The working conditions for women at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has been an issue since at least 2014, per association sources.
When multiple women at MHI stepped up and contacted MHProNews with their concerns, it was clearly an issue that needed to be addressed here on the Daily Business News.
In the #MeToo movement era, the question has been asked, is what has been taking place at MHI with regards to the steady stream of women who come and go a case of inappropriate sexual advances?
“I would not call it inappropriate sexual behavior,” said one woman there. Rather, “It has been personality conflicts in the office.” She described it as a difference in “leadership styles” than she had previously experienced in other jobs.
“He … [Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison is] …the boss,” she said. “He is very insecure around strong women.”
Another female MHI vice president made similar comments about Jennison and women.
“I’ve never been in [that] kind of environment,” before working at MHI. She explained that it was doubtlessly a factor for what has been described as a “revolving door” of employees at the Arlington offices. See the related reports, after the byline on this report.
There was agreement that turnover at MHI is at higher than normal levels. The working environment was commonly cited, as one put it, because the “manufactured home industry” itself “is interesting.” By comparison to MHI, several state associations or MHARR has far more staff stability.
A woman said she didn’t have much interaction with Gay Westbrook, other than at meeting. She admitted Westbrook could be an exception to the rule of women having difficulties purportedly having difficulties working with Jennison. But she also pointed out that Westbrook worked remotely.
Westbrook is MHI’s Political Action Committee (MHI-PAC) and PAC Administrative Fund vice president.
One woman described MHI’s Jennison as “Very vindictive.” She explained that he was good at masking it around others, for example during meetings with members. But in her view, it is “Part of his [Jennison’s] personality.”
A staffer told MHProNews that there were two “control freaks” at the office at MHI. When asked about those two, she identified them as Jennison and Lesli Gooch, Ph.D. Gooch is their senior vice president (SVP), who the MHI website says handles their “legislative issues.”
Gooch made mainstream news when the Washington Post reported her saying that MHI had not asked for the removal of Pam Danner at HUD. By contrast, WaPo reported that Mark Weiss, J.D., President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) had pushed for precisely for Danner’s removal over the HUD Code Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP).
WaPo made it clear that Weiss and MHARR were ultimately successful in that effort.
There are several former or current staffers that MHProNews has not yet had replies from on the issue of inner office “theatrics” and unnecessary “drama.” So it is possible that more comments relating to #MeToo concerns, or other issues may surface. ICYMI, readers are reminded of a prior insider report, linked below, which has had thousands of hits in a matter of days.
But as more than one source connected with MHI has said, and the Daily Business News has previously reported, the number of reports may be due in part because of MHI’s use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with their staffers.
So, at this point in time, the common refrain from MHI is summed up describing Jennison as using “bullying” and other intimidation tactics, not #MeToo connected concerns.
Unrelated to Women…
Another issue raised was about Rick Robinson, MHI’s General Counsel. He was likewise being described by insiders as hobbled. Among the common themes alleged from varied sources was that staff had to “get permission” to do “whatever” from Jennison and/or Gooch.
Robinson was asked about such concerns, and declined to comment.
Part of the concerns from insiders extended to Robinson’s limited ability to engage on zoning related problems, as it commonly impacts manufactured housing. A letter by Robinson to HUD on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), is not the same as actual action, as one professional explained it.
That’s an important issue for the industry.
Because MHProNews specifically asked MHI’s leadership about a specific and troubling case of alleged discrimination in Indiana. MHI failed to reply, and per sources, they never contacted that city prior to the date of that report.
See more connected to inside MHI insights in the related reports, below the by line.
There is more that will be highlighted in an upcoming report that probes the relationship between the MHI Executive Committee and MHI staff, among other issues. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
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Some of the hardest working, savviest professionals in manufactured housing bear the title ‘state association executive director’ – or in some cases – ‘state association president,’ etc.. State associations are at the grass roots level of the industry’s representation.