than buildings, Rita’s helped grow APAH’s commitment to Resident Services as a program. She was on the Board when APAH’s first part-time resident services staff was hired, and when the resident services program was expanded to full-time. “I’ve seen the growth in how we connect with residents and how we meet their needs,” says Rita. And she say’s she’s just like all of APAH’s Board members, “we all want to be involved” with the residents.
She has been participating in the yearly resident summer picnics and the back to school and holiday drives since they each began. And last year, she and her dog Eli turned up during APAH baseball camp to meet the kids and to cheer-on their efforts.
“It’s easy to ask for support when you care as much about an organization as I care about APAH.” Rita’s personally recruited two long-standing members to APAH’s Board of Directors, including Susan Bell, the current Board Chair. And she relentlessly asks friends, colleagues, and peers to join her in donating to APAH, to make a difference in the lives of residents. “Like anything, if you believe in it, it’s easy to encourage others to do the same.”
She is a loyal, talented, and generous leader for APAH and a key partner in our success. We are lucky to have 20 years of her dedication to making her community a better place to live.
“I’m usually not a joiner” says Rita who laughs and adds, “if anyone told me then (in 2000) that I would still be involved today, I wouldn’t have believed them!”