Spotlight: John Kelly

John Kelly & Gina Villani at Sienna Restaurant, where they got engaged.
John Kelly & Gina Villani at Sienna Restaurant, where they got engaged.

John Kelly is building a career and much-needed housing for residents, while also giving back to his community and living his personal mission with USA Properties.

Opportunity coupled with philanthropy is a tough-to-beat combo in the workplace for Kelly.

“I saw USA online, and one of the things I read up about was the JB Brown Fund and how the company gave back to the community,” says Kelly, a Construction Project Manager. “That was something that really drew me to the company.”

The JB Brown Fund, a partnership between USA Properties and LifeSTEPS – a social-services provider at many USA-owned affordable apartment communities – helps residents with everything from attending college or participating in youth sports to dealing with an unexpected money crunch.

“USA is really a proponent to helping people grow, employees and residents,” says Kelly, who was hired as an Assistant Project Manager before being promoted to his current position. “There is a lot of room for growth here. And they give you many opportunities to do different things.”

‘The faith, the belief they have in me’

Kelly has been involved in eight construction projects since joining USA Properties in 2016, including being the on-site project engineer for Santana Terrace – a market-rate community in Santa Clara. He embraced the challenge and did a lot of on-the-spot problem solving to keep the project moving forward.

“It showed the faith, the belief they had in me to keep the project moving forward,” he says of his project team. “I did a lot of problem-solving. I’m really proud of the way we finished that project.”

More recently, he has been involved in the development of Terracina at Lancaster – an affordable apartment community in Southern California – and an extensive renovation of Sierra Sunrise, a senior community in the Sacramento region.

Certainly, completing a massive construction project – one that takes many months and tens of millions of dollars – makes him proud. But the best feeling comes from watching the response of residents.

“It’s so amazing to see people move into these homes that are absolutely beautiful,” he says. “These are families, people who are struggling.”

The company’s efforts go beyond its own properties. USA Properties partners on numerous construction-related efforts in the community, including those for HomeAid Sacramento and Veterans of America.

“Those are the kind of things that I love to do,” Kelly says. “Giving back to people and helping people is part of who I am, its interwoven with my faith.”

College student, mill worker and math tutor

He is also about focusing on his goals and hard work and, just as important, being part of a team and helping others reach their potential.

“Participating in sports in high school taught me a lot,” says Kelly, who ran the mile for his high school track team and dramatically improved his time – and results. “I went from last to first. Sports showed me that if you put in the hard work, you can achieve anything.”

He continued to embrace the approach while attending College of the Siskiyous, where he balanced a full class load while working in a lumber mill, ran track, and also tutored students in math. He transferred to Sacramento State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.

After earning his degree, Kelly was hired as a drafter for a steel company and later joined a civil engineering company working on the new Bay Bridge. Then, he was hired as a project engineer for a Bay Area construction company.

But Kelly wanted a career with growth and opportunity where he could learn – and also give back. USA Properties checked all of those boxes and more.

“It’s a great place to work,” says Kelly, who recently bought a house and got engaged. “It’s a great work environment that fosters growth, while also encouraging a work-life balance. I feel very grateful and blessed to be doing what I do every day.

Outside the office

John Kelly & Gina Villani at Sienna Restaurant, where they got engaged.

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