2021 WLI BC Outstanding Leader
The Women’s Leadership Initiative of British Columbia (WLI BC) recognizes 2021’s outstanding leader for demonstrating commitment and contributions in her career and our community. She is a proven leader and mentor within the real estate development industry. WLI BC is honoured to recognize her success and generous spirit through this program.
With a career of over 30 years with BC Housing, most recently as Associate Vice President of Development Strategies at BC Housing, Armin Amrolia has contributed to the development of thousands of affordable homes in British Columbia. Having led a team of 9 Directors, her team is tasked with building housing units including shelter and transitional housing, purpose built rental, and affordable housing.
Armin’s leadership extends beyond her immediate contributions in her BC Housing career: she helped initiate a mentorship program within Development & Asset Strategies, has developed training and coaching series for staff, is routinely mentoring, and contributes via multiple positions on various advisory groups. Furthermore, Armin is an avid contributor and donor to the “This Is Me…Period!” initiative.
We are pleased to share more about Armin:
Tell us about your role as Associate Vice President of Development Strategies of BC Housing. “It has been a privilege and honor to build the team at BC Housing and work with them. This team is responsible for all the net new development of affordable and social housing in the province. This amounts to approximately 3,000 units a year, working with industry, Not-For-Profit’s, Indigenous housing providers, faith-based groups and municipalities.”
Can you speak to the impact your team has had in communities across the province? “The impact has been gradual, as we have built up portfolios of much-needed housing and launched initiatives that will have a lasting influence. It’s really the passion and commitment we bring to the organization in the work we do. Every single person on this team has made personal commitments that have had far-reaching effects on people’s lives all over BC. From shelters to transitional housing for women fleeing violence with their children, to launching and executing housing on- and off- -Nation for Indigenous communities, to purpose built rental, and affordable ownership – this team has delivered. We have taken calculated risks and we have challenged norms.”
Is there a particular project that has resonated with you over your time with BC Housing? “It’s hard to identify a particular project. Regardless of size, each project is impactful. Homes that we were able to deliver to women and children, and marginalized groups have resonated with me. One in particular was my first project: a group home in Victoria with the Ministry of Health. I completed the land deal and was able to see the project from start to finish. The moment that stuck with me most was when we handed over keys to someone who had always lived in institutionalized housing. Delivering housing for those in need reminds me of my grandmother who made an immense impact in our community by donating essentials like rice and milk – one person at a time. It is my goal that nobody has to leave with their belongings in a garbage bag, anymore.”
You have been instrumental in your involvement with the “This is Me…Period!” project. Can you tell us about this initiative? “This is a movement that centers on the realization that period poverty is especially grinding for young, marginalized women. Imagine you had to miss school, work or face ridicule because you had no access to menstrual products…Missing work could render you jobless on a monthly basis…Missing school could render you behind in class and the ridicule of not having protection would be psychologically prohibitive. This initiative highlights the sheer plight of many women that most cannot imagine having to face, and the solution is quite simple. Period protection is fundamental to women’s well-being. So under the leadership of Dian Patterson, an initiative sponsored by BC Housing began: to ensure that period product distribution to shelters, community organizations and transitional housing was possible – free of charge. We started talking to women in the DTES and couldn’t believe how marginalized these women are. Access to menstrual products should be guaranteed.
This initiative aims to raise awareness on this issue and create partnerships with businesses to donate these products to our communities. We encourage anyone to join in our efforts. Learn more here: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/homelessness-services/this-is-me-period”
What is your definition of success? “Hard to answer…! It’s not just one thing, it’s varied. I tend to not think of personal successes as much as I do societal ones. Calling out prejudice, racism, and demanding equity are successes. Balancing this out with legislation, awareness, empathy and kindness are successes.”
Is there someone you look up to? “I walk with my grandmother every day. She taught me humility and kindness are what, incite change, a better society, and above all, people’s well-being. I watched her pay it forward and give back. It was powerful to witness this at a young age. She would give water, rice, flour and sugar to marginalized women and children and I realized at a very young age that her acts of kindness and generosity were in many ways saving lives”.
What has been a challenge in your career? Or perhaps a defining moment that changed your approach to things. “Being a racialized woman in development was a challenge but it didn’t stop what I knew to be right. Going from thinking that leadership is about you, became about leadership being “us”. Creating a team that was brighter and had skills I did not posses was a defining moment – Success needs to be shared.”
By Jacqueline Garvin
WLI BC Committee Member