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AIRS, Empire Homes of MD Announces New Leadership



For Immediate Release                                                              Contact: F.T. Burden, 410-576-5070 ext. 13



AIRS/Empire Homes of Maryland



Baltimore, MD (August 10, 2009) – AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS) and Empire Homes of Maryland (EHM), which are among the city’s largest providers of housing and supportive services to homeless and/or disabled individuals and families announced major leadership changes today resulting from an organizational structure review process jointly promulgated by their respective Boards. This review process was undertaken in an effort to create greater efficiency and integration as well as eliminate redundancies between the two organizations.


Leslie Leitch, the Executive Director of AIRS will be leaving the organization to pursue other interests. Under her leadership, Ms. Leitch raised the awareness and credibility of AIRS and EHM, establishing solid relationships with government officials, foundation heads and civic leaders.  She is credited with helping to grow the organization’s annual operating budget from $1million to $3 million and with doubling the number of persons housed by the organization. She spearheaded the initiative to begin serving homeless young adults, with a strategy of providing housing as a means to improve public health. She advocated tirelessly for the provision of additional services at the local and state level through her work with the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative.


As a result of the organization’s restructure plan, the AIRS and EHM Boards of Directors have appointed F.T. Burden as the new President and CEO of AIRS and EHM effective as of Monday, August 10, 2009. In this position, Mr. Burden will be responsible for the performance and results of both organizations. Mr. Burden has served 8 years in various leadership roles within the two organizations, and his appointment is expected to further unify their operations. Since founding EHM, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRS in 2006, Mr. Burden has been its Executive Director and has led the organization to three consecutive years of operating surpluses. In this role, Mr. Burden has developed 53 housing units, and currently has 55 units in production.


Prior to becoming Executive Director of EHM, Mr. Burden served as Deputy Executive Director for AIRS for 3 years where he supervised case management and program activities. In this position, he implemented many innovative policies and procedures that enhanced the organization’s case management services.


Mr. Burden is a current Weinberg Fellow, a graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Program class of 2008, the Johns Hopkins University Leadership Development Program class of 2003, and is President of the Board of Community Housing Associates. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Southern Methodist University and a Master’s Degree from The Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University.




To ensure a smooth and seamless transition, Mr. Burden will retain the current staff. He will also strategically add personnel to increase organizational capacity.


David Currey, Chairman of the AIRS Board of Directors stated, “the Boards of both AIRS and EHM have witnessed the passion and commitment that F.T. brings to both organizations as exhibited through the success of his work over the past eight years with us. He is assembling a spectacular leadership team and we are unanimous in our commitment to support him and his vision for a dynamic future and the strategic growth of both organizations moving forward.”


Claudia Wilson Randall, Chair of the EHM Board of Directors and member of the AIRS Board stated, “by revamping our organizational structure we have achieved a remarkably committed, experienced and driven leadership team that will propel both organizations to the next level.”


In response to the announcement of his appointment, F.T. Burden stated, “I am humbled and privileged to serve AIRS and EHM in this new combined position. Our plans for the future are realistically audacious and will have profoundly positive impact on the lives of the individuals that we serve. I look forward to working collaboratively with my Executive Leadership Team and the Board of Directors to improve support for our employees and clients.”


Other changes in Senior Management announced today:


R. Cheis Garrus will join the organization as Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Garrus will direct all financial matters pertaining to the two organizations. Mr. Garrus has more than 15 years of financial analysis and business management experience working for several multinational organizations, including Munimae, Cargill, Trust Company of the West, and T. Rowe Price. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Virginia and a Master of Business Administration Degree (Finance) from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. As a board member for the Center for Urban Families, Mr. Garrus currently heads its Audit Committee. He has also served on the Board of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurships (Baltimore) and is a graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Leadership Class of 2008.


Nancy Strohminger has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Programs. Ms. Strohminger has been Director of Programs for 3 years and in her new role she will be responsible for oversight of all programs, including the Adult Permanent Housing programs, Don Miller Homes, GEAR, Youth Resource Center, and City Steps Transitional Housing programs. Ms. Strohminger is a clinically trained social worker with over 20 years programming services experience in the Baltimore community with a specialization in healthcare to high-risk populations, trauma and housing.  Her expertise in new program development, risk management, service integration, outcome management, and billable services are expected to be critical in implementing the strategic vision developed by the President and the Board of Directors. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Western Maryland College and Master of Social Work Degree from Fordham University, and is licensed in the State of Maryland as a clinical social worker. In addition to her duties at AIRS/EHM, she is active in the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative and serves on the Board of Maryland New Directions.











About AIRS

AIRS provides comprehensive supportive housing services to enhance quality of life, emphasizing self-sufficiency for low-income and homeless individuals and families living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS or other disabilities.

For more information go to the AIRS’  website at



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About EHM

Empire Homes of Maryland, Inc. (EHM), a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRS, is a non-profit Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) whose mission is to develop, manage, and maintain affordable residential properties, for low-income people and those with disabilities.

For more information go to the EHM’s  website at




Photographs (Note to editor):

Photographs are available in electronic format. To obtain an electronic copy of the photograph, please contact F.T. Burden  at 410-576-5070 ext. 13 or

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