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LA Power Women: 5 Questions With Skid Row Housing Trust's Monique Davis

This limited series profiles SoCal Power Women who have helped shape cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles in Southern California. These women will be honored at Bisnow's Los Angeles Power Women event Dec. 12.

Anger drives Skid Row Housing Trust's Monique Davis.

Anger at seeing homeless people sleep on the streets. Anger at the homeless situation that continues to escalate in Los Angeles and across California and the U.S. She is not angry at the homeless people but the fact that there is just not enough being done to help the situation.

It is this anger and passion to help the helpless that fuels her work, Davis said.

Skid Row Housing Trust Chief Community and Engagement Officer Monique Davis

As the chief community and engagement officer at the Skid Row Housing Trust, she is responsible for providing leadership; galvanizing and deploying internal and external resources to increase, manage and leverage community engagement strategies; and designing and launching programs that increase political, advocacy and community engagement.

This implementation includes community engagement, outreach and advocacy on behalf of the homeless community and those employees who serve those in need. 

Bisnow: Who are you and what do you do?

Davis: The chief community and engagement officer position is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the organization's vision, leadership and influence in the community.  

The chief community and engagement officer also leads the organization in partnership with the chief financial officer in aggregating and facilitating the capital for properties which could include private investors, opportunistic funds, investment banks, institutions and subsidized entities.

Additionally, the officer oversees the Trust’s investment strategies including project plans, locating, structuring, negotiating and financing real estate transactions, raising funds and debt capital to support new initiatives and re-capitalizing existing properties, and have a proven track record in managing a real estate portfolio for providing solution for the homeless population.

Bisnow: What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?

Davis: I am angry about the homelessness crisis, especially what I see daily in the Downtown area of Skid Row, Los Angeles. I am upset about all forms of injustice but homelessness in the U.S. is most concerning given the wealth in the USA and California. Also, that there are false beliefs about why or how someone becomes homeless. The truth is, that homelessness could happen to anyone. Most Californians are one major sickness or financial event away from disaster.

Bisnow: How have you seen companies change the way they address wage and gender inequality in recent years?

Davis: This issue takes leadership to address. I have seen individual leaders, like our CEO of Skid Row Housing Trust, address pay inequality head-on. Our CEO set a standard early in her tenure to address the standards of operating and expectations for how the organization will operate and set the cultural norms for how employees will be treated fairly and equally.

As the previous chief operating officer and leading human resources, [I can say] it takes partnership with the HR department to make cultural and process changes. Regular evaluations of pay and performance should be completed often, and inequalities must be addressed in a timely manner. Managers are key to fair treatment of employees and teams so training and good process design for managers and holding management accountable is vital to ensuring pay equality happens at all levels.

Bisnow: What do you enjoy most about living and doing business in Los Angeles?

Davis: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, which is a rare thing because most people come to LA from other places to settle. The best part of Los Angeles is the pride people have about the community regardless of which part of the city they live in.  I am also surprised and excited by the change I have seen especially in Downtown over the last 10 years. There are amazing restaurants and history in our city. It would take a lifetime to see all the wonderful landmarks and attractions in Los Angeles alone. 

Bisnow: What are you most excited about, professionally, as we head into 2020?

Davis: I am excited about becoming Board of Directors Chair for Piece by Piece, a nonprofit organization that provides mosaic art therapy to people experiencing or who have experienced homelessness. I am hopeful and optimistic that Los Angeles is addressing its homeless crisis. We have not addressed to date all the possible solutions, but I am happy that the issue is being discussed everywhere I go. No longer are only nonprofit organizations and government agencies looking at solutions but also the for-profit business community. If we continue to have open discussions and bring everyone into the discussion, we have a greater opportunity to solve the crisis sooner and save more lives. Homelessness is the number one topic on the minds of people living and working in Los Angeles. It will take the greater community to solve it.

Bisnow's Los Angeles Power Women event will be held Dec. 12 at the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live hotel in downtown Los Angeles.