HYP NYC launches a new series featuring the many amazing leaders within Habitat NYC’s network. These Leadership Shout Outs will profile select Habitat NYC staff, partners, community leaders and more, and highlight their leadership, skills, and/or accomplishments.
05.06.20 Leadership Shout Out: Juliana Bernal Guinand
Originally from Colombia, Juliana joined Habitat NYC in 2018 as our Assistant Project Manager. Within her first year with the organization, she quickly showed her leadership and wide range of skills through her work with our Real Estate & Construction Department. In addition to Project Management, Juliana has been very supportive of HYP NYC’s membership engagement and is always happy to share her knowledge.
HYP NYC: Hi Juliana! How are you?
Juliana: I’m doing well, all things considered. Very grateful to be able to shelter in place.
HYP NYC: What have you been up to since we moved our operations remote?
Juliana: As you know, the need for affordable housing has not slowed down during this pandemic. So I’ve been really busy with work and helping our organization to move forward.
HYP NYC: That’s exactly why we wanted to connect with you. As Habitat NYC’s Project Manager, you’re very behind the scenes. Our HYP NYC Members are curious to know what a day in your life is like; but we think it would be good to learn more about you as a person first. Aside from work, how are you keeping busy during the quarantine.
Juliana: I love reading, yoga, and mediation. So that’s what I do to relax and help pass time. It’s important to take time for yourself and to maintain balance, even when working from home. I also tried a few new recipes.
HYP NYC: That’s a great way to pass the time! Any favorites?
Juliana: The banana bread recipe turned out great. Wish I could have shared with the Habitat NYC and HYP family.
HYP NYC: Hopefully soon! Did you grow up cooking? What was your life like before Habitat NYC?
Juliana: Oh yes, my family loved to cook. Growing up in Colombia was a beautiful experience and I was very lucky my parents were homeowners before I was born. They owned our apartment and it had the most beautiful view, which I actually had a photo take of that view and now have it hanging in my Brooklyn apartment.
HYP NYC: That’s amazing! Accomplishing home ownership is an accomplishment in of itself, but maintaining the home can also be challenging. Did your family experience any hardships through home ownership?
Juliana: I remember my family going through financial hardship while I was in college. My parents spent four years trying to sell their home so we could all move on to our next chapters. It had a domino effect on our family but, even still, I have so many cherished memories growing up. And I was able to graduate college, which I know was easier to accomplish because I had a place to call home.
HYP NYC: Congratulations on graduating! What did you major in?
Juliana: I studied Architecture and then earned my Masters in Strategic Design & Management at The New School in May of 2018.
HYP NYC: That’s great! Your academic background certainly makes sense for the work you’re doing with Habitat NYC, but what are some aspects of your job most would not think of?
Juliana: Architecture can be very grand in the eyes of many, especially in a city like New York. Its easy to see a final product and be impressed, but this work is the accumulation of a many small wins that lead to the finish line. You have patient, then more patient, consistent, and persistent. Those small steps, while they seem small, take a lot of time energy and resources; and they all lead to a successful project once completed.
HYP NYC: You mentioned being patient. We agree on that being a required skill to do what Habitat NYC does. Would you mind speaking more on that?
Juliana: Absolutely. Our mission is focused on the preservation and development of affordable housing, which means there is a very tight budget. One of the most consistent challenges is making the numbers work. We rely heavily on our in-kind donors and partners to offset those costs, along with subsidies and funders. This back and forth can impact timeline and results, so I keep a very close eye on every detail and variable.
HYP NYC: That sounds exhausting. How do you stay motivated?
Juliana: Every job comes with good and bad. I love this job and when my motivation is low I just think of the incredible families and communities we serve. Not just in the now but the generations to come.
HYP NYC: So true and so beautiful! What is something you love about your job?
Juliana: This job is a great example of what “It takes a village” means. I love being able to work with many different people, agencies, and communities to complete every single project. It gives me the opportunity to learn about the other facets of our work and I have already learned so much in my first year and a half. Really excited to keep learning, growing, and contributing through our mission.
HYP NYC: So true! And that’s exactly why we’ve launched this series. Its important for NYC to see the many amazing people behind the scenes who are participating in building a city – and a world – where everyone has a decent place to live. Juliana, thank you for your commitment to serve. Thank you for your leadership and thank you for just being you. You’re great!
Juliana: That’s very nice, thank you! And thank you to HYP NYC for bringing our communities together. I look forward to meeting more HYP NYC members and continuing to work together.