COLUMBIA, S.C. — (WLTX) -- The City of Columbia announced the four new faces of the Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. Mayor Steve Benjamin said they would start effect of immediately.
The four new board members are James Chatfield, Georgia Mjartan, Kara Simmons and Anne Sinclair. These new commissioners all have corporate and community service backgrounds.
"I have a responsibility to fight for the residents and for the community," Kara Simmons said.
Simmons said that responsibility is one of the reasons why she wanted to be on the Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.
"I am up for a challenge and the task ahead, and I have strategically decided that this is the way I want to make an impact and a legacy within my community, by dealing with such a, people would run away from the issue, but for me I'm going to run towards it because I would like to see change, and I would like to see impact," Simmons said.
Simmons said she wants to work on more affordable housing, homelessness and family sustainability.
As a Columbia College graduate, Simmons is now a professor there as well as the Executive Director of Columbia Bethlehem Community Center. She is also the Board Chair of the Talented Tenth, a non-profit founded by Mayor Steve Benjamin.
"I am very intentional about leaving something better than it was when I came in," Simmons said. "So being strategic and impactful is something that is at the forefront for me. And sometimes you have to make those hard decisions and you won't always make friends, but we have to be strategic, and be intentional and do the best for the least of these."
Another new face on the board is Anne Sinclair who said her past experiences called her to be on the board. She served on the Columbia City Council for 20 years and worked closely with the housing authority in the past.
"From what I've read, it's a tragedy that didn't necessarily really need to happen," Sinclair said. "It shouldn't of happened and it's important to figure out why it did happen. However it happened, it can't happen again."
Sinclair said she has always been an advocate for safe housing and will continue to be one. She said she is ready to learn, but the first priority will be finding a new executive director.
"Establishing new leadership is very, very important," Sinclair said. "Obviously Mr. Walker has announced his retirement, so what happens next? Is there an interim, is there a search for a new person? These are major questions that this almost new board is going to have to decide because there has to be somebody strong at the helm of the housing authority, and that will be a very important first step for us."
Both Simmons and Sinclair said they want to put the residents of the authority first and make positive changes as the board moves forward.
Click here, for more on the backgrounds of the new board members.