2022 Citizen of the Year: Courtney Nelthropp

Like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, Courtney recognized that in fulfilling the fundamental human need for a place to call home, there is the opportunity to provide so much more than shelter. With a healthy measure of imagination and effort, he thought, we can also provide dignity, security, autonomy and at the same time, community. Better yet, Courtney outdid his fictional counterpart by applying those principles to the previously outdated standards of urban public housing, and luckily for us, he did it right here in the City of Stamford.

That’s why Charter Oak Communities, (the former Stamford Housing Authority), along with many others, nominated Courtney for the 2022 COTY. “Appointed to Charter Oak in 1996 by Mayor Malloy and elected chairman in 1998, Courtney took to this challenge as a problem solver, compassionate citizen and accomplished businessman” recalled Vincent Tufo, its CEO. “Courtney took on the long eschewed challenge of reinventing an outdated public housing model that stifled one’s quest for personal dignity, independence and economic self-sufficiency.” And he succeeded.

His list of accomplishments is long, but to name a few, Courtney’s creative and steady leadership was instrumental in:

  • The redevelopment of Southfield Village into the mixed-income community of Southwood Square, which in addition to providing state of the art housing generated investment in the long neglected surrounding community.
  • The redevelopment of Fairfield Court into multiple new communities including Post House and Taylor Street (serving disabled and middle income homeowners) and the Fairgate Apartments which jump started the rebirth of Stillwater Avenue.
  • The redevelopment of Vidal Court into the multiple award winning Westwood and Palmer Square, two premier residential communities.
  • Transformation of Stamford Manor into a bright, safe, well managed and desirable address for elderly and disabled persons.
  • Developing strategic partnerships with Stamford Hospital, Family Centers and other complementary organizations to help enhance the fulfillment of COC’s mission.
  • The acquisition of roads and dam removal to enhance the Mill River environment, with financial participation and countless other collaborative efforts.
  • Through the City of Stamford’s innovative Fee-in-Lieu program, literally millions of dollars have been leveraged from for-profit developers into the metamorphosis of mixed income public housing.
  • Obtaining two sought after HOPE VI grants (totaling $46M) for public housing revitalization and a Sustainable Communities grant for development of the Vita initiative.
  • Guiding COC into a consistently high performing public housing authority for all of its programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Redevelopment, and much more.

As the (recently retired) owner of a successful Sir Speedy printing franchise, Courtney was also an active member of the Board of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District for 12 years. Former DSSD President Sandy Goldstein said “Courtney generously donated his ideas, time and expertise, all of which helped make our Downtown a much better place.” She added “Courtney and his lovely wife Judy have been actively engaged in all of our events and it is always a delight to watch them enjoy themselves and make everyone around them feel comfortable.”

Former State Representive Christel Truglia said “Courtney also provided complimentary and deeply discounted printing services to any non-profit or civic organization who thought to ask, including Fight Colorectal Cancer, Broadcasters Foundation of America, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Red Cross, not to mention his years of devoted service to the Truglia Thumbelina fund.” Christel went on to say, “And why? Just because Courtney believes that helping someone is good for the heart.”

Born and raised in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Courtney earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Mathematics/ Physics from InterAmerican University and Mechanical Engineering from Northrop University. Courtney also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California. Prior to starting his own Sir Speedy franchise, he held a variety of sales and management positions with IBM in California and New York. He came to Stamford in 1981 and has called it home ever since, also serving on the board of Cornerstone Bank, the Urban League of Southwestern Connecticut
and as an Advisory Board Member of Community Health Center, Inc.

Married to the love of his life Judy, they have two daughters, Lisa (and spouse Faycel), and Kerry (and spouse Gary) who have also given them two perfect grandchildren, Ben and Nate.