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Patricia Mayo

12/2/2008, 7:26 a.m.

Patricia Mayo

Patricia Mayo, a longtime tenant organizer at the Franklin Highland Housing Development, recently received the Second Annual Nancy Nye Award, presented by the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development at its annual meeting.

The award is named for Nye, a pioneering community development professional and early board member of the Women’s Institute who died on Nov. 12, 2006.

“We are thrilled to honor Nancy with an award in her name to a woman who espouses her values of women’s economic justice and community development,” said Loni Willey, executive director of the Women’s Institute, a nonprofit organization committed to “building homes and opportunities” for low-income households.

Mayo has been organizing tenants in the Franklin Highlands development since the 1980s. She formed a tenant organization that took ownership of the 270-unit housing development from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. She has initiated youth programs and community-building events in her development, and as a trustee of Franklin Highlands Charitable Trust, she works to ensure long-term affordability of the development and the sustainability of resident programs.

Sarah Lamitie, vice president and Community Reinvestment Act associate for the Boston Private Bank and Trust Company, said she met Mayo six years ago when the bank was refinancing a loan for the Franklin Highlands.

“I, like everyone else I have spoken with who has met Pat, was immediately struck by her passion, leadership and dedication,” Lamitie said. “She was on a committee of residents that I spoke with about the loan, and I could not help but be struck by her careful attention to understanding whether, how and why the transaction was good for Franklin Highlands and its residents.”

In a letter read at the Nov. 19 award ceremony, Robert L. Pyne, director of rental development at MassHousing, wrote of Mayo’s dogged commitment to community service despite some personal obstacles.

“Although she has had to cope with some significant health issues throughout her tenure as president of the tenants’ association, Pat Mayo has demonstrated enormous courage, vision, tenacity, and wisdom,” Pyne wrote. “Today, the Franklin Highlands neighborhood is a safer and more attractive place as a result of Ms. Mayo’s tireless efforts.”