The Executive Team plans, organizes and executes the organization’s operations strategy. The Chief Executive Officer and four key officers of each division meet regularly to discuss and confirm operational plans, establish organization priorities, set performance standards, coordinate projects between divisions, review progress toward organization and division goals, approve new procedures and assign project and program responsibilities.
Shurl R. Montgomery
Chief Executive Officer
Before joining NRHA in August 2004, Mr. Montgomery was an assistant city manager for the City of Norfolk, a position he had held since 1990. He joined the City's administration in 1978 as assistant director of parks and recreation.
Mr. Montgomery holds a bachelor's degree from Fairmont State College and a master's degree from Brigham Young University. He has studied public administration at the graduate level at West Virginia University and the University of Northern Colorado.
During his 14 years as assistant city manager, Mr. Montgomery played a principal role in Norfolk's transformation into a world-class city. Along with serving on numerous boards and committees, he was, at various times, directly responsible for management and operation of the City's Civic Facilities, Planning and Codes Administration, Development, Police, Fire and Rescue, Public Works, Facilities and Enterprise Management, Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Marketing and Communications, as well as Utilities.
Mr. Montgomery's management philosophy is grounded in the principle of leading by example.
Mr. Montgomery is a member of the International City Managers Association, American Society of Public Administrators, Virginia Recreation and Park Society, Kiwanis' Ocean View Beach Club, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. His volunteer positions have included president, Virginia Recreation and Park Society, chairman, Norfolk Festevents, chairman, United Way Campaign for City of Norfolk, conference chairman of Virginia Innovations Group, and board member of the Greater Ocean View Foundations. He served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1965.
Montgomery is married to Nancy Montgomery, who serves on the faculty of Virginia Wesleyan College. They have three adult children and one son attending graduate school.
Contact: Phyllis Everette or call 757.314.1679
Chief Housing Officer
As Chief Housing Officer for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA), Brown leads a professional staff, responsible for a portfolio of about 3,500 assisted-rental units at 14 properties and 3,300 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV).
Prior to NRHA, Brown was Director of the HCV program at the Newark, NJ, Housing Authority (NHA) for seven years. Her department, which had responsibility for over 6,000 vouchers, was nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for developing model job literacy and job placement programs/partnerships that serve voucher holders. Before becoming the Director of HCV for NHA, Brown was an Asset Manager with supervision of 6,000 apartments and 200 employees at 21 property sites.
Among her positions prior to joining NRHA, Brown was District Manager for Insignia Management Group, Plainsboro, NJ and Director, Operations, New Community Corp., a large non-profit residential developer in New Jersey. She has over 30 years of combined experience in the public and private housing sectors.
Clara W. Graves
Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA), Clara Graves leads professional staff in the areas of financial operations, budget, purchasing and administrative services. Before her current assignment, Graves was NRHA’s Finance Director, Financial Controls Manager, and Internal Auditor. Mrs. Graves has been employed at NRHA since January 1985.
Prior to NRHA, Graves’ employment included six years with the Bank of America as Vice President, Internal Audit, as well as employment in the Financial Operations Department at the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
Graves is a native of Norfolk, raised in one of NRHA’s former locally-owned properties, Liberty Park. She attended Booker T. Washington High School and received her degree from the University of Virginia (BS in business administration, concentrating in accounting).
She is and has been active in many volunteer activities; Food Bank of Southeast Virginia, Habitat for Humanity, Physicians for Peace, walkathons for Suzanne B. Komen, sickle cell, House of Esther for teenage pregnancy, teaching GED classes and Sunday School, youth tutoring and mentoring programs, and held several financial officer positions and various scholarship and fundraising committee positions for her church and sorority. She also is an avid bowler.
Graves is married, has two children as well as two grandchildren.
Contact: Wanda Askew or 757.314.1680
Chief of Community Development
As Chief of Community Development for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA), John Kownack leads 30 professional staff, responsible for redevelopment and conservation activities in 16 active neighborhood project areas. Before his current assignment, Kownack was NRHA’s Chief Housing Reinvention Officer, coordinating the efforts of an inter-disciplinary team charged with revitalizing assisted-housing communities in Norfolk. Mr. Kownack has been employed at NRHA since April 2001.
Prior to NRHA, Kownack’s employment included 19 years of service with the City of Norfolk, including positions such as: Manager (Fiscal Division), responsible for grants and capital project budgeting and management; and Assistant Director of Human Services, responsible for administrative services, operations and financial management. Kownack has also served as the Chief Financial Officer for a private corporation specializing in the provision of therapeutic care for at-risk children.
Kownack is originally from upstate New York and attended the State University of New York at Albany (B.A. Economics) and the College of William and Mary (M.A. Government, Thesis Pending). He is married and has four children.
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