KCHA's strategic direction comes from its Board of Commissioners and its seven-member Leadership Team.
Robin Walls, Executive Director
Robin joined KCHA in 2022. Robin has extensive experience in the affordable housing field and possesses deep knowledge of HUD programs. She came to KCHA from the Houston Housing Authority where she served, most recently, as Vice President of Housing Choice Voucher Programs. In that role, she also oversaw the organization’s grant-funded rental assistance programs for tenants. Prior to that, Robin served as the interim Housing Choice Voucher Program Director for the New Orleans Housing Authority and held supervisory roles at the Chicago Housing Authority’s HCV program. Robin has also provided consulting and technical assistance to numerous housing authorities around the country. Robin participates in several professional organizations including the National Leased Housing Association, where she serves on the board, and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, where she serves on multiple standing committees. Robin hails from Chicago. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.
Dan Watson, Advisor to the Executive Director
Mr. Watson has been a senior member of the Authority’s management team for more than 40 years and has headed up the financing and development of new affordable housing programs during most of his tenure. Under Mr. Watson’s direction, the Authority has acquired or developed more than 8,600 units of low- and mixed-income housing using combinations of tax-exempt bond financing, low-interest governmental loans, low-income housing tax credit equity financing, and conventional bank financing. Mr. Watson is the former president of the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle King County and has also served on numerous affordable housing advisory committees. Mr. Watson serves on the Board of the Bellevue Convention Center Authority, was formerly Regional President of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), and has served on NAHRO's Board of Governors and National Legislative Committee. Mr. Watson holds a Master's in Economics from Northwestern University, a Master's in Software Engineering from Seattle University, and a Bachelor's in Economics from Washington State University.
Anneliese Gryta, Deputy Executive Director of Housing Assistance Programs
Ms. Gryta joined the Authority in 2021. In this role, she oversees the organization’s federal programs, including the Housing Choice Voucher Program and public housing. She came to KCHA from Lucas Metropolitan Housing, in Toledo, OH, where she served as the Chief of Staff and Chief Policy and Program Officer. Prior to joining the field, Ms. Gryta served as the Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Grantmaking for the Greater Toledo Community Foundation. She started her career in service to low-income families as a legal aid attorney. Ms. Gryta holds a J.D. degree from the C. Blake McDowell School of Law at the University of Akron, a bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College at the State University of New York, and a Certificate in Executive Education from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.
Craig Violante, Deputy Executive Director & Chief Administrative Officer
Mr. Violante was appointed to his current position in January 2021, and has responsibility for the strategic planning and operations of the Authority’s administrative functions, including finance, human resources, information technology, and risk management. Prior to assuming his current role Mr. Violante served as the Authority’s Chief Financial Officer for nearly 15 years and, prior to that time, served in various finance and accounting positions in local government. Licensed as a Certified Public Accountant since 1982, Mr. Violante holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington, and is a former elected official, having served on the Board of King County Fire District 40 for nine years.
Tonya Harlan, Director of Human Resources
Ms. Harlan joined the Authority in 2015 as the Director of Human Resources. With more than 27 years of professional human resources experience, Ms. Harlan serves as a strategic business partner and oversees the Human Resources Office; she is responsible for KCHA’s recruitment, retention, labor relations, benefits, professional development, and training. Along with a strong business acumen, her comprehensive background in HR management, policy interpretation, and inclusive communication practices has resulted in strong and trusting relationships with her internal and external customers. Tonya is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and Society for Human Resources Management – Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Prior to joining the Authority, Ms. Harlan was the Regional Associate Director of Human Resources-West Division for HMSHost – North America.
Scarleth Lever Ortiz, Senior Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)
Ms. Lever Ortiz joined the Authority in 2021 to shape, and lead, our agency-wide EDI strategy. Ms. Lever Ortiz joined KCHA from the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), where she served in various roles during her 11-year tenure there. In 2014 she became CHA’s founding director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, where she established a wide range of programs and activities aimed at increasing cultural competency, collaboration, and access, particularly among hard-to-reach-populations. Prior to joining CHA, she served as the Aldermanic Aide and Director of Legislative Affairs for the City of Chicago 1st Ward Alderman. Ms. Lever Ortiz earned a bachelor's degree in global studies from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations and is a Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC) Fellow. Ms. Lever Ortiz is a first generation immigrant from Mexico City. She relocated to Washington with her husband and rescue dog.
Kristy Johnson, Senior Director for Policy, Research and Social Impact Initiatives
Ms. Johnson joined the Authority in 2002. Ms. Johnson is a public housing professional with over 20 years of experience in administering, developing, implementing and evaluating a variety of public housing programs and activities. She believes housing is a human right and the solution to the homelessness crisis, hence has dedicated her life to advance opportunities in the field of affordable and supportive housing. Ms. Johnson currently oversees the Authority’s Research and Evaluation efforts, Moving to Work (MTW) program, Project-based Voucher procurement and contracting, and Social Impact Initiatives related to health, education, and homelessness. Prior to her appointment as the Senior Director for Policy, Research and Social Impact initiatives in 2021, Ms. Johnson served as the Authority’s Senior Director of Homeless Housing Initiatives where she expanded the Authority’s supportive housing portfolio and developed and implemented evidence based supportive housing programs by successfully leveraging the Authority’s MTW flexibilities. Ms. Johnson’s work is deeply rooted in partnership and cross-system coordination with local government, school districts, non-profit organizations, and other systems of care.
Tim Walter, Senior Director of Development and Asset Management
Mr. Walter has been with the Authority since 1992 and is responsible for acquisition, development, financing and/or management of the financial operations of approximately 9,000 units in the Workforce Housing, Homeownership, Tax Credit, HOPE VI, and Development programs of the Authority. His department is responsible for all contracted management of the Authority-owned property and the on-site staff of the homeownership programs. Mr. Walter has a bachelor’s degree in finance, magna cum laude, from Seattle Pacific University.