Tonight, community leaders, officials, advocates and providers will gather to pay tribute to Connie Tempel, who recently retired from CSH.
When someone as wonderful and caring as Connie retires, there are mixed emotions. On the one hand, she’s worked hard and has given so much of herself to advancing supportive housing. We gratefully accept her many contributions and admit to ourselves that she’s earned and deserves time to herself – for her family, for travel, for her gardening – and we’re happy she gets to relax. After all, she’s been with CSH since our earliest days and labored feverishly to ensure our initiatives and innovations would make us the leader we are today. On the other hand, because she is so special, we cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness.
Connie won’t stop helping others. My bet is she cannot stop herself. Her life has been devoted to others and she’ll continue to be the same selfless, motivating strength we all know and love. But, her daily presence at CSH has ended and that takes some getting used to.
Soon after Connie began her career at CSH, she became the director of the New York program. Probably one of our most seasoned hires, she brought with her a well-established and regarded background in both housing development and services delivery. We view Connie as wise and experienced and that has been the case from day one here at CSH.
While guiding the New York program, Connie broke ground that still resonates. She was the major force behind convincing the New York State Office of Mental Health to embrace supportive housing as an intervention to end chronic homelessness. Not only was this significant because supportive housing was a relatively new, untested model, Connie also had to convince them to adopt a different way to finance their projects. Her groundbreaking work – which covered several years of crunching numbers, collecting facts, and calmly articulating the case – paid off and would lay the foundation for what would eventually become known as the NY/NY agreements to create supportive housing.
Connie’s trajectory here at CSH and throughout our industry had nowhere to go but up. She would ably serve as Managing Director of the Eastern Region and then, finally, in her last role as Chief Operating Officer where she skillfully guided the Program Committee and various workgroups.
Yes, her experience and professionalism are second to none. She has advised staff on issues ranging from Youth to FUSE to Moving On to Older Adult Homelessness. She knows our programs and products like the back of her hand. But it is more than the quality of her work that endears her to us; it is the quality of her character.
The calm voice of reason and collegial even under stress, always striving to build consensus and connections, Connie is the epitome of professionalism and dedication. Whether you see her as a cherished colleague, expert, mentor, friend or sounding board, she has shared and given more to us than we could ever return to her. We would be selfish not to allow our happiness and best wishes to over-ride any feelings of sadness.
She is class, the very best of what we stand for and represent, and has been a credit to this organization for over 20 years. Simply put, Connie Tempel is One CSH.
Deb De Santis
President & CEO, CSH