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Penquis CEO Receives National Award

National NeighborWorks® Association Announces Excellence Awards

April 3, 2017

Penquis President and CEO Kara Hay was recognized recently by the National NeighborWorks® Association (NNA) at the Annual NeighborWorks® Executive Directors Symposium in Washington D.C.. Hay was one of three leaders nationwide acknowledged at the NNA’s 13th Annual Excellence Awards, which honors outstanding practitioners in the field of housing and community development.

NeighborWorks’ mission is to strengthen communities and expand the supply of affordable housing through a network of partnership-based organizations. Penquis became a chartered member of NeighborWorks America in 2013. Currently, more than 240 community development organizations are part of the NeighborWorks network.

CEO Hay and Penquis were selected to receive an award by a jury comprised of three industry-related executives from outside the NeighborWorks network, as well as last year’s award winners. Hay received the Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes an executive director with less than five years with a NeighborWorks organization whose energy and innovation has improved the value of his or her organization and the NeighborWorks Network.

“This award speaks to the wonderful work of every single staff member of Penquis,” said Hay, who credited the organization’s nearly 400 employees with the success. She noted that Penquis’s focus is on helping families to be safe, stable, connected and financially secure. Staff members are using a data-driven approach to designing and implementing more than 30 individual strategies to increase access to safe and stable housing, reliable transportation, economic stability, and ensure that families are safe and able to thrive.

Hay also praised the numerous community partnerships that have contributed to the development of new resources and opportunities for Maine residents. She cited several collaborative projects that are supporting child victims of sexual assault and their families, increasing business development support for rural and underserved entrepreneurs, increasing access to healthcare, and expanding access to comprehensive early education and support services for infants/toddlers and their families. 

Bangor City Councilor Dan Tremble, who is also chair of the Penquis Board of Directors, nominated Hay for the award. “Kara has demonstrated extraordinary dedication, energy, initiative, and innovation. She is not only an effective leader, but also a passionate advocate for Maine’s vulnerable citizens,” said Tremble.

Hay said she hopes that the award, which coincides with Penquis’s 50th anniversary, will bring attention to the work that still needs to be done. “We envision a poverty-free Maine, where all people lead healthy and dignified lives, full of opportunities to work and learn,” said Hay. “We know that we need to do more, and truly believe that we can move the needle on poverty through alignment of best strategies and practices, engaging in further collaboration and innovation, and through never ending persistence.”

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