Virginia Keesler and Jon Springfield (both Harvard MUP ‘15) have been selected for the inaugural class of the Kuehn Fellows Program, a new initiative of the Kuehn Charitable Foundation. They join four other fellows for a two-year service cycle that begins this July.
The Kuehn Charitable Foundation was established in 1999 by Robert H. Kuehn, Jr., a developer who focused on affordable and historic housing. The foundation fosters community preservation in Massachusetts by supporting affordable housing and historic and open-space preservation.
The mission of the fellowship fits within one of the foundation’s broader goals: bolstering affordable-housing nonprofits across Massachusetts. Through the fellowship, the foundation also aims to inspire and equip early-career practitioners to follow Kuehn’s vision.
The six 2015 Kuehn Fellows were first selected through a competitive application process, then matched with nonprofits based on experience and interests.
Keesler will work as asset management analyst for The Community Builders, Inc., and Springfield will rotate through three roles at the Preservation of Affordable Housing, starting in property management, then moving into asset management and finally into development and acquisitions.
“The order is reversed chronologically, in terms of a property’s life cycle,” Springfield notes, “but working with residents and existing properties at the beginning will hopefully inform and provide context for work in structuring and financing deals.”
Both cite the GSD course Affordable and Mixed-Income Housing Development, Finance, and Management, taught by urban planning and design lecturer Edward Marchant, as a core influence for pursuing deeper exploration of the housing sector, and both are eager to begin work with their respective host organizations.
“Working in the field of affordable housing will allow me to help in tangibly improving people’s lives,” Keesler says, “while also exploring a range of experiences and types of learning.”