President & Chief Executive Officer
Robin Hughes has been actively involved in affordable housing and community development for over 30 years and in her 25 years as leader of Abode Communities, she has transformed the organization into a top 50 affordable housing developer nationwide and the premier provider of environmentally sustainable affordable housing in California.
Hughes is considered an expert in the field of community development and serves in many leadership roles that shape and promote housing policy at the local, state and federal level. She is board chair of Housing Partnership Network, a national consortium of nearly 100 of the leading housing and community development nonprofits in the country; co-policy chair of California Housing Consortium a non-partisan advocate for the production and preservation of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income Californians; board member of California Community Reinvestment Corporation, a premier multifamily affordable housing lender responding to California’s statewide affordable housing crisis; and board member of The Community Development Trust, a national investor in affordable housing that provides long-term debt and equity capital for the creation and preservation of affordable housing and charter schools. Hughes also serves on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness and on the UCLA Ziman Center Affordable Housing Advisory Council.
In addition to her service as chair of the Affordable Housing Advisory Council for the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, as well as board member of the JPMorgan Chase Community Advisory Board of Los Angeles, her experience is highlighted by four years as City Planning Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles.
Hughes was recognized by Huffington Post as “Person of the Day and Women in Business as Outstanding Nonprofit Director. She was also recognized as Black Business Association’s Executive Leadership Award and was featured on the cover of National Real Estate Investor as “Champion of Affordable Housing.”
She earned a masters and bachelor degrees in public administration from the University of Southern California, and received a certification from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Program.
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer
Holly Benson is executive vice president and chief operating officer responsible for the organization’s real estate development, property management and resident service divisions. As such, she oversees the production of new affordable housing; creation of new business opportunities; management of existing real estate assets; and financial and operational performance of Abode Communities’ real estate portfolio and resident services program, Beyond Homes. Benson serves an integral role in operationalizing the organization’s strategic plan to ensure the organization meets and exceeds its strategic goals.
A 25-year veteran in the affordable housing industry, Benson’s depth of experience is underscored by her contribution to the development and executive oversight of Abode Communities’ housing portfolio, which includes nearly $660 million of economic investment throughout Southern California.
Benson is Chair of Housing California’s Land Use & Finance Committee and serves on Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco’s Affordable Advisory Committee. She is an esteemed affordable housing leader, often resourced as an industry expert by organizations such as Housing California, Urban Land Institute, Enterprise Community Partners, University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Affairs, and University of Southern California School of Public Policy.
She earned a Bachelors in Communication Studies from University of California, Los Angeles.
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
Rick Saperstein is executive vice president and chief financial officer responsible for the oversight of Abode Communities’ long-term financial solvency, including budgeting, reporting, treasury management and risk management.
Saperstein has more than 30 years of experience in organizational finance and accounting management; internal and external financial reporting; budgeting and forecasting; cash flow reporting and department management. He is regularly called upon by organizations such as Enterprise Community Partners and the Southern California Association for Nonprofit Housing to discuss topics such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits and implementing efficient techniques for cross-divisional communications between asset management, housing development and finance departments, amongst more.
He is a Certified Public Accountant #44683 from the California Board of Accountancy and a licensed Real Estate Officer #01866181 from the California Board of Real Estate. He received his bachelor degree in accounting from California State University, Northridge.
Senior Vice President, Principal Architect
Gio Aliano is senior vice president, principal architect responsible for the executive oversight of Abode Communities’ architectural design studio. Under Aliano’s leadership, the design studio fachieves design excellence through progressive and innovative thinking while relying on fundamental design principles to create meaningful architecture that is relevant and contextual.
With more than 30 years of experience, Aliano brings the highest level of architectural expertise and a passion and commitment for Abode Communities’ mission. He has been actively involved in environmental design, planning and architecture practice, and his diverse experience includes multifamily and single-family residential, community buildings such as libraries and healthcare facilities, educational institutions such as community colleges and K-12 schools, and public facilities.
Aliano served as a Design Review Board (DRB) commissioner for the City of Glendale for 10 years leading the DRB as chairman through two, one-year terms during that time. Aliano’s commitment to deepening the understanding of key design principles to burgeoning architects has led to his service as design studio guest critic for University of California, Los Angeles, Woodbury University and California State University, Fullerton.
He is a licensed architect in the State of Califonia (C-26571) and currently serves as a board member for the Los Angeles Education Partnership. A member of the American Insitute of Architects, Aliano received his master of architecture from University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor of science in design from Arizona State University.
Senior Vice President, Real Estate Development
Lara Regus is senior vice president of development responsible for the oversight of new affordable housing production. As such, she identifies a wide-range of financing to bring developments to fruition; oversees predevelopment, construction and permanent financing activities; manages relationships with lenders and investors; and manages and trains Abode Communities’ experienced and dedicated development team members. Regus is also instrumental in engagement to increase public awareness and support for affordable housing through education, policy and advocacy endeavors.
In her 15-year tenure with Abode Communities, she has contributed to the development of more than 1,500 multifamily residential units yielding more than $400 million of real estate investment throughout California. She currently lends her expertise to the City of Los Angeles to advance the City’s HHH Innovation Challenge, which aims to streamline critical path predevelopment activities and reduce development costs to deliver modular supportive units faster.
Regus is particularly adept at land use planning and advancing public policy for the production of affordable housing. Among her many contributions to the industry, Regus regularly serves as a guest lecturer for UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate Development, UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, and SCANPH’s California Affordable Housing Leadership Institute.
She received her masters in urban planning from University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor degree in economics from Claremont McKenna College.
