Two New Directors Bring Expertise And Vision To MHC’s Board

Editor’s Note: After this article was originally published, Ford Fish, a long-time Mercy Housing California Board member passed away. We will be forever grateful to Ford, who leaves behind a legacy and commitment to quality, affordable housing and new opportunities for thousands of California families. 

The new year brings changes to the Mercy Housing California (MHC) Board of Directors.

Over the course of more than two combined decades of service, departing board members JoAnn Bertges (former Chair), Tangerine Brigham (former Chair), Adrienne Crowe, and Yusef Freeman helped MHC to sharpen our focus on racial equity, expand into new housing markets, and develop programs that better serve residents’ needs, and will now move on to supporting other mission-based projects. JoAnn Bertges will continue to serve the organization at the national level as a member of Mercy Housing, Inc’s board of directors.

While these talented directors will be missed, MHC is proud to welcome two new champions for housing justice to our board: Jamarah Hayner of Los Angeles and David Levine of San Francisco.

Headshot of Jamarah Hayner against a light blue background

Jamarah Hayner, founder and president of JKH Consulting brings fifteen years of public affairs and community engagement expertise to MHC’s board of directors. From advising some of California’s top elected officials to supporting clients and communities through large-scale infrastructure projects, Jamarah has built her career advancing cutting-edge solutions to issues at the intersection of economic empowerment, housing, transportation, and politics.

“For me, personally, it’s a moral and spiritual imperative to help where the most urgent need is,” said Jamarah. “In California, that’s affordable housing for people who are older and on fixed incomes, families starting out, and single moms working two jobs. What I love about Mercy Housing is that it’s not just a place to live, it’s a community in which to live and help lead. There’s a whole-person approach, which is unique.”

Beyond MHC, Jamarah proudly participates in several civic organizations and arts institutions. Most recently, she’s signed on as the co-manager of The Compton Pledge, a guaranteed income pilot program providing financial support to 800 families with low income for two years.

As a leader of MHC’s board, Jamarah hopes to see the organization’s impact expand throughout the state. “In Southern California, where the need is tremendous, we can be an important thought partner for elected officials and other people in the development space to say: here are things we know are working. It’s a time for creativity, but we don’t need to reinvent the wheel or let desperation lead to drastic measures that aren’t great ideas. Mercy Housing has been doing this work in a values-driven way for decades.”

Headshot of David Levine against a light blue background

For new board member David Levine, Principal of Presidio Mortgage Holdings, Mercy Housing’s mission is best described as a “family value.” His father, Howard Levine, previously served on MHC’s board of directors for many years, and in 2021, David joined the board himself. As the CEO of his family’s real estate holdings and lending business, as well as the managing director of their family foundation, David brings deep expertise in developing vibrant multifamily communities and a lifelong commitment to addressing housing insecurity.

“Everyone, regardless of their economic challenges, should have the opportunity to live in quality housing,” said David. “It’s one of the things my family cares deeply about. We always have.”

David’s career has spanned a wide range of high-impact projects, from helping to launch ARCS Commercial Mortgage, one of the nation’s largest multifamily real estate lenders, to serving as the Board Chair and overseeing a leadership transition for San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum.

For David’s family, supporting affordable housing doesn’t stop at charitable giving – the Levines are dedicated to promoting innovation and excellence within the sector. Their foundation partnered with the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate to establish the Howard and Irene Levine Affordable Housing Development Program, which brings together municipal housing leaders to better understand the ins and outs of developing affordable housing. In past years, MHC staff have participated in and presented at the Ziman Center’s annual symposium and participated in Levine Program trainings. Additionally, the Levine Family made a significant commitment to MHC that will be unveiled later this spring.

Mercy Housing California gratefully welcomes Jamarah and David to our board of directors and sends our sincere appreciation to JoAnn, Tangerine, Adrienne, and Yusef for their dedicated service.