An Unexpected Journey with AHFC
Madison Smith, a University of Alaska Anchorage graduate with a sociology degree, never intended to work in the public housing sector. In the spring of 2019, one of her professors mentioned an internship opportunity with Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. She applied on a whim and her resulting journey has been an incredible – and unexpectedly fulfilling – adventure.
Madison’s Alaska Housing internship began as part of the planning department helping with research and formatting grants. While the experience was vastly different from the social science world, she was intrigued by the correlation between the research methods and quickly came to appreciate the vital community work conducted by Alaska Housing.
Her internship focus soon moved to work related mostly within the statewide homeless office. She was able to utilize her skills developed at UAA and her contributions and areas of work continued to evolve – as did her internship, which was extended several times.
“This was really an exciting time for me because in my final year of college much of my work between AHFC and school overlapped and I was experiencing first-hand, real-world impact,” says Madison.
“Being new to the workforce, the combination of work between my schooling, academics, and Alaska Housing really gave me the confidence to step into new spaces and know that I could be successful.”
– Madison Smith, Alaska Housing Grants Administrator II
A Turning Point
In August 2020, Madison became a full-time Alaska Housing employee as a planner assistant. However, the pandemic hit and changed everything. Because of her social work experience and her de-escalation training, she began to field calls related to CARES funds. Soon she was individually answering and addressing more than 60 calls a day. The increased call volume coupled with the deployment of Alaska Housing Rent Relief led to the development of Alaska Housing’s call center.
The new structure created another opportunity for Madison to pivot in her role becoming the person managing appeals for Alaska Housing Rent Relief. In late spring of 2022, she was promoted to grants administrator II. She is thrilled to be in a position to return to her research roots.
“Every day is different and a challenge but also really fulfilling because I get to see the impact of my efforts. It is like putting together an intricate puzzle, figuring out the patterns, identifying how pieces fit together, and ultimately making sure that people who truly need help have access to resources.”
A Leap Ahead
In May 2022, the Governor's office reached out to Alaska Housing requesting a referral for someone to join the Governor's Council on Human and Sex Trafficking. Madison was recommended for the role.
Throughout a period of four months, Madison provided subject-matter expertise on human trafficking based on her prior research experience on the topic, and also offered input to the task force related to relevant Alaska Housing programs. She focused mainly on two programs; SAFE-T and Alaska Housing Stabilization and Recovery.
“It is amazing how everything has come full circle so quickly. The internship came about unexpectedly, my early research was a catalyst to pursue the grant, and so many elements converged allowing me to progress in a very short period of time.”
While she may not have planned for a career with Alaska Housing, she has made a definite impact with the corporation. Her teammates jokingly refer to her as the Swiss Army Knife of the planning department because she has held and excelled in so many different Alaska Housing roles.
“The people at Alaska Housing are incredible and every day I am inspired by those around me who show up committed to making people’s lives better,” Madison says. “There is a tangible vibe generated by people who truly care about our community.”
Want to join an inspiring team making a difference in people’s lives? AHFC is the right place for you. See our available jobs and come join our team.