News Release

Town of Hilton Head Island Logo

Town Council Forms Housing Action Committee

August 14, 2023

The Hilton Head Island Town Council has appointed nine community members to its new Housing Action Committee, which will have its first meeting at 10 am, Tuesday, August 22, at Town Hall.

Establishing the committee is one of the key strategies recommended in the Workforce Housing Framework policy, Finding Home, adopted by the Town Council in November 2022. With the adoption of a Resolution in May, the Town Council advanced its commitment to convene a committee of diverse community leaders to advise the Town Manager, Town staff and Town Council on strategies, ideas, and recommendations that address workforce housing affordability. The committee will also support implementation of Finding Home.

"With the formation of the Housing Action Committee, we will gain invaluable insight from dedicated members of our community. They have extensive knowledge of our community, creative mindsets, and a willingness to collaborate and help us find solutions to our housing challenge," said Mayor Alan Perry. "Their appointment reflects Town Council's commitment to fostering affordable and sustainable housing opportunities for all. I'm pleased to have a group of individuals who will help us as we implement the framework's components."

Each of the appointees, all Hilton Head Islanders, share a deep commitment to serving the community and bring a wealth of experience and diverse backgrounds to the committee. Members of the Housing Action Committee include the following:

John (Jack) Alderman
Jack Alderman brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the forefront of addressing workforce housing challenges, with a keen focus on land development. Since the early 1970s, Mr. Alderman has put his mark on the region’s real estate landscape, holding senior management positions with The Branigar Organization, the real estate subsidiary of the Union Camp Corporation, and the International Paper Company. As an independent land use consultant, Mr. Alderman has displayed a remarkable ability to craft long-term strategies and financial plans for large land tracts across Southeast and Texas. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Mr. Alderman has demonstrated a deep commitment to community service, actively engaging with various organizations such as the United Way of the Lowcountry, the Greater Island Council, the First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island, and the Boys & Girls Club of the Lowcountry. Most recently, he volunteered with the HOME Coalition and The Deep Well Project's Ally for Circles program aimed at helping to lift people from poverty. "My work experience gave me many varied opportunities to solve problems, develop creative solutions, and lead," Mr. Alderman said. "My community activities have given me a wide-ranging perspective of our wonderfully diverse community. I have learned much about navigating the difficult circumstances in which so many of our citizens find themselves. Together, I believe these experiences have prepared me to assist in the work of the Housing Action Committee and contribute to the success of housing initiatives on Hilton Head Island."

Sarah Jones-Anderson
With nearly 10 years of professional experience in the affordable housing industry, Sarah Jones-Anderson feels she can help the Island address its workforce housing challenges. As an affordable housing developer, Ms. Jones-Anderson is passionate about creating equitable living places. She has experience developing multifamily affordable housing in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and working with public housing authorities and government officials. She was previously employed with the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and Greystone Affordable Development. She now works for Brinshore Development, a national real-estate developer focusing on single-family and townhomes, multi-use buildings, planned communities, and historic restorations and reuse. Locally, Ms. Jones-Anderson serves on the beautification committee for the homeowners' association in Shipyard. "Since moving to the Island in 2020, the need for affordable and workforce housing is exceedingly apparent. I welcome the opportunity to use my professional skillset to impact my community positively," she said.

Stuart Bell
Stuart Bell, a certified public accountant, has over 40 years of experience in the financial and real estate development industry. He is the Chief Financial Officer and primary financial dealmaker for Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation. This Pennsylvania-based economic development nonprofit has focused on job training, business incubation, and redevelopment of historic buildings into valuable community assets. Mr. Bell is a Hilton Head Public Service District commissioner and an Indigo Run Community Owners Association board member. "I believe that workforce housing is a primary issue facing the future of Hilton Head Island. Without affordable housing and the increasing opportunities on the Island, staffing shortages will continue to increase. We need to adopt a long-term approach to solving this expanding issue," he said.

Candace Birkenhauer
Candace Birkenhauer is a housing and mortgage lending expert who spent her career working in housing development, planned unit housing, renovation programs, condo and planned unit development approvals, specialized affordable housing, and mortgage programs. She was employed with Fannie Mae as a mortgage banker in New Jersey, working directly with borrowers who qualified for housing loans. Ms. Birkenhauer serves on the board of Evian Condos in Shipyard and is a Women's Association of Hilton Head Island member. "I hope to use my diverse experience to benefit those needing housing in many forms," Ms. Birkenhauer said. "There is a significant need for low to moderate income workers to have access to decent, affordable, safe housing whether it be through home ownership, reasonably rental units, local and state housing finance, and various homeownership programs," she said.

