Advisory Group

The HomeFree Champions – A Community of Practice are an advisory board for HomeFree a national initiative of the Healthy Building Network (HBN) supporting affordable housing leaders who are improving human health by using less toxic building materials. A dynamic group of national and regional experts, the members will provide insight and support related to strategies for refining, scaling and promoting the work of HomeFree and its partners. As a community of practice, members will engage in the co-creation of solutions for our common goals, contributing and sharing their knowledge and experience to form shared complementary cross-sector goals and activities leading to the accelerated adoption of healthier building materials in affordable housing. 

Jess Blanch Design Associate - Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow, Capitol Hill Housing

Jess joined Capitol Hill Housing in 2016 as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow, where she has focused on advancing CHH's capacity in design excellence, sustainability, and community engagement in a variety of low-income housing and community development projects. Jess brings over a decade of experience in the design of high-performance buildings, affordable housing and community facilities, and community-engaged design work at Environmental Works Community Design Center, the University of Washington Integrated Design Lab, and the Global Studio.

Gina Ciganik Chief Executive Officer, Healthy Building Network

Gina has been growing and scaling HBN’s vision since assuming the CEO role in 2016. Previously she served as Senior Advisor for Housing Innovation, establishing and leading the HomeFree initiative, an expansion of HBN’s healthy materials work into the affordable housing sector. Recognized as a national leader in transforming human and environmental health through strategic partnerships, innovative business practices, education, and leading-edge research, Gina has a proven track record of creating healthier spaces where we live, work, and play. Prior to HBN, she was Vice President of Housing Development at a Minneapolis-St. Paul area affordable housing development organization, where she spent two decades creating thousands of healthy, affordable homes. Her efforts culminated in the construction of The Rose, a 90-unit apartment building in Minneapolis that set a new national standard for healthy materials.

Krista Egger Senior Director of National Initiatives, Enterprise

Krista has more than a decade of experience leading energy efficiency initiatives with affordable housing stakeholders and manages Enterprise’s national sustainability programs. She led the technical development and public roll-out of the 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, provides strategic oversight for the Enterprise Green Communities Certification program, leads Enterprise’s Health Action Plan framework which pairs public health professionals with affordable housing development teams, and manages the development and delivery of a suite of associated trainings, tools, and initiatives.

Simona Fischer Designer, MSR

Simona received an M.S. in Sustainable Design and M.Arch from the University of Minnesota, and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Iowa. She has been practicing professionally as a designer for five years and is interested in the transformation to sustainable practice. Simona strives to balance measurable high performance, life cycle and human impact considerations, and how a project can transform the way users think about the environment. Simona guest lectures at the University of Minnesota College of Design on sustainable materials.

David Jacobs Director of Research, National Center for Healthy Housing

David previously worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as Director of the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, where he was responsible for policy development, grants management, enforcement, public education and training, and research. David wrote the first federal interagency strategy on childhood lead poisoning prevention in the US. He also conceived and won Congressional support for the U.S. Healthy Homes initiative in 1999. He has testified before Congress and other legislative bodies and has numerous scientific peer-reviewed publications on building science, health outcomes of green healthy housing construction and rehabilitation, childhood lead poisoning prevention and other topics. David is currently an adjunct associate professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a faculty associate at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

David Johnson Principle, SERA Architects

David is a leader in integrated design with three decades of global experience. David leads the Bay Area office of SERA Architects. Prior to SERA, David was a partner and managing director at William McDonough + Partners. He contributes to manuals, books and conferences and was a sustainable design studio instructor at Stanford and A Planning Commissioner in Marin, California. David is active with AIA, ULI and SPUR, where he is a member of the Bay Area Regional Water and Policy Board. He presents frequently on the application of value-based restorative design principles in the built environment.

Richard Kingston VP Sustainability, Housing Partnership Network Select

Richard has 20-years in multi-family management operations transitioning into a focused role around green, sustainable, healthy, and smart building operations & products.

Julie Klump Vice President for Design and Building Performance, POAH

Julie is responsible for design and energy efficiency for development projects and the owned portfolio. She assists POAH in the acquisition process with building investigation, energy budgeting, scope development and cost estimates. She works with POAH’s Development Project Managers and Asset Managers to engage the project team (architect, engineer, clerk, etc.) for rehabilitation of new acquisitions and/or POAH owned properties (including the implementation of energy efficiency programs). For new construction, she oversees design development and construction, integrating green and sustainable design. Julie authors POAH’s product and performance specification used by development and maintenance staff when selecting building materials and components. Additionally, she manages the data collection and analysis that define the efficiency efforts and serves as a subject matter expert for all aspects of building performance.

A Certified Passive House Consultant and LEED-certified architect with an undergraduate degree in environmental design, Julie has worked as an architect, construction manager, owner’s project manager and Executive Director of the Texas Historical Foundation.

