July 4, 1954 - Aug. 2, 2021
Anna Geller's life journey took her from humble beginnings in McDonough, Ga., to a life dedicated to public service in Portland, Ore., where she passed away Aug. 2, 2021. Anna brought passion and a fierce determination to each of her interests. Principal among these passions was expanding opportunities for low-income families in the Pacific Northwest through her trailblazing work creating affordable housing and nutritional opportunities. Outside of work, Anna was an avid volunteer and supporter of children and families, a fierce fighter against poverty, a caring mentor, a loving partner, a supportive friend, a godmother and wonderful colleague.
Growing up as a foster child in the Los Angeles area, Anna graduated with a B.A from Pitzer College and went on to graduate work in art history at U.S.C., before moving to Oregon to start her career in banking. Her career took her to Minnesota, Japan, Salem, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., where she became Vice President and Manager of Income Property Lending at Vancouver Federal Savings Bank. In 1987 she initiated an affordable housing lending program for projects supported by the then-nascent federal low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program. In the early 1990s, Anna helped create the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing, a syndicate of banks providing financing for development of affordable housing financed through the LIHTC program, where she served as Chief Lending Officer and Vice President.
In 1994, Anna founded Geller Silvis & Associates, Inc., a mission driven social enterprise dedicated to poverty reduction through housing stability, education and nutritional opportunities for children and families. Through advocacy, education and old-fashioned hard work, Anna created opportunities for families and children to effectively exit poverty. She partnered with local organizations with a similar vision and mission and worked with more than 75 agencies to operate service enriched affordable housing in communities throughout the Northwest. Anna's work resulted in the creation of thousands of affordable housing units. One of Anna's proudest accomplishments was partnering with local school districts and community organizations to create summer food programs for children.
As a community volunteer, Anna chaired the Human Services Standing Committee for the City Club of Portland in 1991-1993. From 1995 to 1996, Anna served as a Lead Trainer in real estate development and finance for the Oregon Community Development Training Institute. She was an Oasis reading tutor as well as a certified Master Gardener and Master Recycler. Anna served in an advisory capacity on various grant awards committees for local governments and private funding organizations. In 2008 Anna was appointed by the Washington County Commissioners to serve a four-year term on its Children & Families Commission. She also joined the Board of Directors for Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, which staffs the work of the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force. Anna also volunteered in Fukushima, Japan following the 2010 Tohoku tsunami. In recognition of her lifelong dedication to affordable housing, Anna was appointed by Governor Kate Brown to the Oregon Housing Stability Council in 2016, providing guidance to Oregon's principal housing finance agency, which she served on until 2020.
Although a true Oregonian through and through, Anna never lost her southern roots. She was a civil rights supporter, an anti-poverty activist, a child and animal lover, a writer, an artist, a meditator, a lover of fashion, a prolific historian steeped in the Oregon experience, a gardener, a teacher, a student, a wonderful friend and business partner. Anna loved history books, You Tube, the life of plants, her family, and good champagne. Anna is survived by her partner Marc; her godson; and her dog, Suzy.
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Published by The Oregonian from Sep. 8 to Sep. 12, 2021.