Avalon Welcomes Aaron Cooper, Affordable Housing Leader with Record of Success Across the Midwest, As New Executive Director


Washtenaw County’s leading provider of affordable, supportive housing starts a new chapter with a new leader while honoring the legacy of a long-time executive director.

Avalon Housing is excited to welcome Aaron Cooper, a seasoned and respected leader with 17 years of experience in the affordable housing sector, as its new executive director. He succeeds Aubrey Patiño, who has led the organization through a period of unprecedented growth since her appointment in 2017. 

Cooper will begin his new role on Feb. 26. 

“As Avalon nears our 35th year of working to end homelessness, we are excited about our future,” said Jeremy Lapedis, Avalon board president. “Avalon has a vibrant, values-driven culture and extremely talented staff. We have four new properties and over 150 units on our development horizon. Aaron’s passion for improving people’s lives through quality, affordable housing, his extensive background in the public housing sector and his ability to engage staff, community members and key partners make him the ideal person to lead Avalon at this time. We look forward to collaborating with Aaron throughout this transition period.”

Aaron Cooper’s Depth of Experience

Cooper has spent the last 17 years of his career serving others in the affordable housing sector, at various public housing authorities across Ohio and Michigan. Since early 2021, Aaron has been the President and CEO of the Inkster Housing Commission (IHC), which serves over 3,000 residents living in 741 apartments and homes and 750 Section 8 Voucher participants. While at the IHC, Cooper worked closely with elected officials, residents of Inkster, and other stakeholders to provide safe, quality housing for all low-income residents. 

Cooper is also the Vice President Region IV for the Michigan chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, where he leads an esteemed group of colleagues who advocate for affordable housing in the region.

“I’m energized to build on the tremendous growth that Avalon has experienced in the past by leading the organization through this next critical stage of its mission,” Cooper said. “The growth Avalon has experienced has been due not only to the leadership of Aubrey and the board, but also Avalon’s skilled and compassionate team members who are on the front lines in the fight against homelessness. I’m honored to step into this position, and I look forward to working with the team to ensure a smooth transition and a seamless experience for our tenants, clients and partners.”

Prior to leading the IHC, Cooper served as the Director of Asset Management of the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), the seventh-largest housing authority in the country. CMHA housing included Low Income Public Housing (LIPH), Section 8 new construction, multi-family housing, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units. He oversaw multiple departments with an overall staff of 200, who managed the CMHA’s 10,000 apartments and homes throughout Cleveland.  

Cooper also worked at the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority for 12 years, where he rose from an entry level position to become the Director of Asset Management. Throughout his career, Cooper forged many partnerships and raised funds to help his residents and clients improve their quality of life.  One of his greatest achievements was bringing a fully functional, certified pharmacy to a low-income high rise for 100 senior residents, who faced significant transportation barriers.

Cooper also serves on the BUILD Institute board, which helps small and disadvantaged businesses find capital for startups in the City of Detroit.  Cooper is also a former Executive Board Member, Treasurer and 1st Vice Chair of the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio.  

Cooper received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Legal Studies from the University of Cincinnati. He obtained his Public Housing Management Certification in 2009 at the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Aubrey Patiño’s Tremendous Legacy

Under Patiño’s leadership, Avalon has solidified its leading role as a supportive housing provider. In particular, Patiño has used her leadership to advance public policy that provides for long-term support for supportive housing and to integrate equity-based strategies within both the organization and community. 

Aubrey Patiño – Avalon Housing’s Outgoing Executive Director

Throughout her work, Patiño has insisted that Avalon and its peers and partners elevate the voices of persons of color and those with lived experience of homelessness. She has committed herself and Avalon to meeting demands for systems-wide change in the housing and homelessness sector.

Avalon opened the Hickory Way in Ann Arbor and Hilltop View in Dexter during Patiño’s tenure. She recently received the Excellence in Homeless Service Award at the 2023 Michigan Summit on Ending Homeless. 

“Aubrey is a true force for good,” Lapedis said. “Not only is she able to see the humanity in everyone, but she is also deeply rooted in healing the world around her. She has helped us to imagine the world as a better place and helped us work together to get there. I am grateful that she has been Avalon’s guiding compass these last eight years, and grateful for the foundation she has laid for us as we continue this work.”

Patiño has been with Avalon for 18 years, serving as the executive director for the past five years. 

“Being a part of this organization has been one of the most tender and expansive experiences of my life,” Patiño said. “I’ve watched Avalon restore people’s health, their sense of belonging, and give them purpose. Avalon is a special place, and I want to share my sincere thanks with our tenants, our staff, our partners and everyone in the greater Washtenaw community who has helped support us in the pursuit of housing justice. Although I am sad to leave, I am confident that Aaron will be a tremendous asset to this community and lead with kindness, respect and integrity.” 

Avalon currently owns and manages 29 sites across Ann Arbor, Chelsea and Dexter, and plans to add 173 new affordable apartments in Washtenaw County over the next few years. Washtenaw County saw a 31 percent decrease in chronic homelessness when Avalon opened its Hickory Way Apartments in 2021.

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