Rebecca Hatfield is president and CEO of Avesta Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing provider headquartered in Portland, Maine.
She took over the top post from longtime leader Dana Totman, who retired last year. Hatfield joined Avesta in 2015 and recently served as senior vice president of real estate.
What was your first job, and what did it teach you?
When I realized I was old enough to get paid to play games and have fun with little kids (aka babysitting), I was ready to jump right in. It felt like a win-win at the age of 13, so I started babysitting for many of the neighborhood families with young children. Given that I am the youngest in my family, and I was often the one being taken care of by an older sibling, it taught me a lot about being responsible and accountable, knowing others were relying on me. Also, my mom had always instilled a sense of independence in me as she raised me to be resilient like her, and this was the first time I started to experience it as I earned and saved my own money.
How did you get started working in affordable housing?
I had spent my entire career in the corporate world and was looking for a role with more purpose—something that would utilize my skills and experience and have meaningful impact. I found this in Avesta Housing. Avesta is the largest nonprofit affordable housing provider in northern New England. We own and manage 100 properties comprising of 3,000 apartment homes, we provide affordable housing to nearly 5,000 people every day, and we are actively creating new affordable housing with over 800 new affordable apartments in our development pipeline. Avesta embodies the mission and values I believe in, and it has allowed me to leverage my real estate and financial expertise to make a positive difference for people in our community.