Category Archives: Employee Spotlight

Employee Spotlight: Milli Arakawa, Senior Director of Finance

August 5, 2014 | by
Milli with her husband and two daughters.Milli with her husband and two daughters.

Name: Milli Arakawa

Current Position: Senior Director of Finance

At EYA for: 5+ years

This month’s employee spotlight is Milli Arakawa. Milli manages the accounting team and oversees the financing of EYA and our individual projects. Along with her work at EYA, Milli is passionate about community service and enjoys making a positive difference in people’s lives.

What do you enjoy most about your current position at EYA?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE working with the accounting team. They are very passionate about what they do and they are always striving for excellence. They do a great job of keeping accurate records and ensuring that we have secure controls over our accounting processes. Everyone has their own strengths and talents making for a fun and dynamic team to work with.

What makes EYA unique or special compared to your work experiences elsewhere?

EYA is really committed to ensuring that everyone is growing both professionally and personally. We are all very fortunate to work at a company where management is committed to the personal development of each employee and where we are pushed to be excellent people in both our workplace and in our communities.

What are your hobbies?

I love to travel and spend time with my husband and two daughters. I also enjoy recording journal entries and reading the latest accounting literature published by the FASB, IASB and Big 4 accounting firms.

What was the best vacation you ever took?

After graduating from college, I traveled to Russia and volunteered at an orphanage. It was there that I truly experienced creating connections with people across language and cultural barriers. The kids I met were the most amazing people I have ever met. They reminded me of what was important in life and they inspired me to do things bigger than myself.

How do you connect your love for philanthropy with your job at EYA?

I am extremely grateful that the leaders of our organization are committed to community outreach and philanthropy as an important cornerstone to the culture of EYA.  The establishment of the EYA Foundation is just one tangible example, but in our neighborhoods, like Capitol Quarter and Old Town Commons, you can see how EYA has helped improve our local communities and made a difference in the lives of people living there. It is an honor to be part of a team that is purposeful about making lives better for other people.


Employee Spotlight: Adam Cetron, Sales Manager

March 12, 2014 | by
Adam Cetron

This month’s Employee Spotlight is Adam Cetron. Adam has worked with many of our homeowners helping them find and purchase their new EYA home. He has been with EYA for over 17 years and recently was awarded The National’s Silver Award for “Sales Person of the Year” at the International Builder Show in Las Vegas.

Adam Cetron
Current Role: Sales Manager
At EYA for: 17+ years

What do you enjoy most about your current position at EYA?

I enjoy working with people from all walks of life. I have sold homes to singles, couples, families, extended families and even a few next generations of the same family!

What makes EYA unique or special compared to your work experiences elsewhere?

I used to build homes with my uncle in Vermont and as a laborer with other builders. I know EYA builds a better house then most other builders. I take pride knowing I work for a leader in our industry and I am selling value to our future home owners.

What do you enjoy most about helping people find their new home? 

Watching the excitement during the building process that ends with them moving into one of our neighborhoods and seeing them enjoying their new lives.

Do you have any interesting home buyer experiences you can share?

My best experience was not the most expensive home I sold, or celebrities I sold to; it was selling a Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) at Fallsgrove.  After escaping from an abusive marriage, this single mother appreciated how EYA and our lender helped her afford a house that gave her and her young son a safe and wonderful place to live. She invited me to her house after settlement to show me how they had furnished the new home. It was quite heartwarming.

What is the best advice you would give when it comes to work?

My best advice is “don’t go to work.”  I love what I do, so I never work.  I have new adventures every day meeting different people and facing challenges constantly.  I am lucky to have a great wife and family that supports me and my career.  My other advice is to never take them for granted.

What is your favorite restaurant/coffee spot in the neighborhood where you are now working?

The last community where I worked was Mosaic District in Fairfax. It is very close to my house and where I grew up. I love how this urban, light industrial area has been transformed into a new town center. I think Matchbox, Angelika Film Center and Taylor Gourmet are my current favorite places there, along with Trio Grill just up the street.  Now that I am back at Old Town Commons, I love Firehook Bakery and King Street Blues.

What are your hobbies?

I play softball and listen to live music (especially at Wolf Trap) with friends, but love to go to antique car shows with my son in my ’73 American Motors AMX/Javelin.  I can also spend hours playing pinball.

What was the best vacation you ever took?

I was lucky to travel with my parents when I was young to Europe and loved to walk through the castles and gardens of England and France. But with the right people Las Vegas is nice too.

EYA Employee Spotlight: Aakash Thakkar, SVP of Land Acquisition and Development

August 23, 2013 | by

In this month’s Employee Spotlight, we are pleased to feature EYA’s Senior Vice President of Land Acquisition and Development, Aakash Thakkar. A DC native, Aakash is passionate about creating great new communities that revitalize local neighborhoods and benefit the City’s residents. He has also been very involved in the EYA Foundation and is an active participant at many EYA volunteer events.

