You are here

Leadership

Leadership

Seattle Housing Authority is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, two of whom are SHA residents. The Mayor of Seattle appoints board members, subject to confirmation by the Seattle City Council. Commissioners are responsible for approving the agency's annual budget, setting policy and appointing and overseeing the Executive Director.

Board of Commissioners

Paul Purcell was the President and founder of Beacon Development Group where he oversaw the development of nearly 5,000 affordable housing units. He served as Chair of the Washington State Governor’s Housing Advisory Board, the Governor’s Task Force on Financing Senior Housing, the Joint Committee on Farm Worker Housing and the Policy Advisory Team for Housing. Prior to founding Beacon, Paul oversaw housing development for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. He holds a B.A. from Western Washington University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Seattle University. 

Headshot of Gerald Smiley
Gerald Smiley
Vice Chair

Gerald is an organizer at the Laborers’ Local Union 242.  He serves as a board member of a nonprofit organization committed to developing affordable workforce housing, social justice, economics and education. Gerald also serves on the SHA Section 3 Committee, which advises a program to help public housing residents and others in the community with low incomes gain the skills, access to jobs and small business contracts they need to become self-sufficient. “I grew up in affordable housing,” said Gerald.  

Robert is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Washington, where he served as department chair for eight years. He also directed the UW Graduate School’s Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program. His research and teaching focused on criminology, and a number of his studies were of Seattle neighborhoods. In 2014, his book Get a Job: Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, and Crime was published by New York University Press.  In the book, he analyzed how employment disadvantage and economic inequality lead to individual crime and delinquency, and neighborhood crime rates. He earned a B.A. from Thiel College in Greenville PA and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.

Paula is the CEO of Sound Generations in Seattle, prior to that she was the Executive Director for the Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA. She has broad experience in public health and community health administration and owned her own fitness and wellness center.

Paula is a member of Seattle Rotary #4, where she has held an officer position, sits on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association and is a member of the Seattle Art Museum’s Education and Community Engagement Committee. She has also been a member of numerous other non-profit boards and served two terms on the Seattle Women’s Commission.

She has a B.S. from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in Health Administration from the University of Washington and earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Seattle University in 2014.

Rita Howard has a long history of acting upon her care and concern about community well-being. As a retired, senior resident of SHA for nearly 10 years, she has been an advocate for seniors and the most vulnerable among us. In addition to her commissioner position Rita volunteers at a local food bank, serves on the board of the MLK Community Center, is an active member of a Seattle church that provides leadership in the Black community and is a volunteer leader in the community garden in her neighborhood. Rita is organized, detail-oriented and an innovative thinker who brings these qualities to her work on the SHA Board of Commissioners.

Twyla is a secretary for the Greater Mt. Baker Baptist Church in Seattle and helps with the emergency feeding program. Twyla, who in the past experienced homelessness, has a passion for helping others. She is well known in her community as the main chef for holiday dinners. Twyla has lived in SHA housing for 20 years.

Deborah Canavan Thiele is a Senior Program Manager for a national organization that works to improve opportunities for the homeless and other vulnerable families through supportive housing. She has held previous positions in multi-family lending at the Seattle Office of Housing, and in homeless housing initiatives at the King County Housing Authority.

Deborah holds a degree in communications and professional writing. She is an accomplished public speaker and trainer for multiple government and nonprofit organizations.

Head shot of Rod Brandon
Rod Brandon
SHA Executive Director/ Board Secretary-Treasurer

Rod became Executive Director of the Seattle Housing Authority in May 2021 and leads strategic planning and the day-to-day operations of the organization. Prior to becoming Executive Director, he served for 10 years as SHA’s Director of Housing Operations, overseeing SHA’s largest department with approximately 400 staff serving more than 17,000 residents in approximately 8,500 housing units. Rod has extensive career experience in creating innovative policies and programs, building critical partnerships, managing large projects, operations and budgets and developing diverse workforces. Rod has held increasingly responsible leadership positions in the public sector for the past 25 years, serving as Director of Sustainability and Environmental Services for King County, Assistant King County Executive for King County Executive Ron Sims and Deputy Chief of Staff for City of Seattle Mayor Norm Rice. Rod earned a B.A. degree in business administration from the University of Montana, Missoula, and also attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he completed a program for senior executives in state and local government.