Tillman Neuner – President
Tillman spent his career as a lawyer, economist and business analyst. He worked in both the judicial and executive branches of the federal government, then at the World Bank and later as an independent consultant. The central focus of his professional work was issues of human habilitation and mobility, including transportation and urban development.
Over the years, he has been an active participant in civic affairs, particularly related to housing. Tillman was one of the earliest proponents of establishing the Arlington Housing Corporation and served as Board Member and President and on its various committees. He co-founded the Coalition for Housing in Arlington, an advocacy group, and participated in the efforts to protect lower-income tenants from displacement when more than 700 units of affordable housing at Arna Valley were being modernized. The loss of those 700 affordable apartments led to the creation of BRAVO and to Tillman’s affiliation with BRAVO. He actively maintains his strong commitment to providing affordable housing for all citizens in the community and to ensuring access to essential services for them.
Jeff Elkner – Vice President
Jeff has been a community activist since the 1980s, focusing especially on housing rights, civil rights, and expanding opportunities for all to meaningfully participate in our democracy. Before joining the BRAVO Board, Jeff volunteered with Tenants and Workers United. A public school teacher, Jeff is an active member of the Arlington Education Association, and is devoted to strengthening the voice of teachers, parents and students in Arlington Public Schools.
Ellen Bartlett – Secretary
An Arlington resident for over 50 years and an Arlington Public Schools retiree, Ellen realized after her retirement from 36 years of teaching English at Wakefield High School that younger teachers were finding that they could not afford to live in Arlington. For her retirement “mission,” she decided to devote herself to the cause of making affordable housing options available to those who want to both work and live in Arlington. Having experienced the vibrancy offered by the cultural diversity of the school system, Ellen added as an allied mission maintaining that diversity in the Arlington community. It is a mission that she has pursued through multiple groups.
Ellen has also served as president of the Arlington Interfaith Council (AIC) and has encouraged the Council’s focus on affordable housing and a living wage, and for those efforts was named an Arlington Community Hero. Other involvements include: The Views at Clarendon affordable housing project, Arlington New Directions Committee (ANDC), the Arlington Committee of 100, Arlington Education Association-Retired, and Arlington Retired Teachers Association, as well as collaboratively working with other local affordable housing advocates and providers, such as Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) and Alliance for Housing Solutions (AHS).
Umair Ahsan – Treasurer
A tenant and tenant advocate. In addition to working fulltime as an engineer, Umair serves on the board of BRAVO, and a member of the Arlington Affordable Housing Study working group. In the past, Umair served as a financial education volunteer with the Arlington County Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and as an instructor for Arlington County Adult Education Program. As an Adult Education instructor, Umair taught test preparation courses and continues to promote the value of lifelong learning.
Gloria Galvez, Board Member
Gloria joined BRAVO’s Board of Directors in August 2014. She has been an Arlingtonian for 25 years, after having emigrated from her native Bolivia. Almost since first settling here, she has been a tenant at Park Shirlington Apartments. A single mom, she raised two daughters and helped put them both through college. Gloria is a student at Arlington Mill High School, which features curriculum for adult students. A native Spanish speaker, she is strengthening her English competency and is enrolled in several other classes.
In 2012, the utility billing vendor for all Park Shirlington tenants reported to Gloria’s landlord some problem with her account. She knew she had paid everything, but Gloria was threatened with eviction. It worked out -- but only temporarily. So Gloria approached BRAVO. We recommended how to address the issue and connected her with a Spanish-speaking representative for the vendor. She resolved the issue with the billing company. With a little guidance from BRAVO staff, and a lot of her own persistence, she arranged through her landlord to simplify the billing process.
Gloria knows firsthand the threat of redevelopment and displacement. For years, Park Shirlington’s owner has been advancing proposals to demolish the aging property -- home to 293 families -- and rebuild up to 750 new high-end apartments. In 2013, they got more serious.
Gloria got to work. She actively organized her diverse community, partnering with BRAVO to distribute bilingual flyers, knock on doors in teams to talk about issues important to her neighbors, attend meetup after meetup and represent tenants in a joint meeting BRAVO held with the landlord. She also hosted in her home the meeting where she and her neighbors decided to launch the Park Shirlington Tenants Association. BRAVO is providing backing as it moves forward.
The property owner adopted a corporate-wide policy change that led to withdrawing its redevelopment proposal. For now.
In 2014, the Arlington Public Schools superintendent proposed eliminating Gloria’s high school, which would have ended the opportunity for her and other qualified students 23 years old and older to earn a bona fide high school diploma. Gloria got to work again. She organized the students, secured support from community advocates, and turned out a standing room only crowd of classmates at a key budget hearing. The proposal was withdrawn.
It turns out, activism doesn’t fall far from the matriarch. One of Gloria’s daughters has worked professionally to preserve affordable housing in Arlington. With their determination … sí se puede.
Ingrid Vaca, Board Member
Learn soon about Ingrid's background!
Dennis Jaffe – Executive Director
Dennis joined BRAVO as Executive Director in 2011 and embarked new initiatives to integrate tenants more deeply into local civic life. Read the news release announcing his appointment.
With 25 years of experience in community outreach and communications, Dennis has passionately devoted himself to engaging people to participate more actively in our neighborhoods. He has championed opening doors to create and expand sustainable ways for citizens to make our voices heard – and to make them count. He aims to empower each individual as their own best advocate to improve their quality of life.
Dennis moved to the Washington area from his home state of New Jersey in 1998. He has established effective relationships with decision-makers, while keeping his feet planted in the community. He has served as an officer of two tenant associations and led successful campaigns to improve bus and rail service. He has also blogged at GreaterGreaterWashington.org.
He recognizes how critical it is that there be meaningful conversations between leaders in government and business and the residents they serve, who often feel disenfranchised and who don't expect to have influence in decisions on matters affecting their lives. He shares BRAVO’s commitment to preserving the community’s cultural and economic diversity, and is conversant in Spanish.
Dennis is committed to pursuing collaborative efforts that aim to: better inform decision-makers on issues that many of us face, develop constructive solutions, and instill faith among citizens that we can make a difference through our individual and collective participation.