Aakash Thakkar
Current Role: Senior Vice President, Land Acquisition and Development
At EYA for: 9.5 Years


Aakash Thakkar was instrumental in bringing Busboys and Poets to Arts District Hyattsville. He is pictured here, to the right of Andy Shallal, founder of Busboys and Poets.

Aakash Thakkar was instrumental in bringing Busboys and Poets to Arts District Hyattsville. He is pictured here, to the right of Andy Shallal, founder of Busboys and Poets.

What do you enjoy most about your current position at EYA?

I love the entrepreneurial side of the business, working with municipalities, land sellers and the EYA team to create new opportunities for EYA. Also, EYA’s mission of urban-infill development and urban revitalization squares really well with my values.  There is nothing more exciting to me than working on a project that will create a new neighborhood and with that, lead to revitalization in the surrounding area.  EYA’s efforts in Brookland, Capital Quarter and U Street in DC, Chatham Square and Old Town Commons in Alexandria, and Arts District Hyattsville are all examples of how our work revitalizes neighborhoods, creates jobs, enhances the tax base and provides great homes for our residents.

I also enjoy working with communities and municipalities to both address their desires for their neighborhoods, while also ensuring that our projects are economically viable and will ultimately create great places.

What makes EYA unique or special compared to your work experiences elsewhere?

EYA is unique and frankly, awesome, for many reasons.  It starts with our mission of urban-infill and our commitment to people, planet and profit.  It is rare to find a company like EYA that is both highly profitable and has such an enormous, positive impact on the communities in which we build.

In addition to the mission, it’s the people.  Smart, dedicated, results-oriented and focused on rowing in the same direction, and at the same time kind, generous and fun loving.

You have been very active with the EYA Foundation. What is the best volunteer project you participated in and why?

The fact that leadership at EYA is committed and willing to put financial resources into the Foundation is wonderful.  It shows that we sincerely care about giving back above and beyond the great neighborhoods we create.  My favorite events were the Anacostia Watershed clean-up and the school buff and scrub we did in DC a couple of years ago.

As a native Washingtonian, what do you think makes DC such a special city?

The revitalization of the City since I was a child has been tremendous.  We have great restaurants, parks, public transportation, and more housing and office that keeps people working, living and playing in the City, day and night.

The diversity and openness of the City, welcoming to all types of people regardless of race, class and sexual orientation is also special in my book.  To be a great City, I think you have to be welcoming too and have amenities for all types of people and DC does a good job at that.

What are your personal interests/hobbies?

I am fortunate in that my work is a true hobby of mine.  I am definitely a DC geek and an urban revitalization geek.  I am also into local and national politics, like to play and watch tennis and love spending time with family and friends.

What was the best vacation you ever took?

My family and I spent three weeks in Thailand and Loas visiting friends in late 2011.  Great food, beaches, scenery and culture. I really enjoy immersing myself in other cultures, that’s a lot of fun for me!

EYA Employee Spotlight: Ann Paduda, Design Consultant

January 10, 2013 | by

This month’s Employee Spotlight is Ann Paduda (now Ann Hulen as of recent), EYA’s Design Consultant. For our homeowners, Ann needs no introduction. She has the important job of helping our homeowners select options for their new home. This includes everything from cabinets and faucets to hardwood and carpets. Not only an EYA employee for almost 18 years, Ann is also an EYA homeowner, and couldn’t be happier with her life within walking distance®.

Ann (Paduda) Hulen
Current Role: Design Consultant

Ann Paduda (now Ann Hulen) recently married! Be sure to congratulate her when you see her in the sales center.

1) How long have you worked for EYA?
18 years in March!

2) What do you enjoy most about your current position at EYA?
The interaction with the people who are buying our homes.  We laugh, we have fun…there are a lot of details to cover and I like making it less complicated and easy.  One of my favorite things to hear is, “I was dreading doing this, but you made it easy and fun!”

3) What is your best advice for homeowners when selecting options?
Browse the selections room, review the options sheet and ask questions.  Getting an idea of what you don’t like is just as helpful as knowing what you do like.  Once you get one or two things that you do like, don’t worry…the rest just falls into place.  Also, trust yourself.  You know more than you think!

4) What are some of the latest trends?
People are more drawn to contemporary styles and cool colors now.  I’m starting to see technology integrated more and more into the homes, from wiring for music and sound to controlling your entire home from an ipad!

5) You not only work at EYA, but also live in an EYA home. What do you like best about living in an EYA community?
First and foremost it really is “life within walking distance.”  It changes the way I live, which changes my life.  There is a whole new world to discover walking around on my feet instead of riding around in a car.  I’ve discovered nook and cranny shops, which restaurants are doing fun things on what night and an ease of getting wherever I want to go either via metro, bike, ferry or foot!  Being on foot more also means being outside more and connecting with the people in the neighborhood.

