How to Become a Dynamic Leader in the Affordable Housing Sector | Ivory Mathews


Top 20 Dynamic CEOs in 2021

Ep. 210 - Ivory N. Mathews is a dynamic leader and motivator, offering over 20 years’ comprehensive expertise in rebranding organizations through transformational and thought-centered approaches to leadership. Ivory exemplifies a “mentor” leadership approach, providing thorough ongoing guidance, training, and feedback. She has been building capable, motivated, inspired, and highly productive teams with a razor-sharp focus on delivering high-impact results. These creative solutions consistently execute organizational goals and objectives on time and within budget. Ivory Mathews is the CEO of Columbia Housing and a dynamic leader and motivator, offering over 20 years’ comprehensive expertise in rebranding organizations through transformational and thought-centered approaches to leadership. She was named one of the top 20 dynamic CEOs in 2021 by the CEO publication, a global business magazine that recognizes leaders across the industry in the United States and the United Kingdom. Listen in to learn the value of high-quality technology in organizations to maximize efficiency and encourage innovation. You will also learn about implicit biases at the workplace and how they can be extremely harmful in any organization.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to diversify resources to bring in public-private partnerships to create more quality affordable housing
  • The power of good communication and transparency as a leader in charge of public funds
  • How to use technology to maximize efficiency, provide much better customer service, and encourage employee innovation
  • Why every organization needs to have a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) focus
  • Why you should never underestimate the value of a strong support system in your career journey
  • Find your purpose and pursue it passionately
  • Always believe in who you are and live authentically by what makes you happy

"Find your purpose and pursue it passionately." - Ivory N. Mathews

In this episode you’ll discover:

How she received the news of being named a dynamic CEO 2021 and what it means to her [1:41]

She explains the difference between a government-related CEO vs. the private sector [3:58]

How her experience with inadequate housing growing up led her to a career in affordable housing [7:16]

Ivory on the value that improving technology has brought within her organization [10:50]

The types of technology workshops they offer to the public at Columbia Housing [13:17]

The steps they’ve taken to ensure their technology is scalable for present and future needs [15:49]

How to ensure that DEI is built in the core fabric of your organization from top to bottom [20:10]

Understanding the meaning of implicit biases and the harm they can do in any organization [21:53]

She shares some of the instances she experienced gender discrimination at the workplace [23:28]

How to build an organizational brand that fits its reputation [26:03]

Why Ivory’s mom continues to be her number one influencer due to her positive attitude [28:53]

The importance of having a strong support system no matter where you are in your career [30:45]

Ivory shares 3 pieces of advice for anyone who wants to pursue a successful career [32:27]


Ivory is a fiscally responsible administrator with experience administering housing, workforce, and community development programs within quasi-governmental organizations and not-for-profit entities with annual operating budgets above $50 million. She has a proven track record of increasing revenues and growing the bottom line while spearheading operational improvements to derive productivity and reduce costs. The steadfast leader is committed to affordable housing advocacy, creating equitable communities, quality work performance, and exceptional customer satisfaction.

“Implicit bias is the most significant barrier that I’ve faced in my career. From corporate boardrooms to Congress, men are far more likely than women to rise to the highest paying and most prestigious leadership roles,” explains Ivory. “The affordable housing industry has long been led by men so it is easy for women to be unconscionably overlooked when a potential opportunity for a leadership role presents itself.” Fortunately, over the last few years, many organizations in the affordable housing industry are integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion training to address the implicit biases that are unintentionally harbored against women in leadership roles.

Touching upon the topic of being confronted with gender-related roadblocks in her career, Ivory explains that women are systematically placed on an uneven playing field in her profession, which is a male-dominated profession. Women and young girls are often taught to be “seen and not heard.” “I have learned to own my space, speak confidently, ask for what I want and always enter the room being my authentic self and knowing that I bring a lot to the table,” she says. “I encourage women in my circle to find their purpose and own it fiercely. Use their voice. Don’t be afraid to be heard. Their voice gives them certainty, transparency and, above all else, it gets them a seat at the table.”

Ivory’s mother, unquestionably, is the most significant influence in her life. She has and continues to make the most impact on the person that Ivory has become today, constantly supporting and influencing her in the most positive ways. “Though my mom came from humble beginnings – she instilled in me the richness of the rewards you reap from putting in the work.”


Ivory’s commitment to her work has garnered leadership roles in the following professional housing organizations such as the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO); Southeastern Regional Council of the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (SERC-NAHRO) and the Carolinas Council of Housing, Redevelopment and Codes Officials (CCHRCO). Ivory has served as the President-Elect of the Carolina’s Council of Housing, Redevelopment & Codes Officials (CCHRCO), on the Legislative Committee of the Southeastern Regional Council of NAHRO (SERC-NAHRO), City of Columbia’s Affordable Housing Taskforce, and a Congressional Contact for the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO).

As CEO of Columbia Housing, President-Elect for CCHRCO, member of the SERC-NAHRO Legislative Committee, and as one of NAHRO’s Congressional Contacts — I rallied my colleagues and housing partners in assisting NAHRO with exceeding its 12,501 August Advocacy letter submission goal by submitting over 43,000 letters. The voice of affordable housing advocacy is immeasurable,” shares Ivory. “These efforts resulted in the House Committee on Financial Services proposing historic housing infrastructure legislation on September 9, including over $300 billion in investments in housing.”


Columbia Housing's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ivory N. Mathews was named one of the Top 20 Dynamic CEOs in 2021 by The CEO Publication. The CEO Publication is a global business magazine recognizing CEOs across the industry vertical in the United States and the United Kingdom. “The CEO Publication Magazine features iconic leaders like Ivory Mathews who are responsible for taking their organization to new heights,” says Adam Patrick –Managing editor of The CEO Publication. “Our magazine showcases how leaders like Ivory have achieved the level of success they currently enjoy so that it can also be an inspiration to other future trailblazers.” In addition to being featured in the publication along with other trail-blazing CEOs; Ivory Mathews landed the cover of The CEO Publication, and her cover story is the center spread of the magazine.

Columbia Housing received three National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) Awards of Merit for partnerships with Prisma Health and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).


Mathews holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling & Psychology from Troy University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Newberry College, and several nationally recognized certifications in the affordable housing arena. She is also a Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Initiative Fellow.


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