Secretary Shaun Donovan (Chair)
On January 26, 2009, Shaun Donovan was sworn in as the 15th United States Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. He has devoted his career to ensuring access to safe, decent, and affordable housing, and has continued that effort in the Obama Administration. Secretary Donovan believes that America's homes are the foundation for family, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and job creation. His tenure as HUD Secretary has reflected his commitment to making quality housing possible for every American.
Sworn in at a time when the foreclosure crisis had devastated American families, under Secretary Donovan's leadership HUD has helped stabilize the housing market and worked to keep responsible families in their homes. The agency has instituted reforms that have solidified the Federal Housing Administration's financial position and protected the taxpayer against risk, while still preserving FHA's mission of providing responsible access to homeownership.
In December 2012, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and appointed Secretary Donovan as Chair. The Task Force is charged with creating a comprehensive regional plan, based on local vision for redevelopment, to guide long term disaster recovery efforts. This appointment built on his experience with disaster-related recovery and rebuilding challenges from a national perspective in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Together with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, he led the President's Long-Term Disaster Working Group composed of more than 20 federal agencies. The Group worked closely with State and local communities, as well as experts and stakeholders from around the nation, to create the National Disaster Recovery Framework published in 2011.
Secretary Donovan has reaffirmed HUD's commitment to building strong, sustainable, inclusive neighborhoods that are connected to education and jobs and provide access to opportunity for all Americans. He has launched new initiatives like Choice Neighborhoods, which will enable distressed communities to use proven mixed-use, mixed-finance tools to transform not just federally-assisted housing, but the neighborhoods around that housing. And through the new Sustainable Communities partnership with the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, HUD is helping regions and communities develop comprehensive housing and transportation plans that create jobs and help American businesses out-innovate their global competitors.
Secretary Donovan has a long history of working to provide affordable housing to American families. He previously served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). He created and implemented HPD's New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 affordable homes, the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation's history. His work at HPD included the New York City Acquisition Fund, an award-winning collaboration with foundations and banks to finance affordable housing; an innovative inclusionary zoning program; an ambitious supportive housing plan; and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, one of the earliest responses to the foreclosure crisis.
Before his service as HPD Commissioner, Secretary Donovan worked in the private sector on financing affordable housing, and was a visiting scholar at New York University, where he researched and wrote about the preservation of federally-assisted housing. He was also a consultant to the Millennial Housing Commission on strategies for increasing the production of multifamily housing. The Commission was created by the United States Congress to recommend ways to expand housing opportunities across the nation.
Secretary Donovan rejoins HUD after his previous service in the Clinton administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing, where he was the primary federal official responsible for privately-owned multifamily housing. At that time, he ran housing programs that helped 1.7 million families access affordable housing. He also served as acting FHA Commissioner during the Clinton/Bush presidential transition. Prior to his first service at HUD, he worked at the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) in New York City, a non-profit lender and developer of affordable housing. He also researched and wrote about housing policy at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University and worked as an architect. Secretary Donovan holds a B.A. and Masters degrees in Public Administration and Architecture from Harvard.
Laurel A. Blatchford(Executive Director)
Secretary Donovan appointed Laurel Blatchford as Executive Director of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force in January of 2013. Previously, Ms. Blatchford served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by Secretary Shaun Donovan. She joined the Obama Administration from General Growth Properties (GGP), a Chicago-based real estate investment trust that has holdings across the United States and abroad, where she was Vice President for Development and Project Director in the New York City office. During her tenure at GGP, she directed the company's plans to redevelop the South Street Seaport, a GGP property.
Prior to her work at GGP, Ms. Blatchford worked for New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for six years, first as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding and then as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commissioner for Strategy Planning, Policy, and Communications at New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). At HPD, she worked with then-Commissioner Shaun Donovan and led a staff of 50, focusing on strategic planning, communications, and policy issues. She played a leadership role in many major initiatives while at HPD, including the Mayor's 165,000-unit New Marketplace Housing Plan, the rezoning of Greenpoint/Williamsburg, and the City's response to the mortgage foreclosure crisis. During her tenure in city government, she worked closely with city agencies and private partners on major mayoral initiatives, including the redevelopment of the Far West Side of Manhattan and the transformation of the High Line.
Before joining the Bloomberg Administration, Ms. Blatchford worked at the Downtown Alliance, the business improvement district for Lower Manhattan, and in a variety of positions in City government, including the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the New York City Public Advocate. She also served as the Mayor's representative on the Brooklyn Public Library Board from 2007-2009. Ms. Blatchford holds a B.A. from Williams College and an M.P.P. from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She lives with her family in Washington, DC.
Michael Passante (New Jersey State Director)
Michael Passante is the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force’s New Jersey State Director. He joins the task force from the United States Senate, where he served as Legislative Counsel for the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. In that role he coordinated housing policy and helped draft parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. He also worked on bills related to housing for Americans with disabilities, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Livable Communities Act. He also served as an advisor to the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team in 2008. Prior to serving in the Senate, Michael was an Assistant Criminal Prosecutor for the city of Newark and worked in private practice in New York, primarily in litigation and real estate law. Michael is a New Jersey native who grew up in Bergen County and went on vacations at the Jersey Shore. He has a bachelor’s, master’s in public policy, and law degree, all from Harvard University.