James Lehnhoff Assistant Commissioner for Multifamily, Minnesota Housing

James joined Minnesota Housing in March 2019 as the Assistant Commissioner the Multifamily to advance the vision of increasing access to safe, stable homes for all Minnesotans in communities they choose. He leads and supports the affordable housing team that implements affordable housing production, compliance, asset management, and compliance throughout the State. James brings more than 16 years of local government, municipal finance, and real estate development experience, including extensive work in affordable housing development, Pro Forma analysis, land use planning, economic development, community engagement, and project management. He has successfully implemented complex and nationally recognized affordable housing development projects to advance community goals.

Prior to joining Minnesota Housing, James served as the Director of Portfolio Strategy at CommonBond Communities, Municipal Advisor at Ehlers & Associates, the Vice President of Real Estate at Aeon, and was the Community Development Director for the City of Arden Hills. James holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Hilary Noll Architect, Mithun

Hilary is a registered architect with a mission-driven design process centered on social and ecological impact. Prior to joining Mithun, Hilary served as Design Director at affordable housing developer First Community Housing – furthering the development of high quality and healthy affordable housing throughout disadvantaged communities in Silicon Valley. Her emphasis on outcome-based design currently includes pursuit of the first Living Building Challenge-certified affordable housing and net-zero energy buildings. A background in environmental science and community organizing informs her approach of working with local communities in a participatory process.

Hilary’s process of regenerative design – where the human built environment and nature combine holistically – is inspired by balancing an awareness of site, materials, culture, and ecology. Hilary is a LEED AP BD+C, Fitwel Ambassador, Living Building Challenge Ambassador and SEED Accredited. Recognition of her work includes Exhibition Winner: Drylands Design Competition; Second Place: Natural Talent Design Competition; and ‘Best in Show’ at the New Mexico Green Built Tour. Hilary has been named a New Mexico Heritage Scholar, Udall Scholar, and an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow. In addition to a Master of Architecture, Hilary holds a Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation & Regionalism, and a BA in Environmental Studies.

Ben Passer Director, Energy Access and Equity, Fresh Energy

Ben directs Fresh Energy’s work to advance equitable outcomes across Minnesota’s energy system, and also supports the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Minnesota and a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law. He is a member of the Minnesota Bar.

Rebecca Schaaf Senior Vice President, Energy, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future

Becky leads two initiatives at SAHF – the Big Reach, SAHF’s goal with its members to reduce portfolio-wide energy and water use by 20% by 2020, and Bringing Sustainability Home, an energy and health initiative that aims to ensure low-income residents and communities have equal access to critical environmental and health benefits. Prior to joining SAHF, Becky worked as a Program Officer for CHF International and served in the Peace Corps in Ghana, where she taught mathematics. She holds a B.A. in Economics from New College of Florida and a Master's degree in Community Planning from the University of Maryland.

Ruchi Shah Sustainability Manager, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation

Ruchi joined TNDC in 2016 and has worked in both affordable housing and private multifamily sector on environmental sustainability. She manages TNDC’s energy and water capital improvement initiatives as part of the national Better Buildings Challenge commitment to reduce energy and water consumption by 20% by 2022. Ruchi has worked with Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), a non-profit affordable housing organization based in Washington D.C. where she tracked energy and water data of over 500 buildings and secured $2.7 million in utility rebates to pursue sustainability projects. Prior to SAHF, she worked at AvalonBay Communities, Inc., a REIT based in Virginia where she was responsible for corporate sustainability, external reporting and stakeholder engagement. Ruchi is a LEED Green Associate and has a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from India and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from University of Pennsylvania.

Rusty Smith Associate Director Rural Studio, University of Alabama Auburn

Rusty is currently Auburn University's Gresham Professor, Associate Chair of the Architecture Program and Associate Director of the Rural Studio. He also has taught and lectured as a Distinguished Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects. He is a nationally recognized teacher and scholar. Rusty’s honors related to teaching excellence include the receipt of the 2005 American Institute of Architects National Teaching Honor Award (along with Professors Bruce Lindsey and Rebecca O'Neal Dagg), and the 2003 American Institute of Architecture Students National Teaching Honor Award. Rusty is a regular invited lecturer speaking about design education at both educational institutions as well as to design professionals.

Lauren Zullo Director of Sustainability, Jonathan Rose Companies

Lauren joined Jonathan Rose Companies in 2017 as Director of Environmental, where she is responsible for overseeing environmental and healthy building design, retrofit, certification, and reporting initiatives across all the firm’s business practices. Prior to joining Jonathan Rose Companies, she worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where she led initiatives to scale up market-based strategies to improve the environmental performance of large buildings. Lauren previously held roles in development, property management and sustainability for the commercial real estate firm Greenebaum & Rose Associates in Washington, DC. Lauren received her A.B. from Bowdoin College.