Our Story

The story of Lilypad Homes began with a divorce. When co-founder Rachel Ginis became a single mother, she found herself with extra space in her Corte Madera home. Always innovating, Rachel converted her master bedroom into a private, independent apartment for rental income. Later when her daughter left for college, Rachel moved into the junior unit and rented out the main home.

The flexibility and economic freedom provided by this apartment inspired Rachel to create the non-profit organization Lilypad Homes (now closed). This .org successfully advocated for new local and state codes to ease the requirements and costs of developing accessory dwelling units, promoted progressive financing programs, and opened doors to housing by encouraging homeowners to create new rental units.

Our founders, who met through the non-profit, are now combining their talents into Lilypad Homes LLC as a social enterprise company, a for-profit design and consulting firm specializing in the creation of ADUs and JADUs on single-family residential properties in Marin and Sonoma counties. Our team is dedicated to benefiting our clients and our community through more affordable and flexible housing options.


 

Rachel Ginis, President, is Lilypad’s visionary housing advocate, a LEED-accredited designer and a licensed general contractor with over 20 years in high-end residential design (CA Lic.#898335). She is a third-generation designer, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, with a passion for small spaces and a talent for optimizing their livability. Rachel has extensive experience in all phases of remodeling, including design, specification, product sourcing, project management, and construction.

Rachel’s experience with her prototype Junior ADU (read more here) ignited a passion for housing flexibility and affordability, leading her to found the non-profit organization, also called Lilypad Homes. She worked tirelessly to develop an innovative model for infill housing development that opens new doors to owning and renting a home. Prior to Lilypad, Rachel distinguished herself as an effective activist on sustainability issues at the local, state and federal levels.


 

Ellen Nicosia, COO, Designer, and co-founder of Lilypad Homes LLC, brings over thirty years of corporate experience to Lilypad Homes, along with her deep love of design and home improvement. and a long-standing commitment to sustainability. Ellen’s passion for design led her to LilypadHomes.org, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (the predecessor to LilypadHome.com), where she served as a designer and its CFO. Having succeeded in making it easier to build ADUs and JADUs, Ellen is excited to work with homeowners to inspire and facilitate the creation of new units, for their own benefit and the benefit of future renters, our environment and our community.

Ellen holds a BA in Economics from UCSD and an MBA from UCLA. At IBM and Autodesk, Ellen gained experience in consulting, financial analysis, and project management. Ellen studied design through UCLA and Berkeley’s extension programs and applies these skills to formulate innovative ADU design solutions that emphasize privacy, livability and multifunctional spaces.

 


 
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Sheila Hunter, CMO & CFO and co-founder of Lilypad Homes LLC, is inspired to this work by her own experiences as a homeowner and her passion for community. Sheila has a “grandpa flat” in her Marin County house, providing an independent one-bedroom home for her father-in-law. This ADU provides private, multi-generational housing and a richer life experience for her entire family.

Sheila holds a BA in Economics from UCLA and an Masters of Liberal Arts from Stanford. Having held a wide variety of roles at Ernst & Young, Oracle, and San Francisco Unified School District, She brings a diverse business background that includes marketing, partnerships, accounting, operations, and management to Lilypad Homes LLC. Sheila is thrilled to empower other homeowners to create rental units on their properties and enjoy lower housing costs, a reduced environmental footprint, and a richer community life.