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Verve and Energy

Nancy Burke: Advocac365 of the Year
February 2019

You may not have met the 2018 NAA Advocacy365 Advocate of the Year Nancy Burke, but one way or another, you know her. She has a verve and an energy that immediately rub off on those around her, and that has underpinned her advocacy strategy deeply during her 25-year career in advocacy, the last 10 years of which she has served as the Government Affairs Director for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver.

Burke has remained committed to ensuring the rental housing industry is viewed as a partner and a leader in solving housing-related issues. Her advocacy has had a direct effect on the industry both in Denver and across all of Colorado, as well as her most well-known contribution, LIVE Denver.

Burke and her members conceived the idea for LIVE Denver and pitched it to elected officials. The program serves as a model of a public-private partnership that is a solution to the affordable housing crisis.

Qualifying residents pay one third of their income towards rent, and local foundations and employers contribute to a fund that provides the balance of the market-rate rent for the unit. The program provides transitional housing opportunities as well as financial literacy, budgeting and renter training. When a renter completes the program, they receive a “Head Start Fund,” which is equal to 5 percent of their rent over two years, which can be applied to a deposit for an apartment or a down payment for a house.

Building relationships with local officials helped make Burke’s pitch for LIVE Denver a success. Her energetic spirit also allows her to develop and foster relationships with federal, state and local legislators in a way few others can. She often hosts breakfasts, lunches, dinners, roundtables and other community events to give policymakers a first-hand view of how regulations affect rental housing, earning respect along the way, and making herself the go-to source for policymakers debating housing issues.

Burke knows the value of public relations as a key to successful advocacy. Burke created a statewide guide for residents compiling resources both public and private, titled “The Colorado Housing and Financial Assistance Guide,” which she provides to policymakers and their staff to share with constituents. The guide has even been translated into Spanish in order to serve Colorado’s large Latino population.

Burke also contributes in other ways, including speaking engagements and contributing content to publications. She coninues to work closely with Colorado lawmakers by servicing on an affordable housing task force at the request of  Congressman Ed Perlmutter and works with another affordable housing group at the request of Thornton Colorado Mayor Heidi Williams.

She excels at bringing in and guiding her members through the advocacy process. She created four new subcommittees under the Joint Legislative Advisory Council. The new committees raise funds for the NAAPAC, provide long term financial planning for CAA to fight ballot initiatives, provides guidance on last-minute changes in legislation and attends meetings on ballot initiatives and works with her to present the information to the Joint Legislative Advisory Council. Burke has also created group of members that can testify before the legislature. She conducts classes at the state Capitol for members of that group to prepare them and help them become comfortable with the process of testifying.

When she’s not meeting with legislators on her turf, she enjoys talking politics and developing new relationships at the iconic Churchill’s in Denver. NAA is extremely proud to honor Nancy as our Advocacy365 Advocate of the Year.