Inside, I have an efficient design layout that not only wastes no space, but is beautiful to the eye.  I feel not only very fortunate to work at EYA, but very lucky to live in one of our homes as well.

EYA Employee Spotlight: Linda Turnbow, Warranty Service Administrator

April 11, 2012 | by

This month’s EYA Employee Spotlight is Linda Turnbow, Warranty Service Administrator. For many of our homeowners, Linda needs no introduction. She works hard to ensure that our homeowner’s needs are met quickly and efficiently. One conversation with Linda and you will recognize her southern hospitality. Originally from South Carolina, Linda has been with EYA for 11 years and knows many of our homeowners by name. Whether or not you have had the pleasure of meeting Linda, here are a few interesting things you might not know about her.

Linda Turnbow
Current Role: Warranty Service Administrator
At EYA for: 11 years

Linda (on right): “I try to make each homeowner feel like they are my only homeowner.”

How long have you lived in the DC area?
I moved to the area in 1980. I was planning on staying for a year or two but ended up staying for 32 years! My first job was working as an elevator operator in the Capitol building. I ran the “Senator’s Only” elevator. I enjoyed it because I got to meet the Senators’ staff and families and even ended up babysitting for a few of their children.

What do you enjoy most about your current position at EYA?
I really enjoy getting to know the homeowners. Working in warranty services, homeowners call me if they have any issues. I get someone over to their home right away to fix the problem and call to ensure the issue has been resolved. I try to make each homeowner feel like they are my only homeowner and it’s nice to know you have helped someone. I know most of our homeowners by name and it’s important to me to make sure they are happy with their new home.

What makes EYA unique or special compared to your work experiences elsewhere?
The family-oriented atmosphere and the respect the staff has for each other. When someone needs help, everyone pitches in. I had to have knee surgery last year and everyone stepped up to help cover my responsibilities. Also, our employees really believe in our product and everyone takes great pride in their work. I once had a job where I dreaded getting up and going to work every day. I am so grateful to have a job I enjoy so much. Life is too short: so enjoy what you do.

What was the best vacation you ever took?
For my 40th birthday, my cousin bought my mother and me a cruise to Alaska. It was beautiful and I was able to walk on a glacier! My mother has always been my best friend so it was really nice to celebrate it with her.

EYA Employee Spotlight: Brad Hofford, Senior Construction Manager

February 7, 2012 | by

Do you ever wonder who’s behind our townhomes?

EYA is celebrating 20 years in business this year and we thought it was time to introduce some of the folks who make it all possible!

First up is Brad Hofford. If you’re an original owner at Old Town Commons, Clarendon Park or Centerpointe (to name a few), chances are you already know Brad. He, like each of our construction managers, is very visible on the job and interacts with many of our homeowners. Meet Brad.

Brad Hofford

Current role: Senior Construction Manager at Old Town Commons

First role: Senior Project Manager

At EYA for: 17 years

Education/Training: Virginia Tech, BS in Building Construction

new townhouses dc va

Brad (on the right) accepting his PROs Award for Best Production Manager of 2011 (61-120 townhouse units/yr).

What makes EYA unique or special compared to your work experience elsewhere?

I’ve obviously been here long enough to reflect on the fact that I have a great job.  The excitement that drives a person to get to work and take control of so many moving parts and people is tremendous, but very few can make a career out of it and enjoy it as much as I do. A few of the things that set EYA apart: Never a dull moment, with interesting design characteristics that put a distinct signature on our product; involvement in making important decisions; interfacing with good quality people; and being part of the Big Picture.

Do you have any interesting / impressive job site stories?

I also solely managed and completed Clarendon Park three to four months ahead of schedule. On the interesting side, I built a townhouse for a U.S. Senator, which included a weekly visit with his entourage.

What’s your best piece of advice when it comes to work?

Be extremely firm, but always fair.

What element(s) of an EYA home would you like to recreate in your own home?

Our attention to detail is impeccable. I applied that same level of detail when I built my own home in 2005.

Let’s say you have a second home. Where and what would it be?

Not picky but near water… (Stream, river, ocean).

Do you have a special place you like to vacation?

Warm weather, for sure… Standing in a stream fishing, a river kayaking, and the ocean sunbathing.

What are you personal interests / hobbies?

Kayaking, fishing, harmonica, woodworking.

What’s your favorite coffee/food joint in the neighborhood where you’re now working?

I just came off a job at Mosaic District in Fairfax, where it was definitely Panera @ 5:30 AM for my morning coffee.

Stay tuned next month for another EYA employee profile!