Ayaks Castellanos
Ayaks Castellanos is the Construction Manager for Habitat for Humanity of the Lowcountry and a small business owner. He brings firsthand knowledge and experience with housing, having overseen the construction of 32 homes on Hilton Head Island for Habitat for Humanity. He also was blessed with the opportunity to purchase his own home through Habitat's program. As he reflected on home ownership, Mr. Castellanos said the experience has been life-changing for him, and he wants to afford others the same opportunity. "I want to be a part of the change that can help many families through affordable housing. I am grateful to the Town of Hilton Head Island for their initiative to do something about affordable housing. I know it's a very complex subject. I am honored to be a part of this committee," he said. Mr. Castellanos contributes to the community by serving as a bilingual translator. He is a member of the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition and is involved with upward sports through his church.

Sandy Gillis
As executive director of the Hilton Head Island Deep Well Project, Sandy Gillis sees and hears the challenges low- and moderate-income residents have when seeking an affordable place to live. Ms. Gillis first became involved with Deep Well as a volunteer. She took the helm as the organization's leader following her 30-year career as a sales and marketing executive for the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. Her familiarity with the Island's economy, business landscape, and workforce required to power the economy grew through her work with local businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations. She is an active St. Andrew By the Sea United Methodist Church member. She graduated from the Leadership Hilton Head Island-Bluffton program and has held numerous leadership positions with local organizations and the newspaper industry. Upon joining Deep Well, Ms. Gillis has seen clients' vast array of daily issues and works with her team to provide services to address them. "From our food pantry to our Livable Housing home repair program, we work directly with people experiencing a crisis or emergency. I feel I'm uniquely positioned to share our neighbor's stories to improve our community across all cultural and socioeconomic filters. I look forward to devoting energy and time to the housing cause through the Housing Action Committee," she said.

Marc Okner
Marc Okner is an experienced human resources professional and certified mediator whose career spanned over 35 years in both the public and private sectors. He brings a strong ability to connect people and understand their needs, positioning him well to serve on the Housing Action Committee. Professionally, Mr. Okner has worked in various leadership roles, including as a Director of Employee Relations for North Carolina State University, Employee Relations Manager and Vice President of HR Business Partner at Countrywide Financial Corporation, and Senior Employee Relations Representative for Maricopa County, Arizona. He has also served as a participant and chairman on numerous boards and committees. Among his community involvement activities are Special Olympics, NC by Train, Toys for Tots, and Jay Cees of Arizona. Mr. Okner believes in creating proactive solutions to address the needs of workers. "Serving on the Housing Action Committee allows me to continue bringing solutions to the table to address a critical need on the Island — housing for the workforce. My goal is to help move forward the plans, policies, and sustainability for affordable employee housing, thus benefiting the Island's workers, businesses, and residents," he said.

Launa Sellars
Luana Sellers works earnestly to help Gullah families resolve issues they are facing, including living affordably on Hilton Head Island and retaining their land. Before her work in cultural preservation and activism, Ms. Sellers worked in advertising as a national media buyer, a sought-after conference speaker on urban radio advertising, and a promoter and artist manager in the music industry. In addition, she was the owner and administrative director of two large-capacity pre-schools in Florida. Upon moving to the Island seven years ago, Ms. Sellars became heavily engaged with the Gullah community, from using her journalism background to document the culture to employing her business skills to establish the Lowcountry Gullah Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds to protect and preserve historic Gullah land for future generations. "As one of the Native Island leaders, I am involved with issues that affect the Gullah community. I believe the Island is at a critical point with its housing issues and workforce shortage. My skill set and community involvement, coupled with out-of-the-box thinking, would be an asset to helping resolve a situation that affects all of us," she said.

Sandy West
Sandy West brings a background in servant leadership, sales, human resources, and organizational training. She has worked with nonprofit organizations and two Fortune 500 corporations - Federated Department Stores (now Macy's) and L Brands, where she served as the Chief Human Resources Officer. After retiring from L Brands, Ms. West established Lighthouse Consulting to help organizations, teams, and individuals drive leadership and performance to new levels. She currently serves on the board of directors for Ervin Industries, an international business in the steel industry in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Locally, Ms. West is a member of the Home Coalition, Lowcountry Community Partners, and the Long Cove Fund Charitable Advisory Committee, which she chairs. "I have a heart for those who need a leg up or someone to be their voice or advocate. I have been blessed to have done well and want to continue doing good," she said. "My mission is to use my life to make a positive difference for my family, friends, neighborhood, community, clients, and colleagues. It is completely aligned with the purpose of this committee."

Once the committee members are sworn in, they will receive orientation to include a review of the Hilton Head Island Workforce Housing Needs Assessment (completed in November 2018), Workforce Housing Strategic Plan (adopted in April 2019), and Finding Home (adopted in November 2022).

For more information about the Housing Action Committee, visit or contact Missy Luick, Director of Planning, at 843-341-4693 or

Note: To view this news release in Spanish or other native languages, choose your appropriate language from our dropdown menu on the upper right side of our website page.

Nota: Para ver este comunicado de prensa en español u otros idiomas nativos, visite y elija el idioma apropiado de nuestro menú desplegable en el lado superior derecho de la página de inicio del sitio web.

Carolyn Grant, Communications Director