Senior Vice President, Business Development
Sara Tsay is senior vice president of business development responsible for identifying and securing affordable housing and community development opportunities. This includes managing Abode Communities’ acquisitions; procuring joint-venture partnerships; negotiating purchase and sale agreements; working with consultants to define the development program and architectural design; identifying acquisition and predevelopment financing; and providing executive oversight of the business development team.
Tsay holds more than 12 years of real estate experience and most recently served as strategy and development manager at The Walt Disney Company, and as senior real estate negotiator at Target Corporation. Prior to that, Tsay was lead project manager with Hollywood Community Housing Corporation where she managed real estate development projects from concept and acquisition through lease-up, including affordable housing, mixed-use, and historic rehabilitation/adaptive reuse developments. She also served as a project management associate with Abode Communities where she was responsible for multifamily residential development from financing and construction to transitioning from development to property management.
Tsay earned her masters in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her bachelors in urban studies from Brown University.
Vice President, Property & Asset Management
Denise Garcia is vice president of property management responsible for the executive oversight and management of Abode Communities’ affordable residential portfolio, which includes nearly 45 affordable residential developments and 2,800 homes that serve more than 7,800 people throughout California.
In this role, she is responsible for developing and maintaining annual operating and capital improvement budgets; developing long-term asset management plans; monitoring financial variance, vacancy, and delinquency reports; overseeing and approving legal actions; responding to Fair Housing concerns; preparing contracts; ensuring regulatory compliance; managing reserves; and mentoring the property management staff.
Garcia is an established affordable housing management professional with nearly 20 years of experience in business management including executive leadership in both conventional and affordable housing. Her experience is vast, spanning all facets of property management operations including new business procurement, staff training and development, policy development and implementation, strategic goal setting, and financial analysis. Her previous experience is highlighted by the cumulative oversight of more than 15,000 units for the The Jamison Company, SoCal Pacific Management, and G&K Management.
Garcia earned her Real Estate License from the California Department of Real Estate and is a Certified Professional of Occupancy from Affordable Housing Management Association Pacific Southwest.
Vice President, Talent & Culture
Jerry Gonzales joined Abode Communities in 2021 as its vice president, talent and culture responsible for the oversight and implementation of Abode Communities’ people strategy including staff recruitment, professional development, and racial justice and equity initiatives.
He transitioned from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art where he served as Director, Human Resources for three years. As a founding team member, he shaped core human resource systems including the development of core human capital systems including pay management, equitable compensation and classification guidelines, recruitment protocols and staffing plans emphasizing diversity and accessibility, development of comprehensive health and welfare packages for staff, and performance management protocols.
Gonzales is a Senior Professional in Human Resources fro the Human Resources Certification Institute; a SHRM Senior Certified Professional from the Society of Human Resources; and a Certified Trainer in Managing Workplace Conflict from Eckerd College’s Mediation Training Institute. He is also a member of the National Human Resources Association, Los Angeles Chapter’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Council.
His depth of experiences includes work for the Leadership for Educational Equity in Washington, DC where he was Head of Talent, Learning and Culture; The Broad Center as its Deputy Director, Operations; and for 13 years, University of California, Los Angeles serving in executive roles at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Community Programs Office (CPO), and the Samahang Pilipino Advancing Community Empowerment (SPACE) Project.
Gonzales earned a Master of Science in Human Resources from Southern New Hampshire University and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Los Angeles.
Vice President, Fund Development
Penélope M. León is a self-motivated, proactive and accomplished bilingual development and communications professional with more than 15 years of demonstrated strategic fundraising, fund development, communications, and project management expertise.
At Abode Communities, León is responsible for the oversight and implementation of the organization’s fund development activities. Prior to joining Abode Communities, she served as the Chief Development and Communications Officer for The Children’s Clinic, Serving Children and Their Families (TCC) in Long Beach, California. Under her leadership, the development and communications team was instrumental in successfully implementing and managing diverse and comprehensive fundraising programs and strategic communications initiatives for the organization, which provides primary and preventive health and wellness services for vulnerable children and families in Southern California.
She is a dedicated team player able to collaborate cross functionally with diverse organizations, partners, and committees. She is highly diplomatic and direct in effective communications. Her passion for serving vulnerable children and their families was instilled at an early age and has evolved into a vibrant career where she has created and executed strategic fund development and communications plans that open avenues of funding for the underserved in her community. She embraces and celebrates ethnically diverse and multicultural communities.
León is a graduate of California State University Fullerton and a California native but has lived and traveled extensively throughout the United States and South America. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Vice President, Resident Services
Roshe Malakuti is vice president of resident services responsible for the oversight and implementation of Abode Communities’ resident services program, Beyond Homes. Malakuti strategically responds to the communities where Abode Communities operates by developing impactful social programs to help residents remain stable in their homes and ultimately, achieve self-sufficiency.
She is responsible for managing service provider partners for special needs populations; developing and controlling program budgets; evaluating and preparing staff policies and procedures; monitoring program performance and outcomes; and ensuring the program is in compliance with all regulatory and funder requirements. To ensure maximum housing retention and stability for residents, Malakuti establishes and maintains strategic alliances and working relationships with community-based organizations, social services agencies and other stakeholders, as well as participates in fundraising activities.
Prior to joining Abode Communities, Malakuti served as director of housing programs for United Friends of the Children and directed three separate programs for Beyond Shelter, including Housing First, Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and the Skid Row Families Demonstration Project (SRFDP), all of which provided homeless families with emotional support, guidance, job training, social services and housing. She was also a supervising children’s social worker with the Department of Children and Family Services for nearly a decade.
She is a member of the Los Angeles Coalition to End Youth Homelessness and the Los Angeles Continuum of Care Coordinating Council. Malakuti received her masters in clinical psychology from Antioch University and a bachelor in philosophy from University of Southern California.